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Shells from Syria Hit Shebaa in First Such Incident

Two shells fired from the Syrian side of the border landed Thursday in the Lebanese southern town of Shebaa, in the first incident of its kind since the eruption of the Syrian conflict.

“Two artillery shells struck the eastern part of the town of Shebaa after being launched from the eastern hills of Mount Hermon on the Syrian side of the border,” Lebanon's National News Agency reported.

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Syrian Team, Putin to Discuss Relaunching Peace Talks

A high-level Syrian delegation will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow Wednesday to discuss possibly relaunching peace talks to end the country's civil war, a senior Syrian official said Thursday.

"President Putin will receive the delegation headed by Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, and the meeting will center on the relaunch of negotiations," the official said of the meeting with the key Damascus ally.

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IS Has 'Impaled' itself on Kobane, Says Top U.S. Envoy

The Islamic State (IS) group of jihadists has "impaled itself" on Kobane by pouring fighters into the strategic Syrian town so they can be bombed by the U.S.-led coalition, a senior U.S. envoy said Thursday.

Retired General John Allen, coordinator of the coalition against IS in Iraq and Syria, told Turkey's Milliyet newspaper an estimated 600 IS fighters had already been killed in air strikes and the group would ultimately be defeated in the battle for the town.

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Hamadeh Describes to STL Syria-Hariri Race for Power

MP Marwan Hamadeh told the Special Tribunal for Lebanon on Thursday that during the months that preceded ex-Premier Rafik Hariri's assassination in Feb. 2005, Syria sought to grant former President Emile Lahoud “all powers” at a time when Hariri worked on forming an anti-Damascus opposition in hopes of winning the general elections.

“Lebanon was a parliamentary system, which was being shifted by Syria into a presidential system, whereby Lahoud - a Syrian candidate and a Syrian representative - was grabbing all powers,” Hamadeh told the STL Trial Chamber.

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Turkey Response to Syria Refugee Crisis Showing Strains, Says Amnesty

Turkey's widely-admired response to the refugee crisis sparked by the war in neighboring Syria is now showing its limitations, with hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees living in destitution and others being denied entry, Amnesty International warned Thursday.

Turkey has taken in 1.6 million Syrian refugees since the Syrian conflict began in 2011 but only 220,000 of these are living in refugee camps -- which are now operating at full capacity -- and the rest are fending for themselves, Amnesty said.

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Report: Ibrahim Says Syria Ready to Cooperate in Prisoners Swap Deal

General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim informed the members of the hostage crisis cell that Syrian authorities expressed readiness to cooperate with Lebanon to enter a prisoners swap deal with the Islamic State group and al-Qaida-affiliate al-Nusra Front that kidnapped Lebanese soldiers and policemen in August.

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Boko Haram Steps Up Attacks in Cameroon

Nigerian Islamist extremists Boko Haram are intensifying attacks in neighboring Cameroon, targeting new villages with increasingly sophisticated weapons, as the army fears more violence in the approaching dry season.

"We're convinced that the establishment of a 'caliphate' (by Boko Haram) is aimed not only at Nigeria but also at Cameroon," Leopold Nlate Ebale, commander for an elite battalion in the border zone, told Agence France Presse.

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U.N. Chief Urges Action to Tackle Violent Extremism

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday cautioned against tackling violent Islamic extremism through military means alone and urged governments to avoid counter-terrorism responses that could lead to rights abuses.

Ban told a special Security Council meeting on counter-terrorism that the United Nations was looking at ways to address violent extremism by working with communities "at the grassroots level."

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Egypt Jihadist Arrested on Return from Syria

Egyptian authorities on Wednesday announced the arrest of a jihadist who returned home from the Syrian conflict to train Islamist militants in the use of explosives.

Hani Shahine had fought in the ranks of the Al-Nusra Front, Al-Qaida's franchise in Syria, the interior ministry said.

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9 Civilians Dead in Syria Regime Raid on IS Stronghold

Nine civilians, including a woman, were killed in a Syrian government air raid Wednesday on the city of Raqa, stronghold of the Islamic State jihadist group, a monitoring group said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said four women and a child were among 16 other civilians wounded in the bombing in Raqa, which has also been the target of air strikes by a U.S.-led coalition.

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