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BEIRUT (AP) — Turkey-backed Syrian opposition fighters retook a strategic northwestern town from government forces on Thursday, opposition activists said, cutting a key highway just days after the government reopened it for the first time since 2012.

One by one, more and more countries are reporting cases of the new coronavirus. Governments and doctors on the front lines are scrambling for solutions and everyday life around the globe is being disrupted in a manner that's not been seen in recent times.

BEIRUT (AP) — In the Middle East, even virus outbreaks are political. The coronavirus has killed 26 people in Iran -- the highest toll outside of China where it originated.

BANGKOK (AP) — Saudi Arabia cut travel to Islam’s holiest sites, South Korea toughened penalties for those breaking quarantines and airports across Latin America looked for signs of sick passengers Thursday as the new virus troubled a mushrooming swath of the globe.

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin said he had rejected an offer to use body doubles for personal protection during a conflict in Chechnya.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Saudi Arabia on Thursday banned foreign pilgrims from entering the kingdom to visit Islam's holiest sites over the new coronavirus, potentially disrupting the plans of millions of faithful ahead of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan and as the annual hajj pilgrimage looms.

ROME (AP) — With tourism tanking and panic rising, Italy is changing how it reports coronavirus cases and who will get tested in ways that could lower the country's caseload even as an outbreak centered in northern Italy spreads in Europe, officials said Thursday.

NEW DELHI (AP) — India's hard-line Hindu nationalists watched anti-government protests centered in Muslim communities for months in anger that finally boiled over in the worst communal rioting in New Delhi in decades, leaving 32 people dead and the Indian capital shell-shocked.

A Russian diplomat on Thursday reaffirmed Moscow's push for extending the last remaining nuclear treaty with the United States, saying there is no time left to negotiate any changes to that.

Global stock markets fell Thursday on concerns that the coronavirus was spreading to more countries, putting further strain on businesses and supply chains across the world.

VENICE, Italy (AP) — Still reeling from the effects of major flooding just a few months ago, Venice faces a new emergency: the threat of a new virus outbreak across Italy that is worrying international visitors worldwide and hitting the economy hard.

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis is sick and skipped a planned Mass with Rome clergy across town on Thursday, officials said. The Vatican said the 83-year-old pontiff had a “slight indisposition" and would proceed with the rest of his planned work on Thursday.

BERLIN (AP) — He led Germany's army in World War I and served for nearly a decade as the country's president, but thanks to his role in Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler's rise to power, Paul von Hindenburg is an honorary Berliner no more.

THIES, Senegal (AP) — The only place in the world where fighters linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group are cooperating is in West Africa's sprawling Sahel region, giving the extremists greater depth as they push into new areas, according to the commander of the U.S.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The South Korean and U.S. militaries announced Thursday that they were postponing their annual joint drills due to concern about a viral outbreak that has infected soldiers in both countries' armed forces, put many troops in quarantine and closed base facilities.

TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — Tunisia has a new government at last, after four months of arguing among rival parties in the young North African democracy.

CAIRO (AP) — Rival Libyan politicians met on Wednesday for U.N.-sponsored political talks in Geneva aimed at ending the latest round of fighting over the country's capital, Tripoli.

MADRID (AP) — The Spanish government said Wednesday it was canceling two upcoming performances by Plácido Domingo in Madrid to show support for the women who have accused him of misconduct and take a stand against sexual harassment, becoming the first in Europe to cancel on the megastar since since allegations surfaced last year in the United States.

ROME (AP) — Italy sought to rally international support for its virus containment efforts Wednesday even as its caseload reached 447, people linked to Italy fell ill across Europe and as far away as Brazil, and the U.N.'s health agency urged a scaled-up response.

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece's government hoped to defuse tensions after protests over plans for new migrant camps on two of its islands Wednesday turned into violent clashes between police and local residents, some armed with Molotov cocktails and shotguns.

With Brazil reporting the first case of the COVID-19 virus, neighboring countries and other nations around Latin America were attempting to block the possible arrival of the virus.

IRAPUATO, Mexico (AP) — Mexico’s drug war has long played out in dusty northern border cities or the poppy fields of its southern mountains, but now the killings have moved to the conservative industrial heartland state of Guanajuato, creating a strange duality: shiny new auto plants and booming foreign investment even as the state becomes Mexico’s most violent.

ROME (AP) — Two former schoolmates from California sat impassively in a crowded courtroom Wednesday for the start of their trial for the murder of a plainclothes Italian policeman while they were vacationing in Rome last summer.

MADRID (AP) — They signed up for a bit of a beach holiday to break up the winter. Instead, hundreds of holidaymakers, mainly from northern Europe, are set for a two-week lock-down as a result of an outbreak of the new coronavirus.