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Syria conflict: Iran to be invited to key talks, US says

Iran invited to Syria talksIran is likely to be invited for the first time to international talks with the US and Russia over the Syrian conflict, the US says.

US state department spokesman John Kirby said it was unclear if Iran's leaders would attend the talks, starting in Vienna on Thursday. Top envoys from the US, Russia, Arab and European nations are taking part.

Syria's Western-backed opposition and the US's Gulf Arab allies have long opposed Iran's role in the Syrian war.


Report: Islamic State blows up prisoners alongside antiquities

Islamic prisoners blown up with antiquitiesThe Islamic State executed three detainees in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra by strapping them to pillars and then blowing them up along with the antiquities, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.

"This execution is the first of its kind by the Islamic State, the organization (that) in recent months has invented new ways of execution," the observatory said in a statement late Monday. The London-based group said it obtained its information from local sources.


Cat-and-mouse game in South China Sea

Cat and Mouse game in South China SeaA U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer sailed close to China's man-made islands in the disputed South China Sea on Tuesday, drawing an angry rebuke from Beijing, which said its warships tracked and warned the American vessel.

The patrol by the USS Lassen was the most significant U.S. challenge yet to the 12-nautical-mile territorial limits China asserts around the islands in the Spratly archipelago and could ratchet up tension in one of the world's busiest shipping lanes.


Doctors Without Borders medical facility hit in Yemen air strike

DWBA small medical facility run by Doctors Without Borders in the northern Yemeni province of Saada was destroyed by two airstrikes but there were no casualties, the aid group's chief in Yemen said Tuesday.

The first strike came around 11 p.m. on Monday and hit a building housing the facility's administration offices, according to Hassan Boucenine, who spoke to The Associated Press by telephone from the southern port city of Aden.


Israel strikes Gaza sites after rocket attack

IDF near body of PalestinianIsrael's military says its aircraft hit targets in Gaza after gunmen there fired a rocket at southern Israel.  No injuries were reported in the Israeli strike or the earlier attack from Gaza.

The military said Monday's rocket attack on Israel from Gaza was the 18th since January.

Military spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner says that "the intolerable reality of civilians continually living under the threat of Gaza rockets is unacceptable, unbearable and must stop. Hamas must enforce their responsibilities or face the consequences. We will act against those that attack us and hold those that enable attacks against Israel accountable."


Israel premier orders review of status for east Jerusalem

east JerusalemPrime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered a review of the status of certain Palestinian neighborhoods in east Jerusalem, an official confirmed Monday, a decision that could potentially strip tens of thousands of Palestinians of their Israeli residency rights.

Such a move is unlikely to overcome Israeli legal hurdles, but the very prospect has unnerved Palestinians in the city. The review comes after weeks of Israeli-Palestinian violence, much of it concentrated in east Jerusalem, the section of the city claimed by the Palestinians for their future capital. Many of the Palestinian attackers involved in deadly assaults came from east Jerusalem neighborhoods. Any move to change the status of the city's Palestinians would threaten unleashing new unrest and draw international condemnations.


Belgian Scientologists go on trial for fraud and extortion

Belgian ScientologyThe Belgian branch of the Church of Scientology has gone on trial and faces a possible ban for fraud and extortion, charges it claims are meant to ruin its reputation.

The case opened in a packed Brussels courtroom on Monday where the prosecution demanded that the church, known internationally for celebrity members including Tom Cruise and John Travolta, explain where it got its financing.


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