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What to know about the big quake that hit Turkey and Syria

A major 7.8 magnitude earthquake followed by another strong quake devastated wide swaths of Turkey and Syria early Monday, killing thousands of people.

Here's what to know:

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Qatar boosts influence in Lebanon amid multiple crises

Most wealthy Gulf Arab nations followed Saudi Arabia's lead in recent years and ostracized crisis-hit Lebanon because of the growing influence of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah. The exception was Qatar.

Doha has been silently expanding its influence in Lebanon. It continued receiving Lebanese leaders and pumped tens millions of dollars into helping the country's armed forces amid a historic economic meltdown.

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Peshawar, the city of flowers, becomes epicenter of violence

Pakistan's Peshawar was once known as "the city of flowers," surrounded by orchards of pear, quince and pomegranate trees. It was a trading city, situated at the gates of a key mountain valley connecting South and Central Asia.

But for the past four decades, it has borne the brunt of rising militancy in the region, fueled by the conflicts in neighboring Afghanistan and the geopolitical games of great powers.

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Blinken Mideast visit highlights US limitations in region

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday wrapped up a two-day visit to Israel and the occupied West Bank with no visible signs of progress toward halting one of the deadliest outbreaks of Israeli-Palestinian violence in years.

The anemic outcome highlighted what appears to be the limited influence the Biden administration has over Israel's new government, which is dominated by hard-line nationalists who oppose concessions toward the Palestinians. But it also reflected a years-long process that has turned the U.S. into little more than a conflict manager — drawing Palestinian accusations that Washington is a dishonest broker with a bias toward Israel.

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Israeli-Palestinian cauldron tests US as Blinken visits

An alarming spike in Israeli-Palestinian violence and sharp responses by both sides are testing the Biden administration as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken plunges into a cauldron of deepening mistrust and anger on visits to Israel and the West Bank this week.

What had already been expected to be a trip fraught with tension over differences between the administration and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's new far-right government has grown significantly more complicated over the past four days with a spate of deadly incidents. Blinken's high-wire diplomatic act begins on Monday after he completes a brief visit to Egypt that has been almost entirely overshadowed by the deteriorating security situation in Israel and the West Bank.

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Beirut blast probe suspended, restarted, now stalled again  

When a massive explosion killed more than 215 people at Beirut's port in 2020, Lebanese officials promised a swift investigation that would bring culprits to justice within days.

But more than two years later, the probe has been repeatedly stalled, with lead investigator Tarek Bitar accused this week of insubordination for resuming the probe and charging top officials.

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Timeline: Lebanon in dire straits since 2019

Lebanon, which is in a deep economic, social and political crisis, is also witnessing a major showdown between a judge investigating a devastating explosion and the country's top prosecutor.

Here is a recap of events since protests erupted in October 2019:

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'When does this stop?' For 2023, an alarmingly bloody start in US

In a country with more guns than people — and one emerging from three years of isolation, stress and infighting amid the pandemic — Americans are beginning 2023 with a steady barrage of mass slaughter.

Eleven people killed as they welcomed the Lunar New Year at a dance hall popular with older Asian Americans. A teen mother and her baby shot in the head in an attack that killed five generations. A 6-year-old shooting his first-grade teacher in the classroom. The list goes on.

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Tarek Bitar, Lebanon's judge with a grudge

By daring to charge powerful figures in the case of the devastating 2020 Beirut port blast this week, Lebanese judge Tarek Bitar has crossed all red lines and openly challenged an entrenched ruling elite.

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Beirut port blast: the long quest for justice  

The Lebanese judge probing the devastating 2020 blast in Beirut port has resumed work, over a year after political pressure brought the investigation to a halt.

Here are some key facts about the blast and its aftermath.

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