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British Twin Girls, 16, Feared to Have Gone to Syria

Two 16-year-old twin girls from a Somalian family in Britain have disappeared from their family home and are feared to have traveled to Syria, counter-terror police said Wednesday.

Salma and Zahra Halane vanished from the family home in Manchester, northwest England, two weeks ago. They flew to Turkey and are thought to have crossed the border into war-torn Syria.

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De Mistura Succeeds Brahimi as Syria Envoy

Italian-Swedish diplomat Staffan de Mistura is to be named the new U.N. mediator for Syria on Wednesday, taking on the Herculean task of finding a political solution to the devastating civil war, diplomats said.

He is to replace Lakhdar Brahimi who resigned in May after two rounds of peace talks yielded no concrete results and as the conflict escalated into a fourth year, killing more than 162,000.

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U.S. Blacklists UAE Company for Helping Syrian Regime

The U.S. Treasury placed a United Arab Emirates company on its sanctions blacklist Wednesday for selling specialty oil products to the Syrian government.

Boosting the pressure on the regime of Bashar Assad, the Treasury at the same time named for sanctions two alleged front companies for Syria's Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC).

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Syria Air Raids Kill 20 Islamic State Jihadists

Twenty members of the Islamic State (IS) were killed in Syrian air force raids Wednesday against the jihadists' bastion in Raqa, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The report comes after Syrian rebels killed at least 14 people, among them women, among them women, in the village of Khatab in the central province of Hama overnight, state media and the Observatory said.

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France Unveils New Bill to Crack Down on Jihadists

France on Wednesday presented a bill aimed at strengthening anti-terrorism laws to stop increasing numbers of aspiring jihadists from traveling to fight in Syria.

The new bill, presented by Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve to the council of ministers, came as a 48-year-old woman was charged under anti-terrorism laws after visiting Syria thrice where her son is fighting.

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UK Firms Exported Chemicals 'Likely' Used in Sarin to Syria

Hundreds of tonnes of chemicals "likely" to have been used by Syria to make the deadly nerve gas sarin were exported by British firms in the 1980s, Foreign Secretary William Hague said Wednesday.

Hague said the chemicals, which can be used legitimately for making plastics and pharmaceuticals, were exported by unnamed British companies to Syria between 1983 and 1986.

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Singapore Concerned over Returning Syrian Jihadists

Singapore on Wednesday expressed concern at the risk of militant attacks posed by local and foreign jihadists returning to Southeast Asia after fighting in Syria.

Interior Minister Teo Chee Hean said returning fighters have the skills to carry out terror attacks or support others planning them. 

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For Thousands still in Assad Jails, Amnesty a 'Fraud'

Syrian President Bashar Assad decreed an amnesty last month but for tens of thousands of prisoners, among them high-profile dissidents, the promise of freedom is a fraud.

Yara Bader, 29, has been desperately waiting for word on her husband Mazen Darwish, a journalist and activist detained since February 2012.

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Iran Urges End to 'Human Catastrophe' in Gaza

Iran's foreign ministry on Wednesday condemned Israeli air raids in the Gaza Strip, calling on the West to urge the Jewish state to prevent a "human catastrophe".

The remarks by Iran, traditional ally of Palestinian militant group Hamas, came after Israeli warplanes pounded targets in Gaza as part of a major campaign to halt rocket fire from the enclave.

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Syrian Refugee Women Face Harassment, Poverty in Lebanon

Before she began working as a hairdresser, poverty forced Syrian Umm Mahmoud to seek donations for food and rent money to survive as a refugee in Lebanon.

Often men suggested she have sex with them to show her gratitude, the 32-year-old said.

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