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Head of Taliban's Qatar Office Quits as Leadership Rift Deepens

The head of the Taliban's Qatar-based political office has stepped down, a statement said, a high-profile resignation within leadership ranks highlighting growing discord over the movement's recent power transition.

Mullah Akhtar Mansour was announced as the new Taliban chief on Friday after the insurgents confirmed the death of Mullah Omar, who led the militant movement for some 20 years.

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Australian Charged with Trying to Join Kurds in Iraq

A Melbourne man has been charged with attempting to leave for Iraq to fight with Kurdish forces against the Islamic State group, just weeks after another Australian was killed during a similar venture.

Jamie Williams, 28, is accused of preparing to enter a foreign country with the intention of engaging in hostile activities -- which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

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Report: Iran's Zarif to visit Gulf, Iraq

Iran's top diplomat Mohammad Javad Zarif will visit Kuwait, Qatar and Iraq this weekend, the ISNA press agency said Friday, following a landmark nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.

The accord, struck on July 14, which imposes certain controls on Iran's nuclear programme in exchange for a lifting of crippling economic sanctions, is expected to form the basis of discussions during Zarif's trip.

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Al-Nusra Front Invites Families to Visit Captives

The emir of al-Nusra Front in the Syrian Qalamoun region, Abou Malek al-Talli, has reportedly invited the families of the Lebanese hostages to visit their loved ones on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr.

Family member Hussein Youssef told TV and radio stations that al-Talli asked Sheikh Mustafa al-Hujeiri to inform the relatives held captive by al-Nusra Front to head to the northeastern border town of Arsal on Saturday to meet the hostages.

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Report: Qatar Promised Ibrahim to Revive Hostages File

General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim has returned from Doha with pledges to revive the prisoner exchange deal between the Lebanese authorities and jihadists who have taken Lebanese servicemen captive, al-Joumhouria newspaper reported Thursday.

Ibrahim, who is the official Lebanese negotiator in the case of the troops and policemen, returned to Beirut on Wednesday after a two-day visit to Qatar.

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Sources: Qatari Officials Ask Ibrahim to Meet them in Doha over Prisoner Exchange

General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim is expected to travel to Qatar this week after it was reported that he would visit Turkey to discuss with Qatari officials the case of Lebanese servicemen taken hostage by jihadists last year.

Security sources told al-Akhbar daily published on Monday that the officials asked Ibrahim to meet them in Doha instead.

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Doubts and Divisions among Commanders as Taliban Talk Peace

Talks last week between Afghan and Taliban negotiators were hailed by officials as a major breakthrough, but insurgent commanders on the ground have responded far more skeptically, highlighting the huge challenges facing the embryonic peace process.

Members of the Afghan High Peace Council sat down with Taliban cadres last week in Murree, a tourist town in the hills north of Islamabad, for their first official talks to try to end the militants' bloody fight, now in its 14th year.

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Sources: Ibrahim in Turkey Next Week over Lebanese Hostages

General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim is expected to travel to Turkey next week to discuss with Qatari officials the case of Lebanese servicemen taken hostage by jihadists last year.

Security sources told al-Akhbar daily published on Friday that Ibrahim, who is the official Lebanese negotiator in the case of the troops and policemen, will inform the Qataris that Lebanon has completed the file on the prisoner exchange which was mediated by Doha's envoy.

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Gulf Ministers Vow United Stand against IS Mosque Bombings

Interior ministers of the Gulf states Friday vowed to take a united stand against a string of deadly bombings targeting Shiite mosques claimed by the Islamic State jihadist group.

Holding an emergency meeting in Kuwait, the scene of the latest suicide attack that killed 26 people last Friday, the ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states stressed the attacks are a threat to the stability of the region.

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Pentagon: Air Strike Kills IS Leader in Syria

A senior Islamic State leader who coordinated suicide bombings and recruited funds and fighters for the jihadists has been killed in a coalition air strike in Syria, the Pentagon said Thursday.  

Tariq bin Tahar al-Awni al-Harzi was killed in the northern city of Shaddadi on June 16, Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis said in a statement. 

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