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Wednesday, Jul 23rd

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Israeli military carries out airstrikes in Syria

Israel bombs SyriaIsraeli warplanes bombed the Syrian military headquarters and a number of other targets inside Syria, the Israeli military said Monday, in a blistering response to a cross-border attack that left an Israeli teenager dead the previous day.

In all, Israel said it struck nine military targets inside Syria, and "direct hits were confirmed." In addition to the Syrian military headquarters, Israel said it targeted unspecified "launching positions." There was no immediate response from Syria.

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ISIL pushes eastward in Iraq, capturing towns along Syrian border

ISIL takes border townMembers of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) thrust east from a newly-captured Iraqi-Syrian border post on Sunday, seizing three Iraqi towns in the western Anbar province as well as two border crossings, in a push to evict government security forces from Sunni Muslim areas, witnesses and security sources said.

ISIL, an Al-Qaeda splinter group, has pushed the Iraqi army from cities and towns across Iraq's north and west over the past two weeks, shocking the Shi'ite-led government.

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2 Palestinians killed as Israel raids West Bank

2 Palestinians killedIsraeli troops shot dead a mentally ill Palestinian during a raid in a West Bank refugee camp early Sunday, the army said, while another Palestinian was killed in unclear circumstances during a night of violent confrontations in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

In Ramallah, stone-throwers clashed separately with Israeli troops and Palestinian police, and witnesses said both security forces responded with live fire.

Sunday's deaths brought to four the number of Palestinians killed since Israel launched its most extensive military operation in the West Bank in years in response to the apparent abduction of three Israeli teens on June 12.

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In Mafia region, pope declares mobsters 'excommunicated'

Mafia excommunicatedBrushing aside worries about his health and safety, Pope Francis traveled to the heart of mob territory Saturday to comfort the family of a 3-year-old boy gunned down in a January shootout and declared that all mobsters are automatically excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church.

The underdeveloped Calabria region that the pope visited is the power base of the `Ndrangheta, a global drug-trafficking syndicate that enriches itself by extorting businesses and infiltrating public-works contracts.

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U.S. cuts aid to Uganda, cancels military exercise over anti-gay law

UgandaThe United States on Thursday cut aid to Uganda, imposed visa restrictions and canceled a regional military exercise in response to a Ugandan law that imposes harsh penalties on homosexuality.

The White House said in a statement the measures were intended to "reinforce our support for human rights of all Ugandans regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity."

Homosexuality is taboo in most African countries and illegal in 37, including in Uganda where it has been a crime since British rule.

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Israel kills Palestinian teen in escalating West Bank arrest raids

Israelis kill Palestinian teenIsraeli troops killed a Palestinian teenager in the occupied West Bank on Friday and arrested 25 people, pursuing a weeklong crackdown against Islamist militants and house-to-house searches for three Israeli teenagers who went missing eight days ago.

Palestinian medics said Mohammed Dudin, 15, was killed in the village of Dura, near the city of Hebron in the West Bank. The Israeli military said troops had fired live ammunition when rocks and firebombs were thrown at them during an arrest raid.

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Top Shiite cleric calls for new government in Iraq

al-SistaniThe spiritual leader of Iraq's Shiite majority called for a new, "effective" government Friday, increasing pressure on the country's prime minister as an offensive by Sunni militants rages on.

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani's comments at Friday prayers contained thinly veiled criticism that Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, in office since 2006, was to blame for the nation's crisis over the blitz by the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

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