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Syrian Security Forces Carry Out Raids in Homs and Hama

Syrian security forces searching for anti-government protesters raided houses in central Syria and made arrests, activists and residents said Wednesday.

The troops backed by tanks and military vehicles entered districts in Homs and Hama as part of efforts to crush five months of street protests against President Bashar Assad.

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Tehran Says Iran-Saudi Security is Linked

Iran believes Saudi Arabia's security is linked to its own security, an Iranian foreign ministry official said Wednesday, reacting to a Saudi allegation that Tehran was "targeting" the kingdom.

"Iran has always wanted the stability, peace and progress of Saudi Arabia," the Fars news agency quoted the unidentified official as saying.

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EU to Lift Libya Oil, Port Sanctions Friday

The European Union is expected to lift sanctions against Libya's ports and 22 economic entities including a clutch of oil companies by Friday, diplomats told Agence France Presse.

The EU reached an agreement in principle on Wednesday to remove the six port authorities from its sanctions list as well as 22 other entities, the diplomats said. Three or four oil companies will be de-listed, they said.

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Russian Envoy Will Attend 'Friends of Libya' Meeting

The envoy of President Dmitry Medvedev for Africa will attend this week's conference for "Friends of Libya" in Paris, reports said Wednesday, in the first indication Russia will be represented.

"Mikhail Margelov is going to Paris for the meeting after receiving an invitation," a source in the Russian foreign ministry told Interfax.

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Libya Rebels Say have 'Right to Kill' Gadhafi

Libya's rebels said Wednesday Moammar Gadhafi is almost certainly in Libya and that they have a "right to kill" him, while giving the fugitive strongman's remaining troops until Saturday to surrender.

"The information I have is this: it is 80 percent certain that Gadhafi is still in Libya," Omar Hariri, head of military affairs, told Agence France Presse in Tripoli.

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Israel Says Palestinian U.N. Bid Greater Threat than Hamas

The Palestinian campaign to secure full U.N. membership presents a greater threat to Israel than that posed by Hamas, the Israeli finance minister said on Wednesday.

"This Palestinian initiative represents a more serious threat than that posed by Hamas," Yuval Steinitz told Israel's public radio, referring to Gaza's Islamist rulers whose founding charter calls for the destruction of the Jewish state.

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U.S.: Syria Video of U.S. Envoy is 'Feeble' Distraction Bid

The United States said Tuesday that "pro-government thugs" in Syria made a "feeble attempt" to draw world attention away from protests when they filmed the U.S. ambassador observing a sit-in.

A video posted Monday by the U.S. blog The Cable shows Ambassador Robert Ford being harassed by a supporter of President Bashar al-Assad's regime who tried to wrap him in a poster of the Syrian leader.

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Israel Deploys Missile Boats as Iran Dispatches Fleet to Red Sea

Iran has dispatched a submarine and a warship to the Red Sea on a patrol mission, navy commander Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said in a report by state media on Tuesday.

"This flotilla which is comprised of a submarine and a warship will patrol the high seas and display the capabilities of the Islamic Republic of Iran," said Sayyari, quoted by the state television website.

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Bahrain's Wefaq Demands Courts Close, Slams Attack

Bahrain's main Shiite opposition party, al-Wefaq, on Tuesday demanded the closure of military courts set up during a protest crackdown and condemned an attack on the home of its leader.

In a statement received by Agence France Presse, Wefaq demanded the "closure of military tribunals and the repeal of all their verdicts, the release of all political prisoners and the start of real political reforms" in the Gulf kingdom.

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Army Trains Jewish Settlers Ahead of Palestinian U.N. Bid

The Israeli army is training Jewish settlers in the West Bank to repel any violent protests in the territories when the Palestinians try to secure U.N. membership next month, the military said.

Asked to confirm a report in Haaretz newspaper, the army issued a written statement saying it was in the process of training settlement response teams, "to deal with any possible scenario."

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