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Syrian army claims it shot down Israeli spy drone

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The Syrian army has claimed it shot down an Israeli reconnaissance drone flying near the occupied Golan Heights, state media said Monday.

“A military source announced on Sunday night that an Israeli unmanned Skylark-1 model drone had been shot down in Quneitra province, close to the village of Hader” near the Golan Heights, the official Sana news agency said.

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It added that the downed aircraft had a range of 20 kilometres (12 miles) and had been piloted remotely from a ground station.

An Israeli military source contacted by AFP would not comment on the reported downing but did not deny the incident.

Israeli jets in March targeted military positions in the Quneitra region that borders the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Syria and Israel are officially in a state of war, and Israel has since 1967 occupied the Golan Heights. The occupation is not recognised by the international community.

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Google tightens political ads policy in effort to stop abuse

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Google on Wednesday updated how it handles political ads as online platforms remain under pressure to avoid being used to spread misleading information intended to influence voters.

The internet company said its rules already ban any advertiser, including those with political messages, from lying in ads. But it is making its policy more clear and adding examples of how that prohibits content such as doctored or manipulated images or video.

"It's against our policies for any advertiser to make a false claim -- whether it's a claim about the price of a chair or a claim that you can vote by text message, that election day is postponed, or that a candidate has died," Google ads product management vice president Scott Spencer said in an online post.

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Pope Francis begins Asia tour with visit to Buddhist temple

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Pope Francis will visit one of Thailand's famed gilded temples Thursday to meet the supreme Buddhist patriarch, on the first full day of his Asian tour aimed at promoting religious harmony.

The 82-year-old pontiff is on his first visit to Buddhist majority Thailand, where he will spend four days before setting off to Japan.

His packed schedule a day after touching down in Bangkok includes a meeting with the king and the prime minister before leading an evening mass expected to draw tens of thousands of people from across Thailand, where just over 0.5 percent of the population is Catholic.

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Hong Kong campus stalemate persists while US congress passes bill of support for democracy protesters

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Hardline Hong Kong protesters held their ground on Thursday in a university besieged for days by police as the US passed a bill lauding the city's pro-democracy movement, setting up a likely clash between Washington and Beijing.

Beijing did not immediately respond to the passage in Washington of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which voices strong support for the "democratic aspirations of the Hong Kong people."

But China had already threatened retaliation if the bill is signed into law by President Donald Trump, and state-run media warned Thursday the legislation would not prevent Beijing from intervening forcefully to stop the "mess" gripping the financial hub.

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