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Page One: Headlines for 11/4/14 Posted: Nov 4 2014 11:48AM

Syrian refugees rest while cooking a meal at an informal settlement in Bekaa, Lebanon,
on 16 October. (photo: CNS/Mohamed Azakir, Reuters)


Setback: U.S.-led rebels in Syria routed by fighters linked to Al-Qaeda (Washington Post) The Obama administration’s Syria strategy suffered a major setback Sunday after fighters linked to al-Qaeda routed U.S.-backed rebels from their main northern strongholds, capturing significant quantities of weaponry, triggering widespread defections and ending hopes that Washington will readily find Syrian partners in its war against the Islamic State. Moderate rebels who had been armed and trained by the United States either surrendered or defected to the extremists as the Jabhat al-Nusra group, affiliated with Al-Qaeda, swept through the towns and villages the moderates controlled in the northern province of Idlib, in what appeared to be a concerted push to vanquish the moderate Free Syrian Army, according to rebel commanders, activists and analysts...

UN: lack of stability in Gaza risks return to war (Reuters) There is still not an effective or united Palestinian government in place in Gaza and unless stability is achieved rapidly, another conflict will engulf the territory, a senior United Nations official said on Tuesday. Robert Turner, director of operations for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Gaza, said the extent of damage and homelessness after the July-August war was worse than first thought. The latest estimates suggested reconstruction would take two to three years if all went well, he said...

Iraq plans counteroffensive against ISIS with U.S. help (TIME) Iraq is training 20,000 soldiers for a spring counter-offensive against the militant group that has taken over large swaths of the country, according to a new report, and working in close consultation with the United States to do it...

Clashes on Syrian border split Lebanese town (The New York Times) Waleed Fayyad coaxed his sport utility vehicle through a chilly rain, peering down dark streets in search of suspicious vehicles. Later that night, a few miles down the road, Lebanese soldiers and Hezbollah fighters would rush to thwart insurgents trying to descend the mountains from the Syrian border, but on Mr. Fayyad’s patrol through this remote Christian village, nothing moved. Mr. Fayyad, a municipal employee, is among many local men joining new security patrols to protect the village amid growing tensions along the border. Ras Baalbek is determined to stay out of the Syrian conflict, even as it is pushed toward deeper reliance on one of the combatants, Hezbollah, which is battling insurgents in Syria. Like Christians across Lebanon, the volunteers in Ras Baalbek are divided on Hezbollah, the powerful Shiite Muslim militia, which grew from its roots here in the Bekaa Valley into the country’s strongest political and military force...

Ukraine’s president holds security meeting (BBC) Ukraine’s Petro Poroshenko has held a meeting with his security chiefs, after a rebel-held vote that he said jeopardised “the entire peace process”. He again proposed scrapping a law, agreed under the 5 September truce deal, which gives special status to the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk areas. Under the truce, the regions were to hold Ukraine-run elections in December...

Dozens perish in shipwreck off Turkey (Vatican Radio) Mariners conducting rescue and recovery operations pulled 24 dead bodies from the sea at the mouth of Istanbul’s Bosphorus strait on Monday and saved seven people after a boat carrying a group of migrants foundered...

Invoking Romero in Lebanon (CNS) The Good Shepherd Sisters have been working in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley for 11 years. They opened an after-school care program to help the children of Deir-Al-Ahmar, near Baalbek. The area was under the control of Hezbollah and was known for production, and consumption of, hashish...

Canadian bishops mark 50th anniversary of decree on ecumenism (Catholic Register) Canada’s Catholic bishops examine the church’s connection with other Christian churches in a document marking the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council’s decree on ecumenism. Titled “A Church in Dialogue: Towards the Restoration of Unity among Christians,” the document reviews the work of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops with various ecumenical partners including the Orthodox, the Anglican Church of Canada, the United Church of Canada and others since the council...