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Found 62 results

  1. Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters ride atop of military vehicles as they celebrate victory in Raqqa, Syria, October 17, 2017. Photo: REUTERS RAQQA: Kurdish groups who led the fight against Daesh in its former capital Raqqa must navigate a complex peace to avoid ethnic tension with the city?s Arab majority and to secure critical US aid. The Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) which finally vanquished Daesh in Raqqa on Tuesday face a big task rebuilding a city left in ruins by months of intense fighting and heavy air strikes by the US-led coalition. The political challenge is no less daunting in a city that falls outside the Kurdish-dominated regions of northern Syria. The fall of Raqqa, where Daesh staged euphoric parades after its string of lightning victories in 2014, is a potent symbol of the movement?s collapsing fortunes. Its self-declared ?caliphate? is also crumbling fast in eastern Syria, helping President Bashar al-Assad and his Iranian and Russian allies to recapture swathes of territory. Keenly aware of Raqqa?s ethnic and tribal sensitivities, the SDF has been working hard to put Arabs at the heart of plans for local government and policing post-Daesh, analysts say. In the short term, the Raqqa Civil Council (RCC) set up under SDF auspices must urgently provide security, repair infrastructure and supply aid to win the backing of a population exhausted by conflict, and to allow the people of Raqqa to return home. Longer term, Raqqa?s political destiny is tied to the wider fate of the war that has shattered Syria into a patchwork of areas over the last six years, including swathes of the north controlled by the Kurdish YPG militia that leads the SDF. Ultimately, the Syrian state wants to recover control of this city on the Euphrates River, meaning it may eventually become the arena of a new conflict with Damascus, or a bargaining chip in eventual negotiations over possible Kurdish autonomy. ?Whoever leads us, Kurd or Arab, we want them to provide us with services,? said a man from Raqqa, speaking outside the RCC headquarters in Ain Issa, north of the city. ?Safety and security is the most important thing,? said the man, a government employee before the war who cited lingering fear of the Syrian state as his reason for staying anonymous. ?FEDERAL? FUTURE? Raqqa was not a target for the YPG earlier in the war but gradually became one as the militia emerged as the main Syrian partner for the US-led coalition. The US-led coalition says Arab fighters battling under the SDF banner made up the bulk of the force in the Raqqa campaign. But Kurdish commanders and fighters of the well-organised YPG appeared the leading force throughout the four-month campaign. Syria?s main Kurdish party, the PYD, and its allies may hope Raqqa will eventually join a new ?federal? system of autonomous regions they are establishing in the north. But Kurdish leaders say it is too early to discuss that for now, underlining local and international sensitivities surrounding the political project opposed by their US allies and neighbouring Turkey. While Syrian Kurds say they want to remain part of Syria, regional concern over Kurdish separatism has deepened since Iraqi Kurds voted for independence, triggering military action by Iraq and tough measures by Turkey and Iran. Turkey, in particular, views rising Syrian Kurdish power at its border as a threat to its security, and unsuccessfully pressed Washington to abandon its alliance with the YPG in the run-up` to the Raqqa attack. Turkey plays host to a rival Raqqa civil council which regards the YPG as a foreign occupation force. Kurdish politicians say Raqqa?s future is now entirely in the hands of its people. ?So far we have not seen any reactions to indicate there will not be acceptance of the SDF, or the RCC,? said Fawza Youssef, a senior Kurdish politician, in an interview. ?The ones who will remain in Raqqa will be the internal security forces and the RCC,? she said. ?The security forces that are being prepared are all volunteers from Raqqa.? Some YPG fighters quickly began pulling back from the city on Tuesday, handing their positions to non-Kurdish elements of the SDF, a witness and field commanders said. RISK OF ?COVERT INTERFERENCE? The SDF applied a similar model in the northern Syrian city of Manbij last year after capturing it from Daesh. ?The (RCC) is still closely linked with YPG/PYD power structures, but they have put more time and effort into emphasising inclusivity than we have seen in some other areas,? senior International Crisis Group analyst Noah Bonsey said. But the risk of unrest would rise if Kurdish groups were perceived to be micro-managing the city. Yasser al-Sayyed, a 43-year-old former car salesman from Raqqa, said people are ?happy with the SDF now, of course, because they?re free from Daesh. But this needs to be followed up? with aid, reconstruction and jobs. The United States has deployed a team of diplomats to Syria to work on humanitarian and stabilisation efforts.
  2. Sally Jones Daesh recruiter Sally Jones, considered Britain?s most-wanted woman, has reportedly been killed in a US drone strike in Syria. Once a punk rocker, Jones, dubbed ?White Widow?, had fled to Syria with her son in 2013 before becoming a recruiter for the Daesh group. Now she is believed dead after US spy chiefs reportedly told their counterparts at MI6 that the militant was killed by a predator drone close to the border between Syria and Iraq in June. Sally Jones was a punk musician before fleeing to Syria to join Daesh Jones, 50, was a high priority on the Pentagon's ?kill list? because she was believed to have masterminded dozens of terror plots. It remains unclear if her 12-year old son survived the strike. Jones had fled Britain to join Daesh after reportedly falling for a militant hacker named Junaid Hussain. Her son is believed to have been forced to execute prisoners during his time there after being brainwashed. Hussain was killed in a US drone strike in 2015 aged 21.
  3. MOSCOW: Moscow accused the US on Tuesday of reducing air strikes against the Daesh group in Iraq to let militants into Syria and fight the Russian-backed Syrian army, claims the Pentagon denied. Russian military spokesman Igor Konashenkov said the Syrian regime was attempting to push the militants out of eastern Deir Ezzor province, but that arrivals from Iraq were boosting their numbers. "The US-led coalition, pretending to fight IS, largely in Iraq, sees all this but continues allegedly active measures against IS in Syria for some reason," he said. "The continuing arrival of terrorists from Iraq raises serious questions about the anti-terrorist objectives of the US air force and the so-called 'international coalition.'" The US-led coalition sharply reduced its strikes on Iraq in September, as Syrian forces were beginning to retake Deir Ezzor, Konashenkov said in a statement. "Is this change in approach from the US and the coalition a bid to cause maximum disruption to the Syrian army, backed by the Russian air force, as it seeks to free Syrian territory to the east of the river Euphrates?" he asked. Pentagon spokesman Colonel Rob Manning flatly denied the Russian claims and pointed to online tallies that show no let up in the bombardment of IS targets in Iraq or Syria. "That's absolutely false," Manning said. "We remain committed to killing ISIS and denying them safe havens and the ability to carry out strikes in the region or globally." Manning also urged "all forces" to focus their efforts on beating IS. Over the past month, Moscow has repeatedly accused the US of hindering the Russian-backed Syrian army offensive in the east of the country. Russia has been flying a bombing campaign in Syria since 2015, when it stepped in to support President Bashar al-Assad's government and tipped the conflict in his favour.
  4. Former president of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai. Photo: RT/YouTube Former president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, has said that Daesh has emerged in Afghanistan in the past three to four years under the watch of US military and intelligence agencies. In an interview with Russia Today in London, published on October 4, Karzai said he has more than suspicions that US bases in Afghanistan are used to aid Daesh. ?I get daily reports by the Afghan people that unmarked military helicopters supply Daesh in many parts of Afghanistan,? he claimed. Karzai said that from 9/11 until today, there is more extremism in Afghanistan, despite spending billions of dollars. He stated that the Afghan people ask that if the US came to Afghanistan to defeat extremism, "why do we have more of it today". Footage shows US dropping 'mother of all bombs' on Daesh in Afghanistan The US Department of Defense posted a video of the strike on Twitter with the caption: ?We don?t want our country to be bombed with huge, destructive weapons. We want peace,? said Karzai, adding that the use of MOAB (mother of all bombs) by the US forces was an indication to North Korea to show off US power, but it was an atrocity on the Afghan people. On April 13 this year the US dropped one of its largest non-nuclear bombs on a tunnel complex reportedly used by Daesh in eastern Afghanistan. It was the first time such a weapon had been used in battle. ?Military action, especially by foreign forces, will not bring peace. Afghans need to evolve a consensus to reach out to everybody, including ?sons of the soil? Taliban, to seek a settlement,? he suggested. The former president said the US needs to become a cooperative partner in the region, including with China, Russia, Pakistan and India, to bring peace. With regards to Pakistan, Karzai said we have to live together with Pakistan. He said there are two strong contrasts in their relationship with Pakistan: ?Pakistani people welcomed us when we became refugees. But they also did the horrible activity of supporting the Mujahideen [against Soviets] which weakened our society.? COAS meets Afghan president, discusses regional security Both sides agreed to evolve bilateral process for minimising misunderstanding, managing crises and enhancing cooperation: ISPR Karzai said he hopes the new US policy for the region sees that Pakistan was used by the US against its neighbour for an inhumane purpose. He said they want to join hands with Pakistan to ?salvage us from this deep conspiracy?. When asked about Iran?s role in Afghanistan, Karzai said Iran is not at all the problem but in fact has been a tremendous help. ?It is a country that is clearly against extremism,? said Karzai, adding that present Afghan President Ashraf Ghani should ensure that Afghanistan?s soil is not used against Iran, or any other neighbouring country for that matter.
  5. PARIS: New revelations from a probe into ties between Daesh group and Lafarge cast light on why the French cement giant was desperate to stay in Syria and the price it was prepared to pay. To ensure the protection of its staff, Lafarge Cement Syria (LCS) paid between $80,000 and $100,000 a month to various armed groups, including $20,000 to Daesh, according to a source close to the investigation. The funds went through a middleman, Syrian tycoon Firas Tlass, who was a former minority shareholder in the cement works, Bruno Pescheux, who ran the plant from 2008 to 2014, told investigators. Lafarge's bosses in Paris are suspected of having approved payments by LCS through "false accounting documents". The year-long investigation has heard witnesses describe cooked books enabling oil purchases from Daesh, a laissez-passer allowing Lafarge trucks to circulate in the region and a planned meeting between IS and the top LCS security official. Lafarge, which merged with the Swiss group Holcim in 2015, admitted it had resorted to "unacceptable practices" to keep LCS running in a war zone in 2013-14. 'No one told us to leave' Lafarge began operating in the northern Syrian town of Jalabiya in October 2010 at an investment of $680 million - the biggest outside the oil industry. War broke out six months later and the European Union imposed an embargo on Syrian arms and oil. In 2013, Daesh and other armed groups took control of the oil-rich northern region where Lafarge was operating along with French oil giant Total and other multinationals. But while the others pulled out, Lafarge decided to stay. A source close to the probe said the group's former CEO Bruno Lafont told investigators in January that he believed "things were under control" and there was no reason to flee the war-torn country. But former officials told investigators that a key reason for staying on was to hold the strategic advantage of being on the ground for Syria´s reconstruction once the war ended. The decision allegedly had the blessing of the French government then led by Socialist president Francois Hollande. "The foreign ministry told us that we should hold on, that things would work out," former deputy COO Christian Herrault said. "We would see the French ambassador to Syria every six months and no one told us 'now you have to leave'." Daesh issued the laissez-passers for Lafarge trucks in May 2014, according to a source close to the probe. Investigators also suspect LCS of receiving its oil supplies from Daesh under the cover of fake consulting contracts starting in June 2013 at a time when IS controlled most of Syria's strategic reserves. Frederic Jolibois, who ran the plant from July 2014, admitted: "The Syrian government was not in control of the refineries, so you bought (oil) from non-governmental organisations... completely illegally." On June 29, 2014, the day Daesh proclaimed its "caliphate" straddling Syria and Iraq, it also set up a meeting with the cement plant's security boss, investigators have heard. Locals pressured to stay Senior LCS staff had begun leaving Syria in the summer of 2012, with other Lafarge expatriates leaving in waves starting a few months later. Investigators are examining whether LCS did all it could to ensure the security of its Syrian staff. Jolibois claimed that staying on was a source of pride for the locals, saying: "For them, it was an act of resistance." But 11 former employees and the anti-corruption association Sherpa lodged a complaint last year stating that Syrian staff were pressured to stay or risk being sacked or having their pay withheld. They said they had to fend for themselves when Daesh seized control of the cement works in September 2014. Investigators interviewed three former employees in Paris last month. Contacted Friday, Lafarge reiterated that it "regrets and condemns the unacceptable mistakes committed in Syria."
  6. SDF fighters advance in Raqqa. -AFP BEIRUT: The Daesh group has lost swathes of territory in its self-declared "caliphate" in recent months, including its former Iraqi hub Mosul and most of its Syrian bastion Raqqa. It is under attack in its remaining enclaves in Iraq and is facing parallel Russian and US-backed offensives in Syria. Here are the main battlefronts: SYRIA Raqqa: The city was once the de facto Syrian capital of Daesh's self-declared "caliphate". But the militants are now breathing their "last gasps" in a pocket of the city, a senior commander of the US-led coalition against Daesh told AFP this week. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based war monitor, Daesh has lost around 90 per cent of the city to the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters worked for months to encircle Raqa, which had become a byword for the worst of Daesh's atrocities during its years under the militant rule. In June, the SDF broke into the city for the first time but the battle slowed down when they reached the more densely populated city centre. Its advance has been assisted by heavy US-led air strikes that have reportedly killed thousands of civilians. The United Nations estimates that up to 15,000 civilians could remain in parts of Raqqa, facing "incredibly difficult conditions". Deir Ez Zor: Daesh's other main stronghold in Syria is the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, which borders Daesh-held territory in Iraq. Two separate offensives are underway against the militants there - one by the SDF, the other by government forces supported by Russia. Syrian government troops advanced across the desert from the west to relieve two besieged garrisons in the city of Deir Ez Zor, down the Euphrates Valley from Raqa. The army now controls around 75pc of the city and is battling to oust Daesh from the remainder, said the Observatory. Daesh hit back on Thursday with attacks on government forces around Deir Ez Zor and on their supply lines, killing dozens of troops. Russian Army de-mining teams in Deir Ez Zor. -AFP SDF fighters meanwhile have captured more than 500 square kilometres of territory in northeastern parts of the province, according to the US-led coalition. They advanced from the north to attack Daesh on the east bank of the Euphrates. IS also holds pockets of territory elsewhere, notably in eastern parts of the central provinces of Homs and Hama, where it is the target of a Russian-backed government offensive. The militants are present in smaller numbers in the Yarmuk camp in south Damascus and a group allied with Daesh has a scattered presence in southern parts of Syria. IRAQ Hawija: Iraqi forces on Friday launched an assault on the town of Hawija, one of the last remaining militant pockets in Iraq. The enclave lies to the west of the ethnically divided Kurdish-held city of Kirkuk and includes several other mainly Arab towns. Preparations for the offensive were overshadowed by an independence referendum that Iraqi Kurds held on Monday in areas including Kirkuk, to the anger of Baghdad. Hawija has been a bastion of insurgency since the early months after the US-led invasion of 2003 and earned the nickname of "Kandahar in Iraq" from coalition troops for the ferocious resistance it put up similar to that in the Taliban militia's bastion in Afghanistan. Euphrates Valley: Daesh controls one other pocket of territory in Iraq, a stretch of the Euphrates Valley near the border with Syria. Last week Iraqi forces backed by paramilitary units and coalition warplanes launched a push up the valley. After retaking the town of Anna in recent days, they are expected to target Rawa and finally Al-Qaim, which is close to the Syrian border and Daesh-held territory beyond.
  7. [embed_video1 url=http://stream.jeem.tv/vod/aa54c4a9663249c4e169c28066b62ba6.mp4/playlist.m3u8?wmsAuthSign=c2VydmVyX3RpbWU9OS8yOC8yMDE3IDExOjQ5OjUzIEFNJmhhc2hfdmFsdWU9dHU1WCtTRzMza2kzWEE0SEZXdk9XZz09JnZhbGlkbWludXRlcz02MCZpZD0x style=center] KARACHI: Five terrorists were killed in an exchange of fire with police personnel after their hideout in the metropolis? Sachal area was raided on Thursday, said SSP Malir Rao Anwar. According to SSP Malir, police and intelligence officials laid siege around the terrorists? hideout on a tip-off.During the operation, the terrorists opened fire on the security personnel, whereas some explosions were also heard in the area. All five of the terrorists were killed in retaliatory fire, SSP Malir claimed. The terrorists were hiding in an under-construction house in the Sachal area. "The terrorists killed were affiliated with Daesh and al Qaeda. They were planning attacks during Ashura," said Anwar. "We had them under surveillance for the past few days, but had to conduct the operation on an emergency basis as they could have moved soon," added the SSP. Giving details of the terrorists, Anwar said one of the individuals was an expert in engineering and had made a remote-controlled car which was to be used to attack targets selected by the terror cell. Anwar further said the cell was involved in attacks on the Shia community and law enforcement personnel. The deceased had been plotting terrorist activity during Ashura, he added. Arms and ammunition, including explosives and RPG rockets, were from the slain terrorists.
  8. [embed_video1 url=http://stream.jeem.tv/vod/d3c9abfdb9893c5dd0fbb52e110e7db4.mp4/playlist.m3u8?wmsAuthSign=c2VydmVyX3RpbWU9OS8yOC8yMDE3IDk6MzE6NDggQU0maGFzaF92YWx1ZT1wZHpOVlREWm1RdWoveXZhbDlPNDZRPT0mdmFsaWRtaW51dGVzPTYwJmlkPTE= style=center] KARACHI: An alleged Daesh activist was arrested in a raid conducted by Federal Investigative Agency at Cannt area on Thursday. The FIA's counter-terrorism department claims that the arrested alleged activist, Khalilur Rehman, was involved in recruiting people for the terror group through social media, adding, Rehman was running more than 50 facebook pages in which hate material was uploaded. As many as two mobile phones, Daesh flags were recovered from the suspect. The phones have been sent for forensic examination. FIA authorities said that a case has been registered against the suspect in counter-terrorism wing station at Islamabad. Meanwhile, the suspect was presented before a magistrate at city court. FIA requested for his 14 days physical remand. The court approved his physical remand for seven days.
  9. WASHINGTON: US forces carried out six "precision air strikes" against a Daesh camp in Libya, killing 17 people, the US Africa Command said Sunday. The command said the air strikes were conducted on Friday, in coordination with Libya´s Government of National Accord. This is a developing story and will be updated as more information is received.
  10. Singapore Daesh fighter challenges Prince Harry in video. Photo: AFP file SINGAPORE: A Singaporean member of the Daesh group in Syria has appeared in a video challenging Britain´s Prince Harry to fight the group?s members, a monitoring group and authorities said Sunday. It is believed to be the first time that a fighter from the affluent city-state has featured prominently in one of Daesh´s videos. In the English-language video released Saturday, a man identified as "Abu ´Uqayl" from Singapore took issue with Prince Harry talking about a terror attack in London while on a visit to Singapore in June. "Why don´t you come here and fight us if you´re man enough, so that we can send you and your Apaches to hellfire," he said in the video which was circulated by the SITE Intelligence Group. Prince Harry formerly served in the British army and flew Apache attack helicopters in Afghanistan. The royal´s visit to the city-state in June was overshadowed by a Daesh-claimed terror attack in London. The attack saw knife-wielding men mow down and stab revellers on a night out, killing seven before they were gunned down by police. Singapore´s interior ministry said it believed the person in the video was a Singaporean. "Our security agencies have been aware for some time now of the presence in Syria of a Singaporean, Megat Shahdan bin Abdul Samad, 39, and have been monitoring his activities," the Ministry of Home Affairs said in a statement. "It is believed that the person in the video calling himself ´Abu Uqayl´ is Shahdan." Singapore´s leaders have warned that the city is a prime target for a terror attack because of its strong stand against terrorism and reputation as a regional financial centre.
  11. NASIRIYAH: Gunmen and suicide car bombers on Thursday killed at least 52 people including Iranians near the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah, in an attack claimed by the Daesh. The attackers struck at midday, opening fire on a restaurant before getting into a car and blowing themselves up at a nearby security checkpoint, officials said. Security sources said the attackers were disguised as members of a paramilitary alliance which has fought alongside the army and police against the Daesh militant group in northern Iraq. The toll from the attacks was 52 dead and 91 wounded, said Abdel Hussein al-Jabri, deputy health chief for the province of Dhiqar of which Nasiriyah is the capital. Many of the wounded were in serious condition, he told AFP. The area targeted is on a highway used by pilgrims and visitors from neighbouring Iran to travel to the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala further north, although Dhiqar has previously been spared the worst of Iraq´s violence. Daesh claimed responsibility for the attacks in a statement carried by its Amaq propaganda arm. It said several suicide bombers had staged the assault on a restaurant and a security checkpoint. The toll makes it the deadliest Daesh attack in Iraq since pro-government forces drove the militants out of second city Mosul in July. Adding to the pressure on the militants, Iraqi forces also recaptured the city of Tal Afar and the surrounding region from Daesh on August 31. The militant group regularly stages attacks in Iraq, where it has lost swathes of territory to US-backed pro-government forces. Thursday´s attacks come as Iraqi forces backed by tribal fighters closed in one of the last Daesh bastions in the country: Al-Qaim area on the border with war-ravaged Syria. On Wednesday, an AFP correspondent in that area saw several artillery units positioning themselves around the towns of Rawa and Anna, 100 kilometres from the border with Syria. The group´s only other stronghold is Hawija, in Kirkuk province some 300 kilometres north of Baghdad. Daesh has suffered a string of defeats on the battlefields of both Iraq and Syria, leaving in tatters the cross-border "caliphate" it declared in 2014. But despite these setbacks, the extremist group still has hundreds of fighters ready to carry out suicide attacks. In addition, any military offensive in Hawija is expected to be postponed due to a planned referendum on Kurdish independence on September 25. Acting at the request of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, the Iraqi parliament on Thursday sacked the governor of Kirkuk over his decision for the northern-province to also take part in the Kurdish referendum.
  12. [embed_video1 url=http://stream.jeem.tv/vod/d80070b1285a3cc8b44adea203328301.mp4/playlist.m3u8?wmsAuthSign=c2VydmVyX3RpbWU9OS8xNC8yMDE3IDk6NDE6MDkgQU0maGFzaF92YWx1ZT1CQWl6dkFrQjZ3clVFU09aaS90R213PT0mdmFsaWRtaW51dGVzPTYwJmlkPTE= style=center] KABUL: Pakistan-Afghanistan-US held meetings at the Ministry of Defence in Kabul with a common aim to counter Daesh, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said on Thursday. According to the ISPR, Pakistan and Afghanistan also held bilateral military cooperation meetings. A six-member Pakistan military delegation, headed by DGMO Major General Sahir Shamshad Mirza, participated in the meetings, the ISPR said. Pakistan's DGMO Maj Gen Sahir Mirza The participants expressed their resolve to continue the fight against the common threat of terrorism. During the meeting, the matters of mutual security interest were also discussed. ?The three sides expressed their commitment to eliminate Daesh from the region which can best be achieved through information sharing, complementary efforts and enhanced cooperation,? said the army?s media wing. In the Pak-Afghan bilateral meeting, important issues such as cross-border fire and attacks, counter terrorism, coordinated actions on the respective sides along the border and exchange of detainees were discussed. The ISPR said that both sides agreed to work on the commitments made at recent high-level meetings and make an action plan aimed at improving security along the border. Pakistan, Afghanistan agree to maintain ceasefire in border meeting RAWALPINDI: Pakistan and Afghanistan agreed to maintain a ceasefire till a consensus is reached during a one-star border flag meeting between representatives of both countries at the Friendship Gate... Terrorism surges in Pakistan after Afghan border crossings are opened: Interior minister Better border management system must be introduced in order to control terror activities, says Nisar
  13. File Photo-Reuters SOUTH OF MOSUL, IRAQ: Iraqi authorities are holding 1,400 foreign wives and children of suspected Daesh fighters after government forces expelled the group from one of its last remaining strongholds in Iraq, security and aid officials said. Most came from Turkey. Many others were from former Soviet states, such as Tajikistan, Azerbaijan and Russia, Iraqi army and intelligence officers said. Other Asians and a ?very few? French and Germans were also among them. The wives and children are being held at an Iraqi camp south of Mosul. Most had arrived since Aug. 30, when Iraqi troops drove Daesh out of Mosul. One intelligence officer said that they were still in verifying their nationalities with their home countries, since many of the women no longer had their original documents. It is the largest group of foreigners linked to Daesh to be held by Iraqi forces since they began driving the militants from Mosul and other areas in northern Iraq last year, an aid official said. Thousands of foreigners have been fighting for Islamic State, or Daesh, in Iraq and Syria. ?We are holding the Daesh families under tight security measures and waiting for government orders on how to deal with them,? said Army Colonel Ahmed al-Taie from Mosul?s Nineveh operation command. ?We treat them well. They are families of tough criminals who killed innocents in cold blood, but when we interrogated them we discovered that almost all of them were mislead by a vicious Daesh propaganda,? he said. Reuters reporters saw hundreds of the women and children sitting on mattresses crawling with bugs in tents without air-conditioning in what aid workers called a ?militarized site?. Turkish, French and Russian were among the languages spoken. ?I want to go back (to France) but don?t know how,? said a French-speaking veiled woman of Chechen origin who said she had lived in Paris before. She said she did not know what had happened to her husband, who had brought her to Iraq when he joined Daesh. A security officer said the women and children had mostly surrendered to the Kurdish peshmerga near the northern city of Tal Afar, along with their husbands. The Kurds handed the women and children over to Iraqi forces but kept the men - all presumed to be fighters - in their custody. Many of the families had fled to Tal Afar after Iraqi troops pushed Daesh out of Mosul. Iraqi forces retook Tal Afar, a city of predominantly ethnic Turkmen that produced some of Daesh?s senior commanders, last month. Most of its pre-war population of 200,000 have fled. An interior ministry official said Iraq wanted to negotiate with embassies the return of the women and children. ?We can?t keep this number in our custody for a long time,? he said. Officials had counted so far at least 13 nationalities, said Army Lieutenant Colonel Salah Kareem. Tensions Aid workers and the authorities are worried about tensions between Iraqis, who lost their homes and are also living in the camp, and the new arrivals. Many Iraqis want revenge for the harsh treatment they received under the extremists? interpretation of Sunni Islam, which they imposed in Mosul and the other areas they seized in 2014. ?The families are being kept to one side (of the camp) for their own safety,? an Iraqi military intelligence officer said. The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), which is supporting the 541 women and their children, said Iraq ?must swiftly move to clarify its future plans for these individuals?. ?Like all those fleeing conflict, it is imperative that these individuals are able to access protection, assistance, and information,? NRC said in a statement. ?They are in de-facto detention.? Western officials are worried about radicalised fighters and their relatives coming home after the collapse of Daesh?s ?caliphate?. French officials have indicated a preference for citizens found to be affiliated with Daesh to be prosecuted in Iraq. ?The general philosophy is that adults should go on trial in Iraq,? a French diplomatic source told Reuters last month, of those found to have been fighters. ?We think children would benefit from judicial and social services in France.? ?Tricked? The women in the camp were cooking noodles or lying on mattresses with their babies in the hot tents. Many were still wearing the black abayas and face veils, which were mandatory in areas the militants controlled. ?My mother doesn?t even know where I am,? said a 27-year-old French woman of Algerian descent. She said she had been tricked by her husband into coming with him through Turkey into Syria and then Iraq when he joined Daesh last year. ?I had just given birth to this little girl three months before,? she said holding the infant and asking not to be named. ?He said ?let?s go for a week?s holiday in Turkey.? He had already bought the plane tickets and the hotel.? After four months in Mosul, she ran away from her husband to Tal Afar in February. She was hoping to make it back to France but he found her and would not let her leave. She tearfully recounted how her five-year-old son was killed in June by a rocket while playing in the streets. ?I don?t understand why he did this to us,? she said of her husband, who she said was killed fighting in Mosul. ?Dead or alive - I couldn?t care less about him.? She and a few other families had walked for days to surrender at a Kurdish peshmerga checkpoint beyond al-Ayadiyah, a town near Tal Afar where the militants made their last stand. ?We were getting bombed, shelled and shot at,? she said. Kurdish officials said dozens of fighters surrendered after the fall of Tal Afar but gave no details. One Tal Afar resident said he had seen between 70 and 80 fighters fleeing the town in the final days of the battle.
  14. A member of the Syria government forces looks at smoke rising on the horizon on the outskirts of Deir Ezzor, on September 7, 2017. Photo: AFP MOSCOW: Russia claimed Friday to have killed several top commanders of the Daesh group in an air strike in Syria, including the US-trained "minister of war" who had a $3 million bounty on his head. "As a result of a precision air strike of the Russian air forces in the vicinity of Deir Ezzor city, a command post, communication centre and some 40 Daesh fighters have been killed," the Russian defence ministry said in a statement posted on Facebook. "According to confirmed data, among the killed fighters are four influential field commanders including Deir Ezzor emir Abu Mohammed al-Shimali," the ministry said. Gulmurod Khalimov, who is known as the Daesh group's minister of war and the highest-ranking defector from ex-Soviet Tajikistan, suffered a "fatal injury," it added. Reports of Khalimov's death have surfaced before, and the Tajik interior ministry said it could not immediately confirm the claim. "We are working with our Russian colleagues to obtain reliable information," a spokesman told AFP. But a spokesman for the Tajik security services, speaking to AFP, suggested that "this time around" he might have been killed. "We're checking the information," he said. In 2016, the United States offered a $3 million bounty for information leading to Khalimov's location or arrest. Russia's SU warplanes dropped "bunker buster" bombs on the fighters as they were meeting near Deir Ezzor to discuss how to respond to the advance of the Syrian army, Moscow said. Backed by Russia, Syrian troops on Tuesday broke through a years-long siege imposed by Daesh militants on tens of thousands of civilians in Deir Ezzor. The Times reported in April that Khalimov, described as the highest-ranking Daesh commander in Mosul, had been killed in an airstrike. The trained sniper and former colonel, he was apparently wounded in 2015 but survived. He headed the Tajik interior ministry's special forces unit and received American training before joining Daesh in 2015, pledging allegiance to the jihadist group in a video released in May 2015. In the footage he warned that he and other Daesh recruits based in the Middle East were "coming" for top officials in the mainly Muslim Tajikistan, including long-ruling President Emomali Rakhmon. The high-profile defection rocked the country. Last year, his second wife, herself a former interior ministry official, fled Tajikistan with her three young children to join Khalimov in Syria. His eldest son, 18-year-old Bekhruz, also tried to join his father in Syria but was detained at the Dushanbe airport, and sentenced this summer to 10 years in prison. In July, police in Tajikistan killed four of Khalimov's relatives in a gun battle, an interior ministry source has said, and three other relatives were detained. The source claimed that all of those killed or detained were Daesh "supporters" and said they were intending to flee to neighbouring Afghanistan, but did not offer any proof to back up the claims.
  15. DAMASCUS: Syria's army broke a years-long Daesh siege on the government enclave of Deir Ezzor city on Tuesday, entering into a military base, state media said. "The Syrian Arab Army has advanced on the Brigade 137 base front on the western side of Deir Ezzor city and broken the siege imposed by the Daesh organisation," state news agency SANA said. Syrian government troops and allied fighters, backed by Russian air support, have been advancing for weeks towards Deir Ezzor city, capital of oil-rich Deir Ezzor province, which borders Iraq. Government forces and tens of thousands of civilians in the city have been trapped under Daesh siege for over two years, facing severe food and medical shortages. Early this year, the government-held parts of the city were cut in two by an Daesh offensive. The army´s advance to the Brigade 137 base Tuesday breaks the siege on the northern part of the city, to which it is connected by a road. But a southern government-held section, including the key military airport, remains surrounded. Government forces are heading towards the southern sector, however, and are currently around 15 kilometres away, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor. Around 100,000 people are believed to be inside government-held areas of Deir Ezzor, with perhaps 10,000 more in parts of the city held by IS. Earlier Tuesday, a local journalist inside the government-held northern part of Deir Ezzor reported the sound of fierce clashes and heavy artillery as the army approached. He said the national flag had been raised throughout the area in anticipation of celebrations upon the arrival of government soldiers. Some residents, who have faced shortages of food and medicine throughout the siege, had begun greeting each other with "Good morning of victory," he added.
  16. Syrian pro-government forces set up an artillery weapon in Bir Qabaqib, more than 40 kilometres west of Deir Ezzor. -AFP1 BEIRUT: Syria's army battled Daesh on the edges of Deir Ezzor Monday, seeking to break the siege of a government enclave and oust the militants from a key stronghold. The militant group has already lost more than half of its nearby bastion of Raqqa to attacking US-backed forces, and the loss of Deir Ezzor city and the surrounding oil-rich province would leave it with only a handful of isolated outposts. Deir Ezzor province borders Iraq, where Daesh has also been expelled from former strongholds Mosul and Tal Afar. The militants hold large parts of Deir Ezzor province, and more than half the provincial capital Deir Ezzor city, the remainder of which is controlled by government forces and under Daesh siege. Syrian troops backed by ally Russia have been advancing towards Deir Ezzor city on several fronts for weeks, and overnight they reached the Brigade 137 base on its western edge, a monitor said. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Syrian troops outside and inside the base were battling to break the Daesh siege of the base. "There have been multiple collapses of the Daesh line in western Deir Ezzor province, allowing the army to move quickly and arrive 10 kilometres from the besieged forces," a military source told AFP. Residents celebrate "The siege on the government troops will be broken within hours," he added. Syrian state media also reported the army was advancing towards the besieged base, which is adjacent to parts of the city still under government control. Provincial governor Mohamed Ibrahim Samra, quoted by state news agency SANA, said besieged residents were already celebrating as the army neared. "Yesterday Deir Ezzor city saw celebrations and rejoicing among all segments of society ahead of the expected victory with the advance of the Syrian Arab Army to the outskirts of the besieged city," he said. Daesh seized large parts of Deir Ezzor province, including its many oil fields, in mid-2014 as it rampaged across Syria and Iraq. By early 2015 it had also seized parts of Deir Ezzor city and laid siege to the remaining parts of it under government control. The siege tightened further earlier this year, when Daesh advanced and cut the government-held parts of the city in two, with a southern section of the key military airport now divided from a northern sector. An estimated 100,000 people remain in government-held parts of the city, which had a pre-war population of some 300,000. The Observatory estimates more than 10,000 people may live in the parts of the city held by IS, although precise information is hard to come by. Humanitarian crisis The siege has created a humanitarian crisis in the city, with food and medical shortages and soaring prices. The government has brought supplies in by helicopter, and the United Nations has periodically airdropped humanitarian aid, but the situation remains difficult for those under siege. Conditions are also reportedly dire for civilians trapped in Daesh-held parts of the city, with activists also reporting food and medical shortages as well as water and electricity cuts. Syria´s army has been advancing towards Deir Ezzor on several fronts in recent weeks, including from the west through neighbouring Raqqa province, and from the south via central Homs. Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said forces advancing from the southwest were now less than 20 kilometres from the key Deir Ezzor military airport and are also advancing from the north towards the city. Capturing Deir Ezzor would be a key gain for Syria´s government, which has scored a series of military victories in recent months with Russian support. It has moved quickly towards the city, seeking to head off potential rival advances by US-backed fighters including the Kurdish-Arab Syrian Democratic Forces alliance which is conducting a separate battle to oust Daesh from the city of Raqqa. More than 330,00 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began with anti-government protests in March 2011, before spiralling into a multi-front civil war.
  17. TAL AFAR: Iraqi forces raised the national flag on Saturday in the heart of Tal Afar, Daesh?s stronghold in the country?s northwest, and said they were poised to take full control of the city after a week-long offensive. Tal Afar is the latest objective in the US-backed war on the group following the recapture in July of Mosul, where it declared its self-proclaimed caliphate over parts of Iraq and Syria in 2014. Tal Afar was cut off from the rest of Daesh-held territory in June and the campaign to recapture it started on Aug. 20, when up to 2,000 militants were believed to be defending it against around 50,000 attackers, according to western military sources. ?Tal Afar city is about to fall completely into the hands of our forces, only five percent remains? under Daesh control, an Iraqi military spokesman told Reuters. Elite forces had liberated the heart of the city ?and raised the national flag on top of the citadel building,? a statement from the Iraqi joint operations command said. Much of the Ottoman-era building was destroyed by the militants in 2014. Such a quick collapse of Daesh in the city, which has been a breeding ground for groups, would confirm Iraqi military reports that the militants lack command and control structures west of Mosul. A Reuters visuals team in Tal Afar said fighting had eased on Saturday, with just occasional artillery rounds heard. There was no sign of civilians in two neighborhoods it visited. ?God willing, the remaining part will be liberated soon,? Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said earlier at a news conference with his French counterpart, Jean-Yves Le Drian, and French Defence Minister Florence Parly, in Baghdad.
  18. BEIRUT: Lebanon?s army announced a ceasefire on Sunday in its offensive against Daesh militants at the northeast border with Syria. The ceasefire takes effect at 7:00 a.m. (12 a.m. ET) to pave the way for negotiations over the fate of Lebanese soldiers who are in Daesh captivity, the military statement said. Northeast Lebanon saw one of the worst spillovers of Syria?s war into Lebanon in 2014, when Daesh and other militants briefly overran the border town of Arsal. The fate of nine soldiers that Daesh took captive then remains unknown. The Lebanese army has been fighting Daesh militants in their last border foothold, near the town of Ras Baalbeck. The attack began last week, coinciding with an offensive that Hezbollah and the Syrian army launched against Daesh on the other side of the frontier in Syria?s western Qalamoun region.
  19. Belgian policemen and soldiers are seen at the scene where a man attacked two soldiers with a knife in Brussels, Belgium, August 25, 2017, in this picture obtained from social media. Thomas Da Silva Rosa via REUTERS CAIRO: Daesh has claimed responsibility for a knife attack on soldiers in the Belgian capital of Brussels on Friday, the group?s Amaq news agency said on Saturday. ?The executor of the stabbing operation in Brussels is a soldier of the Islamic State and carried out the operation in response to calls for attacks against coalition states,? Amaq said, referring to a US-led coalition fighting the extremist group.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.