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Assad's Battlefield Gains Cast Cloud on Upcoming Syria Talks 

Syrian peace talks due next week are looking increasingly moot as a string of recent battlefield victories by government troops have bolstered President Bashar Assad's hand and plunged the rebels into disarray.

The government's advances add to the obstacles that have scuttled chances of halting — at least anytime soon — the five-year civil war that has killed a quarter of a million people, displaced half the country and enabled the radical Islamic State group to seize a third of Syria's territory.

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After Nuke Deal and Prisoner Swap, Where Next for U.S.-Iran Ties?

Was this weekend's nuclear deal and Washington's surprise prisoner swap with Tehran the final high point of a one-off diplomatic initiative or the start of a real realignment?

Some 35 years after U.S.-Iran ties were broken amid the chaos of the Tehran hostage crisis, might the Great Satan and the Axis of Evil lynchpin be on the brink of real detente?

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Nuclear Deal Marks U.S.-Iran Thaw, but Saudis Sulk

The implementation of the Iran nuclear deal marked a major step forward in Washington's cautious rapprochement with Iran, but will further strain ties with Saudi Arabia.

While President Barack Obama's government insists its goal was simply to halt the spread of atomic weapons, experts detect an effort to bring a new balance to its Middle East relationships.

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Islamic State 'Brand' Spreading Worldwide

The Islamic State group may be losing ground in its strongholds of Iraq and Syria but as the attack in Indonesia this month showed, the jihadists are rallying other groups under their banner, analysts say.

In most cases, these groups have no direct contact with the leadership of IS's self-proclaimed caliphate, but the group is happy to claim responsibility for the blood spilled in its name, the experts say.

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Al-Murabitoun: Al-Qaida Affiliate behind String of Attacks in West Africa

An al-Qaida affiliate run by one of the world's most-wanted men, Algeria's Mokhtar Belmokhtar, was behind Friday's attack on a hotel and restaurant popular with Westerners in Burkina Faso's capital Ouagadougou, a regional franchise of the extremist network said.

The attack, in which at least 23 people were killed, is the latest in a string of assaults by the notorious Belmokhtar's Al-Murabitoun group across north and west Africa in recent years.

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'He's Gone' - Teen Starves to Death in Syria's Madaya

"He's gone," the doctor said quietly, announcing the death of 16-year-old Ali of starvation in the basement of a makeshift clinic in the besieged Syrian town of Madaya. 

Ali's death late Thursday was witnessed by representatives of the U.N. children's agency, UNICEF, as they assessed the health situation of residents of the famine-stricken town. 

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Behind Frontline, Iraq Town Torn as Anti-IS Forces Clash

When a wave of deadly ethnic violence swept through the northern Iraqi town of Tuz Khurmatu, Ahmed Hassan Majid's house was on the wrong side of an invisible line.

The Kurdish-Turkmen violence ignited by a checkpoint dispute in November has since faded, but divisions between the communities are sharper than ever.

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Jakarta Attacks Confirm Regional Fears over IS

A "Paris-style" suicide strike on the Indonesian capital Thursday confirmed Southeast Asian governments’ worst fears -- that citizens returning from fighting alongside the Islamic State group in the Middle East could launch attacks at home.

Regional nations have been warning for months of the possibility of attack, mirroring concerns expressed by European authorities fearful of the intentions of people returning home from conflict.

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Istanbul Attack Deals Fresh Blow to Fragile Turkey Tourism

This week's suicide attack in Istanbul has dealt a fresh blow to tourism in Turkey, which had already lost holidaymakers due to growing European jitters over terrorism and a spat with Russia, once a top supplier of visitors.

Three months after double suicide bombings in Ankara that killed 103 people, mostly pro-Kurdish activists, Tuesday's attack, which killed 10 Germans, clearly targeted the tourist sector, one of the mainstays in a country which was the world's sixth-most visited in 2014.

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Syria Regime Back on the Offensive with Russian Help

Last summer, Syria's regime was on the back foot after a series of military defeats, but in recent weeks it has capitalized on a Russian air campaign to recapture territory.

The gains have been limited, and have relied heavily on support from mostly Shiite foreign fighters from Hizbullah, as well as Afghan and Iraqi forces, and Iranian "advisers".

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