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AP Top International News At 3:34 p.m. EST

Iraq launches operation to retake Tikrit from Islamic State
BAGHDAD (AP) -- Backed by Iranian-supported Shiite militias, Iraqi forces launched a large-scale offensive Monday to retake Saddam Hussein's hometown from the Islamic State group, the first in a series of campaigns to try to reclaim large parts of northern Iraq from the Sunni extremists....

How Islamic is Islamic State group? Not very, experts say
CAIRO (AP) -- Three British schoolgirls believed to have gone to Syria to become "jihadi" brides. Three young men charged in New York with plotting to join the Islamic State group and carry out attacks on American soil. A masked, knife-wielding militant from London who is the face of terror in videos showing Western hostages beheaded....

Iraq's Tikrit: A Sunni bastion on the road to Mosul
The offensive launched Monday by Iraqi troops backed by Shiite militias and Sunni tribal fighters is aimed at capturing Tikrit, a Sunni city 80 miles (130 kilometers) north of Baghdad that was captured by Islamic State militants during their lightning advance last summer....

AP EXCLUSIVE: Ex-Guantanamo detainees struggle in Uruguay
MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (AP) -- Every day during the 12 1/2 years he was imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay as a suspected al-Qaida operative, Adel bin Muhammad El Ouerghi dreamed of freedom....

'Naty' Revuelta, who had daughter with Fidel Castro, dies
HAVANA (AP) -- Natalia Revuelta Clews, the Cuban socialite who emptied her bank account and sold her diamond jewelry to support Fidel Castro when he was a little-known insurgent, has died. She was 89....

Netanyahu: Iran nuclear deal threatens Israel's security
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted Monday that his plans to address Congress are not aimed at disrespecting President Barack Obama, even as he assailed the U.S. leader's bid for a nuclear deal with Iran as a threat to his country's survival....

Syria's civil war linked partly to drought, global warming
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The conflict that has torn Syria apart can be traced, in part, to a record drought worsened by global warming, a new study says....

UN warns against complacency as Ebola fight enters new phase
BRUSSELS (AP) -- The United Nations is urging donors, organizations and countries fighting Ebola in West Africa not to give in to complacency as the death toll from the virus climbs toward 10,000....

Putin critic Nemtsov's date says she did not see his killer
MOSCOW (AP) -- The Ukrainian woman with Kremlin critic Boris Nemtsov when he was gunned down told Russia media on Monday that she did not see his killer, as conflicting reports emerged about the availability of surveillance footage showing the slaying....

Fighting in eastern Ukraine displaces Donetsk's soccer team
LVIV, Ukraine (AP) -- The sleek stadium, built six years ago and host to some of Europe's biggest soccer matches, is silent. It sits in the middle of the city of Donetsk, a war zone controlled by pro-Russian separatists battling Ukrainian troops....

AP Photo
AP Photo/Jaber al-Helo
World Video
Up to the Minute
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Latin America/Caribbean
Venezuela sets deadline to US to slash embassy staff

Middle East
Iraq launches operation to retake Tikrit from Islamic State