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AP Top International News At 1:38 p.m. EST

Iraq launches operation to retake Tikrit from Islamic State
BAGHDAD (AP) -- Backed by allied Shiite, Sunni and Iranian fighters, Iraqi security forces launched a large-scale military operation Monday to recapture Saddam Hussein's hometown from the Islamic State extremist group, a major step in a campaign to reclaim territory in northern Iraq controlled by the militants....

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....

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....

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....

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....

Afghan army takes on Taliban in first solo offensive
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- The Afghan army is waging its largest-ever solo offensive against the Taliban, hoping to strike a decisive blow ahead of the spring fighting season and prove it can rout the insurgents without the aid of U.S. and NATO combat troops....

South Africa: Wildfire destroys 5 homes in Cape Town
JOHANNESBURG (AP) -- Cape Town's iconic Table Mountain was engulfed by an orange blaze Monday, blowing thick smoke to the city below, as a wildfire burned across the city's southern peninsula, destroying at least five homes and thousands of acres of rare plants....

AP Photo
AP Photo/Jaber al-Helo
World Video
Up to the Minute
Africa
Boko Haram video shows 2 beheaded men accused of spying

Asia
Pakistan police arrest parents refusing kids' polio vaccine

Europe
Spain: 3rd bailout for Greece being mulled for up to $56B

Latin America/Caribbean
US, Venezuelan officials meet amid rising diplomatic tension

Middle East
Iran's Guard monitored 8 million Facebook users


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