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Syria Refugees Leave Cruise Liner after Cyprus Standoff

Hundreds of mostly Syrian refugees rescued by a cruise liner in the Mediterranean agreed to disembark in Cyprus on Friday after a standoff triggered by their demand to go to Italy.

A total of 345 migrants were plucked by the Salamis Filoxenia from a trawler in rough seas off the coast of Cyprus on Thursday.

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Obama Speaks to Erdogan about Anti-IS Strikes in Iraq, Syria

President Barack Obama spoke briefly with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday about the war against the Islamic State group and the U.S.-led coalition which the Turks have yet to join.

Officials said Obama called Erdogan from Air Force One as he returned from the United Nations General Assembly in New York, where the Turkish leader met with Vice President Joe Biden.

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Washington Says Not Aware of IS Plot to Attack U.S., Paris Subways

U.S. authorities said Thursday they had no knowledge of a plot by Islamic State radicals to attack subway systems in the United States and Paris, following reported comments by Iraq's leader about such a threat. 

Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi was earlier quoted as saying at the United Nations that the alleged plot had been revealed following a series of arrests in Iraq.

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Observatory: Nearly All Jihadists Killed in Syria Raids are Foreign

Foreigners make up the vast majority of the more than 140 jihadists killed by U.S.-led air strikes on the Islamic State group in Syria, a monitoring group said Thursday.

Jihadist fighters from Europe, Arab nations, Chechnya and Turkey dominated total the number of people killed, said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

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Jihadists in Syria Attack French Cement Plant

Islamic State jihadists have seized and set fire to a cement factory in Syria owned by French construction materials giant Lafarge, causing damage to the facility, a monitor said Thursday.

"While advancing on the Kurdish town of Ain al-Arab (Kobane in Kurdish) near the Turkish border, they seized the Lafarge factory and burnt down part of it," said Rami Abdel Rahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

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Britain Readies for Iraq Air Strikes, Arrests Islamists

British Prime Minister David Cameron was preparing Thursday for a key vote on joining air strikes in Iraq as police arrested nine people, including a notorious radical preacher, accused of links to Islamist extremism.

Cameron was meeting ministers after returning from the U.N. General Assembly in New York, where he announced that parliament would vote Friday on British planes joining U.S.-led strikes against the Islamic State (IS) group in Iraq.

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Female UAE Pilot 'Leads Strikes' on Jihadists

A female pilot has led United Arab Emirates air strikes that targeted Islamic State jihadists in Syria as part of the U.S.-led campaign against extremists.

Major Mariam al-Mansouri, 35, "led the squadron" of UAE fighter jets that participated in raids Tuesday against the extremists, an Emirati source familiar with the matter said.

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Dutch Troops Told Not to Travel in Uniform after Jihadist Threat

Dutch soldiers have been told not to wear uniforms on public transport, a defense ministry spokeswoman said Thursday, after a Dutch jihadist in Syria called for attacks in the Netherlands.

"Last night (Wednesday) we advised military personnel not to travel in uniform on public transport," Marloes Visser told AFP.

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Cyprus Cruise Liner Rescues 345 Refugees

A cruise liner returning from Greece was pressed into action in rough seas off Cyprus Thursday to rescue 345 people thought to be Syrian refugees whose trawler had run into trouble.

The refugees, including dozens of children, were loaded aboard the Salamis Filoxenia cruise liner and were in "good health", according to George Ppouro, the harbor master in the Cypriot port of Limassol.

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Syria Army Takes Key Rebel-Held Town near Capital

Syrian government troops recaptured the key rebel-held town of Adra northeast of the capital Damascus on Thursday, a security source said.

But the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group, said fighting was ongoing and despite army advances, the regime still did not have full control of the town.

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