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Missing Pakistani activists' families decry blasphemy allegations

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ISLAMABAD Families and supporters of five missing Pakistani activists on Wednesday denounced what they called a campaign to accuse the men of blasphemy, a highly charged allegation that could endanger their lives were they to reappear.

Islamist Syrian rebel group says it won't attend peace talks in Kazakhstan

BEIRUT One of Syria's strongest rebel factions, the conservative Islamist Ahrar al-Sham group, said on Wednesday it will not attend peace talks to be held in Kazakhstan on Jan. 23.

World, Syria 18 Jan 2017

Israel deploys "Star Wars" missile killer system

JERUSALEM Israel's upgraded ballistic missile shield became operational on Wednesday, in a "Star Wars"-like extension of its capabilities to outer space where incoming missiles can be safely destroyed.

World, Israel 18 Jan 2017

Russia says teams up with Turkey for first time to bomb Syrian militants

MOSCOW Russia said its war planes had joined forces with Turkish jets for the first time on Wednesday to target Islamic State militants holding the town of al-Bab in northern Syria, evidence of increasingly close cooperation between Moscow and Ankara.

World, Syria 18 Jan 2017

Iraq special forces chief says mission accomplished in east Mosul

BARTELLA, Iraq Elite Iraqi forces have ousted Islamic State insurgents from all districts of eastern Mosul they were tasked with recapturing, their commanding officer said on Wednesday, bringing almost all of the city's eastern half back under government control.

World, Iraq 18 Jan 2017

In northern Aleppo, children return to school used as Islamic State prison

AL-RAI, Syria Sifting through ripped up textbooks and writing on broken whiteboards, Syrian children returned this week to a dilapidated small-town school that was used by Islamic State militants as a prison for more than two years.

World, Syria 18 Jan 2017

As caliphate crumbles, Islamic State lashes out in Iraq

BAGHDAD Two days after Iraqi forces launched a new push against Islamic State in Mosul, bomb blasts ripped through a marketplace in central Baghdad - the start of a spate of attacks that appear to signal a shift in tactics by the Islamist group.

World, Iraq 18 Jan 2017

Greece sees progress on Cyprus, says Turkey should drop 'aggressive' talk

ATHENS Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Wednesday progress had been made in ending a decades-old stalemate over the division of Cyprus, but urged Turkey to drop 'aggressive rhetoric' to reach a deal.

18 Jan 2017

Arab Israeli and policeman killed in suspected car ramming attack in southern Israel

JERUSALEM Police in Israel said an Arab Israeli on Wednesday rammed his car into a group of policemen in the southern Negev region, killing one before being shot dead, though a rights activist who was present disputed it was an attack.

World, Israel 18 Jan 2017

Pakistan will not free doctor who helped U.S. find bin Laden

ISLAMABAD A jailed Pakistani doctor believed to have helped the CIA hunt down al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden will be neither released nor handed to the United States, Pakistan's law minister has told legislators, media reported on Wednesday.

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