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At Least 4 Dead as Syria Forces Make Sweeping Arrests

Military operations in Syria killed at least four civilians on Wednesday in an unrelenting crackdown on dissent as a pro-democracy protest movement entered its sixth month, activists said.

The central committee of the ruling Baath party, which has been in power since 1963, met for the first time since protests against President Bashar al-Assad's regime erupted in mid-March, pro-government daily Al-Watan said.

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Report: Syria Intimidating Expats Abroad

Syrian diplomats are intimidating expatriates who speak out against the regime, and reporting back home where dissidents' relatives are then threatened and arrested, according to Wednesday's Wall Street Journal.

The Obama administration told the Journal it had "credible" evidence that the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad is using the reports from its embassies abroad to target relatives of those living overseas, particularly Syrian-Americans who have joined peaceful U.S. protests.

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Report: Israel Ministers Debate Palestinian U.N. Bid

Ministers in the Israeli security cabinet were meeting on Wednesday to discuss the possible scenarios in September when Palestinians try to secure U.N. membership, Israel's main radio stations said.

The meeting was called by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a bid to talk through assessments of how things would play out in New York when the General Assembly meets in mid-September, as well as looking at the expected wave of rallies and demonstrations of support across the Palestinian territories.

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Quartet 'Concerned' by Israeli Settlement Move

The United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations on Tuesday attacked Israel's move to expand a West Bank settlement as a threat to peace efforts.

The new public condemnation of Israel came amid intense efforts by Tony Blair, the diplomatic Quartet's special envoy, to get the Palestinians and Israelis back into direct talks, diplomats reported.

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Turkey Opposes Foreign Intervention, Killing of Civilians in Syria

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Tuesday that Turkey is opposed to any foreign intervention in Syria, where the regime's violent crackdown on pro-democracy protests has drawn international condemnation.

"We do not want foreign intervention in Syria," Davutoglu said after a Ramadan fast breaking dinner in Ankara.

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Clinton Suggests Ankara, Riyadh Urge Assad to Step Down

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday that Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other governments should call on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, but declined to make that call herself.

"It's not going to be any news if the United States says Assad needs to go," Clinton said, suggesting the world's reaction to such a move would be, "Ok, fine. What's next?"

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Yemen's Saleh Vows to Return Soon, Blasts Foes

Yemen's wounded President Ali Abdullah Saleh vowed Tuesday to return home "soon" and lashed out at his opponents, in answer to speculation he is poised to step down following 10 weeks of recovery abroad.

"See you soon in the capital Sanaa," he said, in an address from Riyadh to a meeting of his supporters in Sanaa that was broadcast on state television.

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Britain Says Assad 'Losing Last Shreds of Legitimacy'

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is "fast losing the last shreds of his legitimacy," British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Tuesday as the regime escalated its crackdown on pro-democracy protests.

As Syrian forces raked the revolt-hit Mediterranean port city of Latakia with machine-gun fire that has already killed dozens, Hague said he was "appalled by the ongoing repression of civilians by the Syrian government".

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Syrian Army Leaves Deir Ezzor after 10-Day Operation

Dozens of Syrian army vehicles left the eastern protest hub of Deir Ezzor on Tuesday after a 10-day operation in which activists say up to 30 people were killed, an Agence France Presse journalist on a government tour of the city reported.

"The army conducted a quick and sensible operation in Deir Ezzor in order to restore stability and calm at the request of residents," who complained of "armed groups," an officer told reporters.

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HRW Urges EU to Freeze Assets of Syria State Institutes

Advocacy group Human Rights Watch on Tuesday said it had urged the European Union to freeze the assets of the Syrian National Oil Company, Syrian National Gas Company, and the Central Bank of Syria until Damascus "ends gross human rights abuses against its citizens."

"Syria’s authorities are still killing their own people despite multiple efforts by other countries, including former allies, to make them stop," said Lotte Leicht, EU director at the New York-based HRW.

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