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IS Attacks Syria Druze Village, Battles for Palmyra

Islamic State group jihadists attacked a village in Syria's southern Druze heartland on Tuesday and clashed with pro-government forces north of the ancient city of Palmyra, a monitoring group said.

"IS killed five fighters from the National Defense Forces and one woman in their attack on the Druze village of al-Haqef in Sweida province," said Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director Rami Abdel Rahman.

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Mother of Austin Tice, Missing in Syria, Urges his Release

The mother of Austin Tice, a freelance reporter who went missing in Syria more than 1,000 days ago, made an emotional plea on Tuesday for his release.

Speaking in Beirut, Debra Tice urged anyone with information about the fate of her son to come forward, and asked his captors to consider allowing him to phone her or meet a friend of the family.

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Nasrallah, Velayati Discuss Ways to Confront Latest Developments

Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has discussed with the adviser of Iran's supreme leader the latest security and political developments, Hizbullah announced on Tuesday.

Nasrallah likely met on Monday with Ali Akbar Velayati, who was in Beirut on a one-day official visit.

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Jordan Rejects Syria Charge of Training 'Terrorists'

Jordan on Tuesday rejected Syrian accusations that "terrorists" were being given military training on its soil, insisting Amman favored a political solution to its neighbor’s conflict.

The Syrian foreign ministry, in a protest letter sent to the United Nations on Monday, alleged Jordan "provides logistical support to armed terrorist groups, including (al-Qaida affiliate) al-Nusra Front".

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Mexico's FM Looks Forward for Cooperation with Lebanon on Syria Refugees

Mexican Foreign Minister Jose Antonio Meade, who is on an official visit to Beirut, said he is looking forward for a wider cooperation with Lebanon to help it confront the burden of Syrian refugees.

“Part of our dialogue with Lebanon should take into consideration Lebanon's burden in assisting the refugees,” Meade told An Nahar daily in an interview published on Tuesday.

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Australia PM Rules Out Leniency for ex-Jihadists

Australia on Tuesday ruled out any leniency for returning jihadists following reports that three of its nationals suspected of fighting with Islamic State were in secret negotiations with Canberra to come home.

The Australian newspaper said the three had approached authorities via intermediaries or family members, but that the talks were stalled over what punishment they would face and fears of the risk they might pose if they were reissued passports and allowed to return. 

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Kerry Plays Russian Roulette Gambling on Easing Ties

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry took a risky gamble facing derision and much skepticism when he flew to Russia last week for the first time in two years to meet President Vladimir Putin.

But his bet may be beginning to pay off, as two top American diplomats were welcomed in Moscow on Monday for top-level talks for the first time in months on two crises bedeviling global affairs -- Ukraine and Syria.

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Fall of Ramadi Deals a Blow to U.S.-led War on IS

The Islamic State group's seizure of Ramadi represents a painful blow to the U.S.-led war against the jihadists, raising fresh doubts about Washington's war strategy and the military strength of its partners in Iraq.

The defeat of Iraqi security forces in the capital of Anbar province came despite more than 160 air strikes by U.S. and coalition warplanes over the past month, and after an elaborate effort starting last year to arm and train Baghdad government troops and Sunni tribesmen.

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Syria Accuses Jordan of Training 'Terrorists'

Syria has accused Jordan of training "terrorists" on its soil and urged the U.N. Security council to force an end to Amman's backing of rebel groups.

The accusation came in a letter sent Monday by the foreign ministry to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the president of the U.N. Security Council, the official news agency SANA said.

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Syria Power Output Down 56% in War

Electricity generation in Syria has dropped by 56 percent since the civil war began in March 2011, the pro-government al-Watan newspaper reported on Monday.

"The production of electricity was at 22 billion kilowatts in 2014, compared to nearly 50 billion kilowatts in 2011 -- which is a 56 percent decrease in the last four years of war," electricity ministry official Nassuh Semsmieh told the paper. 

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