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Qahwaji Says Army Averted Deadly Sectarian Strife, Prioritizes Release of Arsal Captives

Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji stressed on Monday that the military institution “saved Lebanon from a deadly sectarian rift,” revealing that the Islamist gunmen in the northeastern town of Arsal were preparing for a “tragedy.”

“The battle of Arsal proved that our army is strong and its morale is high as it cut the road on a scheme to change Lebanon and maybe erase it from the world map,” Qahwaji said in an interview with As Safir newspaper.

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Mashnouq Says Latest Saudi Grant to be Deposited in Central Bank

Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq said on Monday that the latest Saudi grant made to boost the performance of security apparatuses in Lebanon will be deposited in the Central Bank after the cabinet approves it.

“We are currently drafting a formula to approve the grant based on the highest degrees of transparency,” Mashnouq said in comments published in An Nahar newspaper.

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Lawmakers Weigh U.S. Role against Islamic Fighters

Islamic militants' growing influence in Iraq and Syria is a threat to Americans, lawmakers from both political parties agreed Sunday even as they sharply disagreed on what role the United States should play in trying to crush them.

President Barack Obama last week approved limited airstrikes against Islamic State fighters, whose rapid rise in June plunged Iraq into its worst crisis since the end of 2011, when U.S. troops withdrew from the country at the end of an unpopular eight-year war. Obama said the current military campaign would be a "long-term project" to protect civilians from the deadly and brutal insurgents.

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12 Dead, Wounded Syrian Baby Saved from Mother's Womb

Syrian regime air raids killed 12 people on Sunday and wounded 23, including a mother and a baby boy removed from her womb, according to a monitoring group and amateur video.

The video, broadcast by militants in the city of Raqa in northeastern Syria and whose authenticity could not be verified, shows a frail infant being resuscitated with a respiratory mask on his face and blood-soaked cotton by his side.

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Saudi Jails 4 on Charges Linked to Syria Conflict

Saudi Arabia has jailed four of its citizens for up to nearly three years after convicting them of joining or trying to join the conflict in Syria, media reported Sunday.

Two of the men, who were not identified by name, had traveled to Yemen and then Turkey using falsified passports with the intention of joining rebel groups, news website reported. 

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Assad Renames Halqi as Syria PM

President Bashar Assad on Sunday renamed Wael al-Halqi as war-torn Syria's prime minister and asked him to form a new government, state media reported.

The appointment comes three weeks after Assad was inaugurated for a third seven-year term following an election that Syria's exiled opposition and its Western backers denounced as a sham.

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Hariri Dismisses Nasrallah Meeting over Hizbullah's Battle in Syria

A meeting between head of al-Mustaqbal Movement MP Saad Hariri and Hizbullah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah is not on the agenda of the former premier.

According to the pan-Arab daily al-Hayat published on Sunday, the meeting between Hariri and Nasrallah will not be held any time soon as the rift with Hizbullah is still acute.

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Negotiations with Gunmen on Release of Captive Troops to Witness Breakthrough

The next few hours will witness a breakthrough concerning the soldiers and policemen held captive by Islamist gunmen, Muslim Scholars committee member Sheikh Samih Ezzeddine revealed.

“The security personnel, who were held hostage, were divided among several (extremist) factions,” Ezzedine told the pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat on Sunday.

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Security Forces Boost Measures near Syrian Encampments as Crackdown on Extremists Ongoing

Security agencies enforced strict security measures in areas in eastern Lebanon as several Syrian nationals have been arrested recently to “avert any possible terrorist sabotage operation.”

“The strict security measures come in light of the clashes in (the northeastern border town of) Arsal in an attempt to prevent any sabotage operations from occurring,” security sources said in comments published in the pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat.

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Fleeing Syria to Die in Gaza

Abdullah Abu Shabab fled the war in Syria to shelter in Gaza, the home his Palestinian parents lost in the 1967 war. But in the end an Israeli bomb killed him.

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