* UN: Syria chemicals use would be outrageous crime UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Friday he was not aware of any confirmed reports that Syrian President Bashar Assad was preparing to use chemical weapons but that if he did so it would be an "outrageous crime."
* Hamas political chief pays first visit to Gaza, vows next trip to Jerusalem Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal arrived in the Gaza Strip on Friday afternoon for the first time.
* Sanctions are strengthening Iran, Revolutionary Guard commander says A senior commander of Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard claimed Friday that Western sanctions are helpful.
* Israel Threatened to Kill Islamic Jihad Leader Israel threatened to assassinate the leader of Islamic Jihad if he enters Gaza.
* U.S. Secret Weapons Delivery Fell into Hands of Terrorists Fears are being raised in Washington that a secret delivery of arms shipments to Libyan rebels, Okayed by the Obama administration, might have gotten into the hands of Islamic terrorists.
* US Syria envoy: Extremists gaining in opposition The top US envoy to Syria warned on Thursday that extremists were gaining influence in the Syrian opposition and that this influence would only increase the longer fighting dragged on in the Levant country.
* Security and Defense: Iran strike in the spring? The recent conflict between Israel and Hamas offers several hints regarding Jerusalem's wider strategic situation in the region.
* Tunisian Cleric Says Jews are Apes A Tunisian cleric recently referred to Jews as "prophet slayers and apes" and prayed for Allah to annihilate them.
* Tanks, Barbed Wire and Curfew Used to Quell Violence in Egypt The Egyptian army's Republican Guard, an elite unit assigned to protect the president and his palaces, surrounded Mohamed Morsi's gated palace in Cairo Thursday with six tanks and two armored vehicles.
* If all else fails, US will hit Iran in 2013, say former top advisers to Obama and Bush If the standoff over the Iranian nuclear program is not resolved diplomatically in the coming year, it will be resolved militarily by the end of 2013.