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Syrian army advances against ISIS in Aleppo province

THE LEVANT NEWS -The Syrian army and allied forces captured the last major town held by Islamic State in Aleppo province on Sunday, state media and a war monitoring group said. State-run news agency SANA said army units made strategic gains in the rural east of the province. The Syrian …

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Trump dismays, angers allies by abandoning global climate pact

By Valerie Volcovici and Jeff Mason | WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump on Thursday said he would withdraw the United States from the landmark 2015 global agreement to fight climate change, drawing anger and condemnation from world leaders and heads of industry. Trump, tapping into the “America First” message he …

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Huge bomb blast kills at least 80 in Afghan capital

By Mirwais Harooni and Josh Smith | KABUL for REUTERS –  A powerful bomb exploded in the morning rush hour in the center of Kabul on Wednesday, killing at least 80 people, wounding hundreds and sending clouds of black smoke into the sky above the presidential palace and foreign embassies. …

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Qatar’s state news agency hacked by ‘unknown entity’

Qatar said on Wednesday its official state news agency was hacked and subsequently carried a “false statement” on sensitive regional topics attributed to the country’s Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani. Among the issues allegedly addressed by the Qatari ruler were the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, strategic relations with Iran, and comments …

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Trump in Saudi on first foreign trip

By Jeff Mason and Steve Holland | RIYADH for Reuters — Dogged by controversy at home, Donald Trump opened his first presidential foreign trip in Saudi Arabia on Saturday and won a warm reception as he looked to shift attention from a political firestorm over his firing of former FBI Director …

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China ‘prepares DNA testing’ of Muslims in Xinjiang

China appears to be laying the groundwork for the mass collection of DNA samples from residents of Muslim-majority Xinjiang amid human rights observers’ concern. China appears to be laying the groundwork for the mass collection of DNA samples from residents of a restive, largely Muslim region that’s been under a security crackdown, rights …

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People across world mark Palestinian Nakba Day

The Levant News — People across the world are commemorating the Nakba Day which marks the anniversary of the forcible eviction of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homeland by Israelis in 1948. The Day of Catastrophe is officially marked every year on May 15, but the occasion this year coincides …

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Khatami urges voters to re-elect Rouhani

The Levant News — Former president Mohammad Khatami, considered the spiritual leader of Iran’s reformists, urged voters on Sunday to re-elect President Hassan Rouhani and support his policy of seeking to end Iran’s isolation from the rest of the world. Iran’s hardline security and judicial powers, which operate separately to …

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Western envoys shun Qatar event attended by Omar Bashir

The Levant News — Western diplomats shunned the opening ceremony of a conference in Qatar on Sunday attended by Sudan’s president, who is wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who came to power in Sudan in a 1989 Islamist and military-backed coup, has …

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Iranian opposition figure Karoubi to vote for Rouhani in election

By Bozorgmehr Sharafedin for Reuters | LONDON — Iranian opposition figure Mehdi Karroubi, under house arrest since 2011, will back President Hassan Rouhani’s bid for a second term in Friday’s election, his family told Reuters. Rouhani, a pragmatist who has eased Iran’s international isolation and now faces mostly hardline conservative …

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Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions declares boycott of Israel

Norway’s biggest trade union votes in favor of an economic, cultural and academic boycott against Israel; the Norwegian government criticizes the boycott, saying it ‘is not the way to go.’ The Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) went against a recommendation from its leadership and voted 197 to 117 in …

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Israel forgives ISIS for attack following ‘apology’

The Levant News — Israel has decided to “absorb” an unintended attack by ISIS (Daesh) after the terrorist group “apologised” for it, former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon told reporters on Wednesday. Expanding on comments made last week on the effectiveness of Israel’s “red lines” policy (by which Israel responds …

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Three more F-35 fighter jets touch down in Israel

The Levant news – Three F-35 stealth fighter jets touched down at the Nevatim Air Force base in southern Israel on Sunday, joining the two that arrived late last year. In total, Israel has agreed to purchase 50 of the fifth generation stealth aircraft, known in Israel as the “Adir,” …

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Dubai to go paperless in 4 years

DUBAI — All Dubai Government departments will cease to use paper in four years as part of efforts to curb waste, the Crown Prince has said. The emirate will celebrate the last paper transaction by government in 2021 – a highly ambitious target for officials. The initiative was launched by …

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Chemical weapons experts in Turkey to investigate

By Anthony Deutsch | AMSTERDAM — Global chemical weapons investigators have gone to Turkey to collect samples as part of an inquiry into an alleged chemical weapons attack in neighbouring Syria last week that killed 87 people. The fact-finding mission was sent by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical …

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New Military Adviser Ivanka Trump Reportedly Convinced Her Father to Bomb Syria

By Esther Yu Hsi Lee, ThinkProgress — “I’m sure she said: ‘Listen, this is horrible stuff.’” vanka Trump — an official government employee without military experience but with her own White House office— reportedly influenced President Donald Trump’s decision to strike against Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad last week, according to her brother …

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Trump aide Gorka drew Libya partition plan on napkin

A top security adviser in the Trump administration reportedly pushed for the territorial division of Libya earlier this year, drawing a partition plan on the back of a napkin while meeting a senior European official. Sebastian Gorka suggested partitioning the country weeks before Donald Trump’s inauguration in January, The Guardian reported. The …

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