Xinhua Middle East news summary at 2200 GMT, Jan. 17

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TEHRAN -- Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Friday said that the U.S. assassination of Iran's Quds commander, Qassem Soleimani, was a "cowardice act" which hurt its superpower prestige.

The Americans could not face Soleimani in the battlefield and hit him "furtively," said Khamenei. (Iran-U.S.)

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RABAT -- Chinese Cultural Center in Rabat, Morocco's capital city, on Thursday night organized a cultural event under the theme of Chengdu Temple Fair, which marks the launch of "Happy Chinese New Year" events in Morocco.

Artists, chefs and artisans from Chengdu, southwest China's Sichuan Province, performed at the temple fair, attracting more than 300 guests. (Morocco-China)

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DAMASCUS -- Under the banner "We Want to Live," dozens of civilians protested against the harsh economic situation in Syria's southern province of Sweida on Friday, a war monitor reported.

The protest is the third to take place within a few days, as people are angered by the deteriorating economic situation with the sharp devaluation of the Syrian pound and the skyrocketing prices, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. (Syria-Protest)

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CAIRO -- Egypt's Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation denied on Friday that it had encountered any "pressure to relinquish some of its demands" during the negotiations on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) in Washington.

The foreign ministers and water resources officials of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan reached a preliminary deal on Wednesday after three days of meetings in Washington with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and World Bank President David Malpass. (Egypt-Dam Talks) Enditem

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