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Mortar hits Syrian elementary school...Talks on Syria war coming...Stepped up security in France

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DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — An elementary school for girls in northeastern Syria has been hit by mortar fire, killing at least nine students. The Syrian government and an opposition monitoring group say several others were wounded. The school is in a city divided between the Islamic State group and Syrian government forces. The government says it was an attack by "terrorists," a term used to describe any opposition forces.

GENEVA (AP) — A new round of diplomatic talks on Syria's civil war is being organized. A top U.N. official says Geneva will host the talks which will likely begin in January, though no date has been set. The Security Council on Friday gave its unanimous support for a peace process for Syria. Two previous rounds of peace talks ended in failure due to disagreement over President Bashar Assad's fate.

PARIS (AP) — Christmas in France will include tight security around churches this year in the wake of the Paris attacks. Concerns continue about potential extremist violence. Officials say churches will keep only one door open, instead of multiple doors, "to have better filtering at the entrance." Authorities also say anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic violence has receded since France imposed a state of emergency.

SHENZHEN, China (AP) — Rescuers in southern China have recovered the first body today from the rubble of a collapsed mountain of construction waste in a leading manufacturing city, where 76 people are still missing. Chinese officials have given journalists a tour of the site as questions build up about why they didn't act months earlier to prevent the disaster, after problems were initially identified.

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Afghan and Taliban forces are engaged in raging battles in southern Afghanistan's Helmand province. The insurgents have almost completely captured a strategic district and Britain announced it is deploying advisers to the restive area. The development came a day after a Taliban suicide bomber killed six U.S. troops near a Kabul base — the deadliest attack on Americans since August.

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