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Monday, Jan 26th

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U.S. airstrike in Syria may have killed 50 civilians

50 civilians killed in US airstrike on SyriaA U.S.-led coalition airstrike killed at least 50 Syrian civilians late last month when it targeted a headquarters of Islamic State extremists in northern Syria, according to an eyewitness and a Syrian opposition human rights organization.

The civilians were being held in a makeshift jail in the town of Al Bab, close to the Turkish border, when the aircraft struck on the evening of Dec. 28, the witnesses said. The building, called the Al Saraya, a government center, was leveled in the airstrike. It was days before civil defense workers could dig out the victims’ bodies.

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Why Benjamin Netanyahu Attended Paris Anti-Terror March Over France's Objections

NetanyahuFrench President Francois Hollande asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to come to Paris for the march against terror on Sunday, but the Israel premier decided to attend anyway after hearing that political rivals were going to be there, according to an Israeli source who was involved in the contacts between the Elysees Palace and the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem. The fact that this message had been conveyed was first reported by Channel 2.

After the French government began to send invitations to world leaders to participate in the rally against terror, Hollande’s national security adviser, Jacques Audibert, contacted his Israeli counterpart, Yossi Cohen, and said that Hollande would prefer that Netanyahu not attend, the source said.

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Egypt acquits 26 men in trial over police raid on gays

Egypt acquite 26 menAn Egyptian court on Monday acquitted 26 men arrested in a televised raid last month by police looking for gays at a Cairo public bathhouse, a ruling that set off deafening cheers and jubilation inside the courtroom as some of the defendants uncovered their faces and wept openly in relief.

Others, however, kept their faces hidden behind jacket hoods and scarves, still traumatized by the humiliation they and their families had endured during the highly publicized case, which caught the public's attention after a pro-government TV network aired scenes of half-naked men being pulled from the bathhouse by police during the Dec. 7 raid.

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Afghanistan's $3.6 billion police problem: broken systems and corruption

Afghan police trainingShortly after the U.S.-led military invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, the international community, together with the transitional Afghan government, set about standing up security forces to counter retreating Taliban forces and remaining Al-Qaeda fighters. Along with the Afghan National Army, in 2002 it established the Afghan National Police (ANP), which consisted of uniformed police, border police, anti-crime officers and civil order police.

Since then it has spent over $3.6 billion dollars on police salaries and payroll costs, with U.S. taxpayers paying $1.3 billion of that tally. The U.S. will continue to spend $300 million annually on ANP salaries while U.S. forces reduce their presence on the ground. It’s part of the ongoing U.S. commitment to Afghanistan’s security.

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Cuba releases 53 political prisoners as part of deal with America

Cyba releases 53 prisonersCuba has released all 53 prisoners it had promised to free, senior U.S. officials said, a major step toward détente with Washington.

The release of the remaining prisoners sets a positive tone for historic talks next week aimed at normalizing relations after decades of hostility, the officials said.

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Officials: Paris unity demonstration largest in French history

France marchFrance's Interior Ministry said Sunday’s Paris rally for unity was the largest demonstration in France's history — a march organized to show harmony after three days of attacks that left 17 dead.

Calling the rally "unprecedented," the ministry said the demonstrators were so numerous they spread beyond the official march route, making them impossible to count.

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Official: Islamic State group battle in Iraq kills 30 Kurds

Kurds killed by ISISIslamic State group fighters attempting to retake a town in northern Iraq held by Kurdish peshmerga forces have killed at least 30 Kurds, an Iraqi military spokesman said Sunday.

The battle for the town of Gwer demonstrates the Islamic State group's ability to still launch offensives in Iraq, despite a monthslong campaign of airstrikes by a U.S.-led coalition. And while an alliance of Iraqi troops, Kurdish fighters and Sunni and Shiitte militiamen have made some gains, their advance remains tenuous at best.

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