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Iraq forces push deep inside Mosul, face fierce resistance

Al Hamdaniyah - Iraqi forces battled jihadists deep inside Mosul Wednesday, edging closer to the River Tigris that divides the city and looking for a breakthrough in the seven-week-old offensive.

Syria army takes all of Aleppo Old City: monitor

Alep - Syrian government forces control all of Aleppo's historic Old City after rebel fighters withdrew in the face of army advances overnight, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Wednesday.

British lord says Brexit 'stupidity' should not block child refugees

London - A member of Britain's House of Lords rescued from the Nazis when he was six years old, told AFP the anti-immigrant sentiment behind Brexit should not prevent child migrants being welcomed to Britain.

Nigeria's Boko Haram battle stalls as population starves

Kano - Nigeria's military campaign against Boko Haram Islamists is increasingly bogged down as it confronts suicide attacks, looting and indiscriminate slaughter while the UN warns the affected region faces the "largest crisis in Africa".

Married under 'caliphate', Iraq couples say 'I do' again

- In Qayyarah, Iraqis are thronging a civil court to get married a second time, register births and replace the documents they were delivered during two years of jihadist administration."Do you take Ahmad as your lawful husband?

Donald Trump is Time magazine's 2016 'Person of the Year'

New York - Time magazine on Wednesday named Donald Trump its "Person of the Year" for 2016 for his stunning upset election victory that rewrote the rules of politics, delivering him to the helm of a divided America.

Weakened Angela Merkel embarks on tough election campaign

Essen - Angela Merkel's conservatives gave her an 11-minute standing ovation after handing her another term as party chief but also issued a warning in re-electing her with the worst score since she became German chancellor.

BBC under investigation for profile of new Thai king

Bangkok - Thai authorities are investigating BBC over a Thai-language profile of the nation's new king, officials said Thursday, after the article outraged ultra-royalists in a country where criticism of the monarchy is outlawed.

Pakistan plane carrying 48 crashes, reportedly on fire

Islamabad - A Pakistani plane carrying 48 people crashed Wednesday in the country's mountainous north and burst into flames, authorities said, as rescue workers pulled dozens of bodies from the wreckage and officials expressed little hope for survivors.

Conservative Serbia becomes unlikely sex change centre

Belgrade - In a country where Gay Pride parades require massive security and almost half the citizens think homosexuality is a disease, Serbia is drawing patients from around the world seeking sex change operations to become men.

Trump 'picks Iowa governor Terry Branstad' as ambassador to China

Washington - President-elect Donald Trump has picked Iowa Governor Terry Branstad for the key post of US ambassador to China, US media reported on Wednesday.

Dark matter 'smoother' than we thought: study

Paris - Dark matter, the mysterious substance believed to comprise a quarter of our Universe, is spread out more smoothly than previously thought, said a study Wednesday that may challenge some tenets of physics.

Aides to Korean 'Rasputin' testify to her power

Seoul - Friends and associates of the woman at the heart of a corruption scandal engulfing South Korean President Park Geun-Hye told a hearing Wednesday her influence extended to everything from Park's wardrobe to senior appointments.

India wants to create a waterway twice as long as the Nile River

New Delhi - If India's prime minister, Narendra Modi has his way, work will soon begin on a project that would create the world's longest river. The project would link 30 rivers with the construction of 30 canals and 3,000 small and large reservoirs.

Italy PM Renzi calls it quits

Rome - Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi will finally resign on Wednesday, he announced as negotiations over who or what follows him intensified in a country in political limbo.

Britain will help Gulf 'push back' against Iran aggression: PM

London - Britain will help Gulf states "push back" against aggressive regional actions by Iran, Prime Minister Theresa May told the Gulf Cooperation Council in Bahrain on Wednesday in a televised address.

Paris choked by worst winter pollution in a decade

Paris - Paris was smothered Wednesday by its worst winter pollution in a decade, with commuters enjoying free public transport and half of all cars ordered off the road to try to clear the air.

Biotech is advancing the fragrance industry

Biotech has altered the way that perfumes are manufactured, making them more consistent and removing many animal products. New research promises to extend these innovations further.

Airline chief arrested after Colombia plane crash

La Paz - Bolivian officials arrested the head of LAMIA Airlines on Tuesday after a crash involving one of the charter firm's planes killed a Brazilian football team and dozens of others.

More than 30 missing in Yemen shipwreck

Aden - More than 30 people were missing off the Yemeni island of Socotra on Wednesday after a cargo vessel carrying islanders home from the mainland sank in the Indian Ocean, authorities said.
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