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Masked gunmen murder Lebanese soldier in Tripoli

Masked gunmen on a motorcycle fatally wounded a Lebanese soldier Thursday in Tripoli, which has been regularly rocked by sectarian clashes linked to the conflict in Syria, the army said. Fadi Jbaili, a Sunni Muslim native of the northern port city, was shot in the Boulevard district as he walked to work at around 6:15 am (0415 GMT). "He was seriously wounded and later succumbed to his injuries," the army statement said.

Lebanese army officer shot dead in northern city of Tripoli: state media

BEIRUT (Reuters) - A Lebanese army officer was shot dead in the country's second city of Tripoli during fighting between rival sects on Thursday, a security source and state media said. Lebanon's National News Agency said masked men on a motorcycle had opened fire on the officer, Fadi al-Jbaili, at around 6:30 a.m., killing him instantly. Fighting between Tripoli's Sunni Muslims and members of the Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam, has killed at least 28 people over the last two weeks.

Turkey vows 'any measures' against Syria threats

Turkey is ready to take any measures against threats to its national security from war-torn Syria, its foreign minister warned Wednesday. "The Turkish republic is a powerful state and never hesitates to take any measures to protect its national security if need be," Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told AFP in an exclusive interview. When asked by AFP, he did not rule out the possibility of cross-border operations into the neighbouring country.

Iraq reports first suspected polio case since 2000

Iraq's health ministry said Wednesday it had found its first suspected polio case in 14 years, which could have originated in neighbouring Syria where confirmed cases have sparked a region-wide alert. The suspected case was found in a young boy in Bab al-Sham near Baghdad, ministry spokesman Ziad Tariq told AFP. He said the case was not yet confirmed and that samples had been sent to the United States for further testing, with results expected on Sunday. If confirmed, it would be Iraq's first case of polio since 2000.

Iraq reports first suspected polio case since 2000

Iraq's health ministry said Wednesday it had found its first suspected polio case in 14 years, which could have originated in neighbouring Syria where confirmed cases have sparked a region-wide alert. The suspected case was found in a young boy in Bab al-Sham near Baghdad, ministry spokesman Ziad Tariq told AFP. He said the case was not yet confirmed and that samples had been sent to the United States for further testing, with results expected on Sunday. If confirmed, it would be Iraq's first case of polio since 2000.

Syria forces in heavy counterattack on rebels in Latakia

Syrian government forces intensified their shelling Wednesday of positions seized by rebels in the coastal province of Latakia, focusing on the Kasab border crossing into Turkey, an army officer said. The province is the historic heartland of President Bashar al-Assad's clan and his Alawite sect of Shiite Islam, and territory the regime will not easily give up. An AFP correspondent, who was with troops in the village of Al-Bassit, 15 kilometres (nine miles) west of Kasab, reported seeing columns of smoke rising over a mountain separating it from the border crossing.

Three killed in fighting in Lebanon's Tripoli: sources

TRIPOLI, Lebanon (Reuters) - At least three people were killed in fighting between rival religious sects in Lebanon's second city on Wednesday, medical and security sources said, as violence from Syria spills over into the small Mediterranean country. The dead in the coastal city of Tripoli included an 11-year-old boy, as well as two men, the sources said. The long-running rivalry between Tripoli's Sunni Muslims and members of the Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam, has been worsened by Syria's three-year-old conflict.

Kerry meets Abbas in bid to rescue Mideast talks

US Secretary of State John Kerry met Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Wednesday seeking to rescue his faltering Middle East peace bid. Flying in to Amman from an interrupted visit to Rome, Kerry first held talks with Jordan's King Abdullah II as he pressed his bid to "continue to narrow the gaps" between the two sides, his spokeswoman said. He then went into evening talks with Abbas who had just returned from the Arab League's annual summit in Kuwait, a US official said. jkb/kir/al

Kerry meets Abbas in bid to rescue Mideast talks

US Secretary of State John Kerry met Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Wednesday seeking to rescue his faltering Middle East peace bid. Flying in to Amman from an interrupted visit to Rome, Kerry first held talks with Jordan's King Abdullah II as he pressed his bid to "continue to narrow the gaps" between the two sides, his spokeswoman said. He then went into evening talks with Abbas who had just returned from the Arab League's annual summit in Kuwait, a US official said. jkb/kir/al

Arabs urge Syria political solution, reject 'Jewish state'

Arab leaders called Wednesday for a political solution to the conflict in Syria sidestepping Saudi-backed demands for greater military support for rebel forces to tip the balance in the war. But they were fully united in their support for Palestinian refusal to recognise Israel as a Jewish state, a flashpoint issue threatening to derail US-brokered peace talks. Syria's opposition National Coalition chief Ahmed Jarba had called at Tuesday's opening of the two-day summit in Kuwait for the rebels to be supplied with "sophisticated" weaponry.
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