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UN: Iran not Yet Invited to Syria Peace Talks

New York - Iran is not among the "first round" of nations invited to attend Syria peace talks in Switzerland later this month, a U.N. spokesman said.Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon began sending out invitations Monday. U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq confirmed that Iran is not among them, but he added, "The secretary-general is in favor of inviting Iran." Invitations to the talks are subject to approval by the "ini ...

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Iraq Violence: US Speeds up Supply of Military Equipment

Baghdad - The US says it is speeding up the supply of military equipment to Iraq to help its government fight militant groups in western Anbar province. The White House said additional surveillance drones would be delivered within weeks and more Hellfire missiles sent in the next few months. Fighting in Anbar has led to some of the heaviest clashes in Iraq for years. Troops are preparing to attack the city ...

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Syria Rebels Kill 34 Foreign Fighters in Northwest: Monitor

Damascus - Syrian rebels have killed 34 foreign fighters from al Qaeda-linked groups in the northwest of the country over the last three days, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Tuesday. The killings in the Jabal al-Zawiya region appeared to be part of the wider confrontation by an alliance of rebels against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), across rebel-held territories of north ...

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Influential Syrian Opposition Bloc to Reject Peace Talks

Damascus -      An influential bloc within the Western-backed Syrian opposition is expected to vote on Saturday against participating in talks aimed at ending the nearly three-year conflict, members said. The Syrian National Council has opposed attending the January 22 negotiations because it says world powers have not done enough to force President Bashar al-Assad to cede power. Assad's forces have been ga ...

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Iraq Troops Arrest Leading Sunni MP in Violent Raid

Baghdad - Iraqi security forces arrested a prominent Sunni Muslim lawmaker and supporter of anti-government protests in a raid on his home in the western province of Anbar, sparking clashes in which at least five people were killed, police sources said. The violent arrest of Ahmed al-Alwani is likely to inflame tensions in Sunni-dominated Anbar, where protesters have been demonstrating against what they see ...

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Removal of Chemical Weapons from Syria Delayed: Watchdog

Damascus - The removal of deadly toxins from Syria under an international effort to rid the nation of its chemical arsenal will likely miss a December 31 deadline, the global chemical arms watchdog said. Bad weather and shifting battlefronts in Syria's civil war have delayed the delivery of essential supplies to sites where the toxins are being prepared to be sent to Latakia port, the Organisation for the P ...

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Syrian Helicopter Bomb Raids Kill 42 in Aleppo: Monitors

Damascus - At least 42 people, including children, were killed on Sunday when Syrian army helicopters dropped improvised "barrel bombs" in the northern province of Aleppo, a monitoring group said.The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said separate air raids hit several districts in Aleppo, but the biggest toll was in Hanano, east of the city. At least six children were among the dead. "They ...

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Russia Sends Armored Trucks to Syria to Transport Chemical Arms

Moscow - Russia has sent 25 armored trucks and 50 other vehicles to Syria to help transport toxins that are to be destroyed under an international agreement to rid the nation of its chemical arsenal, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Monday. In a report to President Vladimir Putin, Shoigu said Russian aircraft delivered 50 Kamaz trucks and 25 Ural armored trucks to the Syrian port city of Latakia on De ...

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At Least 18 Iraqi Army Officers Killed in Ambush: Sources

Baghdad - At least 18 Iraqi military officers were killed in an ambush on Saturday in the Sunni Muslim-dominated province of Anbar, military sources said. The commander of the army’s Seventh Division as well as the commander of its 28th Brigade and several other high-ranking officers was among those killed in the attack, the sources said. Another 32 soldiers were wounded. It was not immediately clear why so ...

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U.N. Seeks $6.5 Billion for Syria Crisis in 2014

New York - The United Nations appealed for $6.5 billion for Syria and its neighbors on Monday to help 16 million people next year, many of them hungry or homeless victims of a 33-month-old conflict that has no end in sight. The Syrian appeal accounted for half of an overall funding plan of $12.9 billion to help 52 million people in 17 countries, announced on Monday by U.N. emergency relief coordinator Valer ...

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Iran: Second Monkey Sent into Space

Tehran- Iran said Saturday it has successfully sent a monkey into space for a second time, part of an ambitious program aimed at manned space flight.Iran's state TV said that the launch of the rocket dubbed Pajohesh, or Research in Farsi, was Iran's first use of liquid fuel and reached a height of 120 kilometers (72 miles). It said the monkey, named Fargam or Auspicious, was returned to earth safely. The TV ...

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U.N. Plans First Aid Airlift to Syria from Iraq as Winter Grips

New York - The United Nations' first relief airlift to Syria from Iraq will deliver food and winter supplies to the mostly Kurdish northeast this week with the permission of both governments, the UNHCR refugee agency said on Tuesday. The airbridge, using Ilyushin-76 commercial cargo planes to Hassakeh from Arbil in northern Iraq, will begin on Thursday. Up to 12 flights are scheduled through Sunday, said Am ...

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Iran, Powers To Meet Next Week on Carrying Out Nuclear Deal

Tehran - Envoys of Iran and six world powers will meet next week to start working out steps to implement a deal under which Tehran is to curb its nuclear program in return for some respite from sanctions, a top Iranian negotiator said. The landmark November 24 interim accord between the Islamic Republic and the United States, France, Germany, China, Russia and Britain is seen as a first step towards resolvi ...

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Suicide Bomber Kills 10 at Funeral in Northern Iraq

Baghdad- A suicide bomber in northern Iraq blew himself up at the funeral procession of a Sunni Muslim tribal sheikh on Sunday, killing at least 10 people and wounding 25, police said. No group claimed responsibility for the attack but suicide bombers linked to al Qaeda, who have stepped up attacks this year, frequently target local Sunni leaders and followers considered supportive of Iraq's Shi'ite-led gov ...

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Syria-Fuelled Violence Kills Three in Lebanon’s Tripoli

Tripoli - Three people were killed overnight in fighting in the north Lebanese city of Tripoli, security sources said on Sunday, raising to nine the death toll in 24 hours of violence fuelled by sectarian tensions over Syria's civil war. The clashes between Tripoli's Alawite minority, which supports Syria's Alawite President Bashar al-Assad, and majority Sunni Muslims who back the Syrian rebels, is the late ...

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US: Tough Sanctions on Iran Remain Despite Deal

Washington - The Obama administration said on Friday that it was maintaining tough oil-related sanctions against Iran even though the U.S. and five other world powers have signed an initial deal with Tehran to curb its nuclear program and prevent it from developing nuclear weapons. The White House said in a statement that there appears to be a sufficient supply of non-Iranian oil to permit foreign countries ...

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U.S. Offers to Destroy Syria’s Chemicals at Sea: OPCW

Washington - The United States has offered to destroy Syrian chemicals on a U.S. ship, the global chemical weapons watchdog said on Saturday, and is looking for a suitable Mediterranean port where processing can be carried out. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has been under pressure to find an alternative plan for the destruction of Syria's poison gas arsenal after Albania ba ...

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Free Syrian Army Says No Ceasefire for Geneva Talks

Damascus - The commander of the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) said on Tuesday his group would not join a planned peace conference in Switzerland in January and would pursue its fight to topple President Bashar al-Assad regardless. General Salim Idriss's stance highlights how hard it will be for international mediators to get Syria's warring and divided parties to the negotiating table in Geneva. Assad's gove ...

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UN: Syria Peace Talks to Take Place Jan. 22

New York - Syria's government and opposition will hold their first peace talks on Jan. 22 in Geneva, in an attempt to halt the nearly 3-year-old civil war that has killed more than 100,000 people, the United Nations announced Monday. Previous attempts to bring the two sides together have failed mainly because of disputes over who should represent the Syrian opposition and government, and whether Iran, Saudi ...

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Key Points in Iran Nuclear Deal with World Powers

Geneva- Iran struck a historic nuclear deal Sunday with the United States and five other world powers. Here are some key points in the agreement and why they matter for Iran and the international community: HALTING URANIUM ENRICHMENT ABOVE 5 PERCENT This would keep Iran's enrichment level well below the threshold needed for weapons-grade material, which is more than 90 percent enrichment. Uranium enriched t ...

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