Briefly: Middle East

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SYRIA

Syrian troops extend reach in border areas

BOYNUYOGUN, TURKEY — Syrian tanks pushed toward more towns and villages near the Turkish and Iraqi borders on Tuesday, expanding the crackdown against a 12-week uprising to the north and east as more Syrians flee their homes.

Syrian President Bashar Assad appears to have abandoned all pretense of offering reform - sending tanks, helicopter gunships and only his most loyal forces into population centers to crush dissent.

WEST BANK

Israel arrests Fatah official

NABLUS — Israeli troops on Tuesday arrested an official from Fatah, the party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli and Palestinian officials said.

A Fatah spokesman in Qalqilya confirmed that Mohammed Walawil, 26, and his brother Tawfiq, 32, had been arrested at their home in the northern West Bank city in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

An Israeli military spokesman acknowledged the arrest of Mr. Walawil and a relative but gave no further details.

The Israeli military has regularly arrested Hamas political figures in the West Bank, including members of the Palestinian parliament. Earlier this month, it detained former Fatah lawmaker Hossam Khader, in Nablus.

LEBANON

New prime minister set to draft policy

BEIRUT — Prime Minister Najib Mikati was preparing on Tuesday to begin the delicate task of drafting his government policy a day after announcing a Cabinet dominated by Hezbollah and its allies.

All eyes are focused on how Mr. Mikati will address the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, a U.N.-backed murder investigation that led to the downfall of the previous government.

Hezbollah, arguably the most powerful militant group in the region, first entered government in 2005 and has steadily imposed itself as a key player in domestic politics.

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