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Sunday, Feb 07th

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Hezbollah leader killed in Israeli air strike in Syria

Samir KantarAn Israeli air strike killed Hezbollah leader Samir Kantar in Damascus early on Sunday, the Lebanese group and Syrian state media said.  Israel welcomed Kantar's death, saying he had been preparing attacks on it from Syrian soil, but stopped short of confirming responsibility for the strike that killed him.

A former national security adviser to Israel said he doubted the strike would escalate hostilities between Israel and Iranian-backed Hezbollah, whose last major confrontation was in 2006.

Israel has formally kept out of Syria's civil war which started almost five year ago but has bombed Hezbollah targets there without publicly acknowledging these attacks.

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Dovish Israeli groups say they face harsh crackdown

Peace groups under attack in IsraelWith Israel mired in a wave of near-daily Palestinian attacks, hard-line Israeli politicians and activists are stepping up the pressure on dovish groups that are critical of government policies— drawing accusations of a nationalist witch hunt that risks turning violent.

In recent weeks, lawmakers have circulated bills to curtail the activities of non-government organizations, while a rival hard-line activist group has launched an even fiercer campaign that accuses opponents of being spies and foreign agents. Even the country's president, a member of the ruling Likud party, has come under fire, with nationalists accusing him of coddling hostile groups.

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Israeli forces kill 3 Palestinians, injure at least 78 others in clashes

Israel kills 3 wounds dozens in protestIsraeli forces on Friday shot and killed three Palestinians and wounded at least 78 others in clashes that raged across the occupied Palestinian territories for a second straight day, according to officials and local reports.

Forces killed a Palestinian driver they accused of trying to ram his car into a group of Israeli soldiers. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba Samri said the assailant sped toward forces engaged in clashes with protesters in the town of Silwad, near the West Bank city of Ramallah.

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UN accused of 'gross failure' over alleged sexual abuse by French troops

UN failed over French troops sexual assaultsThe United Nations’ failure to respond to allegations that French peacekeepers sexually abused children in Central African Republic amounted to “gross institutional failure” and allowed assaults to continue, according to an independent panel’s damning report released on Thursday.

The study, commissioned by the UN, found that children as young as nine were encouraged to take part in oral sex in exchange for food or money in the middle of a war zone. The alleged perpetrators were mainly French soldiers from a unit known as the Sangaris force which was operating under authorisation of the security council but not under UN command.

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United States, Cuba to resume scheduled commercial airline service

US and Cuba resume airline travelThe United States and Cuba have agreed to restore scheduled commercial airline service between the two countries for the first time in more than five decades, exactly a year after they started the process of normalizing relations.

The latest step to restore U.S.-Cuba ties after 54 years of hostility will not go into effect immediately but should eventually increase tourism and business on the communist-ruled island.

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Investigation finds U.S. military shipped anthrax to South Korea 15 times

anthrax shipped to S. Korea The U.S. military in South Korea imported samples of anthrax 15 times since 2009 – contradicting a previous statement that anthrax was not being retained at a military base outside Seoul prior to April, when a shipment exposed as many as 22 people.

"We confirmed that U.S. Forces Korea imported inactivated Bacillus anthracis test samples as well as inactivated Yersinia pestis samples for detection and identification training," said Maj. Gen. Chang Kyung-soo, director general for policy planning at South Korea's Defense Ministry.

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Libya's rival parliaments sign unity government deal

Lybia parliament signs pactMembers of Libya's rival parliaments on Thursday signed a landmark, U.N.-sponsored deal on forming a unity government that will strive to bring peace to the war-ravaged country.

Supporters of the agreement hope that rival political factions and militias will embrace the deal and agree on a cease-fire, so that they can fend off the Islamic State extremist group, which is expanding its gains in the North African country.

The document was signed in Morocco by Emhemed Shoaib, the deputy speaker of the internationally recognized Libyan parliament, and Salah al-Makhzoum, the second deputy of the Islamist-backed parliament based in the capital, Tripoli, among others.

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