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Syria Rebels Insist No Role for Assad despite Western Overtures

Syrian opposition forces say they will never accept President Bashar Assad's rule, after signs that Western powers may be willing to work with the embattled leader to end the war.

In recent weeks, long-time backers of Syria's uprising have suggested that Assad has a role to play in ending the four-year conflict, and could even stay on during a transitional period.

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Putin's U.N. Syria Show Pushes Moscow Back to Center Stage

Russian President Vladimir Putin has stolen the spotlight at the United Nations with a swaggering push on the Syria crisis as he tried to shake off Western isolation over Ukraine.

In his first speech to the UN General Assembly in a decade, Putin on Monday called for a broad UN-backed coalition to fight Islamic State (IS) jihadists before sitting down to talks he called "constructive, business-like and surprisingly open" with his U.S. rival Barack Obama.

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Assad Gets New Chance, Despite Military Setbacks

President Bashar Assad has gone from pariah to potential partner, bolstered by his allies Russia and Iran in Syria's four-year war and Western concern about the jihadist threat, experts say.

In power for 15 years, Assad is virtually the sole survivor of the Arab uprisings that have unseated rulers across the Middle East and North Africa.

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French Strikes in Syria to Reap Political, but Not Military Gains

French air strikes launched against Islamic State jihadists in Syria on Sunday may win Paris political capital, but are unlikely to yield serious military gains or stop terrorist attacks, analysts say.

The strikes were announced on the eve of the U.N. General Assembly in New York where Syria is back in the diplomatic limelight after four years of grinding war that has sent tens of thousands of refugees fleeing to Europe.

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Why Catalonia Matters to Spain: The Numbers

Catalonia, which on Sunday holds a regional election focused on independence, is one of Spain's most economically important regions.

This is why:

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Russia Seeks Firm Foothold in Strategic Syria

Russia has shocked the West by boosting its military presence in Syria as President Vladimir Putin seeks to not just defeat Islamic State radicals but also to gain a firm foothold in the strategic Middle Eastern country.

Putin has seized the initiative more than four years into a civil war that has killed more than 240,000 people and led to the emergence of IS, amid the collective failure of the international community to stop the violence.

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Critics Question Saudi Safety Focus after Hajj Tragedy

The worst disaster in 25 years at the annual hajj pilgrimage has left critics questioning the Saudi government's attention to safety, despite billions of dollars invested in improving conditions.

A stampede on Thursday killed more than 700 people during a stoning ritual attended by hundreds of thousands of Muslim pilgrims from around the world.

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Scandinavia, Germany in with Migrants, Southern Europe out

The European Union may have reluctantly agreed to share out 120,000 refugees among most of its 28 member states, but many migrants know exactly where they want to go: northern Europe... and only northern Europe.

SWEDEN, NORWAY, FINLAND: THE ELDORADO

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Arithmetic of Despair: Numbers from Europe's Migrant Crisis 

Europe's migration crisis involves big figures, as men, women and children who in many cases are fleeing war and poverty in their own countries flood into Europe in great numbers not seen since World War II. As European Union leaders and governments struggle to deal with the continent's migrants crisis, here are some key figures:

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Shock as 'Embarrased' Saudi Targets Mighty Binladin Group

Saudi Arabia's decision to sanction the Binladin Group over the deadly Mecca crane collapse has come as a shock and could have serious consequences for one of the kingdom's most powerful firms.

After decades of thriving on lucrative government contracts, the Saudi Binladin Group is facing unprecedented scrutiny over the accident, which saw one of its cranes topple during a major expansion of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Islam's holiest site.

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