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'Hell on earth': Ukrainian soldiers describe eastern front

Torched forests and cities burned to the ground. Colleagues with severed limbs. Bombardments so relentless the only option is to lie in a trench, wait and pray.

Ukrainian soldiers returning from the front lines in eastern Ukraine's Donbas region — where Russia is waging a fierce offensive — describe life during what has turned into a grueling war of attrition as apocalyptic.

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Timeline: Hong Kong under 25 years of Chinese rule

The following are key events in the history of Hong Kong, which marked the 25th anniversary of its handover from British to Chinese rule on Friday.

China had promised the territory could retain its civil, economic and political liberties for 50 years under the "one country, two systems" framework. However, in recent years Beijing has severely limited rights to free speech and assembly and virtually eliminated political opposition under the rubric of maintaining national security.

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Yair Lapid's unlikely rise from TV star to Israeli prime minister  

Some in Israel dismissed Yair Lapid as just another media star when the former news anchor, ad pitchman and soap actor launched his bid for political power a decade ago.

But the 58-year-old, who is set to become the Jewish state's next prime minister at midnight, has a history of surpassing expectation during a political career which, even by Israeli standards, has been turbulent.

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Israel's separation barrier, 20 years on

Twenty years after Israel decided to build its controversial separation barrier, the network of walls, fences and closed military roads remains in place, even as any partition of the land appears more remote than ever.

Israel is actively encouraging its Jewish citizens to settle on both sides of the barrier as it builds and expands settlements deep inside the occupied West Bank, more than a decade after the collapse of any serious peace talks.

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In Lebanon, how to say 'I do' sparks fierce debate

Dona-Maria Nammour was looking for a love story. The night she met Mazen Jaber for the first time, they ended up dancing for hours.

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Troubled at home, France's Macron remains a key world player

Emmanuel Macron may be weakened at home after parliamentary elections forced him into political maneuvering, but on the international stage the French president has the resources to remain one of the most influential world leaders.

France's foreign allies closely watched Sunday's elections where Macron's alliance won the most seats but lost its majority in the National Assembly, France's most powerful house of parliament.

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A world apart, Lebanon and Sri Lanka share economic collapse

Lebanon and Sri Lanka may be a world apart, but they share a history of political turmoil and violence that led to the collapse of once-prosperous economies bedeviled by corruption, patronage, nepotism and incompetence.

The toxic combinations led to disaster for both: Currency collapse, shortages, triple-digit inflation and growing hunger. Snaking queues for gas. A decimated middle class. An exodus of professionals who might have helped rebuild.

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Why Sri Lanka's economy collapsed and what's next

Sri Lanka's prime minister says the island nation's debt-laden economy has "collapsed" as it runs out of money to pay for food and fuel. Short of cash to pay for imports of such necessities and already defaulting on its debt, it is seeking help from neighboring India and China and from the International Monetary Fund.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who took office in May, was emphasizing the monumental task he faces in turning around an economy he said is heading for "rock bottom."

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Israelis train in ghost town dubbed 'Mini Gaza'

The Muslim call to prayer echoes through a remote town in southern Israel that has known only war.

Its 500 buildings, the tallest eight stories high, are deserted. Its narrow alleys are adorned with militant murals and posters honoring slain Palestinian fighters. It cannot be found on any map.

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Lapid, set to be Israel's next premier, faces critical test

In a 10-year political career, Israel's Yair Lapid has transformed himself from an upstart political novice to a feisty opposition leader to the savvy operator who toppled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Next week, he is expected to assume his biggest role yet — as the new prime minister.

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