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Rebel videos show first U.S.-made rockets in Syria

By Peter Apps LONDON (Reuters) - Online videos show Syrian rebels using what appear to be U.S. anti-tank rockets, weapons experts say, the first significant American-built armaments in the country's civil war. They would signal a further internationalization of the conflict, with new rockets suspected from Russia and drones from Iran also spotted in the forces of President Bashar al-Assad.

Saudi spy chief, architect of Syria policy, replaced

By Angus McDowall RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabian intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the architect of Riyadh's attempts to bring down Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has been removed from his post, state media reported on Tuesday. His departure, months after he was quoted warning of a "major shift" from the United States over its Middle East policy, may help to smooth relations with Washington as Riyadh pushes for more U.S. support for Syrian rebels.

Saudi Arabia: reported poison gas use by Syria is challenge to world

RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal on Tuesday said the "grave news" that President Bashar al-Assad's forces had carried out two poison gas attacks last week was a challenge to "international will". Rebels and the Syrian government have blamed each other for the alleged poison gas attacks on Friday and Saturday on rebel-held Kfar Zeita village in the central province of Hama. Both sides said chlorine gas had been used.

Spanish king aims for stronger economic ties with the Emirates at start of Gulf outreach tour

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates - King Juan Carlos of Spain began a visit to the Persian Gulf region on Monday by telling United Arab Emirates officials that deepening ties with their oil-rich country was a top priority, highlighting the role wealthy Arab states could play in shoring up the battered Spanish economy.

One foreign health worker dies, five infected with MERS in UAE: agency

DUBAI (Reuters) - One expatriate health worker has died from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and five others have been infected with the disease in the United Arab Emirates, state news agency WAM reported on Friday. The cases follow Saudi Arabian reports this week that two deaths and nine other cases of infection had been reported there, including among hospital staff. WAM said the six were all first aid service personnel from the Philippines working with the UAE Interior Ministry in the city of al-Ain.

Libya-Tunisia border post re-opens after weeks of tension

The main border crossing between Libya and Tunisia, a gateway for contraband Libyan petrol whose closure nearly a month ago fuelled tensions in southern Tunisia, reopened on Monday. Tripoli decided to close the Ras Jedir crossing in early March, according to Tunisian officials, a decision thought to have been linked to the large number of vehicles loaded with cheap fuel arriving in Tunisia. Libyan vehicles started arriving once again mid-afternoon on Monday, after Tunisia's interior ministry stated earlier that the Libyan authorities had agreed to reopen the border post.

Kuwait minister accused by US of jihad links 'to stay'

Kuwait's Islamic affairs minister, accused by a senior US official of promoting jihad in Syria, was reported Monday as saying he will stay on after his resignation was rejected. Al-Qabas daily cited Nayef al-Ajmi as saying he will remain in the post after a request from the "political leadership" following a meeting on Sunday. The term "political leadership" generally refers to the ruler of the oil-rich Gulf state. "I will obey the orders of the political leadership and will continue along the same path I have started," Ajmi, who is also justice minister, said.

Kuwait minister under US fire on Syria jihad quits

A Kuwaiti minister, accused by a senior US official of promoting jihad in Syria, has resigned just days after receiving the backing of fellow cabinet members, a report said Friday. Justice and Islamic Affairs Minister Nayef al-Ajmi, who strongly denies the US accusations, said he had asked to be relieved of his duties for health reasons, Al-Rai newspaper reported. The US Treasury under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, David Cohen, charged earlier this year that Ajmi "has a history of promoting jihad in Syria."

Obama seeks to allay Saudi fears on Iran, Syria

US President Barack Obama sought Friday to allay Riyadh's criticism of his policies on Syria and Iran, telling the Saudi king their two countries remain in lockstep on strategic interests. He also assured King Abdullah that the US "won't accept a bad deal" with Iran, as global powers negotiate a treaty reining in Tehran's controversial nuclear programme. Obama arrived from Italy to meet for some two hours with the monarch of the oil-rich kingdom on a royal estate outside Riyadh on the last leg of a six-day tour.

Obama ready to expand covert aid to Syrian opposition: report

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States is ready to step up covert aid to Syrian rebels under a plan being discussed with regional allies including Saudi Arabia, according to a Washington Post report. The plan includes CIA training of about 600 Syrian opposition forces per month in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Qatar, foreign affairs columnist David Ignatius wrote on Thursday. That would double the forces currently being trained in the region.
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