Briefly: Middle East

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Sectarian violence also has spiked in the month since U.S. troops completed their withdrawal from Iraq.

ISRAEL

Official: Nuclear Iran could deter military action

JERUSALEM — A nuclear Iran could make it tougher for Israel to act against enemies closer to home, a senior Israeli military official said Tuesday, suggesting that regional fallout would be broad should Tehran achieve atomic-bomb-making capabilities.

Military planning division chief Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel said if Tehran attains atomic weapons, that could constrain Israel from striking Iranian-backed Islamist groups Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza.

“If we are forced to do things in Gaza or in Lebanon, under the Iranian nuclear umbrella it might be different,” Gen. Eshel said at a briefing in Jerusalem.

He warned that a nuclear-armed Iran would set off an atomic arms race in the region, leading to “a global nuclear jungle.”

Israel has been warning the world for years that Iran must not be allowed to develop the technology needed to build a bomb. It worries that a nuclear-armed Iran could threaten Israel’s survival and has hinted it could strike Iran militarily if international sanctions do not halt nuclear development.

Iran claims its nuclear program is for energy production, not bomb-making and shows no sign of abandoning it.

GAZA STRIP

Hamas leaders evacuating families from Syria

GAZA CITY — Hamas officials said senior members of their exiled leadership will evacuate their families from the group’s headquarters in Syria.

Hamas, a militant Islamist Palestinian group, rules the Gaza Strip.

The officials, speaking from Damascus, said Tuesday that the evacuations are in response to the deteriorating security situation in Syria, where President Bashar Assad has been resisting a 10-month uprising.

The officials say the families of three top officials - Moussa Abu Marzouk, Mohammed Naser and Izzat Risheq - are set to leave at the end of the month, while the three men will remain in Damascus.

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