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Drones over Baghdad...Syrian moderates in desperate shape...Archbishop defrocked

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WASHINGTON (AP) — A Pentagon official says the U.S. has started flying armed drones over Baghdad to protect U.S. civilians and military forces in the Iraqi capital. The official says the flights started in the last 24-to-48 hours. The armed unmanned aircraft are conducting reconnaissance flights and protecting U.S. personnel and interests in the wake of a Sunni insurgency led by extremists. Meanwhile, Iraq's top Shiite cleric has called on lawmakers to agree on a prime minister before the newly elected parliament meets next week.

BEIRUT (AP) — The Syrian rebels that the U.S. now wants to arm and train are in poor shape and retreating from the radical al-Qaida breakaway group that has swept over parts of Iraq and Syria. The Obama administration is seeking $500 million to assist "moderate" factions among the rebels. The CIA has already been training a few hundred fighters in Jordan.

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — Nigeria's intelligence agency says it had warned shopping complexes in the capital -- Abuja -- for two weeks that Islamic extremists might attack them. A mall blast this week killed 22 people. The increased security may have prevented even more deaths. Witnesses said a security guard stopped a car bomber from entering the mall moments before the massive explosion on Wednesday.

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican has defrocked its former ambassador to the Dominican Republic for sexually abusing boys. It's the first time a top papal envoy has been convicted of the crime and comes after Pope Francis said he would have "zero tolerance" for abuse, regardless of rank. Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski (wes-LOW'-skee) can no longer perform priestly duties or present himself as a priest. He faces a separate criminal trial.

NEW YORK (AP) — Three of the men who were wrongly convicted in the brutal 1989 Central Park jogger attack say that a $40 million settlement can't buy back the dignity or the time the case unjustly cost them. Kevin Richardson says he and the other men were called "animals" and a "wolf pack" and that it still hurts. Raymond Santana lashed out at critics, including Donald Trump, who continue to claim they are guilty.

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