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Iraqi planes bomb IS meeting in Syria

BAGHDAD/DUBAI: Iraqi warplanes hit a meeting of leaders of the militant Islamic State group near Deir al-Zor in Syria on Monday, destroying the building they were gathered in, the military said in a statement, without giving further details about the militants targeted.

The statement said F-16 fighter jets carried out the raid around al-Sousa village in eastern Syria, as “30 leaders from Daesh (Islamic State) gangs” met in the building.

The strike came a day after Iraq’s government hinted at greater involvement for its armed forces in Syria as the US begins withdrawing troops from the country.

Iraq fears that militants of the Islamic State group in Syria will try to cross the border, and analysts warn of increasing insurgent-style attacks in both countries.

Baghdad has carried out several air raids in Syrian territory with the agreement of President Bashar al-Assad. Its army and Shia paramilitaries have reinforced at the border in recent months.

Kuwait expects more Arab countries to reopen embassies in Damascus
Kuwait said on Monday it expected more Arab countries to reopen embassies in Damascus in “coming days” but added that the move would need a green light from the Arab League, which suspended Syria’s membership seven years ago.

Arab states, including some that once backed rebels against President Bashar al-Assad, are seeking to reconcile with him after decisive gains by his forces in the war, aiming to expand their clout in Syria at the expense of non-Arab Turkey and Iran.

The United Arab Emirates re-opened its embassy in Damascus last on Thursday and Bahrain said the next day that its embassy there and the Syrian diplomatic mission in Manama had been operating “without interruption”.

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Kuwait’s Deputy foreign minister Khaled Al-Jarallah said the Gulf state remained committed to the Arab League’s decision and would reopen its embassy in Damascus once the organization allowed it.

Jarallah expected a “thaw in relations between Syria and Arab Gulf states in the coming days as more nations look to reopen their embassies in Damascus,” state news agency KUNA reported. Arab League’s permanent representatives are due to meet in Cairo on Jan 6.

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