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Libya NTC Forces in 'Tactical' Withdrawal from Bani Walid

Fighters loyal to Libya's new leaders on Friday thrust deep into the city of Sirte and into desert oasis Bani Walid, two of fugitive Moammar Gadhafi’s few remaining bastions, Agence France Presse reporters said.

On the political front, officials in Tripoli said a new transitional government would be announced on Sunday, while the U.N. General Assembly gave Libya's U.N. seat to the former rebel National Transitional Council.

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Bahrain Forces Fire Tear Gas, Rubber Bullets at Funeral

Bahraini security forces fired tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades Friday to disperse thousands of mourners at the funeral of a man who died after he himself was tear-gassed, a Shiite politician said.

"Security forces used tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse the demonstrators while the majority of them were trying to leave at the end of the funeral," said Matar Matar, a senior member of Al-Wefaq, Bahrain's largest Shiite opposition formation.

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Red Cross Slams Attacks on Medical Services in Syria

The international Red Cross on Friday condemned attacks on medical services in Syria, saying that relief workers and ambulances have come under fire on several occasions in the country.

"It is completely unacceptable that volunteers who are helping to save other people's lives end up losing their own," said Beatrice Megevand-Roggo, the International Committee of the Red Cross' head of operations for the Near and Middle East.

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Abbas: We Want to Delegitimize Occupation, Not Israel

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas vowed Friday to lodge a bid for U.N. membership before the Security Council in one week, despite mounting Israeli and U.S. opposition.

"We are going to the Security Council," he said in a televised address to the Palestinian people from his Ramallah headquarters.

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Iraq Pressing Iran to Free U.S. Hikers

Iraq's leaders, including the president and prime minister, have repeatedly called on Iran to release two U.S. hikers convicted by Tehran for spying, Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told Agence France Presse on Friday.

"We passed messages to the Iranians at all levels, from the president himself to the prime minister to the foreign minister," Zebari said, referring to President Jalal Talabani and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

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Syria Slams Arabi Talks with Opposition as 'Serious Precedent'

Syria has filed a “strong formal protest memorandum” with the Arab League over Wednesday’s meeting between its Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi and “figures claiming to represent the Syrian opposition,” Syria’s official news agency SANA said Friday.

The opposition figures “handed al-Arabi a list of demands calling for all forms of flagrant foreign interference, including military intervention,” SANA said.

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Erdogan to Assad: Time for Oppressors is Past

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Friday, telling him the era of oppressive dictators is past.

Erdogan, who is in Tripoli on the final leg of his "Arab Spring" tour, hailed the advent of democracy in Libya and the "memory of martyrs who sacrificed themselves for their country and their religion."

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Sadrists Take to Iraq Streets to Decry Poor Public Services

Thousands of supporters of radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr rallied in Baghdad and south Iraq on Friday to decry graft and poor public services, holding up broken appliances to highlight their plight.

In the Shiite stronghold of Sadr City in the capital, protesters also railed against the U.S. military presence in Iraq and held up pictures of their leader alongside Iraqi flags, while demonstrations also took place in several central and southern cities.

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Israel Summons Egypt Envoy over PM Peace Treaty Remarks

Israel's foreign ministry on Friday summoned the Egyptian ambassador after statements by Prime Minister Essam Sharaf, who said the peace treaty between the two states is "not sacred", Israeli website Ynet reported.

Foreign Ministry Director General Rafi Barak summoned Ambassador Yasser Reda to express Israel's "irritation over the recurrent calls from senior Egyptian officials over the need for modification to the peace treaty," Ynet reported.

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Hundreds in Cairo's Tahrir Square Slam Emergency Law

Hundreds of people gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square Friday to protest against the recent expansion of the emergency law, amid palpable anger over the military's handling of transition from autocratic rule.

Last week the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) widened the scope of the emergency law -- restricted in 2010 by ousted president Hosni Mubarak to narcotics and terrorism -- to strikes, traffic disruption and the spreading of rumors.

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