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Found 30 results

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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??
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. [embed_video1 url= style=center] RAWALPINDI: An operation by security forces in Mastung, Balochistan denied the establishment of any direct or indirect Daesh-organised infrastructure in the country, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said on Thursday. In a statement regarding the week-old incident, the ISPR said security forces, based on actionable intelligence, conducted an operation in Mastung from June 1 till June 3. Mastung battle: Military says Daesh headquarters in Pakistan destroyed ?It took us some five days to tear down the headquarter in Mastung, Balochistan,? a senior military official says The operation was conducted after intelligence reports were received of 10-15 terrorists of banned Lashkar-e-Jhangivi Al-Almi hiding in caves near Isplingi (Koh-i-Siah/Koh-i-Maran) ? some 36 kilometres (km) south east of Mastung, said the ISPR. The outfit was reportedly making efforts for communication with Daesh and intended to facilitate the establishment of the latter?s foothold in Balochistan. A clearing operation of the area ? spread over 10km ? started early morning on June 1 after helicopter landings, and continued for three days, the statement informed. Holed up in caves, the terrorists "offered stiff resistance" while a 250-metre-long gorge with steep heights and multiple caves made the clearance operation difficult and challenging, the ISPR explained. Intelligence and security forces personnel fought valiantly to clear the hideout by June 3, the statement claimed. In the exchange of fire, 12 "hardcore" terrorists, including two suicide bombers, were killed, said the ISPR, adding that the suicide bomber who attacked Senate Deputy Chairman Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri on May 12 was sent from the same hideout. JUI-F observes strike today over Mastung blast; FIR registered 27 killed, over 30 injured in attack, including JUI-F's Senate Deputy Chairman Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri Five security forces personnel, including two officers, were injured in the operation. During the operation, security forces destroyed an IED-making facility and recovered 50 kilogrammess of explosives, three suicide jackets, 18 grenades, six rocket launchers, four light machine guns, 18 small machine guns, four sniper rifles, 38 communication sets, and a huge cache of ammunition. Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa has appreciated the efforts of the Southern Command [based in Balochistan], intelligence agencies and all the troops for the successful operation.
  14. TEHRAN: The attackers who stormed Tehran´s parliament complex and the revolutionary leader´s shrine on Wednesday were Iranian nationals who had joined Daesh, a top official said. The six attackers "were Iranian and joined Daesh from some parts of Iran," said Reza Seifollahi, deputy secretary of Iran´s Supreme National Security Council, on state TV late Wednesday. 13 killed after militants strike heart of Tehran, Iran blames Saudis Attackers entered Iranian parliament and started shooting; another 'blew up' at Khomeini's mausoleum It was the first attack in Iran claimed by Daesh, which had threatened to step up its campaign in the country in recent months. Iran is a key fighting force against Daesh and other groups in Iraq and Syria.
  15. Police forensics officers work on London Bridge in London on June 4, 2017, as investigations continue following the terror attack on the bridge and at the nearby Borough Market on June 3. AFP/Odd Andersen LONDON: Daesh claimed responsibility Sunday for an attack by knife-wielding men who mowed down and stabbed revellers in London, killing seven people before being shot dead in a barrage of police gunfire. Saturday night's rampage at a popular nightlife hub around London Bridge by three men wearing fake suicide vests was the third deadly terror attack in Britain in less than three months and came only days before a general election. British Prime Minister Theresa May blamed "evil" ideology and vowed to crackdown on extremist content online worldwide, as police detained 11 people following two raids in east London. National campaigning for Thursday's vote was suspended for the day out of respect for the victims, including 48 people being treated in hospitals for injuries. Of those, 21 are still in a critical condition. One Canadian national and one Frenchman were among the fatalities and seven French citizens were among the injured. No details have been released about the perpetrators, who were shot dead within minutes by police. Eight officers fired an "unprecedented" 50 rounds at the three attackers, according to Mark Rowley, head of national counter-terrorism policing, who said that a member of the public also suffered a gunshot wound. Detectives were still investigating whether the assailants acted alone, and Rowley said their identities would be released "as soon as operationally possible". Police launched raids in the ethnically diverse London suburb of Barking in the hours after the rampage, arresting seven women and five men aged between 19 and 60 at two properties. A 55-year-old man was later released. 'Copying one another' May said the attack was driven by the same "evil ideology" behind last week's Manchester suicide bombing that left 22 people dead, and the Westminster attack in March, which killed five. "The recent attacks are not connected, but we believe we are experiencing a new trend in the threat we face," she said after chairing an emergency ministerial meeting. She warned that perpetrators are inspired to attack "by copying one another". The assailants ran people over on London Bridge before lunging seemingly at random at the crowds gathered around Borough Market, which is full of restaurants and bars. Gerard Vowls, 47, said he saw a woman repeatedly stabbed, and threw chairs, glasses, and bottles at the attackers in a bid to stop them. "They kept coming to try to stab me? they were stabbing everyone. Evil, evil people," he told The Guardian newspaper. Multiple terrorist attacks in London: what transpired? British police say they are dealing with the incident at London Bridge Police arrest 12 over London attacks that killed 7 At least 48 people were injured in the attack, the third to hit Britain in less than three months Another witness named Eric told the BBC he had seen three men get out of the van and thought they were going to help tend those who had been run over. Instead they "started kicking them, punching them, and took out knives. It was a rampage really," he said. An Australian was among those hospitalised, while a Spaniard escaped with light injuries. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian is due to visit Britain on Monday to speak to the injured French nationals after President Emmanuel Macron said France was "more than ever at Britain's side". Among those stabbed was a London Transport Police officer, who was one of the first responders on the scene and received injuries to his face. A vigil for the victims will take place at nearby Tower Bridge on Monday evening. 'Praying for London' Britain was already on high alert following the recent attack on a concert by US pop star Ariana Grande in Manchester, north-west England, in which seven children were among the dead. Grande, who headlined a benefit concert in Manchester on Sunday, alongside stars including Pharrell Williams and Justin Bieber, tweeted that she was "Praying for London". "A lot of people suffered and I had some second thoughts coming, especially with what happened last night in London," ticket holder Abdullah Mala, 34, told AFP. "But we got to move on." The national threat level was raised to maximum after the Manchester attack and troops were deployed at key public sites, but reduced to its second-highest level last weekend. Prime Minister May, who served as interior minister for six years before taking office after the Brexit vote last summer, said Britain's response to the terror threat must change. "We cannot and must not pretend that things can continue as they are," she said, adding there was "far too much tolerance of extremism in our country." The ruling Conservatives and the main opposition Labour party suspended national campaign events for the day, but May insisted the election would go ahead as planned on Thursday. Saturday's rampage is the latest in a string of attacks to hit Europe, including in Paris, Berlin, and Saint Petersburg, and the French, German and Russian leaders sent messages of support.
  16. Government soldiers fighting the Maute group watch a helicopter attack (not pictured) as they take a break inside a military camp in Marawi City, southern Philippines May 30, 2017. REUTERS Dozens of foreign militants have fought side-by-side with Daesh sympathizers against security forces in the southern Philippines over the past week, evidence that the restive region is fast becoming an Asian hub for the ultra-radical group. A Philippines intelligence source said that of the 400-500 marauding fighters who overran Marawi City on the island of Mindanao last Tuesday, as many as 40 had recently come from overseas, including from countries in the Middle East. The source said they included Indonesians, Malaysians,a Saudi, a Chechen, a Yemeni, an Indian, a Moroccan and one man with a Turkish passport. "IS is shrinking in Iraq and Syria, and decentralising in parts of Asia and the Middle East," said Rohan Gunaratna, a security expert at Singapore's S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies. "One of the areas where it is expanding is Southeast Asia and the Philippines is the centre of gravity." Mindanao has been roiled for decades by bandits, local insurgencies and separatist movements. But officials have long warned that the poverty, lawlessness and porous borders of Mindanao's predominantly Muslim areas mean it could become a base for radicals from Southeast Asia and beyond, especially as Daesh fighters are driven out of Iraq and Syria. Although Daesh and groups affiliated to the movement have claimed several attacks across Southeast Asia in the last two years, the battle in Marawi City was the first long drawn-out confrontation with security forces. On Tuesday, a week after the fighting began, the government said it was close to retaking the city. Last year, Southeast Asian militants fighting for Daesh in Syria released a video urging their countrymen to join the cause in the southern Philippines or launch attacks at home rather than attempting to travel to Syria. Jakarta-based terrorism expert Sidney Jones passed to Reuters some recent messages in a chatroom of the Telegram app used by Daesh supporters. In one, a user reported that he was in the heart of Marawi City where he could see the army "run like pigs" and "their filthy blood mix with the dead bodies of their comrades". He asked others in the group to pass information on to the Amaq News Agency, a mouthpiece for Daesh. Another user replied, using an Arabic word meaning pilgrimage: "Hijrah to the Philippines. Door is opening." The clash in Marawi City began with an army raid to capture Isnilon Hapilon, a leader of Abu Sayyaf, a group notorious for piracy and for kidnapping and beheading Westerners. Abu Sayyaf and a relatively new group called Maute, both of which have pledged allegiance to Daesh, have fought alongside each other in Marawi City, torching a hospital and a cathedral, and kidnapping a Catholic priest. The urban battle prompted Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte to impose martial law across the whole island of Mindanao, an area roughly the size of South Korea with a population of around 21 million. Fighters from the Middle East The head of the Malaysian police force's counter-terrorism division, Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay, named four Malaysians who are known to have travelled to Mindanao to join militant groups. Among them were Mahmud Ahmad, a Malaysian university lecturer who is poised to take over the leadership of Daesh in the southern Philippines if Hapilon is killed, he said. Security expert Gunaratna said that Ahmad has played a key role in establishing Daesh's platform in the region. According to his school's research, eight of 33 militants killed in the first four days of fighting in Marawi City were foreigners. "This indicates that foreign terrorist fighters form an unusually high component of the IS fighters and emerging IS demography in Southeast Asia," Gunaratna said. According to an intelligence brief seen by Reuters, authorities in Jakarta believe 38 Indonesians travelled to the southern Philippines to join Daesh-affiliated groups and about 22 of them joined the fighting in Marawi City. However, an Indonesian law-enforcement source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the actual number of Indonesians involved in the battle could be more than 40. An Indonesian anti-terrorism squad source told Reuters that authorities have beefed up surveillance at the northern end of the Kalimantan and Sulawesi regions to stop would-be fighters travelling by sea to the southern Philippines and to prevent an influx of others fleeing the military offensive in Marawi City. "The distance between Marawi and Indonesian territory is just five hours," the source said. "It should not get to the point where they are entering our territory and carrying out such (militant) activities."
  17. WASHINGTON: Civilian casualties are inevitable in the war against the militant Daesh group but the United States is doing ?everything humanly possible? to avoid them, US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said in an interview aired on Sunday. A US-led international coalition has been carrying out air strikes against Daesh in Iraq and Syria since 2014, and non-governmental organisations say the attacks are claiming ever more civilian lives. Interviewed on CBS?s ?Face the Nation? programme, Mattis said that ?civilian casualties are a fact of life in this sort of situation.? But he quickly added that ?we do everything humanly possible, consistent with military necessity, taking many chances to avoid civilian casualties ? at all costs.? Some NGOs have blamed the rising civilian death toll on a push by President Donald Trump?s administration to accelerate the pace of combat in an effort to ?annihilate? the terrorists. But the Pentagon contests both the NGOs? death counts and the charge that a new sense of urgency under Trump is to blame. ?We have not changed the rules of engagement,? Mattis said. ?There is no relaxation of our intention to protect the innocent.? The coalition has officially acknowledged responsibility for more than 450 civilian deaths since its bombing campaign began in 2014, including 105 in the Iraqi city of Mosul on March 17. However, Airwars ? a London-based collective of journalists and researchers that tracks civilian deaths in Iraq and Syria ? reports that coalition strikes have killed at least 3,681 people. Although the Pentagon on Thursday acknowledged that an American bombing attack in Mosul on March 17 claimed at least 105 civilian lives, it blamed munitions stored by the militamts in the houses targeted. That, Mattis said, showed ?once again the callous disregard that is characterised by every operation they have run.?
  18. Adviser to the prime minister on foreign affairs Sartaj Aziz Adviser to the prime minister on foreign affairs Sartaj Aziz condemned violence against Kashmiris by Indian forces, saying the country is making claims about the presence of Daesh in the valley to suppress Kashmiris? struggle. In a statement issued by the foreign office, Aziz called upon the international community, United Nations, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the members of UN?s P-5 group to help end the slaughter of the people of Indian-occupied Kashmir (IoK). The adviser condemned the ban on media in the valley, saying India has banned social, electronic and print media in the country to stop reports of its brutality from surfacing. India has also resorted to flaring tensions along the Line of Control (LoC) to divert attention from its crimes against Kashmiris, Aziz said. He said that India is continuously violating LoC ceasefire agreements and expressed reservations about targeting of civilian populations along the LoC. ?Thousands of men and women in India have started a movement against the country; India is trying to frame these Kashmiri men and women as terrorists,? said Aziz. He said that the Indian forces are killing Kashmiri youth in fake encounters. Aziz added that Pakistan has taken up the issue of attempts to convert the Kashmiri populace into a minority in the UN.
  19. BEIRUT: Dozens of relatives of Daesh fighters were killed on Friday in new US-led strikes on Syria, just hours after the UN urged nations striking the militants to protect civilians. Bombing raids by the US-led coalition have pounded Daesh positions across Iraq and Syria since the militant group claimed responsibility for the devastating bombing of a concert in Manchester on Monday. Scores of civilians, many of them families of Daesh members, have been killed in bombing raids in recent days on the eastern Syrian town of Mayadeen, held by Daesh since 2014. Early Friday, at least 80 relatives of Daesh fighters were killed in US-led coalition bombardment, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. "The toll includes 33 children. They were families seeking refuge in the town?s municipal building," said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman. "This is the highest toll for relatives of IS (Daesh) members in Syria," he told AFP. Coalition strikes on the town killed 37 civilians on Thursday night after 15 had been killed on Wednesday, according to the Britain-based Observatory. The US military on Friday confirmed that it had struck "near Mayadeen" on May 25 and 26, but said it was "still assessing the results of those strikes", according to Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon. The US military insists that it takes every precaution to avoid hitting civilians, but the United Nations on Friday urged parties bombing Daesh to do more. Army seizes strategic route UN human rights chief Zeid Ra?ad Al Hussein said "all states" whose air forces are active in the anti-Daesh missions needed "to take much greater care to distinguish between legitimate military targets and civilians". The Observatory gathered its information from civilian and medical sources on the ground in Daesh-held Mayadeen. The town has seen an influx of displaced families from Daesh-held territory in Iraq and Syria, including its bastion Raqa. It is in Syria?s oil-rich east near the border with Iraq -- a region considered a prize by many of Daesh?s enemies including the Syrian army. Troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have been waging a multi-pronged offensive east to reach the strategic border territory. They scored a key victory this week by linking the capital Damascus to the UNESCO World Heritage city of Palmyra in central Syria. It was the first time the government was in full control of the Damascus-Palmyra highway since 2014, according to Abdel Rahman. With backing from Russian air strikes, regime fighters "pushed IS fighters out of desert territory amounting to more than 1,000 square kilometres (390 square miles)," he said on Friday. A decades-old ally of Damascus, Moscow has been carrying out air strikes in support of Assad?s troops since September 2015 -- a year after the American-led coalition began targeting Daesh in Syria. The coalition is now backing twin ground offensives against Daesh?s last main bastion cities -- Raqa in northern Syria and Mosul in neighbouring Iraq. ?Annihilate? Daesh The 68-member coalition began bombing Daesh in Iraq in the summer of 2014, and expanded operations to Syria on September 23 that year. On Thursday, a Pentagon investigation concluded that at least 105 civilians died in an anti-militant air strike on an Daesh weapons cache in Mosul in March. Before the new revelation, the US military had said coalition air strikes in Iraq and Syria had "unintentionally" killed 352 civilians since 2014. Rights groups put the number much higher, and the Observatory this week reported the highest monthly civilian death toll for the coalition?s operations in Syria. It said between April 23 and May 23, coalition strikes killed 225 civilians in Syria, including dozens of children. Reports of civilian casualties in the air campaign have swelled in recent days. On May 20, US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said US President Donald Trump had instructed the Pentagon to "annihilate" Daesh in Syria in a bid to prevent escaped foreign fighters from returning home. The president has "directed a tactical shift from shoving Daesh out of safe locations in an attrition fight to surrounding the enemy in their strongholds so we can annihilate Daesh," Mattis said. But the Pentagon has denied that its rules of engagement have changed and insists that the coalition continues to strike only "military-appropriate targets".
  20. ?Black Crows,? a dramatic series about life under the Daesh, will air on the Arab world?s most watched satellite channel, MBC 1, during Ramadan. Photo: Middle East Broadcasting Center DUBAI: They are mothers, daughters, wives -- and suicide bombers: an Arab television drama timed for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan tells the untold stories of women and the Daesh group. Inspired by true events, "Black Crows" airs over Ramazan -- prime time for television viewers in the Arab world -- which starts this weekend, and it is the first television series depicting life under Daesh rule in Syria and Iraq. Produced by Saudi Arabia´s MBC Group, the series focuses on the stories of the women who volunteer with or are forced to join the group and "the fear that shapes" their relationships. "We wanted to tell real stories that would both touch people and reflect the ugly reality of terrorism," MBC spokesman Mazen Hayek told AFP at the network´s Dubai headquarters. "We realised that the Arab media could no longer sit and watch while terrorist groups used media as a central part of their war." One episode features a girl and her grandmother, both in the niqab Muslim veil, selling dinner plates decorated with pictures of animals in a Daesh-controlled village in order to survive. A group of armed women from the Hesba, the extremists´ female police unit, order them to pack their goods on the grounds that the animal designs were "haram", or forbidden in Islam. But the grandmother refuses to yield to Hesba´s authority, saying she would rather break her plates than give in. The series focuses on the stories of the women who volunteer with or are forced to join the group. Photo: AFP She is shot in the head by a member of the Hesba. Another episode shows a training camp for children with machine-guns and "human targets" -- prisoners taken by Daesh. "Bullets are faster than people," a gunman reminds a child aiming at prisoners scrambling to take cover. "Get two more of them and you can go see your mum." With a cast including actors from Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iraq, the $10-million production was filmed mainly in Lebanon and took over a year to research and another six months to shoot. "Shocking scenes" in the series could "either attract or repel the viewer, but he could not remain indifferent," said Fadi Ismail, head of the production company. "It is strong drama and the viewer can always control what to watch," he said. ´Security challenge´ Lebanon, the main location, hosts more than one million Syrian refugees and has been the scene of deadly suicide bombings claimed by Daesh. "Security was our most difficult challenge" during shooting, said executive producer Amer Sabbah. "When you transform an area in Lebanon into what resembles a Daesh headquarters, you have to consider security and safety of your crew," he said. In 2015, an MBC-produced Ramadan special, a satire named "Selfie", took aim at Daesh with a storyline in which the Saudi main character heads to Syria to bring back his son who had joined the group. The actor, Nasser al-Qasbi, received a string of online death threats after the episode aired.
  21. RAWALPINDI: A Two Star level security meeting among delegates from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Resolute Support Mission was held at General Headquarters Rawalpindi. According to Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement, the delegations were led by Afghan DGMO Major General Habib Hesari and Resolute Support Mission's Deputy Chief of Staff (Operations) Major General Christopher Haas. Pakistan was represented by DGMO Major General Sahir Shamshad Mirza, the statement added. During the trilateral meeting, the senior delegates stressed upon the need to defeat Daesh through complementary efforts in respective areas of operations. The trilateral meeting was succeeded by a Two Star Pakistan-Afghanistan Bilateral Meeting, in which both sides discussed measures for improving military-to-military coordination and cooperation. Chaman incident, border control/management and measures to curb cross-border fire violations were also discussed. Both sides agreed to enhance the frequency of bilateral interactions at multiple tiers through different command and staff channels to foster an environment of mutual respect, trust, cordiality and cooperation.
  22. The head of Daesh in Afghanistan, Abdul Hasib, was killed in an operation on April 27 conducted jointly by Afghan and US Special Forces in the eastern province of Nangarhar, US and Afghan officials said on Sunday. Hasib, appointed last year after his predecessor Hafiz Saeed Khan died in a US drone strike, is believed to have ordered a series of high-profile attacks including one in March 8 on the main military hospital in Kabul, a statement said. Last month, a Pentagon spokesman said Hasib had probably been killed during the raid by US and Afghan special forces in Nangarhar during which two US army Rangers were killed, but prior to Sunday's announcement there had been no confirmation. "This successful joint operation is another important step in our relentless campaign to defeat Daesh-K in 2017," the top US commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Nicholson said in a statement from US military headquarters in Kabul. Read more: FBI agent married Daesh fighter she was assigned to investigate The statement, following an earlier announcement by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, said Hasib directed the March 8 attack on the main Kabul military hospital by a group of militants disguised as doctors. Dozens of medical staff and patients were killed in the attack. It said he also ordered fighters to behead local elders in front of their families and kidnap women and girls to force them to marry Daesh fighters. The local affiliate of Daesh, sometimes known as Daesh Khorasan (Daesh-K), after an old name for the region that includes Afghanistan, has been active since 2015, fighting both the Taliban as well as Afghan and US forces. It is believed to maintain links with the main Daesh movement in Iraq and Syria but has considerable operational independence. Read more: Daesh militants developing own social media platform: Europol US and Afghan special forces, backed by drone strikes and other air support, have waged a series of operations against Daesh-K since March, killing dozens of their fighters, mainly in Nangarhar, on the border with Pakistan. Defeating the group remains one of the top US priorities in Afghanistan and last month the United States dropped its largest non-nuclear device on a network of caves and tunnels used by Daesh in Nangarhar, killing 94 fighters, including four commanders. The US military statement said 35 Daesh fighters and several high-ranking commanders were killed in the April 27 raid. Hundreds of fighters had been killed or captured this year and the offensive was continuing, with over half the districts controlled by Daesh-K retaken, allowing residents in some places to return for the first time in two years.
  23. Daesh militants are developing their own social media platform to avoid security crackdowns on their communications and propaganda, the head of the European Union's police agency said on Wednesday. Europol Director Rob Wainwright said the new online platform had been uncovered during a 48-hour operation against Internet extremism last week. "Within that operation it was revealed IS was now developing its very own social media platform, its own part of the Internet to run its agenda," Wainwright told a security conference in London. "It does show that some members of IS, at least, continue to innovate in this space." During a Europol-coordinated crackdown on Daesh and al Qaeda material, which involved officials from the United States, Belgium, Greece, Poland, and Portugal, more than 2,000 extremist items were identified, hosted on 52 social media platforms. Extremists have often relied on mainstream social media platforms for online communications and to spread propaganda, with private channels on messaging app Telegram being especially popular over the past year. Technology firms, such as Facebook and Google, have come under increasing political pressure to do more to tackle extremist material online and to make it harder for groups such as Daesh to communicate through encrypted services to avoid detection by security services. However, Wainwright said that Daesh, by creating its own service, was responding to concerted pressure from intelligence agencies, police forces and the tech sector, and were trying to found a way around it. "We have certainly made it a lot harder for them to operate in this space but we're still seeing the publication of these awful videos, communications operating large scale across the Internet," he said, adding he did not know if it would be technically harder to take down Daesh’s own platform. Wainwright also said he believed that security cooperation between Britain and the EU would continue after Brexit, despite British warnings it is likely to leave Europol and cease sharing intelligence if it strikes no divorce deal with the bloc. "The operational requirement is for that to be retained. If anything, "If anything we need to have an even more closely integrated pan-European response to security if you consider the way in which the threat is heading," he said. However, Wainwright said there were important legal issues that would have to be thrashed out and it was not easy "to just cut and paste current arrangements". "The legal issues have to be worked through and then they have to be worked through within of course the broader political context of the Article 50 negotiations (on Britain's planned exit from the EU)," he said. "In the end I hope the grown-ups in the room will realise that ... security is one of the most important areas of the whole process. We need to get that right in the collective security interest of Europe as a whole, including of course the United Kingdom."
  24. A Daesh attack on Tuesday against a position held by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northeast Syria killed at least 24 people, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said. The attack on a checkpoint at Rajm al-Salibi, the location of a refugee camp near the border between Syria and Iraq, led to violent clashes, the Observatory reported. More than 30 other people were also injured, it said. The SDF, a coalition of Kurdish and Arab militias, has seized large swathes of northern Syria from Daeshover the past 18 months and is engaged in a campaign to drive the terrorist group from its de facto regional capital of Raqqa. On Monday, the SDF captured most of the strategically vital town of Tabqa, 40 km (25 miles) west of Raqqa along the Euphrates, it said. It said on Tuesday that fierce fighting continued to capture the last few districts of the town as well as an adjacent dam, Syria's largest, and the last major obstacle remaining before it can begin its assault on Raqqa. Tuesday's Daesh attack on Rajm al-Salibi was targeted at the Asayish, a Kurdish security force that operates in northeast Syria, the Observatory said.
  25. LONDON: The Central Criminal Court of England and Wales, commonly known as Old Bailey, sentenced a Daesh facilitator, identified as 34-year-old Samata Ullah, to eight years imprisonment on Tuesday. Samata Ullah, who hails from Cardiff, was convicted on various offences of terrorism including facilitating Daesh, terrorist training, instigation of terrorism, and possession of material on missile guidance. According to Metropolitan police, the convict was sentenced to “four years' imprisonment for membership of a proscribed organisation; eight years, with a five year extension period, imprisonment a charge of terrorist training and a separate charge of preparation for terrorism; six years' imprisonment for possession of an article - namely a USB cufflink - for a purpose connected with the commission, preparation or instigation of terrorism.” Alongside, he was convicted for “six years' imprisonment for possession of articles - namely a book about guided missiles and a PDF version of a book about advanced missile guidance and control - for a purpose connected with the commission, preparation or instigation of terrorism.” All the sentences will run concurrently. Tracking down convict Samata Ullah was arrested from his house on September 22, last year, during an operation of intelligence agencies and Met Police Counter Terrorism Command. Around 200 pieces of evidence, including 150 digital devices were seized from his house; devices contained eight terabytes of data. The operation was conducted after security agencies had received information from the Kenyan Anti-Terrorism Intelligence Police; who had arrested another suspect on April 29, last year, who was in regular contact with Samata Ullah. More than 100 detectives worked on tracking down Samata Ullah’s activities and it was established that suspect who assist others with similar mindset and taught them how to hide their actions and communications. Speaking about the convict, Commander Dean Haydon, MPS Counter Terrorism Command, said: "Just because Ullah's activity was in the virtual world we never underestimated how dangerous his activity was. He sat in his bedroom in Wales and created online content with the sole intention of aiding people who wanted to actively support ISIS and avoid getting caught by the authorities.” Moreover, Detective Superintendent Lee Porter - Head of WECTU, explained that Samata Ullah’s activities came as a surprise for people close to him.