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Tuesday, Jul 22nd

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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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Palestinians, Israeli soldiers clash in search for missing teens

Palestinian on West BankIsraeli soldiers clashed with Palestinians during an arrest raid early Thursday in the most violent confrontation so far in the weeklong search for three missing Israeli teens believed to have been abducted in the West Bank.

Israel has blamed the Islamic militant group Hamas for the apparent abductions, without providing evidence. Israel has since launched a widespread crackdown on the militant Islamic group, arresting scores of members while conducting a feverish manhunt for the missing youths.

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Obama to send up to 300 'military advisers' to help Iraqi army repel Isis

Obama sends advisersBarack Obama announced on Thursday that a contingent up to 300 "military advisers" will be sent to Iraq to bolster attempts to repel the advance of Islamist insurgents, but stopped short of ordering the air strikes demanded by Baghdad.

They will assist in helping the Iraqi military develop and execute a counter-offensive against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis), a mission likely to spread to target selection, a a prerequisite for any future air strikes.

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Black flags fly over Iraqi refinery, as US weighs cooperation with Iran

Iraqi oil refineryAs fighting raged at Iraq's largest oil refinery between extremist insurgents and Iraqi security forces, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry confirmed the United States is contemplating sharing information with Iran over the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) armed rebellion, but is not seeking to work "hand-in-hand" with Tehran to address the crisis.

The U.S. and Iran are seen as the two main backers of Iraq's embattled Shia prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, and there has been much speculation that the fight against Sunni insurgents, who have seized vast swathes of Iraq's north, could provide a rare opportunity for cooperation between the long-hostile powers.

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Julian Assange to file fresh challenge in effort to escape two-year legal limbo

Julian AssangeLawyers for Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder who on Thursday marks his second anniversary holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, are preparing to file a challenge to his detention order in Sweden in a move that could impact the state of legal limbo in which he is trapped.

Jennifer Robinson, Assange’s UK-based lawyer, told reporters that the legal challenge, which is due to be lodged with Swedish courts next Tuesday, was based on “new information gathered in Sweden”. She declined to give any further details until the filing had been made.

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US captures alleged mastermind of Benghazi consulate attack

Benghazi arriestA suspected leader of the deadly 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi has been captured by American troops, the Obama administration confirmed Tuesday, hailing the Libyan's arrest as a 'significant milestone' in the case.

Over the weekend, U.S. special operations forces apprehended Ahmed Abu Khattala, believed to be one of the masterminds behind the assault, which killed four Americans. He is in custody on a U.S. ship.

In a statement Tuesday, President Barack Obama said Khattala would face the "full weight of the American justice system."

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UK to re-open Iran embassy says Hague

Iranian embassyForeign Secretary William Hague has said plans to re-open the British Embassy in Tehran are an "important step forward" in relations with Iran.

Mr Hague said the "circumstances were right" following an improvement in bilateral relations in recent months.

Full diplomatic relations with Iran were suspended after attacks on the British embassy in Iran in 2011. The election of a new Iranian president and a deal on Iran's nuclear programme has led to renewed contacts this year.

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