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Exodus from Hasakeh as Syria Hunts IS Jihadists

Raids by Syrian forces hunting suspected Islamic State infiltrators in the northeast town of Hasakeh have sparked an exodus of more than 60,000 civilians in three days, a monitor said Monday.

Hasakeh is split between zones controlled by President Bashar Assad's forces, Kurdish groups and militants from the radical IS group, which is sowing terror in both Syria and neighboring Iraq.

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Macedonia Detains 100 Syrian, Iraqi Immigrants

Macedonian police said Monday they have detained more than 100 Syrian and Iraqi immigrants, among them women and children, hiding in a train transporting coal from the Greek port of Thessaloniki.

"The immigrants are mainly from Syria and Iraq and they came to Greece from Turkey," Ivo Kotevski, spokesman for the Interior Ministry told AFP.

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Merkel Says Arms Aid for Iraqi Kurds in Europe's Interest

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday defended a watershed decision to send arms to Iraqi Kurds battling jihadist militants, saying Europe's own security was at stake.

Merkel told parliament that Germany's decision to break with its post-war tradition of refusing to send weapons into conflict zones was crucial in strife-torn Iraq, the scene of "inconceivable atrocities" against civilians.

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Saudi Crown Prince in Paris for Talks on Arms, Jihadist Threat

Saudi Arabia's crown prince arrived in Paris Monday for talks with President Francois Hollande likely to touch on a Saudi-financed French package of arms for Lebanon and the wider jihadist threat in the region.

Salman bin Abdul Aziz, who is also deputy prime minister and defense minister, will meet Hollande on Monday and will be treated to an official dinner at the Elysee presidential palace.

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HRW: Islamic State Jihadists Using Cluster Bombs

Islamic State jihadists have used cluster munitions in Syria in at least one location and Syria's regime is continuing to use the widely banned weapon, Human Rights Watch said Monday.

The New York-based group, citing reports from local Kurdish officials and photographic evidence, said IS fighters had used cluster bombs on July 12 and August 14.

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Syria Army, Rebels Clash as U.N. Bids to Free Golan Monitors

Syrian troops and Islamist rebels battled close to the armistice line with Israel in the Golan Heights on Monday, as the U.N. pressed efforts to free 44 peacekeepers held by the insurgents.

The unrest on Israel's doorstep followed a spillover of mortar and gunfire into Israeli-controlled territory, putting the Jewish state on high alert and prompting it to shoot down a drone over the occupied plateau on Sunday.

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U.N. Rights Body Mulls Sending Mission to Iraq to Probe IS Abuses

The U.N. Human Rights Council on Monday debated whether to send an emergency mission to Iraq to investigate suspected "crimes against humanity" by the Islamic State, as Baghdad called the jihadists an "imminent threat" to the world.

"This terrorist organization must be criminalized and its acts must be criminalized because they are equivalent to genocide and crimes against humanity," Iraqi Human Rights Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani told the council.

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Report: Hizbullah Kidnaps Nusra Front Members to Exchange with Arsal Captives

Hizbullah reportedly abducted three high-ranking members from the al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front, the Kuwaiti al-Rai newspaper reported on Monday.

According to sources, Hizbullah abducted the three officials in Syria's al-Qalamun region, where Hizbullah has been taking part in the fighting to aid President Bashar Assad's troops.

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Australian PM Defends Helping Fight Jihadist 'Death Cult'

Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Monday defended Australia's military involvement in battling Islamic State militants, calling the jihadist group a "death cult" involved in ethnic cleansing.

Australia on Sunday agreed to help the United States in an international effort to transport weapons to Kurdish forces fighting the IS in northern Iraq, as well as humanitarian air drops to the besieged town of Amerli.

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Report: Lebanese, Syrian Fighters Heading to Iraq to Help IS and Set up Sleeper Cells in Lebanon

Lebanese nationals and Syrian refugees have traveled to Iraq to join the Islamic State group's fighters and to train there to set up terrorist cells in Lebanon, An Nahar daily reported on Monday.

The fighters have been traveling to Iraq since mid-June, the newspaper quoted informed officials as saying.

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