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Found 17 results

  1. 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.
  2. File Photo - Australian Defence Minister Marise Payne reacts during a media conference, regarding Indonesia?s military suspension with Australia, in Sydney, Australia, January 5, 2017. REUTERS Australia said on Tuesday it had suspended air strikes into Syria following the US downing of a Syrian military jet and Russia's subsequent threat against US-led coalition aircraft. Russia said on Monday it would treat US-led coalition aircraft flying west of the River Euphrates in Syria as potential targets and track them with missile systems and military aircraft, but stopped short of saying it would shoot them down. "As a precautionary measure, Australian Defence Force (ADF) strike operations into Syria have temporarily ceased," Australia's Department of Defence said in a statement. Russia made clear it was changing its military posture in response to the US downing of a Syrian military jet on Sunday, something Damascus said was the first such incident since the start of the country's conflict in 2011. "ADF personnel are closely monitoring the air situation in Syria and a decision on the resumption of ADF air operations in Syria will be made in due course," Australia's Department of Defence said, adding its operations in Iraq would continue as part of the coalition. "Australian Defence Force protection is regularly reviewed in response to a range of potential threats," it said.
  3. 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.
  4. [Image: (L-R) Khuram Shazad Butt, Rachid Redouane and Youssef Zaghba] A third man arrested for carrying out Saturday´s deadly attack in London is an Italian-Moroccan who was arrested last year on suspicion of trying to reach Syria, Italian sources said Tuesday. The mayor of Valsamoggia, a town near Bologna, said that Youssef Zaghba, 22, was the son of an Italian mother and a Moroccan father who had separated, and was registered as an Italian living overseas. "In fact he never lived here," said the mayor, Daniele Ruscigno. "The only member of the family that lived here was the mother, who was known but has not been seen around for some time," he told reporters. Zaghba had lived mainly in Morocco but had recently spent time working in Britain, most recently at a London restaurant, according to Italian media reports. The AGI news agency said Zaghba was intercepted at Bologna airport last year as he was about to board a plane for Turkey. Italy´s anti-terrorist force DIGOS believed he was trying to join Daesh militants in Syria. He was detained carrying only a small backpack, his passport and a one-way ticket to Istanbul. Police reportedly found Daesh propoganda videos on his cellphone, but after an investigation, they failed to find sufficient evidence of links to terrorism to justify prosecuting him. As a holder of an Italian passport he was not liable for expulsion under the kind of administrative order Italy routinely uses against suspected religious militants from Morocco and Tunisia, and so he was released. According to AGI, the British and Moroccan authorities were notified of Zaghba´s status as a potential militant by DIGOS. But British police have said Zaghba was "not a police or MI5 subject of interest". According to the reports, Zaghba was born in Fez, Morocco, in January 1995. His mother was said to have told police last year that he had asked her for money to travel to Rome before he left on his attempted trip to Syria. British Police name two London attackers as Khuram Butt and Rachid Redouane Butt was 27 and a British citizen born in Pakistan, while Redouane was 30 and claimed to be Moroccan and Libyan Khurram Butt had visited Pakistan twice in 23 years, says uncle Butt was known to his friends as The Met's Counter Terrorism Command earlier today released the name and photograph Zaghba. All three men involved in the attack were confronted and shot dead by armed officers within eight minutes of the first call. The other two were named on June 5 as Pakistani-born British citizen Khuram Shazad Butt, 27, and Rachid Redouane, 30, from Barking, had claimed to be Moroccan and Libyan. He also used the name Rachid Elkhdar, with a different date of birth of 31.7.91. Italy´s main newspapers said Zaghba´s mother was from Bologna and his father was Moroccan.
  5. For the past six years, Syria has been left hanging and secluded from the rest of the world, with a tag of ‘war-torn’ country pasted on it. The residing families and children are constantly under the fear of being the prime targets of deadly terror attacks. Whether they will live to narrate their ordeal the next day is a doubt that harbors in everyone’s minds especially the young children, who have seen nothing but wars till now. What once was a beautiful and picturesque location has now turned into a place that reeks of wreckage, devastation, loss and blood. However, while on one hand some extremist groups are trying to wreck havoc in the country, one good samaritan has turned into their messiah, and is trying to provide every possible help that’s within his jurisdiction. © Facebook Abdullateef Khaled is an aid worker who set out on a mission to put a smile on the faces of Syrian children. Right from teaching those young kids, providing them with medical aid to distributing free food ; Khaled and his team have left no stone unturned in offering help. Khaled is also the founder of One Solid Ummah, a non-profit organization that has been actively doing humanitarian work in Syria since 2012. One look at Khaled’s Facebook page and you will know how he is working towards his goal. Here is one such heartwarming video where Khaled distributes Iftar meals to children and in the process gets to witness one of the most beautiful moments – the smiling faces of those kids. We need more people like Khaled to keep pushing humanity, which has been slowly slipping out from the hands of the world. Syrian children and families have already experienced the death of their loved ones, many have been subjected to the brutal wrath of terrorism, and millions of people have displaced from their homes. It’s time that we join forces with humanity to provide help to them in every way possible. Although Khaled’s efforts might appear small, even the smallest gesture is a huge help.
  6. 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".
  7. Syrian girls act in an English-language adaptation of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" at a school in the rebel-held town of Douma, on the eastern outskirts of Damascus. Photo: AFP DOUMA: To escape the nightmare of life in their besieged hometown near Syria´s capital, 13 young girls sought refuge in a fairytale performance of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs". The all-girl cast spent months memorising lines from the classic Brothers Grimm fable before performing in front of a packed audience this week in the elementary school in Douma. "It was really hard, but I memorised all my lines in English," said proud 10-year-old Afnan, who played the story´s lead antagonist, the Queen. "When I act, I forget the war that we´re living through in Douma and I feel happy and hopeful," she said. Afnan´s hometown is the de facto capital of the Eastern Ghouta region, the last remaining rebel enclave near Damascus and besieged by government troops since 2012. Until this month, Eastern Ghouta had been regularly targeted by air strikes and artillery as part of a government offensive chipping away at rebel territory. The bombardment would often wound or kill children as they headed to street markets, played outside, or walked to school. But the skies have been quiet since a landmark deal earlier this month to create four "de-escalation zones" in Syria, where more than 320,000 people have been killed since conflict broke out in 2011. ´Bombing is their normal´ On-stage, her character is consumed by a search for youthful beauty, but Afnan said her own ambitions in life lie elsewhere. "The lesson from the play is that beauty is in your heart and your soul, not in your looks! I want to be a doctor -- I want to be brave and treat sick people," Afnan said. With the glittering stage decorations and nervous murmurs of young students, the evening could have almost taken place in any school around the world. But halfway through the performance, two distant booms shook the room -- rockets that hit the edge of the town, residents later said. "These children don´t know what it´s like not to have shelling. For them, bombing is their normal," a female stagehand told AFP. Earlier this year, international aid group Save the Children warned that a whole generation of war-scarred Syrian children may be "lost to trauma and extreme stress". For the school´s director of extracurricular activities, Yasser al-Assaad, theatre is one of the most effective ways to offset years of traumatic experiences -- for the young students and their mentors alike. For the lead actress Rayhana Noaman, who played Snow White, said her favourite part of the story was escaping a tragic fate. Photo: AFP "I get my rehab from a student´s smile, and that student draws her psychotherapy from the teacher that came to her school to motivate her," Assaad told AFP. It is his third fairytale performance: in 2015, he helped put on "Little Red Riding Hood", and last year his students performed "Beauty and the Beast". "We want to send a message to all of humanity that Syrian children can create, that we are open to all civilisations," he said. ´Flowers can grow´ Despite efforts to leave Douma´s devastation behind, death seemed to touch the cast of Snow White. Just days before the final performance, the director´s husband was killed by a stray bullet from intra-rebel clashes in the town. And the play´s rosy-cheeked narrator, Dania, recalled how her own school had been bombed just a year and a half ago. "It was all blood and (the bodies of) girls in front of me," the 11-year-old told AFP. Even lead actress Rayhana Noaman, who played Snow White, said her favourite part of the story was escaping a tragic fate. "The witch wanted to kill me, but the charming prince saved me from death!" she said with a shy smile. Slender Amal al-Kurdi burst onto the stage with an explosive introduction: "A-a-achoo! I´m Sneezy!" The eight-year-old actress donned a white felt beard and brown shirt like her fellow dwarfs. "I really liked acting because we learned how to be brave and how not to be afraid to speak in front of an audience," she said. As his students prepared to raise the curtain, Assaad said the performance was a sign that "flowers can grow amid rocks of pain." "Every household in Douma has lost someone and tasted the anguish of pain, war, and siege. Despite this, we can build Syria anew," he said.
  8. Up to 5,000 ethnic Uighurs from China's violence-prone far western region of Xinjiang are fighting in various militant groups in Syria, the Syrian ambassador to China said on Monday, adding that Beijing should be extremely concerned about it. China is worried that Uighurs, a mostly Muslim people who speak a Turkic language, have gone to Syria and Iraq to fight for militants there, having traveled illegally via Southeast Asia and Turkey. Daesh claimed responsibility for the killing of a Chinese hostage in 2015, highlighting China's concern about Uighurs it says are fighting in the Middle East. Hundreds of people have been killed in Xinjiang in the past few years, most in unrest between Uighurs and ethnic majority Han Chinese. The government blames the unrest on religious militants who want a separate state called East Turkestan. Syria's ambassador in Beijing, Imad Moustapha, told Reuters on the sidelines of a business forum that while some of the Uighurs were fighting with Daesh, most were fighting "under their own banner" to promote their separatist cause. "Our estimated numbers, because of the numbers we fight against, we kill, we capture, we wound, would be around 4-5,000 Xinjiang jihadists," he said. "China as well as every other country should be extremely concerned." Beijing has never given a number for how many Uighurs it believes are fighting in the Middle East, but has repeatedly warned they pose a serious threat to China. It is not possible to independently verify the number of Uighurs in Syria. Rights groups and Uighur exiles say many Uighurs have fled to Turkey simply to escape Chinese repression at home, accusations Beijing denies. Moustapha said China did not pick favourites with rebel groups, like Western countries, and China and Syria were cooperating to fight the threat. "They don't have a mixed message," he said, referring to China. "They understand the true nature of the…doctrine of these groups. Yes, we do exchange information and a little bit more than information regarding these terrorist groups," he said, without elaborating. 'Right time' Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in an interview with the Hong Kong-based Phoenix Television in March, praised "crucial cooperation" between Syria and Chinese intelligence against Uighur militants. He said ties with China were "on the rise". Syria is trying to woo back Chinese investment, with a group of about 30 Syrian businessman meeting about 100 Chinese representatives over two days in Beijing. Moustapha said he would be attending next week's summit on China's new Silk Road plan, which aims to expand links between Asia, Africa and Europe underpinned by billions of dollars in infrastructure investment. Aboud Sarrouf, chairman of the Sarrouf Group and member of the Syria-China Business Council, said they were hoping to get Chinese investment to help repair war-damaged infrastructure. "They are preparing and waiting for the right time. They are a little bit reluctant and hesitating," he told Reuters, referring to Chinese companies. "But we're coming here to start preparing the foundation." Syria may have difficulty encouraging back Chinese companies. Paul Liu, chief executive of Chinese steel products firm Sino Sources, said he wanted to hear about opportunities in Syria but was concerned about security. "If the government thinks things are not dependable, then we'll first plan and then execute later," Liu said.
  9. Russia, Iran and Turkey on Thursday signed an agreement to set up four safe zones in Syria that the United Nations described as a promising step to wind down the brutal six-year war. The United States however gave an extremely cautious welcome, citing Iran's role as a guarantor even as it expressed hope that the deal could set the stage for a settlement. Several members of the rebel delegation left the room shouting in protest as the signing ceremony got underway in the Kazakh capital Astana, angry at regime ally Iran, an AFP reporter saw. The plan for the "de-escalation zones" was discussed on Tuesday by US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin during a telephone conversation that the White House described as a "very good one." The agreement provides for a ceasefire, a ban on all flights, rapid deliveries of humanitarian aid to the designated areas and the return of refugees. Russia and Iran, which back Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces in the war, and Turkey, a supporter of rebel forces, hope to build on a ceasefire deal they reached in December. The Syrian government and rebel delegations are not signatories to the deal. "We are not supporting this agreement. It is an agreement between the three countries," said Usama Abu Zeid, a rebel spokesman. "We do not at all agree that Iran .. is a guarantor of this accord." UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was encouraged by the agreement. Guterres "welcomed the commitments to ceasing the use of all weapons, particularly aerial assets" and to quickly deliver medical aid and basic necessities, said the spokesman. The United Nations will support de-escalation, said the spokesman but he did not elaborate. UN envoy Staffan de Mistura, who was in Astana as an observer, described the agreement as "an important promising positive step in the right direction" toward de-escalation. A working group will be set up within two weeks to resolve technical issues and the three countries agreed to set up the four areas by June 4. The first zone included the whole of Idlib province along with certain parts of neighbouring Latakia, Aleppo and Hama provinces. The second will encompass certain parts in the north of Homs province and the third will be comprised of some areas of Eastern Ghouta, outside of Damascus. The fourth zone will include parts of the Deraa and Quneitra provinces in southern Syria, according to the memorandum seen by AFP. US doubts about Iran The UN envoy said the deal would be quickly put to the test and that success on the ground could pave the way to a new round of political talks in Geneva later this month. "There will be a period not longer than two weeks in which all this will be seriously put to the test and we want that test to succeed," he said. In Washington, the State Department, which had dispatched an observer to the talks, said it appreciated Russian and Turkish efforts but called into doubt Iran's role. "We continue to have concerns about the Astana agreement, including the involvement of Iran as a so-called 'guarantor'," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said. "Iran's activities in Syria have only contributed to the violence, not stopped it, and Iran's unquestioning support for the Assad regime has perpetuated the misery of ordinary Syrians." "We nonetheless hope that this arrangement can contribute to a de-escalation of violence, end the suffering of the Syrian people, and set the stage for a political settlement of the conflict," she said. Russia's envoy Alexander Lavrentiev said the zones would remain in place for six months, a period that could be extended. It remained unclear whether there would be any international monitoring of the safe zones. Putin said Wednesday that ways to monitor the zones would be an issue for separate talks. Lavrentiev said Moscow was ready to send observers to the zones. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in comments published Thursday that the plan for the "de-escalation zones" would "50 percent" solve the six-year conflict. Damascus supports the Russian plan, Syrian state news agency SANA reported. Syrian rebels said earlier Thursday that they had resumed participation in the talks after having suspended their involvement a day earlier over air strikes against civilians. More than 320,000 people have been killed in Syria since the country's war began with anti-government protests in March 2011.
  10. Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif starrer ‘Ek Tha Tiger’ was a huge hit both commercially and critically, and no matter how much we love or hate Salman personally, we can’t deny that he did a good job in that movie. For those who don’t remember the plot (though the chances are bleak) let us refresh your memory. The movie focused on two agents who fell in love and fled from their respective organizations to get married and live together. Some of you would feel that the chances of something like this happening in real life are rare, but we actually found a real-life ‘Tiger’ couple, although their story took a different turn. This is not a new movie plot folks, it actually happened in the year 2014 where an FBI employee with a top-secret security clearance, took off to Syria to get married to an ISIS terrorist she had been assigned to investigate. © Flickr Now this is a really dangerous and embarrassing scenario for the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation), which is considered to be the top security service of the United States. The employee in question has reportedly been identified as Daniela Greene and her lover was Denis Cuspert, a German rapper turned ISIS terrorist who also goes by the name Abu Talha al-Almani. Now that’s what you call a drastic shift of interest and profession. According to a report in CNN, Cuspert had been influencing and recruiting (online) ‘violent jihadists’. He had been on the radar of the counter-terrorism forces for quite some time. In fact, it was Cuspert who released a song praising Osama bin Laden, where he also threatened former President Barack Obama of dire consequences with a throat-cutting gesture. © BCCL Daniela, a 38-year-old woman, was recruited as a contract linguist in the year 2011 and was assigned Cuspert’s case in January 2014. We don’t know to what extent she was blinded by love or whatever, but she lied to FBI about her whereabouts or the destination she was traveling to and married Cuspert and had reportedly even warned him about being under the investigation radar. But, things weren’t merry at all in their haven because within weeks of marrying him, she fled back to the US and got arrested. Reportedly, she realized that she had made a big mistake and now that the damage is done, she can only come back and be found guilty of her felonies. Daniela agreed to cooperate with authorities and was sentenced to two years in federal prison in August 2014, for making false statements involving international terrorism. © Facebook As per the CNN report, Thomas Gillice, a prosecutor in the National Security section of the US Attorney’s office said Greene had “violated the public trust, the trust of the officials who granted her security clearance, and the trust of those with whom she worked and, in doing so, endangered our nation’s security.” He further said, “She endangered our national security by exposing herself and her knowledge of sensitive matters to those terrorist organizations.” Just like it’s deadly to enter in an ISIS zone, getting out from the area is equally risky and dangerous, and the fact that Greene managed to come out unharmed is a surprise and it seems Gillice thought the same. “Her escape from the area unscathed, and with apparently much of that knowledge undisclosed, appears a stroke of luck or a measure of the lack of savvy on the part of the terrorists with whom she interacted.” Greene was reportedly released last summer and it is hard for us to not think of the leniency she has been shown. Receiving two years of imprisonment for a security breach is way too less for anyone, especially when the offence is related to lying and marrying an ISIS terrorist, despite being at an important position. Reportedly, Greene was already married to an American guy before marrying Cuspert and said that she was going to see her parents in Munich, Germany. After spending a month in Syria, she managed to leave the place and return to the United States. This entire account has left us stunned and now even shows like ‘Homeland’ will not surprise us anymore. Source: CNN
  11. WASHINGTON: Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin discussed steps to ease Syria's civil war and a possible first face-to-face meeting, during what the White House described as a "very good call" Tuesday. The US and Russian leaders spoke by telephone, focusing on the six-year-old Syrian conflict, which has pitched Moscow and Washington into rival camps. "President Trump and President Putin agreed that the suffering in Syria has gone on for far too long and that all parties must do all they can to end the violence," the White House said. Trump aides also said "the conversation was a very good one" that included "discussion of safe, or de-escalation, zones" in Syria "to achieve lasting peace for humanitarian and many other reasons." The White House said the two leaders also spoke about "how best to resolve the very dangerous situation in North Korea." And the Kremlin added that both men were "in favor" of meeting at a G20 summit in Germany this July. That meeting is sure to be closely watched in the United States, where Trump has come under sustained criticism over his campaign's ties to Russia and his praise of Putin. US intelligence agencies believe that Putin approved of a wide-ranging campaign to tilt the 2016 election in Trump's favour, prompting US sanctions imposed by former president Barack Obama. The FBI is still investigating possible collusion between the campaign and Moscow. Trump has been muted in his criticism, but tensions between the White House and the Kremlin have resurfaced after the suspected use of the chemical agent sarin against civilians prompted Trump to strike a Syrian regime airbase also used by Russia. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the call -- which he sat in on -- was "very productive" with "a lot of detailed exchanges." "We'll see where we go from here." No details were given about the possible safe zones, which have long been discussed, but faltered as Bashar al-Assad's regime and assorted groups of rebels, Kurds, Iranian-backed militias, Al-Qaeda and Islamic State fighters have kept-up a bloody war that has killed an estimated half million people. The Kremlin, meanwhile, said "the emphasis was put on the potential for coordination of actions by the United States and Russia in the fight against terrorism." The State Department earlier announced that it would send a junior minister to Russian-backed peace talks in Astana later this week.
  12. DAMASCUS: An Israeli attack on a Syrian camp for pro-government forces killed three fighters near the Golan Heights on Sunday, an official from the forces said. The official told AFP that two fighters were also wounded in the attack on the Al-Fawwar camp near Quneitra in southwestern Syria, adding that it was unclear whether the damage was inflicted by an air strike or shelling. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group confirmed the early Sunday attack but had no further details. Israel´s army on Friday said it targeted positions inside Syria in retaliation for mortar fire that hit the northern part of the Golan Heights. Syria´s official news agency SANA said Israel had struck a Syrian army position in the province of Quneitra on the Golan plateau, "causing damage". The Syrian government labels rebel groups and jihadists fighting the regime as "terrorists" and accuses Israel of backing them. Israel seized 1,200 square kilometres (460 square miles) of the Golan from Syria in the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed it in a move never recognised by the international community. Around 510 square kilometres of the Golan are under Syrian control. The two countries are still technically at war, although the border remained largely quiet for decades until 2011, when the Syrian conflict broke out. The Israeli side is hit sporadically by what are usually deemed to be stray rounds, and Israel has recently taken to opening fire in retaliation.
  13. NEW DELHI: The United Nations must prioritise millions of children caught up in conflict and protect refugee children from being trafficked into slavery, Nobel Laureate and child rights activist Kailash Satyarthi said on Friday. Satyarthi, who was jointly awarded the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize with Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, said television images of Syrian children gasping for breath after a chemical attack on April 4 had prompted him to speak out. "I was always concerned - and have spoken about the refugee crisis, and in particular, children living in conflict areas like Syria," Satyarthi told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. "But the recent chemical attack has shaken my conscience. What else could be more heinous? I thought it was important to raise a voice - and also suggest some form of action to better protect children in armed conflict and child refugees." Nearly 250 million children - one in nine worldwide - live in countries affected by war including Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen and Nigeria, according to the UN children's agency UNICEF. Many lack access to medical care, schooling and nutrition. Those fleeing are at risk of being trafficked and sold into forced labor in farms, homes, hotels and even brothels. Some refugee girls are married off by parents who think a husband will be better able to protect their daughter. The number of conflicts lasting more than five years is growing, says UNICEF. Fifteen new conflicts have broken out or reignited in the past five years - with a devastating impact on children. In Syria, more than 3 million children are internally displaced, and 2 million Syrian children are refugees in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Iraq and beyond, according to UNICEF. Satyarthi, credited with rescuing over 80,000 children from India's brick kilns, stone quarries, carpet factories, circuses, sweatshops and farms, said he was deeply disturbed after visiting refugee camps in Turkey, Germany and Italy. "I met parents in camps who feel it better to marry their young daughters to much older men for their own protection," he said. "I heard of children trafficked as prostitutes or for their organs. Some radicalised and prepared as suicide bombers." The 63-year-old activist urged the UN Security Council to take action. "The conventional approach such as having a special rapporteur on children in conflict is not working. We have to take bolder steps and that is possible through the direct intervention of the Security Council," said Satyarthi. "The Security Council should appoint a high-level panel to report periodically on children in conflict - including refugee children. Based on the findings of the panel, resolutions would be framed by member states and put before the Security Council." Satyarthi said he was lobbying other world leaders, former presidents, ex-prime ministers and fellow laureates to support his plea and hoped to meet with UN chief Antonio Guterres in September during the General Assembly in New York. He said UN resolutions on children in conflict would create more awareness, and encourage powerful countries such as the United States to keep their borders open to child refugees. "These children are the victims of crimes they did not commit. So every single heart, every single door, every single border should be open to them," he said. "Power does not lie in firing missiles and dropping bombs, power lies in compassion."
  14. Thousands of Syrians were evacuated from besieged towns on Wednesday with tight security in place after a weekend bombing against those leaving government-held areas killed dozens, including nearly 70 children. The evacuations are part of a deal between government and opposition representatives to relieve thousands from suffocating sieges imposed by the regime and rebels. A large convoy of buses set out from the government-held towns of Fuaa and Kafraya in Idlib province on Wednesday morning, carrying 3,000 people to the rebel-held transit point of Rashidin near Aleppo, an AFP correspondent said. At the same time, 11 buses carrying around 300 people left rebel-held Zabadani, Serghaya and Jabal Sharqi in Damascus province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said. Evacuees finally reached the government-controlled district of Ramussa south of Aleppo on Wednesday evening, the Observatory said. Security was tight throughout the day, AFP's correspondent said, after a devastating bomb attack on evacuees in Rashidin on Saturday that according to the Observatory killed 126 people, including 68 children. Most of the dead were from the two towns, with a handful of aid workers and rebels guarding the convoy also killed. Dozens of wounded were taken to hospitals in nearby rebel-held territory, while others were taken to Aleppo, which government forces regained full control of late last year. When the exchange is complete, a total of 8,000 people should have left Fuaa and Kafraya, with another 2,500 civilians and rebels leaving opposition areas. 'Everything in God's hands' Armed rebels were standing guard at Rashidin on Wednesday and carefully inspecting vehicles arriving in the area. "We chose a different location as the gathering point for fighters from Fuaa and Kafraya with their families, because we are obliged to protect them until they leave here," said rebel fighter Abu Obeida al-Shami. Buses were parked in a semi-circle, forming a makeshift barrier around an area in the centre of a lot where evacuees including dozens of children milled. "Where do I even start? It would have been easier if we had just died. Death is so much easier than this humiliation," said elderly evacuee Abu Ahmad. He told AFP he was preparing himself never to see his hometown of Fuaa again. "Someone like me, who is already 85 years old -- I'm going to die tomorrow or the day after." Pro-government militiamen among those being evacuated from Fuaa and Kafraya squatted next to one bus, smoking cigarettes. Standing nearby, 55-year-old Um Joud from Fuaa said it was difficult to describe how she felt. "I'm not afraid, because everything is in God's hands," she told AFP. "Of course I would have preferred to stay in my home, but I left for the sake of my children and their lives and futures." The deal was brokered late last month by Qatar, a longtime opposition supporter, and Iran, a key regime ally, but its implementation had been repeatedly delayed. Zabadani and neighbouring Madaya "are now empty of any rebel presence," said Mayyada al-Aswad, a member of the coordinating committee for the operation on the government side. Wednesday's evacuations mark the end of the first stage of the deal, with a second phase due to begin in June. Fuaa and Kafraya will be emptied entirely, with residents and fighters heading to Aleppo and then on to government-held Latakia or Damascus. All rebels are expected to leave Madaya, Zabadani, and other nearby oppositions-held areas, but civilians who want to remain may do so. Those leaving rebel-held areas will head to Idlib province, which is held by an opposition alliance. 30,000 to be evacuated In all, up to 30,000 people are expected to leave under the deal. President Bashar al-Assad says evacuation deals are the best way to end the six-year war, but the opposition says they amount to forced relocation after years of bombardment and siege. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Saturday's bombing, which was condemned by Syria's opposition, including the powerful Ahrar al-Sham rebel group. The government blamed "terrorists" -- a catch-all term for its opponents. Syrian state television on Wednesday reported another bomb blast in Aleppo that killed six people. A local medic told AFP that 32 people were wounded in the blast. The United Nations says 600,000 Syrians live under siege, mostly by the Syrian army, but also by rebels or the Islamic State group. The war has killed more than 320,000 people since it began with anti-government protests in March 2011. More than half of the population have been forced from their homes. View the full article
  15. The groundbreaking victory of Donald Trump, America’s 45th President, left the entire world stunned and if the rumours are to be believed then there some divine or psychic forces behind his electoral triumph. While the man from Southampton got his claim to fame back then, this time around there’s another mystic who has asserted that he accurately foretold Donald Trump’s presidency. According to a report published in the Daily Star, Mystic Horacio Villegas prophesied Trump’s victory way back in the year 2015 and also predicted that will become the “Illuminati king” who will “bring the world into World War 3”. Had someone taken this guy seriously at that time, things might have been different for America and the world. Facebook Villegas who calls himself the ‘messenger of God’ also foretold that Trump will attack Syria and will bring Russia, North Korea and China into the conflict; which partly came out to be true. Spooky eh? Well, wait till you hear this – recently, he said he had a dream where he saw “balls of fire falling from the sky and hitting the earth”. Believe it or not peeps, but it looks like he is hinting at World War 3. He further mentioned that he saw people running around everywhere, trying to hide from the destruction and believes that these were symbols of nuclear missiles falling on cities across the world. Trusting these prophesies is one’s personal choice, but when we hear claims like these, it beats the sh*t out of us. Twitter This mystic’s predictions have smashed the prophesies of Baba Vanga, the renowned blind Bulgarian mystic woman predicted who predicted 9/11, the rise of ISIS and 2004’s tsunami. Reportedly, he said that D-Day will fall on the 100th anniversary of the visitation of Our Lady of Fatima – the Virgin Mary, which is May 13, of this year. If we go by the story, Our Lady of Fatima’s visitation ended on October 13, 1917 and she said, “The war is going to end, and the soldiers will soon return to their homes.” Hence, Villegas claims that on October 13, this war will come to an end. Wikimedia Commons He warned people with a message that the war will happen and will be over with much devastation, shock and death and that people need to be prepared between May 13th and October 13, 2017. He further predicted that before the war, several attacks will happen between April and May and Syria and North Korea might be involved. Further, Villegas has also said that the president of Syria, Assad might get bombed and killed which will further trigger the war. Woah! Now, that’s some serious stuff and given North Korea’s recent attempts at launching a ballistic missile and growing tensions in Syria, it’s becoming harder for us to not believe this prediction. Facebook Furthermore, how much of it will be true is also something hard for us to believe, given that a similar false alarm was raised in 2012 as well. I was so petrified by the news that I quit my job and went for a vacation so I can enjoy the world before it crumbles down. But, by January 2013, I found myself looking for a job. The only good thing that happened was to the directors of the movie '2012', who raked in huge amounts of money just by making the movie. What do you think, peeps? Are these predictions really true? If World War 3 will really end by October, then there’s no point making any New Year or Christmas plans. We wonder what will happen to movies that release post Diwali? Original Story Link: DailyMail
  16. During any war, it usually takes a picture of an innocent child as a victim for the world to actually pay attention to what is happening. And with everything going on in Syria, this has happened time and time again. This time it was in the aftermath of chemical attack on the northern Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun. Pictures of a Syrian father clutching the lifeless bodies of his 9-month old twins, Aya and Ahmed, emerged and they were heart-breaking. In the video, 29-year-old Abdul-Hamid Alyousef can be seen asking his cousin Alaa to record his emotional farewell to his kids. Choking back tears, he says, “Say goodbye, baby, say goodbye.” © Twitter The horrific attack killed around 72 people, including Alyousef’s wife, two of his brothers, two nephews, a niece, neighbours and friends, along with his kids. “I was right beside them and I carried them outside the house with their mother,” Alyousef, a shopkeeper, told the AP, recalling the moments after the airstrike occurred. “They were conscious at first, but 10 minutes later we could smell the odour.” © Twitter When he brought them to the paramedics, he assumed that they would be fine since they got medical attention, but he was soon informed that his wife and kids were not able to survive. “I couldn’t save anyone, they’re all dead now,” the bereaved father said. “Abdel Hameed is in very bad shape,” his cousin Alaa added. He is being treated for exposure to the toxin, but that’s not the worst of it, she told the AP. “He’s especially broken down over his massive loss.” © Twitter In 2015, it was the picture of a lifeless 3-year-old boy who washed ashore on a Turkish beach that made everyone tear up all around the world. He, along with his family, were hoping to find a better life in Europe, but he did not make it there. Aylan Kurdi’s picture perfectly showed the realities of the refugee crisis Syria is facing. © Twitter The year after that, it happened again. Journalists captured footage of Omran Daqneesh, a young Syrian boy, sitting in the back of an ambulance after an airstrike in his rebel-held Qaterji neighbourhood. The video showed him calmly wiping blood and dust off his face, his silence indicating that how such events have become so ordinary for the children of Syria. © Twitter How many innocent children have to suffer and die before something is done about this?
  17. Syria has been abandoned, it seems. Along with that, humanity has also been abandoned. Chemical attacks have left the place looking like a post-apocalyptic scene. Maybe this is the apocalypse—the death of humanity. 13.5 million people in Syria have been displaced and are in desperate need of basic humanitarian aid. At least half of these displaced are children. A majority of refugees—nearly 5 million in number—are struggling to meet the most basic needs, having left everything behind. I mean, aren’t you tired of reading about the death of innocent kids who haven’t even started walking on their own two feet yet? Would you ever be able to imagine yourself in that situation—all limbs in perfect unison? If you were to ever have children of your own—whether you actually do, is a different scene—would you ever be able to sleep peacefully at night, knowing that hundreds of kids are losing their lives just because they exist in a certain place? How is that right? Forget right; how on Earth is that even human? © ABC News True, we’re living thousands of miles away from them. But, does that mean we remain oblivious to their condition; one that they have been living with for about five years now? Do we really need to see images of dying children and parents sobbing over the lives they created with hopes and dreams? Yes, we may not all be politicos, business tycoons, philanthropists. But, aren’t we human? Can we not, in some way or the other—however small that way may be—help those in Syria? Maybe we can… There are various different places—both online and offline—where we can donate to the victims of Syria. Here are a few listed out: 1. The UN Refugee Agency: The agency is “helping the most vulnerable with cash for medicine and food, stoves and fuel for heating, insulation for tents, thermal blankets and winter clothing" and they are providing aid to Syria. You can donate here: UN Refugee Agency 2. CARE: The chemical attacks, President Trump’s refugee ban and the latest attack on Syria by the US has threatened the stable future of innocent Syrian lives and put thousands of them in limbo. CARE is working towards sustaining these lives in any and every way that they can. The organization has various CARE packages to enable donors to contribute in any way that is within reason to them. Here’s where you can donate: CARE © ABC News 3. Save The Children: A global action fund that has launched a special campaign for the children of Syria, the organization informs you about the realities of children in the war-torn area and enlightens you on the ways you can help by sponsoring a child, or more. You can make a one-time donation, or sign up for a membership. You can choose the categories of children you’d wish to sponsor based on children’s stories recorded on their website. Here’s how to sponsor a child: Save The Children 4. Islamic Relief USA: The community has been actively serving more than 9.3 million Syrians in need, in Syria and neighbouring countries by providing items like food, medical aid, water, blankets, mattresses, plastic sheeting, plastic mats, shoes, jackets, hats, sweatshirts, gloves, waterproof coats, socks and other necessities. They have a series of projects that they undertake and even have a regularly updated progress report that is up for review by users. You can donate, create a campaign of your own and keep yourself updated on the number of donations being made, according to the website. Here’s how you can donate: IRUSA © BBC 5. ActionAid: The community has been working continuously since 2013 on the ongoing—and subsequently worsening—situation in Syria. They have been providing food, shelter, blankets, school supplies, and other urgent materials; alongside continual support towards the children and their families across affected areas, providing emergency supplies and helping children who have been traumatized by the conflict. Here’s where you can make your donation: ActionAid