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U.N. Alarmed by Possible Crimes Against Humanity in Syria

U.N. special advisers on human rights have said that violations reportedly committed by security forces in Syria may qualify as crimes against humanity.

Francis Deng, the special adviser to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on the prevention of genocide and Edward Luck, the special adviser on the responsibility to protect, said Friday that Syrian security forces have reportedly continued to kill civilians and make arbitrary arrests.

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Saudi King Appoints Son Deputy Foreign Minister

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has appointed his son deputy foreign minister with the rank of minister, the official SPA news agency said on Friday.

"The king appoints Prince Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz as deputy foreign minister with the rank of minister," SPA quoted a royal decree as saying.

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8 Dead in Syria as More Than 1.2 Million March in Hama, Deir Ezzor

Eight civilians were killed on Friday when Syrian security forces and regime agents used violence to disperse anti-regime demonstrators, as more than 1.2 million protesters flooded streets in the northern city of Hama and Deir Ezzor in the east, activists said.

"More than 1.2 million people marched: in Deir Ezzor there were more than 550,000, and in Hama more than 650,000," Rami Abdul Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, adding the security forces were notable by their absence during the protests.

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Egypt Protesters Back in Tahrir to Push for Change

Hundreds of Egyptian protesters gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Friday to push for reforms, as Islamists held a separate demonstration calling for stability.

Pro-democracy activists had called for a rally in Tahrir Square -- the epicenter of protests that toppled president Hosni Mubarak -- after a cabinet reshuffle failed to satisfy their demands.

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France Demands End to Syrian Army 'Terror' in Homs

France on Friday roundly condemned the latest clampdown on Syrian dissidents in the city of Homs where pro-regime gunmen have killed dozens, saying the army should protect rather than "sow terror."

"France condemns with the most extreme firmness the continued repression carried out by the Syrian authorities which continue, in a headlong rush to nowhere, to daily arrest and kill their own people," foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero told journalists.

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Jordanian Youths Condemn 'Terrorizing' of Media

More than 300 Jordanian youths demonstrated in Amman Friday to condemn government "oppression" and "terrorizing" of the media, a week after several journalists were beaten up as they covered a pro-reform sit-in.

"No to government intimidation, oppression and terrorizing of the press," the youths chanted as they marched from Al-Husseini mosque in central Amman to the nearby city hall.

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Syria Clamps Down on Damascus Ahead of Anti-Assad Protests

Syrian security services deployed in force in Damascus ahead of mass Friday protests called in support of Homs after a deadly crackdown on dissent in the central city, rights activists said.

"Elements of the army and security forces are deployed in the districts of Qabun and Rukneddin. Barricades were set up at the entrances, limiting exits and entries," said Rami Abdel Rahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

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Salehi Hopes for End to 'Misunderstandings' with Saudi Arabia

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said on Friday that he hoped "misunderstandings" with Saudi Arabia could be resolved after a war of words erupted over its military intervention in Bahrain.

Salehi said that Iran respected the sovereignty of Sunni-ruled Shiite-majority Bahrain and hoped that a national dialogue launched by King Hamad after the March crackdown on Shiite-led protests would bear fruit.

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Iran: Dialogue of 'Equals' Possible with U.S.

Iran may consider dialogue with the United States as long as it is between "equals" and Washington respects its people's rights, Foreign Minster Ali Akbar Salehi said in an interview Friday.

"We have not ruled out establishing relations with other countries barring the Zionist regime (Israel), but it is possible that our relations are in an unusual situation with countries like the United States," Salehi told the official IRNA news agency.

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Two Killed in Homs as Syrian Troops Tighten Screws

Syrian security forces shot dead two people on Thursday as they pressed their clampdown on dissidents in the central city of Homs, the capital and elsewhere, activists said, calling for mass protests.

"There was heavy gunfire in the al-Khalidiyeh, Baba Amr and al-Nazhine quarters (of Homs), and two people were killed," said Abdul Karim Rihawi, head of the Syrian League for Human Rights.

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