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Syria Facebook Group Drums for Rallies

A Facebook page, one of the motors behind an unprecedented string of protests in Syria, called for a Saturday rally in the city of Homs, north of Damascus.

The Facebook group -- which has called several days of protest with different degrees of success -- disclosed the location of the demonstration in advance, a bold gesture in a country infamous for its tight grip on security.

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Fighting Rages Round Libyan Rebel Stronghold

Fighting raged around Libya's rebel stronghold of Benghazi Saturday ahead of a key meeting in Paris to discuss international military action against Moammar Gadhafi's government forces.

The southern edge of the city suffered at least two air strikes and sustained shelling, sending thick smoke into the sky, and a warplane crashed in flames, an Agence France Presse reporter said.

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Egyptians Turn Out in Droves to Taste Democracy

Arab League chief Amr Moussa hailed a huge turnout for a landmark referendum in Egypt on Saturday as voters seized their first taste of democracy after the ouster of veteran president Hosni Mubarak.

Queues had formed outside voting centers even before polls opened at 8:00 am (0600 GMT), something unheard of in the Mubarak-era when turnout for elections was always tiny as voters assumed their ballots would make no difference.

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Obama Threatens Military Action if Gadhafi Defies U.N. Resolution

U.S. President Barack Obama Friday threatened defiant Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi with military action unless he met specific, "non-negotiable" demands for a ceasefire, a halt to attacks on civilians and a retreat from rebel strongholds.

Obama said the world could not stand by because, if left unchecked, Gadhafi would commit atrocities in which thousands could die, adding that the Libyan strongman had been given "ample warning" to change his behavior.

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46 Dead in Yemen Protest Bloodbath, Saleh Declares Emergency Rule

Beleaguered Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh ordered a state of emergency after regime loyalists on Friday killed at least 46 protesters, according to medics, in the bloodiest clash in weeks of unrest.

Witnesses said pro-Saleh "thugs" had rained bullets from rooftops around a square at Sanaa University, the center of demonstrations against Saleh, adding that more than 400 people were wounded.

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Libya Declares Immediate Ceasefire after U.N. Resolution but Rebels Say Attacks Continue

Libya declared Friday an immediate ceasefire in the month-long battle against rebels fighting to overthrow strongman Moammar Gadhafi, but the insurgents dismissed it as a bluff and Washington demanded action, not words.

More than four hours after the announcement, rebels said they were still being attacked by Gadhafi loyalists, a claim Tripoli denied.

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Saudi King Abdullah Vows New Reforms

Saudi Arabia's king promised a multibillion dollar package of reforms, raises, cash, loans and apartments on Friday in what appeared to be the Arab world's most expensive attempt to appease residents inspired by the unrest that has swept two leaders from power.

He also announced 60,000 new jobs in the security forces — a move that would employ huge numbers of otherwise jobless young men, while bolstering his kingdom's ability to snuff out protests.

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Ban to Join EU-Arab-African Summit on Libya Saturday

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon is to join a summit on Libya between the European Union, the Arab League and the African Union in Paris on Saturday, the head of the League's secretariat said on Friday.

"The Arab League has received an invitation from France to take part in a one-day summit between the EU, the African Union and the Arab League tomorrow to discuss the situation in Libya and how to tackle it in the light of the latest U.N. resolution," Hisham Yussef said.

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Over 30 Protesters Shot Dead in Sanaa

More than 30 anti-regime protesters were shot dead and over 100 wounded during a demonstration in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Friday, medics and witnesses said.

According to witnesses, pro-regime "thugs" opened fire on protesters calling for the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh from houses close to the square at Sanaa University.

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Syrian Police Disperse Protest at Damascus Mosque

Plainclothes Syrian security men broke up an apparently spontaneous demonstration by dozens of people after Friday prayers at the main mosque in Damascus, Agence France Presse reporters witnessed.

"God is greatest," a crowd inside the men's section of the Omayyad mosque started chanting in crescendo after prayers.

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