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Shaky Security in Tripoli as Army Strikes with Force to Restore Calm

The Lebanese army enforced strict measures in the northern city of Tripoli on Thursday to restore calm following overnight gunbattles with gunmen in the neighborhood of Bab al-Tabbaneh.

According to a communique issued by the army command on Thursday, the military is carrying out raids in pursuit of offenders who opened fire at the army and arrest them.

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Twin Car Bombs Kill 25 in Syria's Homs

Two car bombs killed at least 25 people, including women and children, in a government-held neighborhood of Syria's central city of Homs Wednesday, state news agency SANA reported.

Another 100 people were wounded in Karam al-Luz, in attacks SANA blamed on "terrorists," the government's term for people fighting to overthrow President Bashar Assad.

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Pope Condemns Syria Destruction after Priest's Murder

Pope Francis on Wednesday condemned the "destruction" of Syria at a general audience in St Peter's Square following the murder of a Catholic priest in Homs.

"May the weapons fall silent! No more war, no more destruction," Francis said, expressing his "profound pain" after the killing of Father Franz van der Lugt.

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Rare Aid Enters Rebel-Held Areas in Syria's Aleppo

Syria's Red Crescent and the U.N. refugee agency have delivered aid to rebel-held areas of Aleppo city for the first time in 10 months, the Red Crescent said Wednesday.

"Yesterday at noon we and a UNHCR team were able to bring in aid from the Jisr al-Haj crossing," Red Crescent operations chief Khaled Erksoussi told Agence France Presse.

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Syria Army Seizes Rebel Town of Rankus

Syria's army seized the rebel-held town of Rankus on Wednesday, state media reported citing a military source, as the regime extends its control over the strategic Qalamun region.

"Units of the Syrian army have now accomplished their operation in the Rankus area and restored security and stability after eliminating a large number of terrorists," state media said.

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Kerry: U.S. Air Strikes on Syria Not 'Devastating'

Threatened military strikes against Syria would not have affected the course of the country's civil war, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told lawmakers on Tuesday.

Speaking before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Kerry said U.S. military action -- ultimately abandoned by President Barack Obama at the 11th hour last year -- would not have had a "devastating impact" on the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

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Syria Army, Hizbullah Start Battle for Rankus in Qalamun

Syrian regime forces have shelled the Rankus area ahead of an operation to retake the town, one of the last rebel-held regions in the Qalamun area, a monitoring group said Tuesday.

Hizbullah's al-Manar television also reported that the Syrian army had begun an offensive against Rankus.

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Syrian Opposition: Nasrallah's Latest Remarks Reflect Hizbullah's Great Losses in Syria

The Syrian opposition slammed on Tuesday the latest positions of Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on the Syrian conflict, saying that they are a reflection of the party's waning influence on the ground.

Syrian National Coalition member Mohammed Yehya Maktabi said: “Nasrallah's remarks are a sign of the great confusion Hizbullah is experiencing as a result of the great number of losses among its ranks.”

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Italy Rescues 1,000 Migrants As Asylum Claims Shoot up

Italy's navy on Tuesday said it had rescued more than 1,000 migrants over the past 24 hours, as new data showed a sharp rise in asylum claims, mostly from Syrians.

Italy began a navy operation "Mare Nostrum"(Our Sea) -- a Latin reference to the Mediterranean -- after more than 400 migrants from Eritrea and Syria perished in twin tragedies off Italian shores in October 2013.

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Syria Opposition Chief to Visit China

The head of Syria's opposition National Coalition, Ahmad Jarba, is to hold talks later this month in China, a Syrian government ally, his office said on Tuesday.

"National Coalition president Ahmad Jarba will make an official visit to China on April 14," the media section of his office told AFP.

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