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Found 43 results

  1. KABUL: Several senior members of Daesh's central Asian affiliate were killed in a US air strike in Afghanistan, officials said on Sunday. The attack on Thursday killed Abdul Rahman, identified by the US military as the Kunar provincial emir for Daesh-Khurasan, according to a statement from the command in Kabul. "The death of Abdul Rahman deals yet another blow to the senior leadership of ISIS-K [Daesh-Khurasan]," said General John Nicholson, the senior US commander in Afghanistan. Three other senior Daesh-Khurasan members were also among those killed in the strike in eastern Kunar province. Nicholson has vowed to defeat Daesh militants in Afghanistan this year. The group's emir, Abu Sayed, was reported killed in a strike on his headquarters in Kunar in July, the third Daesh emir in Afghanistan to be killed since July 2016. In April, Nicholson deployed a 21,600-pound (9,797 kg) "Massive Ordnance Air Blast" bomb against Daesh positions in neighbouring Nangarhar province, one of the largest conventional weapons ever used by the United States in combat. On Saturday, Afghan officials said as many as 16 civilians, including women and children, had been killed by a US air strike in Nangarhar, but American officials said only militants were killed. As part of an increased campaign against both Daesh and the Taliban, the dominant Islamist militant group in Afghanistan, the US Air Force has dropped nearly 2,000 weapons in the country as of the end of July, compared to fewer than 1,400 in all of last year. Despite some battlefield successes by Afghan and American special operations troops, Daesh has continued deadly attacks around Afghanistan, fueling fears that the group is seeking to bring the group's Middle East conflict to Central Asia.
  2. A federal grand jury has indicted a Maryland man on charges of attempting to murder an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and trying to provide support to Daesh militants, US prosecutors said on Tuesday. Nelash Das, 25, of Landover Hills, was arrested by federal agents in September 2016 as he was preparing to attack a US military service member. He was accompanied by a person who was a paid FBI informant, court records show. Das ? a Bangladeshi citizen who is a legal US resident ? was indicted for attempting to provide support to Daesh from October 2015 to September 2016, the Justice Department said in a statement. The statement and the indictment gave no details about the charge of attempting to murder an FBI agent. Das was also indicted for a firearms offence. Officials were not immediately available to comment. The three-count indictment supersedes a charge filed shortly after his arrest. Das told the informant that he was committed to attacking a military service member, adding, "That's my goal in life," according to an October 2016 affidavit. Das remains in custody and if convicted faces up to life in prison. Federal public defender Julie Stelzig ? his attorney ? did not respond to requests for comment.
  3. DUBAI: Iranian security forces have broken up a group linked to Daesh which was planning attacks on religious centers in the country and trying to hide weapons in home appliances, state news agency IRNA reported on Monday, The agency said the operation was conducted jointly with another country's agents and a total of 27 suspects were arrested. The agency did not name the other country. Daesh claimed responsibility for an attack in June in which suicide bombers and gunmen attacked the Iranian parliament and Ayatollah Khomeini's mausoleum in Tehran, killing 18 people. It threatened more attacks against Iran. Intelligence Ministry agents "were able to arrest a terrorist group linked to Daesh that intended to carry out terror operations in religious cities ...," IRNA said. "The terrorists were trying to bring (weapons and ammunition) into the country by concealing them in home appliances," the agency quoted a ministry statement as saying. It said 10 people were arrested at the group's leadership center abroad and 17 people inside Iran. Five of the 17 were due to carry out the attacks in Iran and the other 12 were supporting them, statement said. The statement did not identify the religious centers it said were the targets. On Sunday, Iranian media said Iran's Revolutionary Guards had killed two people in clashes with a group of militants in the northwest of the country, where shootouts with Iranian Kurdish militant groups based in Iraq are common. In June, Iran announced the arrests of the members of a group linked to Daesh which had planned bombings and suicide attacks.
  4. File photo of the aftermath of a bombing in Afghanistan KABUL: The Taliban and Daesh group jointly massacred dozens of civilians in an Afghan village, officials said Monday, highlighting rare co-operation between the insurgents that could increase the strain on Afghanistan´s beleaguered security forces. The fighters killed more than 50 men, women and children in the remote Sayad district of northern Sar-e Pul province on Saturday after overrunning the Afghan Local Police (ALP) -- a government-backed militia -- in a 48-hour battle, according to local officials. "It was a joint operation by Daesh and Taliban fighters. They had recruited forces from other provinces of the country and attacked Mirzawalang village," Zabihullah Amani, a spokesman for the provincial governor, told AFP. The spokesman alleged that dozens of Taliban and Daesh group fighters under the command of a local Taliban commander, who Amani claims pledged allegiance to Daesh, launched a co-ordinated attack on the area on Thursday. "The fighters overran the area and it led to the massacre of innocent and defenceless civilians," he said. Most of those killed were shot but some were beheaded, Amani said. Verifying information from poor, mountainous areas of Afghanistan made inaccessible by fighting and with patchy communications is difficult, and AFP was not able to access the village. Mohammad Noor Rahmani, head of Sar-e-Pul´s provincial council, said 44 of the 50 victims were believed to be civilians, with the ALP militia also suffering casualties. "This is not the final toll. It might change because the area is inaccessible and no telephone networks are working to get an update," he told AFP. The Taliban and Daesh fighters have regularly clashed since the latter gained a foothold in eastern Afghanistan in 2015, as the two vie for supremacy in the war-torn country. An Afghan security source told AFP there had been around three incidents in the past where fighters from both groups had teamed up to deal a blow to Afghan forces in certain areas.
  5. At least seven Daesh terrorists have been killed in a NATO-operated drone strike in Afghanistan's eastern Kunar province, Afghan media reported, citing local police authorities. The drone strike targeted a terrorist hideout in mountainous Talona area of Watapur district at approximately 11 am local time (06:30 GMT) Monday, killing seven Daesh militants including a commander, the reports said. Iraqi embassy in Kabul attacked Police confirmed at least one blast but said they did not immediately have further information Afghanistan has witnessed a ramped-up campaign by the resurgent Taliban and the Daesh group, underscoring rising insecurity in the war-torn country since US-led NATO troops ended their combat mission in December 2014. Afghan security forces, beset by killings, desertions and nonexistent "ghost soldiers" on the payroll, have been struggling to beat back insurgents.
  6. The Independent via Getty LONDON: A 17-year-old girl who allegedly married a Daesh fighter via Skype appeared in a London court Wednesday over plans to carry out a terror attack in Britain. The teenager wed the extremist over the messaging service in September 2016, the court heard. She had already been arrested on a terrorism charge in August after authorities thwarted her plan to join the Daesh member in Syria, but was released on bail. Between December and April, the duo allegedly conspired to carry out a terror attack in Britain and the girl planned to receive hand grenades and a firearm. She is accused of receiving instructions on how to use the weapons as well as asking another person for help in carrying out the planned attack. The teenager ? who cannot be named for legal reasons ? was taken into custody on April 12 when she was formally charged with the earlier terrorism offence. The charges over the UK attack plot followed. Appearing in court on Wednesday, she spoke only to confirm her age and name before a further court date was set for August 11. The girl is not the first young Londoner to allegedly be involved with Daesh. In 2015, three teenage girls left their homes in east London and are believed to have travelled to Syria to join the militant group, following a classmate who left a few months earlier. Two of the trio were in touch with their families later that year to say they had married Daesh fighters, the Guardian reported at the time. Around 850 people with links to the UK have travelled to Syria to take part in the war, according to government figures.
  7. WASHINGTON: US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Friday he assumes that Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is still alive. Earlier this month, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it had "confirmed information" that Baghdadi had been killed, but Western and Iraqi officials have been sceptical. "I think that he's alive, and I'll believe otherwise when we know we've killed him. But we're going after him ? we assume he's alive,? Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon.
  8. Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Sulaimania, IRAQ: A top Kurdish counter-terrorism official said on Monday he was 99 percent sure that Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was alive and located south of the Syrian city of Raqqa, after reports that he had been killed. "Baghdadi is definitely alive. He is not dead. We have information that he is alive. We believe 99 percent he is alive," Lahur Talabany told Reuters in an interview. "Don't forget his roots go back to al Qaeda days in Iraq. He was hiding from security services. He knows what he is doing." Iraqi security forces have ended three years of Daesh rule in the Iraqi city of Mosul, and the group is under growing pressure in Raqqa - both strongholds in the militants' crumbling self-proclaimed caliphate. Still, Talabany said Daesh was shifting tactics despite low morale and it would take three or four years to eliminate the group. After defeat, Daesh would wage an insurgency and resemble al-Qaeda on "steroids", he said. The future leaders of Daesh were expected to be intelligence officers who served under former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, the men credited with devising the group's strategy.
  9. A US airman guides a US Air Force MQ-9 Reaper drone as it taxis to the runway at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, March 9, 2016/Reuters WASHINGTON: US forces have killed the head of the Daesh group´s Afghanistan branch, the Pentagon said Friday, marking the third time in a year the franchise has lost its leader. Abu Sayed was killed in a July 11 strike in Afghanistan´s northeastern province of Kunar on the headquarters of Daesh-Khorasan Province (IS-K), which also killed additional militants, the Pentagon said in a statement. "You kill a leader of one of these groups and it sets them back," Pentagon chief Jim Mattis told reporters. "It´s obviously a victory on our side in terms of setting them back. It´s the right direction." First emerging in 2015, IS-K overran large parts of Nangarhar and Kunar provinces, near the Pakistan border, but their part in the Afghan conflict had been largely overshadowed by the operations against the Taliban. US has no proof Daesh leader Baghdadi is dead: Mattis The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said earlier this week it had heard from senior Daesh leaders in Syria's that Baghdadi was dead Afghan and US forces had killed Abu Sayed´s two predecessors atop the group´s Afghan branch -- Hafiz Saeed in July 2016 and Abdul Hasib in late April of this year, the Pentagon said. Hasib and other top militant commanders were killed in a joint raid by US Army Rangers and Afghan special forces. At the time, the US military had said Hasib´s death would "help reach our goal of destroying them in 2017." "We will continue until they are annihilated. There is no safe haven for IS-K in Afghanistan," said General John Nicholson, who leads US Forces-Afghanistan. Pentagon officials say the group now numbers fewer than 1,000 in Afghanistan. The compound used by Hasib in Nangarhar province was not far from the spot where on April 13, the US military dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb it has ever used in combat, hitting Daesh positions. The deployment of the so-called Mother Of All Bombs (MOAB) killed at least 95 militants, according to the Afghan defense ministry, but fighting in the area has continued.
  10. Daesh chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi - File Photo WASHINGTON: Pentagon chief Jim Mattis said Friday he cannot confirm whether or not Daesh chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead, after reports from Syria that the militant leader had been killed. "If we knew, we would tell you -- right now, I can't confirm or deny it," Mattis said. "Our approach is we assume he's alive until it's proven otherwise, and right now I can't prove it otherwise." The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a longtime conflict monitor, said earlier this week it had heard from senior Daesh leaders in Syria's Deir Ezzor province that Baghdadi was dead. There was no official confirmation or denial of the news on Daesh-run social media outlets. "We'll go after him until he's gone," Mattis said. There have been persistent rumours that Baghdadi has died in recent months. Russia's army said in mid-June that it was seeking to verify whether it had killed the Daesh chief in a May air strike in Syria. With a $25 million US bounty on his head, Baghdadi has kept a low profile but was rumored to move regularly throughout IS-held territory in Iraq and Syria. The 46-year-old Iraqi has not been seen since making his only known public appearance as "caliph" in 2014 at the Grand Mosque of Al-Nuri in Mosul, which was destroyed in the battle for Iraq´s second city.
  11. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi - Reuters File Photo The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told Reuters on Tuesday that it had "confirmed information" that Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been killed. Russia's Defence Ministry said in June that it might have killed Baghdadi when one of its air strikes hit a gathering of Daesh commanders on the outskirts of the Syrian city of Raqqa, but Washington said it could not corroborate the death and Western and Iraqi officials have been skeptical. Reuters could not independently verify Baghdadi's death. "(We have) confirmed information from leaders, including one of the first rank, in Daesh in the eastern countryside of Deir al-Zor," the director of the British-based war monitoring group Rami Abdulrahman told Reuters. Baghdadi's death had been announced many times before but the Observatory has a track record of credible reporting on Syria's civil war. Abdulrahman said Observatory sources in Syria's eastern town of Deir al-Zor had been told by Islamic State sources that Baghdadi had died "but they did not specify when". Iraqi and Kurdish officials did not confirm his death. The US Department of Defence said it had no immediate information corroborate Baghdadi's death. Daesh-affiliated websites and social media feeds have not carried any news regarding the leader's possible death. The death of Baghdadi, who declared a caliphate from a mosque in the Iraqi city of Mosul in 2014, would be one of the biggest blows yet to the jihadist group, which is trying to defend shrinking territory in Syria and Iraq.
  12. Artillery explosions and gunfire could still be heard during Saturday afternoon and a column of smoke billowed over the Old City riverside, the Reuters correspondent said. A US-led international coalition is providing air and ground support to the eight-month campaign to wrest back Mosul, by far the largest city seized by Daesh in 2014. Almost exactly three years ago, the ultra-hardline group's leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared from Mosul a "caliphate" over adjoining parts of Iraq and Syria. 'Fighting for every meter' Dozens of Daesh insurgents were killed on Saturday and others tried to escape by swimming across Tigris, state TV said. Most of those making a last stand were foreigners, it added. Iraqi commanders say the militants were fighting for every meter with snipers, grenades and suicide bombers, forcing security forces to fight house-to-house in the densely populated maze of narrow alleyways. "The battle has reached the phase of chasing the insurgents in remaining blocks," the Iraqi military media office said in a statement. "Some members of Daesh have surrendered," it added. The road where the soldiers celebrated was scarred with gaping holes from explosions and rubble from a flattened multi-storey shopping mall. Rubbish and ammunition boxes were strewn around and the only civilians seen were a group of about 15 women, children and elderly, some of them wounded, sheltering in a damaged petrol station. Security forces medics were giving them first aid. Months of urban warfare has displaced 900,000 people, about half the city's pre-war population, and killed thousands, according to aid organizations. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared the end of Daesh's "state of falsehood" a week ago, after security forces took Mosul's medieval Grand al-Nuri mosque - although only after retreating militants blew it up. Stripped of Mosul, Daesh's dominion in Iraq will be reduced to mainly rural, desert areas west and south of the city where tens of thousands of people live. The militants are expected to keep up attacks on selected targets across Iraq. The United Nations predicts it will cost more than $1 billion to repair basic infrastructure in Mosul. In some of the worst-affected areas, almost no buildings appear to have escaped damage and Mosul's dense construction means the extent of the devastation might be underestimated, UN officials said. The fall of Mosul also exposes ethnic and sectarian fractures between Arabs and Kurds over disputed territories or between Sunnis and the Shi?ite majority that have plagued Iraq for more than a decade.. Mosul is a majority Sunni city who has long complained of being marginalized by the Shi'ite-led governments installed after the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq. Meanwhile, Iraq's regional Kurdish leader said this week that the government in Baghdad had failed to prepare a post-battle political, security and governance plan.
  13. Photo: File The Daesh group of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) lost five senior leaders in an airstrike in the northern Jawzjan province of Afghanistan on Friday, Khama Press reported. According to local security officials, the airstrike was carried out by foreign forces based in Afghanistan. Provincial security chief Abdul Hafiz Khashi said ten Daesh loyalists were killed in total during the airstrike. He said the main commander of the terror group for Jawzjan province Mullah Abdul Ahad ? known as Hezbullah ? was among those killed. Khashi added that other Daesh leaders killed in the airstrike have been identified as Mohibulllah, the commander of the terrorist group for Sardara village of Darzab, Mahboobullah, the commander of the terror group for Batu village of Darzab, Sadruddin, the commander in charge of the logistics of the terror group, and Faiz Malang, another commander of the terror group. According to Khashi, the airstrike was carried out late on Friday in the vicinity of Maryazi area of Qosh Tapa district. The anti-government armed militant groups including Daesh loyalists have not commented on the report so far.
  14. Displaced Iraqi girls who fled their homes pose as they celebrate Eid al-Fitr, in Mosul, Iraq June 25, 2017/Reuters MOSUL: People in the Iraqi city of Mosul celebrated their first Muslim Eid holiday without Daesh in years on Sunday after the militants were ejected from much of the city, and hoped the battle to recapture the remaining area would soon be over. Children gathered in squares on the eastern side of the city. Some played on old swings and others with toy guns and rifles, which were among the toys allowed by Daesh militants after they took over the city in June 2014. The militants implemented an extreme version of Islam which associated toys with a face, like dolls, with idolatry. They encouraged youngsters to train on weapons and changed text books to reflect their military ideology. Children were asked to add up bombs or bullets in maths exercises. Eid prayers were allowed under Daesh but festivities were not. Iraqi children enjoy riding a mini car as they celebrate Eid al-Fitr, in Mosul, Iraq June 25, 2017/Reuters But for many, Sunday's Eid celebrations were overshadowed by the destruction of their historic leaning minaret, blown up by the militants on Wednesday, and fears for thousands of civilians trapped in the Old City in western Mosul still under Daesh control. "It won't be real Eid before we return home," said a man in his 60s, displaced from the western side of the city, across the Tigris river, where fighting continues. Some expressed sadness over the destruction of the 850-year-old Grand al-Nuri mosque and its leaning 150-foot (45-meter) minaret. Iraqi children play as they celebrate Eid al-Fitr, in Mosul, Iraq, June 25, 2017/Reuters "Eid is not the same," said a man who declined to give his name as fear is still present even though Iraqi forces dislodged the insurgents from the eastern part of the city months ago. Iraqi forces took the eastern side from Daesh in January, after 100 days of fighting, and started attacking the western side in February. The militants are now besieged in Mosul's Old City. Daesh retaliated with a series of suicide attacks in Hay al-Tanak, a poor neighborhood west of the Old City. "The security forces blocked a violent attack carried out by (people wearing) explosive belts, in Hay al-Tanak," said a military statement, showing pictures of black smoke it said came from fires set to houses and cars by the militants. The Iraqi military didn't confirm Daesh statements that the insurgents took control of Hay al-Tanak and began attacking the nearby Hay al-Yarmuk neighborhood. Witnesses said they saw residents fleeing the area. "As our heroic forces are closer to declaring final victory over the Daesh gangs, I offer my most sincere congratulations for Eid al-Fitr," Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in a statement. An Iraqi girl is seen as she celebrates Eid al-Fitr, in Mosul, Iraq June 25, 2017/Reuters A US-led international coalition is providing air and ground support in the eight-month-old offensive to drive the militants from their de facto capital in Iraq. About 350 Daesh fighters, most of them non-Iraqis, are defending their remaining stronghold in Mosul's densely populated Old City, an Iraqi general said on Sunday. He expected the battle for the city to end in days. Trapped "Most of the dead bodies are foreigners, most of the fighters are foreigners, we see some trying to escape across the Tigris," said Major-General Sami al-Arithi, a Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) commander. The US-trained urban warfare units are leading the fight in the narrow alleyways of the historic district which lies by the western bank of the Tigris. More than 50,000 civilians, about half the Old City's population, remain behind Daesh lines, complicating the troops' advance, Arithi told state TV. Displaced Iraqi residents carry biscuits and bottles of water as they walk past other residents waiting for the food distribution of an aid organization during the first day of Eid-al Fitr celebration in West Mosul, Iraq June 25, 2017/Reuters The civilians are trapped in crumbling old houses in harrowing conditions, with little food, water or medicines, according to those who have escaped. Aid organizations say Daesh has stopped many from leaving, using them as human shields. Hundreds of civilians fleeing the Old City have been killed in the past three weeks. Iraqi authorities were hoping to declare victory in the northern city by Eid. Arithi said the CTS were about 25 meters (yards) from the Nuri mosque, from where Daesh 's leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed his "caliphate" over parts of Iraq and Syria three years ago. A boy carries bottles of water and biscuits given by an aid organization during the first day of Eid-al Fitr celebration in West Mosul, Iraq June 25, 2017/Reuters The Iraqi government once hoped to take Mosul by the end of 2016, but the fighting has dragged on as the militants reinforced positions in civilian areas, launched suicide car bomb attacks, laid traps and kept up sniper and mortar fire. The fall of Mosul would mark the end of the Iraqi half of the "caliphate". Daesh remains in control of large areas of both Iraq and Syria. Baghdadi has left the fighting in Mosul to local commanders and has been assumed to be hiding in the Iraqi-Syrian border area. There has been no confirmation of Russian reports over the past week that he has been killed. In Syria, the insurgents' "capital", Raqqa, is nearly encircled by a US-backed, Kurdish-led coalition.
  15. MOSCOW: Two Russian warships and a submarine in the Mediterranean have fired missiles at Daesh targets in Syria, the defence ministry said Friday. It said that Turkish and Israeli military "were informed in a timely manner of the missile launches through communication channels," but it did not mention the United States. Russia has suspended its communication channel with the US on military operations in Syria after a US jet shot down a Syrian warplane on Sunday, with Moscow accusing Washington of failing to issue a warning. The defence ministry said that Russia´s Admiral Essen and Admiral Grigorovich warships and the Krasnodar submarine fired six Kalibr missiles at command centres and weapons stores in Syria´s Hama region. "As a result of the surprise mass missile strike, command points were destroyed and also large stores of weapons and ammunition of the IS terrorists in the area of Aqirbat in the Hama province," it said. The ministry added that Russian planes then carried out aerial strikes that "destroyed the remainder of the Daesh fighters and their facilities." The ministry released video footage of missiles being fired from underwater by the submarine and from the ships as well as aerial footage of the missiles striking two-storey buildings in what appeared to be semi-desert areas. The most recent such strikes from ships and submarines were announced by the ministry on May 31, aimed at targets around Palmyra. The defence ministry said Friday that Daesh fighters have been moving forces into Hama province this week under cover of night and using large buildings there as command points and weapons stores. It said the fighters were trying to move out from Raqqa towards Palmyra.
  16. MOSCOW: Russia?s Foreign Ministry said on Thursday there was high degree of certainty that Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was dead, RIA news agency reported. Moscow said last week its forces may have killed the secretive Daesh leader, but Washington said it could not corroborate the death and Western and Iraqi officials were sceptical.
  17. Photo: Reuters Daesh militants on Wednesday blew up the Grand al-Nuri Mosque of Mosul and its famous leaning minaret, Iraq's military said in a statement, as Iraqi forces seeking to expel the group from the city closed in on the site. It was from this medieval mosque three years ago that the militants' leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a self-styled "caliphate" spanning parts of Syria and Iraq. ''Blowing up the al-Hadba minaret and the al-Nuri mosque amounts to an official acknowledgement of defeat,'' Iraqi Prime Minister said in a brief comment on his website. The Iraqis called the 150-foot (45-metre) leaning minaret Al-Hadba, or "the hunchback." Baghdadi's black flag had flown over it since June 2014. Daesh's Amaq news agency accused American aircraft of destroying the mosque, a claim swiftly denied by the US-led coalition fighting the militant group. "We did not strike in that area," coalition spokesman US Air Force Colonel John Dorrian told Reuters by telephone. "The responsibility of this devastation is laid firmly at the doorstep of Daesh," US Army Major General Joseph Martin, commander of the coalition's ground component, said in a statement. The media office for Iraq's military distributed a picture taken from the air that appeared to show the mosque and minaret largely flattened and reduced to rubble among the small houses of the Old City, the historic district where the militants are under siege. A video seen on social media showed the minaret collapsing vertically in a belch of sand and dust, as a woman lamented in the background, "The minaret, the minaret, the minaret." The mosque was destroyed as Iraq's elite Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) units, which have been battling their way through Mosul's Old City, got within 50 meters (164 feet) of it, according to an Iraqi military statement. An Iraqi military spokesman gave the timing of the explosion as 9:35PM (1835 GMT). "This is a crime against the people of Mosul and all of Iraq, and is an example of why this brutal organisation must be annihilated," said US Major General Martin. Iraqi forces said earlier on Wednesday that they had started a push toward the mosque. ''This will not prevent us from removing them, no, killing them not removing them, inside the Old City,'' Lieutenant General Abdul Ghani al-Assadi, senior CTS commander in Mosul, said in a video posted over a messaging app. The forces on Tuesday had encircled the group's stronghold in the Old City, the last district under Daesh control in Mosul.
  18. TEHRAN: Iran has targeted militants in Syria with missiles in retaliation for deadly attacks in Tehran. Late Sunday, the elite Revolutionary Guards launched six missiles from western Iran into Syria´s mostly Daesh held Deir Ezzor province, hitting their command base, the Guards said. The strike was "revenge" for twin attacks in Tehran on June 7 that killed 17 people in the first Daesh claimed attacks inside Iran, a Guards spokesman added. As well as punishing "terrorists", it was intended to show that Iran is capable of projecting military power across the region, officials and experts said. Sunday´s strike was the first known missile attack launched from Iran into foreign territory since the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-88. "The missile attacks were only a small part of Iran´s punitive power against terrorists and enemies," Guards spokesman General Ramezan Sharif said Monday. "International and regional supporters of the terrorists must realise the warning message of the missile operation." Iran has long accused the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia of backing "terrorists". US President Donald Trump meanwhile accuses Iran of backing terrorism, a charge it denies and has threatened to tear up a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and major powers.
  19. Photo: AFP MOSUL: Iraqi authorities have dropped leaflets over Mosul warning civilians to stay inside and are telling insurgents to "surrender or die" after launching an assault to retake the Old City. Iraqi forces launched an assault on Sunday to recapture the Old City, the last district of Mosul still held by Daesh after a months-long offensive. Commanders say Daesh fighters are putting up fierce resistance and there are concerns for the more than 100,000 civilians believed to remain inside the Old City. Late on Sunday, Iraqi forces dropped nearly 500,000 leaflets over the city, warning that they "have started attacking from all directions". The leaflets calls on civilians to "stay away from open spaces and... to exploit any opportunity that arises during the fighting" to escape. Iraqi forces have also stationed Humvees by the Grand Mosque on the eastern side of Mosul, which faces the Old City and is mounted with speakers. The loudspeakers have been blaring messages to civilians, saying Iraqi forces "are about to end your suffering". Messages were also being broadcast to Daesh fighters, telling them: "You have only this choice: surrender or die". The push into Mosul´s Old City -- a densely populated warren of narrow alleyways on the western side of Iraq´s second city -- marks the culmination of a months-long campaign by Iraqi forces to retake Daesh´s last major urban stronghold in the country. The loss of Mosul would mark the effective end of the Iraqi portion of the cross-border "caliphate" Daesh declared in the summer of 2014 after seizing large parts of Iraq and neighbouring Syria.
  20. KABUL: The United States has confirmed death of senior member of global terror outfit 'Daesh' in an airstrike in Afghanistan's Nangarhar province earlier this month, according to a US Forces-Afghanistan statement issued Friday. Jawad Khan, Daesh's senior director of media production, was killed in an airstrike in Achin, Nangarhar, on June 3, read the statement. "His death will disrupt Daesh network, degrade their recruitment process and hinder their attempts to conduct international operations," said Gen. John Nicholson, Commander of US Forces Afghanistan, in the statement. Khan worked as senior Daesh communicator in Khorasan branch of the terror group. His elimination will deprive the outfit of a "skilled propagandist", the US military stated. The airstrike also destroyed a major media production hub of Daesh, the statement added. In the past 10 months, Afghan and US counter-terrorism forces have eliminated several key Daesh leaders including their emir, Hafiz Sayed Khan and his successor, Abdul Hasib. The US military further said that there were no civilian casualties associated with the strike on June 3.
  21. Baghdadi in a mosque in Mosul, Iraq in 2014. Photo: Reuters MOSCOW: Russia's Defense Ministry said on Friday it was checking information that a Russian air strike near the Syrian city of Raqqa may have killed Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in late May. The air strike was launched after the Russian forces in Syria received intelligence that a meeting of Daesh leaders was being planned, the ministry said in a statement posted on its Facebook page. "On May 28, after drones were used to confirm the information on the place and time of the meeting of IS leaders, between 00:35 and 00:45, Russian air forces launched a strike on the command point where the leaders were located," the statement said. "According to the information which is now being checked via various channels, also present at the meeting was Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was eliminated as a result of the strike," the ministry said. The US-led coalition fighting Daesh said it could not confirm the Russian report that Baghdadi may have been killed. The strike is believed to have killed several other senior leaders of the group, as well as around 30 field commanders and up to 300 of their personal guards, the Russian defense ministry statement said. The Daesh leaders had gathered at the command centre, in a southern suburb of Raqqa, to discuss possible routes for the militants' retreat from the city, the statement said. The United States was informed in advance about the place and time of the strike, the Russian military said. Daesh fighters are close to defeat in the twin capitals of the group's territory, Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria. Russian forces support the Syrian government which is fighting against Daesh mainly from the west, while a US-led coalition supports Iraqi government forces fighting against Islamic State from the east. The last public video footage of Baghdadi shows him dressed in black clerical robes declaring his caliphate from the pulpit of Mosul's medieval Grand al-Nuri mosque back in 2014. Born Ibrahim al-Samarrai, Baghdadi is a 46-year-old Iraqi who broke away from al Qaeda in 2013, two years after the capture and killing of the group's leader Osama bin Laden. Rami Abdulrahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, cast doubt on the report Baghdadi may have been killed. He said that according to his information, Baghdadi was located in another part of Syria at the end of May. ?The information is that as of the end of last month Baghdadi was in Deir al-Zor, in the area between Deir al-Zor and Iraq, in Syrian territory,? he said by phone. Questioning what Baghdadi would have been doing in that location, he said: ?Is it reasonable that Baghdadi would put himself between a rock and a hard place of the (US-led) coalition and Russia??
  22. JALALABAD: Daesh militants have captured Tora Bora, a mountain cave complex in eastern Afghanistan that was once the hideout of Osama bin Laden, officials said Thursday, despite pressure on the militants from US-led forces. The militants seized the territory from the Taliban this week after days of heavy fighting, in a show of strength just two months after the US military dropped its largest non-nuclear bomb ever used in combat on a nearby Daesh stronghold. "Tora Bora has fallen into the hands of IS fighters," government spokesman Attaullah Khogyani told AFP. "Afghan troops last night launched an operation to take it back from IS." Tora Bora in eastern Nangarhar province was the site of a major US military offensive in late 2001, when Al Qaeda chief bin Laden was believed to be hiding there. Local tribesmen confirmed to AFP that the Taliban had retreated from large parts of Tora Bora. "When Daesh fighters launched their operation to seize Tora Bora, the Taliban fled the area and left us alone to protect our women and children," said Juma Khan, a tribesman who fled the area with hundreds of other local families. The fresh Daesh assault and capture of Tora Bora comes despite a heavy US-backed Afghan offensive against the militants. The fall of the Tora Bora has also prompted heated discussion in the Afghan parliament, with lawmakers warning the government of growing Daesh activity in eastern Afghanistan.
  23. Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a speech during a ceremony marking the death anniversary of the founder of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, in Tehran, Iran, June 4, 2017. Photo: Reuters Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Monday blamed the United States for instability in the Middle East and said Washington's fight against the militant group Daesh was "a lie". "You (the United States) and your agents are the source of instability in the Middle East...who created Daesh? America ... America's claim of fighting against Daesh is a lie," Khamenei said in a meeting with high-ranking Iranian officials, according to his official website. Pakistan hopes gulf countries? impasse will be resolved soon: PM ?Hopeful that conflict will be resolved in best interest of Muslim Brotherhood? Iran and the United States cut diplomatic ties shortly after Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution and enmity with Washington has long been a rallying point for hardline supporters of Khamenei in Iran. Khamenei has made several statements denouncing the United States since the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, while US President Donald Trump has spoken out against Iran in harsh terms since taking office, indicating that he will reverse the previous administration's attempts at rapprochement with Tehran. The Iranian leader has accused the United States and its regional ally Saudi Arabia of funding hardline militants, including Daesh, which carried out its first attack in Iran on Wednesday in Tehran, killing 17 people. Riyadh has denied involvement in the suicide bombings and gun attacks on Iran's parliament and the mausoleum of the Islamic Republic's founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who favours opening up to the world, has condemned the attacks, without pointing a finger at any country. The pragmatist president championed a nuclear deal with the United States and five other powers in 2015 that led to the lifting of most sanctions against Iran, in return for curbs on its nuclear program. But the deal has not led to normalization of ties between the two countries that Rouhani hoped for. Trump has frequently called the agreement "one of the worst deals ever signed" and said Washington would review it. "The American government is against an independent Iran ... They have problems with the existence of Islamic Republic of Iran...Most of our problems with them cannot be resolved," the semi-official Fars news agency quoted him as saying. Khamenei's hardline loyalists, fear that normalization of ties with the United States might weaken their position. "America is a terrorist country and backs terrorism ... therefore, we cannot normalize ties with such country," he said.
  24. TEHRAN: Iran has tracked down and killed several suspected militants including the alleged mastermind of twin attacks in Tehran last week, a security official and a minister have said. Dozens of suspects have been arrested since the attacks on Wednesday killed 17 people in the first assault in Iran to be claimed by the Daesh militant group. Police late Sunday killed four Daesh suspects in the southern province of Hormozgan, the ISNA news agency on Monday reported police chief Azizollah Maleki as saying. "Two of the killed criminals were foreign nationals... while the identity of other members is being investigated," Maleki said, adding that weapons and a Daesh flag were seized during the raid. Iran has said five Iranians, who had joined Daesh and travelled to its Iraq and Syria bastions, carried out Wednesday´s attacks on the parliament and the shrine of revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Late Saturday, Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi said the alleged mastermind behind the attacks had been tracked down and killed outside the country. "The mastermind who controlled the team... who had fled outside the country... paid the price for his crimes, with the cooperation of intelligence services of allied countries," Alavi told state television, without providing further details. At least 41 Daesh suspects have been arrested since the attacks, according to Alavi, who said Iran has dismantled suspected militant cells with increasing frequency in recent months. In the entire year to March 2017 "we dismantled 45 cells, while in the past two-and-a-half months alone we have dismantled more than 25 terrorist cells," he said. Officials have reported the arrests of suspected Daesh members in and around Tehran, as well as in the country´s centre, southern governorates, and western provinces near the Iraqi border.
  25. Syrian state television has claimed the world's most wanted terrorist, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has been killed in an airstrike, according to several reports, the Daily Mail stated on Sunday. However, it is not the first time the leader of Daesh has been reported dead ? the latest claims have been met with skepticism by many experts and could well turn out to be false. The latest report of Baghdadi's death claims the terrorist was killed in Raqqa ? the de facto capital of Daesh. Syrian activists, Raqqa24, did report an airstrike in Raqqa which killed at least seven civilians on Saturday, although there was no mention made of Baghdadi. Baghdadi has a $25 million bounty on his head.