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Wednesday, Oct 22nd

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Islamic State beheads 2nd captive Lebanese soldier

Islamic sdtate beheadsThe mother of a Lebanese soldier held captive by the militant Islamic State group said photographs posted online Saturday purporting to show his beheading appeared to be real.

Zeinab Noun said her 20-year-old son, Abbas Medlej, was "sacrificed" after supporters of the militant Sunni group posted images appearing to show a captured Lebanese soldier before and after he was beheaded.

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U.S. confirms al-Shabaab leader Ahmed Godane killed in drone strike

AlShabaab leader killedThe White House confirmed Friday that al-Shabaab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane was killed in a drone strike launched in Somalia last weekend.

The confirmation came after a week of uncertainty whether the targeted strike had been successful.

Somali officials recovered three bodies from the drone strike site in the remote Shabelle region in what Somali intelligence officer Ahmed Farah described as a "very tough operation." Two bulletproof ambulances transporting the corpses arrived in Mogadishu on Friday to undergo forensic DNA testing.

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France halts warship delivery to Russia

France halts Russian warship deliveryFrance has said conditions are "not right" for delivery of the first of two Mistral navy assault ships to Russia.

President Francois Hollande's office blamed Moscow's recent actions in Ukraine.

France had until now resisted pressure to halt the delivery, saying it had to respect an existing contract.

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U.S. condemns Israeli expropriation of West Bank land

US condemns israeli land grabThe United States levied unusually harsh criticism at Israel on Tuesday, denouncing plans to seize a large tract of West Bank land for Israeli homes.

The State Department called on Israel to reverse its announced plan to appropriate nearly 1,000 acres in the occupied West Bank.

“We are deeply concerned about the declaration of a large area as ‘state land’ to be used for expanded settlement building,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement. “We call on the Government of Israel to reverse this decision.”

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US detainees in North Korea plead for help

N. Korean detaineesNorth Korea gave foreign media access on Monday to three detained Americans who said they have been able to contact their families and – watched by officials as they spoke – called for Washington to send a high-ranking representative to negotiate for their freedom.

Jeffrey Fowle and Mathew Miller said they expect to face trial within a month. But they said they do not know what punishment they could face or what the specific charges against them are. Kenneth Bae, who already is serving a 15-year term, said his health has deteriorated at the labor camp where he works eight hours a day.

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Nato to create high-readiness force to counter Russian threat

NATONato is to create a 4,000-strong "spearhead" high-readiness force that can be deployed rapidly in eastern Europe and the Baltic states to help protect member nations against potential Russian aggression, according to Nato officials.

Leaders from the 28 Nato countries are expected to approve the plan at the alliance's summit in Wales when the Ukraine crisis tops the agenda on Friday.

The Nato secretary-general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said the force, drawn on rotational basis from Nato allies, could be in action at "very, very short notice".

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Huge new Israeli settlement in West Bank condemned by US and UK

Israeli land grab The UK and US governments have criticised, in unusually strong language, Israel's decision to approve one of the largest appropriations of Palestinian land for settlement in recent decades.

The UK foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, said he deplored the move as "particularly ill-judged".

However, Israel's economics minister, Naftali Bennett, who visited the Gush Etzion settlement in the occupied West Bank on Monday, applauded Sunday's decision as an "appropriate Zionist response to murder". Bennett said: "What we did yesterday was a display of Zionism. Building is our answer to murder."

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