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U.S. Says 'Combat Advisers' May Battle IS in Iraq, Strikes to Target 'Safe Havens' in Syria

The United States plans to strike the Islamic State group in its Syrian strongholds and could send military advisers into combat alongside Iraqi troops, American commanders said Tuesday.

Military leaders warned of a further escalation in their battle against the jihadists just as two branches of the rival Al-Qaeda group called for a united front against the war coalition Washington is building.

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Saudi Beheads Syrian Drug Trafficker

A Syrian convicted of drug trafficking was beheaded in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, the interior ministry said.

Mohammed Ismail al-Jammus had been charged with smuggling a large quantity of amphetamines into the country, a ministry statement reported by state news agency SPA said.

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Syrian Opposition Halts Vaccinations after Death Reports

The Syrian opposition said Tuesday it halted a measles vaccination campaign in northeastern Idlib province following reports that children had died after being inoculated.

The announcement came in a statement posted on the websites of the Syrian opposition National Coalition and the rebel interim government.

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Austria Probes Reports of Syria-Bound Teenage Girl's Death

Austrian authorities said Tuesday they were investigating reports that one of two teenage girls who traveled to Syria earlier this year to join Islamist militants has been killed.

"Rumors are circulating on the Internet and we are checking that information," interior ministry spokesman Karl-Heinz Grundboeck told AFP, confirming local newspaper reports.

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Qaida Branches Urge Unity against U.S.-Led 'War on Islam'

Powerful Al-Qaida branches in Yemen and North Africa called Tuesday for jihadists in Iraq and Syria to unite against the common threat from a U.S.-led coalition.

An unprecedented joint statement from Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula and Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb urged their "brothers" in Iraq and Syria to "stop killing each other and unite against the American campaign and its evil coalition that threatens us all."

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Syria Criticizes Exclusion from Anti-Jihadist Talks

A senior Syrian official on Tuesday criticized the international community for excluding Damascus from recent talks on building a coalition to tackle the Islamic State group.

Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Muqdad, quoted by state news agency SANA, expressed "astonishment" that Syria was not invited to the talks, which were attended by countries that Damascus claims fund "terrorism".

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Nusra Threatens to Kill Captive Soldier, Says Army Controlled by Hizbullah

The Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front on Tuesday threatened to execute captive Lebanese army soldier Mohammed Maarouf Hamiyeh over what it called the army's “persecution” of Syrian refugees and “procrastination” in the negotiations between the group and Lebanese authorities.

“Let everyone know that the path of negotiations was not blocked by us and that we do not have crippling demands as they are claiming,” the Front said in an “urgent statement” on one of its official Twitter accounts.

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U.N. Says Damascus, Opposition Must 'Compromise' to Beat jihadists

The Syrian government and mainstream opposition must seek a compromise to end three and half years of bloody civil war and block the rise of murderous jihadists, U.N. investigators said Tuesday.

"The rise of (Islamic State fighters) has emphasized the need for the government and mainstream opposition to find common ground and to commit to making compromises," said Paulo Pinheiro, who heads the United Nation's Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Syria.

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Turkey Mulls Buffer Zone along Iraq, Syria Border

Turkey's military is mulling the prospect of establishing a buffer zone along its border with Syria and Iraq amid an escalating threat posed by Islamic State extremists, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was quoted as saying on Tuesday.

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Militants Dead and Injured in Infiltration Clash With Army

Several jihadists were killed and wounded in gunbattles with the Lebanese army that repelled their advance from the Syrian border town of Fleita into Lebanese territories, the state-run National News Agency reported on Tuesday.

NNA said that the army confronted the militants on the northeastern border overnight after they tried to infiltrate Lebanon from an area near Fleita that lies in the Syrian Qalamoun region.

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