Xinhua Middle East news summary at 2200 GMT, March 21

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TEHRAN -- The pace of COVID-19 outbreak is slowing down in almost all provinces of the country, Iran's Deputy Health Minister Alireza Raisi was quoted as saying by the state TV on Saturday.

The latest figures indicate the slowing down trend in new cases in the hardest-hit provinces like Tehran and Mazandaran as well, Raisi said. (Iran-COVID-19)

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BAGHDAD -- The Iraqi warplanes on Saturday carried out an airstrike on hideouts of Islamic State (IS) militants in a mountainous area north of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, the Iraqi military said.

The Iraqi F-16 fighter jets conducted an airstrike on IS hideouts in Himreen mountain range and killed dozens of the militants, the media office of the Iraqi Joint Operations Command said in a statement. (Iraq-Airstrike)

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RAMALLAH -- Some Palestinians on Saturday warned against the attempts by Israeli settlers to set up new outpost in the east of the West Bank, the official news agency WAFA said.

Local sources told WAFA that the settlers have set up tents and a caravan on the Palestinian land near the village of Khallet Hamad in the Jordan Valley. (Palestine-Israel)

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TEHRAN -- Iran and France has swapped prisoners amid COVID-19 outbreak in both countries, Tasnim news agencies reported on Saturday.

France on Friday released the Iranian engineer Jalal Ruhollahnejad who had been detained at the airport of Nice in France in 2019 over alleged violations of Washington sanctions against Tehran. (Iran-France-Prisoners Swap) Enditem

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