Middle East and North Africa

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Hamas defends Gaza ambush blamed for ending ceasefire

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GAZA/JERUSALEM - Hamas claimed responsibility on Saturday for a deadly Gaza Strip ambush in which an Israeli army officer may have been captured, but said the incident likely preceded and therefore had not violated a U.S.- and U.N.-sponsored truce. | Video

U.S. Congress approves $225 million for Israeli 'Iron Dome' system 5:17am BST

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Congress approved $225 million (133.63 million pounds) in emergency funding for Israel's "Iron Dome" missile defense system on Friday, sending the measure to President Barack Obama to be signed into law.

U.S. struggles in Middle East, with fewer allies and less influence 1:13am BST

WASHINGTON - The U.S failure to secure a firm ceasefire in the Gaza Strip despite two weeks of intense diplomacy reflects new regional dynamics in which the world's most powerful actor has diminished influence and fewer allies.

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Gaza truce over, Israel soldier captured, 70 dead in Rafah shelling 12:07am BST

GAZA/JERUSALEM - Israel declared a Gaza ceasefire over on Friday, saying Hamas militants breached the truce soon after it took effect and apparently captured an Israeli officer while killing two other soldiers. | Video

Obama says will be hard to get a new ceasefire in Gaza 01 Aug 2014

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama said on Friday that it will be difficult to achieve a ceasefire in Gaza after the latest truce fell apart but he strongly defended Secretary of State John Kerry for his failed diplomatic drive.

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Iraqi foreign minister blames Maliki for Islamist insurgency 01 Aug 2014

BAGHDAD - Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and his security officials are to blame for the rise of Sunni Muslim insurgents who have seized parts of Iraq, the country's foreign minister said.

Turkey offers help on captured Israeli, says Gaza ceasefire priority 01 Aug 2014

ISTANBUL - Turkey will do what it can to help free an Israeli soldier whose capture led to the breakdown of a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, but the priority should be the reinstatement of a truce, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Friday.

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Insight: Collateral damage - How Iran sanctions fears hurt humanitarian trade 01 Aug 2014

LONDON/ANKARA - It should have been a routine delivery of vegetable oil to Iran for making margarine; instead the tanker spent months in the Gulf as banks held up payment for the cargo, fearing they would run foul of international sanctions.

Kerry seeks Qatari, Turkish help to find Israeli soldier 01 Aug 2014

RAMSTEIN Germany - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, fearing an escalation of violence in Gaza, called on Turkey and Qatar on Friday to use their influence to secure the release of a kidnapped Israeli soldier whose abduction led to the breakdown of a short-lived ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

Saudi king labels Israeli offensive in Gaza a war crime 01 Aug 2014

RIYADH - Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah broke his silence on Friday over the three-week-old conflict in Gaza, condemning what he saw as international silence over Israel's offensive and describing this as a war crime and "state-sponsored terrorism".

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