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Rebel Fighters

Syria fighters hail declaration of Islamic ‘caliphate’

BEIRUT: Militant Islamist fighters held a parade in Syria's northern Raqqa province to celebrate their declaration of an Islamic "caliphate" after the group captured territory in neighboring Iraq, a monitoring service said. The Islamic State, an al Qaeda offshoot previously known as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), posted pictures online on Sunday of people waving black flags from cars and holding guns in the air, the SITE monitoring service said. The Islamic State says it wants to erase national boundaries…

Iraq’s top Shi’ite cleric calls for prime minister to be chosen by Tuesday

BAGHDAD: The most influential Shi'ite cleric in Iraq called on the country's leaders on Friday to choose a prime minister within the next four days, a dramatic political intervention that could hasten the end of Nuri al-Maliki's eight year rule. Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, who commands unswerving loyalty from many Shi'ites in Iraq and beyond, said political blocs should agree on the next premier, parliament speaker and president before a newly elected legislature meets on Tuesday. Sistani's intervention makes it difficult…

Syrian government retakes border town in Assad coastal heartland

BEIRUTL: Syrian government forces retook Kasab on Sunday, ousting rebels from the village on the Turkish border in the coastal heartland of President Bashar al-Assad's Alawite minority sect, activists and state media said. The withdrawal of rebel forces - including some linked to al Qaeda - is another strategic and symbolic blow to an opposition that has been undermined by recent gains by Assad's forces and by infighting. Syrian state news agency SANA said government forces had "restored stability and security" to Kasab and …