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Pentagon Chief Heads to Israel, Saudi after Iran Deal

U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter heads next week to Israel and Saudi Arabia -- a diplomatic charm offensives to two countries that have expressed serious concerns over the Iran nuclear deal.

Carter, who will also visit Jordan, will be renewing US security commitments in the region, some of which serve as a buffer to Iran's "destabilizing behavior," a senior Pentagon official said Friday.

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Jordan Urged to Halt Pursuit of Journalists over Security

Human Rights Watch urged Jordan Wednesday to stop its pursuit of journalists and to revise its anti-terrorism law, saying the measures were restricting freedom of expression.

"Jordanian authorities are curtailing media freedom by detaining and bringing charges against journalists under broad and vague provisions of the country's terrorism law," a statement said.

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Jordan Says it Has Foiled Iran-Backed Bomb Attack

Jordanian authorities have foiled a "terrorist" attack and arrested an Iraqi man in possession of explosives said to have come from Iran's Revolutionary Guards, a judicial source said on Monday.

"Security services thwarted a terrorist plan at the last minute which was going to be carried out by an Iraqi on behalf of Iran's Quds Force," the source told AFP, without providing further details.

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Lion Cubs Relocated from Impoverished Gaza to Jordan

Two lions cubs were on Sunday taken from a Gaza Strip refugee camp to Jordan, their former owner said, after their maintenance became too great a financial burden.

"We're very sad. The two lions were like children to us," Saadi Jamal said of the five-month old male and female big cats named Max and Mona.

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Salam: I Won't Allow Anyone to Challenge the Cabinet

Prime Minister Tammam Salam has rejected claims that he is suppressing some parties in the government, warning them not to challenge him.

“I am practicing my constitutional authorities and neither challenging nor quelling anyone,” Salam told al-Liwaa daily published on Friday.

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Agencies Say Syrian Children as Young as Six Working in Lebanon

The number of Syrian children being forced to work is increasing with those as young as six reportedly working in some parts of Lebanon, the U.N. children's agency and Save the Children warned on Thursday.

One 13-year-old Syrian refugee, who harvests potatoes in Lebanon, reported having to carry a bag weighing more than 10 kilograms when full and getting beaten with a plastic hose if he left any potato behind, said UNICEF and Save the Children.

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Food Aid to Syrian Refugees in Lebanon Cut in Half amid Funding Crisis

The World Food Program said Wednesday it had to cut food aid for Syrian refugees in Lebanon in half because of a funding crisis and may soon have to halt all food support for most refugees in Jordan.

Lebanon and Jordan are among five countries that host some 4 million Syrian war refugees. The U.N. refugee agency warned last week that with the Syria conflict in its fifth year, funding levels for refugee aid programs dropped to a dangerous low in 2015.

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Israel Approves Extending Security Fence to Jordan Border

Israel has approved extending a security barrier to part of its eastern border with Jordan in a bid to keep out militants and illegal migrants, the prime minister's office said Monday.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the new barrier was a continuation of the one built along the Egyptian border, which "blocked the entry of illegal migrants into Israel and the various terrorist movements."

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Rocket Fired from Syria Kills One in Jordan

A rocket fired from Syria hit a city in northern Jordan Thursday, killing one person and wounding four, a government source said, without indicating who may have been responsible.

"A rocket fired from Syrian territory struck the city of Al-Ramtha, near the Syrian border, killing a young man of 20 and wounding four others," the source said.

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French FM Calls for Renewed Mideast Peace Talks

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Saturday urged the resumption of Middle East peace talks, while warning that continued Israeli settlement building in the occupied West Bank damaged chances of a final deal. 

"What's important is that negotiations restart," Fabius told reporters during a visit to Cairo, where he held what he said were intensive talks with Egyptian officials on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

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