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Switzerland Orders Community Service for Returned IS Jihadist

Switzerland has ordered a returned recruit of the Islamic State group to do 600 hours of community service and will not send him to prison, in the country's first sentencing of a foreign jihadist fighter.

Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber's ruling went into effect this week, he told public broadcaster RTS late Wednesday.

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Saudi Contributes $52 Million to Syrian Food Appeal

Saudi Arabia contributed $52 million (42 million euros) in new funds to help feed Syrian refugees after the World Food Program launched an urgent appeal last week, the U.N. agency said Wednesday.

WFP's Executive Director Ertharin Cousin said the program was "extremely grateful" for the aid, which brought the total raised to $88.4 million.

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Assad Meets Bogdanov, Backs Russia Peace Bid

Syrian President Bashar Assad on Wednesday met a top Russian envoy who said Moscow is hoping to relaunch peace talks for the war-torn country and could host a Syria-U.S. meeting.

After meeting Assad, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov was quoted as saying, for the first time, that he "was in contact with our American partners."

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Hamadeh Met Nasrallah in 2005 to Ask about Murder Attempt as Party Handed Wissam Hassan Report on Hariri Assassination

MP Marwan Hamadeh revealed on Wednesday that he had held talks in Spring 2005 with Hizbullah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah in order to inquire about the attempt against his life in October 2004.

“I met with Nasrallah in late April-early May to ask him if his party was behind the assassination attempt,” he said during his ongoing testimony at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

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Some 400 Mainly Syrian Migrants Rescued after Six-Day Ordeal

A total 408 migrants, mainly Syrians, have been rescued after spending six days adrift on a boat in the Mediterranean, Spanish officials said Wednesday.

The boat carrying the migrants was intercepted by a Spanish oceanographic vessel on Tuesday about 150 nautical miles east of the Sicilian port of Augusta, said the Spanish National Research Council which operates the research vessel said.

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Hariri Calls for Ending Blockade on Arsal, Army to Restore State Authority

Al-Mustaqbal Movement chief Saad Hariri held the government responsible for ending the “siege” imposed on the northeastern border town of Arsal, calling on the army to restore the state's authority.

“The ties between villages and towns shouldn't be taken hostage by gunmen,” Hariri said via his account on Twitter.

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More than 700 Iraqi Kurd Fighters Killed since June IS Offensive

Six months into the jihadist offensive in Iraq, the autonomous Kurds said Wednesday they had lost more than 700 fighters and argued the burden of hosting a million displaced civilians was becoming unsustainable.

Since the Islamic State group launched a devastating offensive from Syria on June 9, Iraq's Kurds have been involved in battles along a frontline stretching more than 1,000 kilometres (600 miles).

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Sharkas Says Lebanese State is Hizbullah Affiliate, Calls on Jihadists to Move Battle to Lebanon

Islamist militant Anas Sharkas, who is also known as Abu Ali al-Shishani, lashed out at the Lebanese state and accused it of collaborating with Hizbullah, calling on jihadists to move the battle into Lebanon.

Sharkas said in an interview published on Wednesday in al-Akhbar newspaper that Hizbullah “considers Iran as gods and entered Syria to murder its men and assault its women.”

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Kerry Calls for New Three-year War Powers to Fight IS

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry Tuesday urged lawmakers to adopt a new legal authorization to underpin military action against Islamic State militants for at least three years.

But during a heated debate, the top U.S. diplomat came under fire from Republicans and Democrats who argued that if President Barack Obama wanted new powers to combat the jihadists, he should have drawn up a draft text to propose to the Senate.

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28 Countries Vow to Resettle Over 100,000 Syrian Refugees

Countries have more than doubled the number of Syrian refugees they are willing to resettle to over 100,000, the head of the U.N. refugee agency said Tuesday.

"Today, 28 countries expressed their solidarity with the Syrian refugees but also with the five neighboring countries which are hosting them... offering what we estimate will be more than 100,000 opportunities for resettlement and humanitarian admission," Antonio Guterres told reporters after a high-level pledging conference in Geneva.

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