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IS Seizes Iraq-Syria Border Post Consolidating 'Caliphate'

The Islamic State group Friday kept up a counteroffensive that has rocked U.S. strategy, seizing a key border crossing after capturing an Iraqi provincial capital and a renowned Syrian heritage site.

The jihadists, who now control roughly half of Syria, reinforced their self-declared  transfrontier "caliphate" with the capture of the Al-Tanaf to Al-Walid crossing on the Damascus-Baghdad highway.

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U.S. Official Says Presidential Polls Not Ultimate Problem Solver

The U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs has reiterated Washington's support for Lebanon to meet the challenges it is facing and said the presidential elections would not solve all of the country's issues.

Lawrence Silverman said on Thursday at a conference organized by the Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce in New York that the U.S. stands by Lebanon to confront the challenges it is facing as a result of conflicts in the region.

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U.S. Says Air Raid in Syria Killed Two Children

U.S. air strikes against Islamist extremists in Syria killed two children by mistake, officials said Thursday, marking the first time the American military acknowledged inflicting civilian casualties in the war.

"We regret the unintentional loss of lives," Lieutenant General James Terry, head of the U.S.-led air campaign against the Islamic State group, said in a statement, citing the results of an investigation.

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IS Takes Last Syria Regime-held Crossing on Iraq Border

Jihadists from the Islamic State group seized the last Syrian regime-controlled crossing on the border with Iraq late Thursday, a monitoring group said.

"IS seized control of the al-Tanaf border crossing on the Syrian-Iraqi border... after regime forces withdrew, leaving the Syrian regime with no control over its border with Iraq," the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

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Hollande Says World Must Respond to Threat to Palmyra

French President Francois Hollande on Thursday said the world must respond to Islamic State jihadists' seizure of Palmyra amid fears they could destroy the Syrian city's world renowned ancient monuments.

"We have to act because there is a threat against these monuments which are part of humankind's inheritance and at the same time we must act against Daesh," Hollande said, referring to the Islamic State group by its Arabic name.

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Obama Says U.S. Not Losing against IS, Ramadi Fall a 'Tactical Setback'

U.S. President Barack Obama has described the loss of key Iraqi territory to Islamic State as a tactical setback, while insisting the war against the jihadist group is not being lost.

"I don't think we're losing," Obama said in an interview with news magazine The Atlantic published Thursday, days after the Iraqi city of Ramadi was overrun.

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40 Rebels Dead in Aleppo Regime Raid as Man Killed in Damascus Shelling

At least 40 rebels were killed as a regime air strike on their base in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo triggered a huge explosion Thursday, a monitoring group said.

The Islamist rebels had shells stored at the base, which magnified the blast, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights head, Rami Abdel Rahman, told AFP.

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EU Fears 'War Crimes' after Syria's Palmyra Falls to IS

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini on Thursday warned of potential war crimes in the UNESCO World Heritage site of Palmyra after Islamic State fighters seized the ancient Syrian city.

"With the reported occupation of the ancient city of Palmyra by Da'esh, yet again hundreds of people have been killed and thousands more risk to be exposed to arbitrary violent actions and more destructions of cultural sites might be perpetrated," Mogherini said in a statement, using an alternative name for Islamic State fighters.

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Army Arrests 3 for Conducting 'Major Financial Operations' for Syria Militants

Three people have been arrested in Lebanon on charges of conducting “major financial operations” for the benefit of Syria-based armed groups, the army announced Thursday.

“Lebanese national Mohammed Dahrouj and the Syrians Ahmed Najjar and Ayman Ghotmeh were arrested by the Intelligence Directorate yesterday in Beirut on suspicion of conducting financial operations on behalf of militant groups operating in Syria,” the army said in a statement.

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Conflicting Reports on Fate of Lebanese Detainees as IS Seizes Palmyra Prison

Conflicting reports emerged Thursday about the fate of dozens of Lebanese detainees at the prison of the Syrian city of Palmyra, after the Islamic State jihadist group seized control of the facility from the regime's hands.

Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq denied having any information about the issue after media reports claimed that the IS had “liberated” Lebanese detainees from the Palmyra prison, noting that he was still trying to verify the allegations.

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