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Islamic World News (27 May 2019 NewAgeIslam.Com)



Combating Radicalisation during Ramzan: In Mumbai, a Police Outreach To Muslims








Combating Radicalisation during Ramzan: In Mumbai, a Police Outreach To Muslims

Malaysian Minister in PMO: Govt Will Look Into Rights of Indian Muslims after Concerns of Being Sidelined

Jordan King Highlights ‘Noble Role’ Of Imams, Preachers in Spreading True Message of Islam

Stress on Islam’s Message of Harmony at UN Iftar by Pakistani Staffers

Muslim World League Launches Global Forum for Moderate Islam

Trump on Iran: ‘If they’d like to Talk, We’d like to Talk’

 

India

Combating Radicalisation during Ramzan: In Mumbai, a Police Outreach To Muslims

‘Mutual Trust Must For Peace’: PM-Elect Modi to Imran Khan

PM Imran Khan dials PM Narendra Modi with call to work together

Zakir Naik Got Dubious Donations from Unknown ‘Well Wishers’, Says ED Report

Mehbooba welcomes Imran Khan's call to PM Modi, says dialogue only way forward

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Southeast Asia

Malaysian Minister in PMO: Govt Will Look Into Rights of Indian Muslims after Concerns of Being Sidelined

PKR spruces up election machinery for Sarawak elections

Indonesia steamrolls bootleg alcohol during Ramadan

Deadly Jakarta Riots Revive Spectre of Religion-Fuelled Violence In Indonesia

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Africa

Jordan King Highlights ‘Noble Role’ Of Imams, Preachers in Spreading True Message of Islam

Obasanjo’s Claim on Islamisation Incorrect – Islamic Scholar

Sudan main opposition group rejects general strike call

Libya’s Haftar says to fight until Tripoli militias defeated

Five Nigerian soldiers killed in Boko Haram ambush

Militants wreak havoc in Nigerian village, kill 25 soldiers

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Pakistan

Stress on Islam’s Message of Harmony at UN Iftar by Pakistani Staffers

‘Historical Guru Nanak Palace’ Partially Demolished By Locals in Narowal

Pakistan army says lawmakers critical of military involved in attack on checkpoint

MQM-P wants more administrative units, not Mohajir or Karachi province

PML-N plans to table motion in NA for probe into tape leaks

CPEC expanding to new sectors, says Chinese VP

3 people killed, 5 soldiers injured in exchange of fire at check post in North Waziristan

Mobile phone service suspension, pillion riding ban for Youm-i-Ali in Lahore

S. Korean ambassador hosts Iftar dinner

Soldier martyred in North Waziristan check post attack

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Arab World

Muslim World League Launches Global Forum for Moderate Islam

Regime bombing kills 12 civilians in Syria’s northwest

Aleppo: Syria, Russia Reinforce to Confront Turkey's Possible Aggression

Syrian Opposition: Ankara Increasing Dispatch of Military Equipment for Battle with Syrian Army in Idlib

Syrian Army Takes Back Control of Strategic Town in Hama

Regime bombardment kills 12 civilians in northwest Syria

Egypt Unfreezes Assets of Mubarak-Era Interior Minister

Iran Deputy FM discusses ‘regional development’ in Oman

Truck bomb explosion kills five, injures eight in Iraq’s Nineveh

Syrian forces uncover militant tunnel in northwestern Syria

Iraq, Iran stress security cooperation to prevent war in region

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North America

Trump on Iran: ‘If they’d like to Talk, We’d like to Talk’

US military in region is ‘weakest’ in history: Iran deputy Guards chief

Pence drops hints of prolonged US wars in Afghanistan, Iraq

Iraq says stands by Iran against US sanctions

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Mideast

Iraq Warns Of ‘Danger of War’ As Iran’s FM Visits Baghdad

Hamas Welcomes Nasrallah's Invitation for Confrontation against 'Deal of Century'

Ex-Israeli official admits 2015 assassination of Kuntar after tip-off from Syria militants

Separatist figure jailed in Turkey calls for end to hunger strikes

‘Israel has arrested 16,500 Palestinian minors since 2000’

Yemeni Defence Units Shoot Down Saudi Spy Drone

Israelis protest moves to grant Netanyahu immunity, limit Supreme Court

Saudi Air Defence destroys Houthi drone targeting Jazan airport

Netanyahu struggles to form government amid talk of new election

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Europe

Turkish-Muslim Group Calls Probe into Mosque Fire in Germany

Three French ISIS members sentenced to death in Iraq: judiciary

Germany in push to resurrect Afghan talks with Taliban

Germany in push to resurrect talks with Taliban

British Tory party donor charged for funding terrorism

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South Asia

UN Says Taliban Captives in Afghanistan Subjected To Abuse

19 Taliban militants killed in Paktika and Ghazni operations

Airstrikes pound Taliban positions amid Afghan Special Forces raid in Helmand

15 Taliban militants in central parts of Afghanistan

Myanmar frees soldiers jailed for Rohingya killings after less than a year

Afghan officials: 10 wounded in Kabul minibus bombing

Mass iftar at Bangladesh mosque shows true Ramadan spirit

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/combating-radicalisation-during-ramzan--in-mumbai,-a-police-outreach-to-muslims/d/118719

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Combating Radicalisation during Ramzan: In Mumbai, A Police Outreach To Muslims

By Srinath Rao

May 27, 2019

THIS Ramzan, senior police officers in Mumbai have been reaching out to the Muslim community with one goal: Publicise the “negligible participation of Indian Muslims in international terrorist theatres”.

Several IPS officers told The Indian Express that they have been meeting Muslim community leaders at Iftar parties over the last two weeks. “We have been reassuring community leaders of safety in spite of events in Sri Lanka and New Zealand. The feedback we have received is that there will be no reactions, no matter what happens elsewhere in the world,” said a senior Maharashtra police officer.

The police outreach comes against the backdrop of the killing of 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch in March, and retaliatory attacks on local Muslims following last month’s Easter bombings that left 258 people dead in Sri Lanka. “After both incidents, we asked Maulana to make appeals to maintain peace during Friday prayers,” said the officer.

The move follows recommendations made at the annual conference of DIGs and IGs of states, Union territories and Central Armed Police Forces last December for utilising “mainstream forces to counter instances of radicalisation”.

“So far, I have been to two Iftar parties in South Mumbai to informally speak to Muslim community leaders and local residents. We are reassuring Muslims that nothing will happen to them here in spite of events in neighbouring countries,” said a senior Mumbai Police officer.

While these efforts are made all the time, said police, the holy month of Ramzan provides more opportunities for interactions as Iftaar parties are organised at each police station. There are also instructions to mosques and restaurants, and food stalls serving worshippers and tourists till the early morning hours, to keep a watch for suspicious persons, objects and vehicles, and ensure smooth flow of traffic. Stress has also been laid on spreading “positive messages” during this month, said police, adding that community leaders are roped in each time an inflammatory post is noticed on social media to quash radical talk and rumour mongering.

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/combating-radicalisation-during-ramzan-in-mumbai-a-police-outreach-to-muslims-5749723/

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Malaysian Minister in PMO: Govt Will Look Into Rights of Indian Muslims after Concerns of Being Sidelined

26 May 2019

GEORGE TOWN, May 26 — The government will ensure that the rights for the Indian Muslim community will be taken care of and their voice will be heard at the federal level, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department P. Waytha Moorthy.

Waytha Moorthy said he was informed that the Indian Muslims Penang are concerned that the community’s rights has been sidelined and their voice not represented, especially at the federal level.

“We (Pakatan Harapan) were given the mandate last year and we must work for all the people to ensure that the country is peaceful and harmonious.

“I’m here today because I am willing to listen to their issues and try  to help them as I was given task to look after the welfare of Indians and it also includes Indian Muslim,” he told reporters before a closed-door dialogue session with various Indian Muslim associations organised by  the PELITA Association here today.

He said that as the minister in charge of National Unity and Social Wellbeing, he will ensure that the country continues to enjoy peace and harmony in a multiracial society.

“I was told that Penang has over 200,000 Indian Muslims and I’m here to listen and help on the issues faced this community. If the problem is related to other ministries, I will try to arrange meetings with that particular ministry so that the problem will be able to be resolved,” he said.

Young Muslims Sports Club president Munower Sadiq said among the issues faced by the community in Penang was getting foreign workers in the food and beverage (F&B) and jewellery sectors operated by Indian Muslims.

Munower,  who is also the deputy president of Gabungan Persatuan Indian Muslim Pulau Pinang,  said the government enforced a no foreign workers policy two years ago, in order to offer and reserve more job opportunities for locals.

“We found out that not many locals are willing to work as a low rank workers in these sectors and we are currently faced with shortage of workers to operate our businesses.

“Many of our businesses had to be closed due to a shortage of worker and we hope the federal government will review their policy so that it would not affect business,” he said.

He also hoped that the government will provide other alternatives if the policy is meant to stay. — Bernama

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/05/26/waytha-moorthy-govt-will-look-after-rights-of-indian-muslims/1756596

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Jordan King Highlights ‘Noble Role’ Of Imams, Preachers in Spreading True Message of Islam

May 27, 2019

AMMAN — His Majesty King Abdullah on Sunday stressed the great responsibility of imams and preachers in providing guidance and promoting the values of solidarity, compassion and charity.

During a meeting at Al Husseiniya Palace with a group of imams and preachers from Auqaf directorates around Jordan — attended by HRH Prince Ghazi, His Majesty’s chief adviser for religious and cultural affairs and personal envoy — King Abdullah stressed the need to apply the teachings of Islam, which is based on tolerance, mutual respect and love, according to a Royal Court statement.

His Majesty highlighted the noble role and message of imams and preachers, in the service of God, spreading the true message of Islam especially during Ramadan, a blessed month that represents an opportunity to instil positive behaviour.

Speaking at the meeting, Awqaf Minister Abdul Nasser Abul Bassal highlighted the ministry’s strategy to turn mosques into self-sufficient institutions that support the community in education, healthcare and social services, in addition to religious affairs, in coordination with various state institutions.

For their part, the imams and preachers emphasised their role in guiding society towards positive behaviour, as well as combating malicious rumours that weaken society, the statement said.

They also stressed the importance of promoting volunteerism to serve society.

The imams and preachers said they also have a role in countering extremist ideology and spreading the values of tolerance and moderation preached by Islam.

They commended the King’s efforts to defend Islam and highlight its true image, lauding His Majesty’s initiatives that call for good deeds, such as the national campaign in solidarity with gharimat, indebted Jordanian women unable to pay back loans they had taken to support their families.

The imams and preachers stressed the importance of the Hashemite Custodianship of holy sites in Jerusalem, noting that they stand with His Majesty’s leadership in defending and safeguarding these holy sites, and expressing pride in the King’s position in support of the Palestinian cause and the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.

They also spoke about some of the challenges facing imams and preachers around the Kingdom, the statement added.

His Majesty hosted an Iftar in honour of the imams and preachers, and joined them in performing maghreb prayer.

Royal Hashemite Court Chief Yousef Issawi, Adviser to His Majesty for Communication and Coordination Bisher Al Khasawneh, Adviser to His Majesty for Policies and Media Kamal Al Nasser, Chief Islamic Justice Abdul Karim Khasawneh, Grand Mufti Mohammad Khalaileh and Royal Hashemite Court Imam Ghaleb Rababah attended the meeting.

http://jordantimes.com/news/local/king-highlights-%E2%80%98noble-role%E2%80%99-imams-preachers-spreading-true-message-islam

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Stress on Islam’s message of harmony at UN Iftar by Pakistani staffers

May 26, 2019

Top United Nations officials have called for promoting the values of religious tolerance, peaceful co-existence and dialogue at a first-ever inter-faith Iftar hosted by Pakistani nationals working in the UN system to celebrate the holy month of Ramadan.

“Ramadan offers all of us – Muslim and otherwise – the chance to recognize our shared values, to embrace our diversity, and to celebrate our common humanity,” the UN General Assembly President, María Fernanda Espinosa, told a large gathering of diplomats, UN officials and journalists on the lawns of UN Headquarters in New York.

Other UN officials pursuing the same theme at the event were UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed and UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Adana Dieng, who represented Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Being extended to the gathering UN chief’s message of “best wishes” for a blessed month of Ramadan.

Welcoming the dignitaries and participants, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Maleeha Lodhi focused on Islam’s core values of compassion, tolerance and inter-faith harmony, saying that the world body was an expression of multilateralism.

“Inter-faith gatherings are much needed today when the world is beset with tensions, gaps in understanding and disharmony,” she said.

Ambassador Lodhi praised Muhammad Irfan Soomro, a senior UN official and President of the newly-formed UN staff Recreation Pakistan Club, for his initiative in forming the club and in bringing together representatives of different faiths.

On his part, Soomro said the aim of UN-Pakistan Club was to promote learning and mutual understanding among the staff of all faiths to come together and partake alongside Muslim brothers and sisters in celebrating inter-cultural exchange during the holy month of Ramadan.

In her remarks on the occasion, General Assembly President Espinosa said today’s gathering represented a “graceful defiance” of rising Islamophobia and this year’s horrific attacks against mosques, as well as churches and synagogues around the world.

“At this difficult moment for the world, it can feel as though we, too, are in graceful defiance of those who question the value of multilateralism, precisely when we need it most,” she said.

President Espinosa called for redoubling efforts to build a safer, fairer and more sustainable future for all people, everywhere.

Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said the best solutions to an international problem emerge from thinking creatively, sharing burdens, working hand-in-hand.

She said the spirit of compassion, tolerance and mutual respect was reflected in the core values of all major religions as well as the United Nations.

“This is our mandate every day. To nurture dialogue. To promote social justice. To build peace,” the deputy secretary-general said

“I thank you for being here to do just that. I wish you a blessed Ramadan.”

Speaking next, Special Adviser Dieng also stressed the core values of Ramadan, saying, “At a time that we are seeing the widespread use of messages — in public discourse and the media — to incite hatred and hostility against individuals and communities, based on their identity; tonight’s Iftar demonstrates that we are ONE.

“Let then Ramadan be a moment to unite us in our common humanity, whatever religion we profess. Let us stand with all those in need, those who suffer from prejudice, discrimination and abuse often owing to their religious belief,” he said.

“Let this holy month be a moment to strengthen our commitment to justice, equality and compassion shared by all great faiths.”

https://nation.com.pk/26-May-2019/stress-on-islam-s-message-of-harmony-at-un-iftar-by-pakistani-staffers

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Muslim World League launches global forum for moderate Islam

May 27, 2019

MAKKAH: The Muslim World League (MWL) on Monday will organize an international conference for moderate Islam under the patronage of King Salman.

Mohammed bin Abdul-Karim Al-Issa, secretary-general of the MWL, said that he appreciated the “generous patronage which comes within the framework of the great support for the joint Islamic action, deepening the harmony and cooperation among the scholars of the Islamic Ummah to achieve the goals and aspirations represented by Saudi Arabia.”

The four-day international conference, titled “Moderation and Indications,” will be attended by dignitaries, scholars, senior officials and leading thinkers from the Muslim world.

Al-Issa said the second theme of the conference will be “the Prophetic Approach of Moderation,” in addition to the topics of “Moral and Human Values Under the Guidance of the Prophet” and “Dealing with Violations in the Light of the Prophet’s biography.”

The conference will discuss topics including “Moderation in Islamic History and Jurisprudence Heritage” and “Neutral Speeches and the Contemporary Age” under the theme of “Moderation Between Authenticity and Modernity.

Other topics will include “Differences and the Culture of Moderation” and “Practical Programs to Promote Moderation Among Youth.”

The fifth session of the conference will focus on “Moderation and the Message of Civilized Communication.” Participants will discuss religious pluralism and cultural communication, and the common values in contemporary international relations.

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1502441/saudi-arabia

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Trump on Iran: ‘If they’d like to talk, we’d like to talk’

27 May 2019

President Donald Trump on Monday backed the Japanese prime minister’s interest in using his country’s good relations with Iran to help broker a possible dialogue between the US and its nemesis in the Middle East.

Trump, who has said he’s open to having a dialogue with Iran, has sought to downplay fears of military conflict, but the Iranians have said they have no interest in communicating with the White House.

Trump commented during a day that opened with the high pageantry of his meeting with Japan’s emperor but quickly gave way to deliberations over thorny global issues, including North Korea, trade tensions with his Japanese host and the escalating friction between the US and Iran.

“I know that the prime minister and Japan have a very good relationship with Iran so we’ll see what happens,” he said while meeting with Abe in Tokyo.

“The prime minister’s already spoken to me about that and I do believe that Iran would like to talk. And if they’d like to talk, we’d like to talk also. We’ll see what happens ... nobody wants to see terrible things happen, especially me.”

Trump has imposed tough new sanctions on Iran, which are crippling its economy. Late last week, he announced the deployment of 1,500 US troops to the region amid escalating tensions. The US earlier deployed an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf in response to intelligence of Iranian threats to US interests in the region.

Trump and Abe held discussions after the US president became the first world leader to meet Japan’s new emperor, Naruhito, who ascended to the throne May 1.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/05/27/Trump-on-Iran-If-they-d-like-to-talk-we-d-like-to-talk-.html

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India

 

‘Mutual trust must for peace’: PM-elect Modi to Imran Khan

May 27, 2019

Rezaul H Laskar

Prime Minister-elect Narendra Modi told Pakistan PM Imran Khan on Sunday that peace and progress in the region were linked to “trust and an environment free of violence and terrorism”.

Modi made the remarks when Khan telephoned him to congratulate him on the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) victory in the general elections and spoke of his desire for both countries to work together for the good of their people.

This was the first contact between the top leadership of the two countries after tensions sparked by the suicide attack in Kashmir’s Pulwama by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed that killed 40 Indian troopers on February 14. India retaliated with an air strike on a JeM facility at Balakot in Pakistan and this was followed by an aerial engagement along the Line of Control during which an Indian combat jet was shot down and its pilot captured and briefly detained by Pakistan.

A statement from Pakistan’s foreign office said Khan spoke to Modi and congratulated him on the BJP’s electoral victory. Khan expressed his “desire for both countries to work together for the betterment of their peoples”, the statement said.

Khan reiterated “his vision for peace, progress and prosperity in South Asia” and said he looked forward to working with Modi to “advance these objectives”.

Modi, according to a statement from the external affairs ministry, “stressed that creating trust and an environment free of violence and terrorism were essential for fostering cooperation for peace, progress and prosperity in our region”.

Modi also thanked Khan for his telephone call and greetings and recalled his “initiatives in line with his government’s neighbourhood first policy”. Modi also referred to his earlier suggestion to Khan to fight poverty jointly.

An Indian official familiar with the developments, who didn’t want to be named, said too much shouldn’t be read into the telephonic contact between the two leaders as Pakistan still had not done enough to rein in cross-border terrorism.

A second official, who too didn’t want to be identified, noted the Pakistani premier’s call came three days after the BJP’s win, reflecting the current lack of warmth in bilateral relations.

India and Pakistan have not had any structured dialogue for more than a decade following the 2008 Mumbai attacks by the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba. Seven men were arrested in connection with the attacks in Pakistan but none of them have been prosecuted so far. India has linked any resumption of dialogue between the two countries to Pakistan cracking down on cross-border terror.

Modi and Khan are expected to come face to face at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in Bishkek on June 13-14 but Indian officials have so far ruled out the possibility of a bilateral meeting.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/imran-khan-dials-pm-modi-looks-forward-to-working-together/story-eiHPJRqWKKE8tneckLbdHO.html

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PM Imran Khan dials PM Narendra Modi with call to work together

by Shubhajit Roy

May 27, 2019

IN THEIR first conversation since the NDA government was re-elected for a second term three days ago, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan called up Prime Minister Narendra Modi Sunday and said that he looked forward to advancing his vision for “peace, progress and prosperity”.

In response, Modi said that “creating trust and an environment free of violence and terrorism were essential” for cooperation in fostering “peace, progress and prosperity” in the region. The indication was that India would stick to its redlines on dialogue with Pakistan, where it has maintained that talks and terror cannot go together.

This was also the first conversation between the two leaders after the Pulwama terrorist attack in February this year, which was followed by the Balakot air strikes and Pakistan’s retaliation.

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mohammad Faisal tweeted: “PM (Imran Khan) spoke to PM Modi today and congratulated him on his party’s electoral victory in Lok Sabha elections in India. PM expressed his desire for both countries to work together for betterment of their peoples.”

This was also the first conversation between the two leaders after the Pulwama terrorist attack in February this year, which was followed by the Balakot air strikes and Pakistan’s retaliation.

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mohammad Faisal tweeted: “PM (Imran Khan) spoke to PM Modi today and congratulated him on his party’s electoral victory in Lok Sabha elections in India. PM expressed his desire for both countries to work together for betterment of their peoples.”

On Thursday, Khan had congratulated Modi on his electoral triumph. “I congratulate Prime Minister Modi on the electoral victory of BJP and allies. Look forward to working with him for peace, progress and prosperity in South Asia,” Khan had tweeted in both English and Urdu.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/pm-imran-khan-dials-pm-narendra-modi-with-call-to-work-together-5749736/

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Zakir Naik got dubious donations from unknown ‘well wishers’, says ED report

May 26, 2019

Controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, who is being probed by the Enforcement Directorate for money laundering, received crores of funds from unidentified “well-wishers” from several Middle East countries over the years for his speeches that were allegedly used to incite “terror activities”.

The Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), Mumbai-based charity trust promoted and controlled by Naik, “allegedly received funds in the form of donations and zakat (a form of alms giving in Islam) from domestic as well as overseas donors from countries like the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Malaysia among others,” PTI quoted the Enforcement Directorate as saying.

After the National Investigation Agency (NIA) registered a case against Naik in 2016, the ED too filed a case of alleged money laundering. Naik, declared as a proclaimed offender, is known to have sought refuge in Malaysia after the case was registered.

According to the ED probe report, the IRF maintained various bank accounts in which funds from the donors were deposited. “These bank accounts are held with Citi Bank, DCB Bank Ltd and Union Bank of India,” it said.

The agency said its probe found that the total quantum of funds received in the bank accounts of IRF, from 2003-04 to 2016-17, is to the tune of Rs 64.86 crore.

“The donors remain unidentified as their names in the receipts are mentioned as ‘well-wishers’. As the donations are made by cash, only the names of the donors are mentioned on the receipts without disclosing their contact details, which raises suspicion of being bogus or sham entries,” the ED report said.

“Out of these funds, a majority of the funds were utilised for organising ‘peace conferences’, purchase of capital equipment, payment of salaries and other miscellaneous expenses. An annual event ‘Peace Conference’ was held by the IRF under the leadership of Naik,” the ED said.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/zakir-naik-ed-nia-money-laundering-funds-irf-5749180/

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Mehbooba welcomes Imran Khan's call to PM Modi, says dialogue only way forward

May 26, 2019

SRINAGAR: Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti on Sunday welcomed Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's call to his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, saying dialogue is the only way forward to resolve issues between the two countries.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said Khan had called up Modi to congratulate him on his re-election.

"Welcome step. For what it's worth, dialogue is the only way forward to resolve longstanding issues between India & Pak," Mehbooba wrote on Twitter.

In their first telephonic conversation after the Balakot air strike, Modi told Khan that creating trust and an environment free of violence and terrorism was essential for fostering cooperation for peace, progress and prosperity in the region, the MEA said.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/mehbooba-welcomes-imran-khans-call-to-pm-modi-says-dialogue-only-way-forward/articleshow/69507175.cms

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Southeast Asia

 

PKR spruces up election machinery for Sarawak elections

26 May 2019

PUTRAJAYA, May 26 — Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) is sprucing up its general election machinery to face the 12th Sarawak state elections which is expected to be held at the end of next year or early 2021.

Its president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said that the Sarawak PKR chairman Baru Bian would head the election machinery in the state assisted by party secretary general Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution and three vice-presidents Dr Xavier Jayakumar, Tian Chua and Ali Biju.

‘‘They will embark on their tasks as soon as possible drawing up strategies, holding consultations with component parties and preparing a machinery which can give an effective foundation of struggle to face the state elections,’’ he told a media conference after chairing a PKR Central Leadership Council meeting here today.

At the 11th state elections, Barisan Nasional won 72 of the 82 state seats contested, DAP won seven and PKR won three (Batu Lintang, Krian and Ba’kelalan).

He said the meeting also discussed the position of Sungai Siput Member of Parliament, Kesavan Subramaniam who allegedly sexually harassed a woman, who was his former aide.

Anwar said PKR viewed the allegation seriously and urged the police to continue their investigation on the case.

‘‘We will wait for the outcome of the investigation and subsequently act if necessary,’’ he said.

Recently, a woman lodged a police report claiming that she was a victim of sexual harassment by Kesavan, but the latter also lodged a police report claiming that the woman often disturbed him.

On the protest against a breaking-the-fast programme of the Keadilan Youth movement in Ampang yesterday, which was feted like a festival with songs and fireworks, Anwar apologised and had urged the PKR wing to overcome the weakness.

“I have sternly warned them to respect the month of Ramadan and abstain from carrying out events which deviated from Islam,’’ he said.

Meanwhile, Anwar said PKR protested against the United States’ (US) provocative action against Iran and urged international bodies especially the United Nations Security Council to hold an emergency session to ease the tension which could lead to war.

‘‘PKR urges Malaysia to state its firm stand by rejecting provocation and threats of war to all Islamic nations under the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) which will hold its summit in Mecca on May 31,’’he said.

It was reported that the US would be sending 1,500 more soldiers to the Middle East as a ‘‘protective measure’’ following the escalating tension with Iran, said President Donald Trump on Friday. — Bernama

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/05/26/pkr-spruces-up-election-machinery-for-sarawak-elections/1756595

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Indonesia steamrolls bootleg alcohol during Ramadan

May 27, 2019

JAKARTA: About 18,000 bottles of bootleg alcohol were crushed by a steamroller in Muslim-majority Indonesia’s capital Monday as police warned tipplers off booze during the Ramadan fasting month.

Nearly 90 percent of Indonesia’s 260 million people are Muslims who are advised to abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex between sunrise and sunset during Ramadan.

Police laid out thousands of bottles collected in raids over the past few months in the capital Jakarta and then drove a steamroller over them in a messy annual display.

Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan called on residents to avoid circulating illegal liquor.

“The job of the community is to reduce demand,” he said at the booze-crushing event near the city’s national monument.

“But no matter how much supply is reduced, it’s tough if there is still demand.”

Indonesian authorities typically make a show out of seizing and destroying large quantities of illegal alcohol to remind Muslims to abstain from boozing during Ramadan.

Alcohol is typically forbidden for Muslims at any time of the year. But most Indonesians practise a moderate form of Islam and alcohol is available at bars and nightclubs in major cities and holiday destinations such as Bali.

Full report at:

https://www.nst.com.my/world/2019/05/491787/indonesia-steamrolls-bootleg-alcohol-during-ramadan

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Deadly Jakarta riots revive specter of religion-fueled violence in Indonesia

MAY 24, 2019

SINGAPORE/JAKARTA - Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, was eerily calm on Thursday morning after two nights of deadly clashes between protesters and police that left seven dead and hundreds injured.

The unusually subdued mood in what is normally a frenetic and noisy urban sprawl of more than 30 million people belies a polarization in the country that has been building steam for years. The pressure boiled over on Tuesday night in a wave of political violence that hasn’t been seen in the city in decades.

The trigger was the re-election of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, who defeated his arch-rival Prabowo Subianto for a second time. Underlying the faceoff between the two are tensions over religion, the military and the distribution of money and power that have racked Indonesian politics for decades.

Tens of thousands of police and soldiers remain on high alert three days after the election commission declared Jokowi winner of last month’s election with 55.5 percent of the votes in a process observers say was free and fair.

That wasn’t enough to stop Erny Prasatyawaty from traveling more than an hour from the suburb of Depok to join thousands of others on the street in support of the defeated opposition candidate.

“There is no justice and honesty,” said Prasatyawaty, 47, secretary general of Wanita Militan Indonesia, a volunteer women’s group that supports Prabowo. “Massive fraud occurs. We only demand that the system be run fairly, democratically.”

Stoking discontent

Prabowo — a one-time army general and former son-in-law of former dictator Suharto — won nearly 70 million votes, many from traditionally conservative Muslim areas. He set the stage for discontent among supporters when he declared earlier this month that the election was fraudulent. He’s expected to follow that up with an official appeal to the Constitutional Court, something he tried unsuccessfully after his 2014 loss.

“He has this audibility to turn the dial up, but not to dial it down,” said Aaron Connelly, a research fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Southeast Asian politics. “Prabowo’s coalition was broader than just his onus. There are a lot of people in that crowd who really believe Prabowo won the election.”

While many set out to protest peacefully, photographs and video show others arrived in droves deep into the night armed with rocks and bamboo sticks, escalating clashes with police into a violent confrontation with tear gas and rubber bullets that saw more than 250 protesters detained. National Police said on Thursday there was evidence some rioters were supporters of Islamic State, without giving details.

The unrest far outstrips the relatively small protests by Prabowo supporters when he lost in 2014. Then, Jokowi had earned widespread popularity locally for his time as governor of Jakarta.

Sluggish growth

A former furniture salesman, Jokowi’s hands-on approach and public engagement won over Muslim and ethnic groups. But the president’s failure to deliver the 7 percent economic growth rate he promised and the rise of increasingly assertive Islamic groups put a strain on the country’s motto, “unity in diversity.”

“It’s an election year and that alone could cause chaos in any country, but it is unfortunately the case in Indonesia that it has used religious issues for political pandering,” said Gayle Manchin, vice chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

The issue came to a head in 2017 when Jokowi’s ally, Christian governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, was found guilty of insulting Islam, drawing thousands of hard-liners to the court. He was sentenced to two years in jail.

In a country where 90 percent of the nearly 270 million population is Muslim, Prabowo tapped discontent within the religious community during the election campaign, cultivating his image as a pious Muslim and offering protection for those with the extreme views. He attacked Jokowi for his pluralism.

“Prabowo has made an already polarized community exposed — there’s some elevation of hostility between the two groups that has not been seen before,” said Achmad Sukarsono, a senior analyst at Control Risks.

Muslim interests

The secular divide may force Jokowi to do more to placate Muslim interests as he tries to sell a proposed $400 billion infrastructure package to boost the economy. He picked Ma’ruf Amin, the country’s most senior Islamic cleric, as his running mate in the election.

Sukarsono said further concessions could include greater restrictions on alcohol, prioritizing projects that benefit Muslims, advancing Shariah finance and enforcing Halal labeling on consumable products.

Full report at:

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/05/24/asia-pacific/deadly-jakarta-riots-revive-specter-religion-fueled-violence-indonesia/#.XOuC8NIzbIU

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Africa

 

Obasanjo’s claim on Islamisation incorrect – Islamic scholar

May 26, 2019

Do you agree with former President Olusegun Obasanjo on his claim that Boko Haram and herdsmen are fighting for Islamisation and Fulanisation of Nigeria and Africa?

The assertion is not correct. Muslims are peace-loving people. Muslims, as far as I know, are not supporting Boko Haram to kill anybody because it is against the injunction of Allah. Anybody that kills is not doing so for Islam because Islam is against it. There is even punishment if one kills accidentally let alone going after innocent people to kill them.

Herdsmen are neither killing nor destroying property to propagate Islam. Let it be known that Muslims are not the ones sponsoring them to kill and to maim.  Allah said it expressly in the Koran that whoever kills intentionally will go to hell fire. So those killing are not doing so to spread Islam and Islam frowns on such.

Those killing are doing so for either political reason or other reasons best known to them but certainly not to propagate Islam. We should not make the mistake of mixing politics with religion. In the South-West here, almost all the families have a mixture of Christians and Muslims. So, how logical is that, that somebody will go and target his people because he wants to convert them to Islam. Allah has stated it in the Koran that he could have made the whole world to be Muslims and to speak one language if he wished. So, whoever is killing or destroying other’s properties does not belong to Allah and such is not a true Muslim.

How will you react to the claims of CAN that it is aware of the plans of the Organisation of Islamic Countries to Islamise the entire Africa?

There are things I do not go into because I don’t have interest in it. But before we entered into this millennium, there was noise all over that certain things would happen by the year 2000. How many of those things have happened now? Some also said everybody would be for Christ by the year 2000 but year 2000 has come and gone. This is 19 years after that. Has that happened? So, to answer your question, this is not true. Nobody is attempting to Islamise Nigeria or Africa because it is not possible. The only time I can agree that there will be Islamisation of the country or Africa is if I open my Koran and I find it written there that Allah has said the whole country will turn to Muslims. But as long as it is not written there, I do not believe it and I am sure nobody is making any attempt to Islamise Nigeria. If it is not from God, then it cannot be. Even if anybody is planning that, it cannot happen. It cannot happen because nobody can dictate to God. Prophets cannot even dictate to God; so, if anybody is even thinking about that, it cannot work. It cannot work because not even the prophets know the time they would die. Nobody has such power to covert others.

But don’t you think the fears of the Christians are justified?

Those killing others are just creating fear in society but they do not have the backing of genuine Muslims because Allah does not send anybody to kill. It is against His will. These killings being perpetrated by these herdsmen they are talking about, their activities are more political but certainly not religion. If you go to a motor park, you will see those causing trouble, bearing Christian and Muslim names. So, you cannot say those ones are Muslims or Christians. There are persons bearing Christian names, who kill. Are we going to call those ones Christians? It is the same things. Those who bear Muslim names and are engaged in killings cannot be said to be Muslims. We need to learn to live together in peace and erase this suspicion.

The herdsmen are carrying out their own agenda but they are not doing that for Islam. They have those sponsoring them and I think security agencies should go after them. Whoever kills must be arrested and punished. Allah does not support killing and nobody can say he is killing for Allah. What they are doing does not have anything to do with Islam. We need to wake up and get out of whatever is drawing us back as a nation. Nobody can fight for God. Anybody killing in the name of God is not a child of God. Religious leaders or anybody

https://punchng.com/obasanjos-claim-on-islamisation-incorrect-islamic-scholar/

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Sudan main opposition group rejects general strike call

26 May 2019

Sudan’s main opposition group and supporter of the protest movement on Sunday rejected its call to stage a two-day general strike because of a deadlock in talks with the ruling military.

“We reject the general strike announced by some opposition groups” in the umbrella protest movement, the Alliance for Freedom and Change, the National Umma Party said in a statement.

Its opposition to the strike slated to start on Tuesday was a sign of division between protest leaders at a time of deadlock in negotiations with army generals over installing a civilian administration.

“A general strike is a weapon that should be used after it is agreed upon by everybody,” Umma said. “We have to avoid such escalated measures that are not fully agreed.”

The National Umma Party led by former premier Sadiq Al-Mahdi said any such decision should be taken by a council of leaders of the protest movement.

Such a council was still not in place and “will be composed in a meeting on Monday,” it said.

It was Mahdi’s elected government that Omar al-Bashir, who himself was deposed last month, toppled in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989.

In a recent interview with AFP, Mahdi warned protesters not to “provoke” the army’s rulers as they had been instrumental in ousting al-Bashir.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/05/26/Sudan-main-opposition-group-rejects-general-strike-call.html

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Libya’s Haftar says to fight until Tripoli militias defeated

26 May 2019

Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar, who is leading a military offensive against the government in Tripoli, said in an interview published Sunday he will continue fighting until militias in the city laid down their arms.

Haftar had said he was fighting against “private militias and extremist groups” who he said were gaining influence in the capital under Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj.

“Of course a political solution is the objective,” Haftar told the Journal de Dimanche newspaper in France. “But to return to politics, we need to finish with the militias.

“The problem in Tripoli is a security one.”

He offered an amnesty to fighters in Tripoli who laid down their arms, saying they would be allowed to “return home safe and sound.”

He also took aim at UN mediator Ghassan Salame, who has warned the country is “committing suicide” due to a conflict that 6-10 foreign states are involved in.

“Salame is making irresponsible statements,” Haftar said. “He wasn’t like that before, he has changed. From an impartial and honest mediator, he has become a biased one.”

More than 75,000 people have been driven from their homes in the latest fighting and 510 have been killed, according to the World Health Organization.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/north-africa/2019/05/26/Libya-s-Haftar-says-to-fight-until-Tripoli-militias-defeated.html

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Five Nigerian soldiers killed in Boko Haram ambush

26 May 2019

Five Nigerian soldiers have been killed and a number are missing after an ambush by Boko Haram’s ISIS -backed faction, security sources said on Sunday.

Fighters from ISIS extremist group West Africa Province (ISWAP) on Friday opened fire on a column of civilian vehicles under military escort in the northeastern Borno State, according to the sources who requested anonymity.

The troops were escorting residents from the village of Sabon Garin Kimba in dozens of trucks to a camp in the town of Damboa about 50 km (30 miles) away, according to a militia fighting against the extremists alongside the army.

They were being evacuated from the village, which lies 130 km from the state capital Maiduguri, ahead of a major military offensive against ISWAP, which has recently increased its activities in the area.

“We lost five soldiers in the ambush, two were wounded and several are missing, their fate still unknown,” said one military officer.

He said the attackers seized two military trucks and tried to immobilize an armored vehicle by destroying its tires but the driver managed to drive it to safety.

“As they approached Bungiri village ISWAP laid an ambush on the convoy. The troops engaged the terrorists in a gun battle and all civilians were able to escape but five soldiers were killed,” a second military source said.

A search and rescue operation was under way, the officer said.

Last month the extremists raided a nearby military base in Mararrabar Kimba, killing five troops and stealing weapons, while some 30 troops are still listed as missing.

ISWAP has since July last year targeted dozens of military bases in attacks that have killed scores of soldiers.

On Monday, its fighters ransacked a base in the town of Gubio, 80 km from Maiduguri, killing three soldiers, although the group claimed it killed 20 soldiers.

Boko Haram’s decade-long campaign of violence has killed 27,000 people and displaced around two million in Nigeria.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/05/26/Five-Nigerian-soldiers-killed-in-Boko-Haram-ambush-.html

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Militants wreak havoc in Nigerian village, kill 25 soldiers

May 26, 2019

Suspected Daesh-linked militants have killed more than two dozen soldiers and a number of civilians in an ambush in northeast Nigeria, in the second deadly attack on the army this week.

The militants, suspected to be members of the Boko Haram terrorist organization, killed at least 25 soldiers and an unspecified number of civilians in the ambush in Borno state on Saturday.

Sources said the militants opened fire as the soldiers were escorting a group of evacuees from a village in the state. 

"They ambushed and surrounded the vehicles of both the soldiers and the civilians and opened fire on them," one source told Reuters news agency.

"They exchanged fire for some minutes before the Boko Haram militants overpowered the soldiers."

The soldiers were reportedly evacuating villages in the region to carry out operations against Boko Haram.

Earlier this week, Daesh terrorists stormed the town of Gajiganna, also in Borno state, killing about a  dozen soldiers.

The group which calls itself the West Africa province (ISWAP) branch of Daesh has launched repeated attacks in Nigeria in recent months after sustaining heavy losses in its Iraq and Syria strongholds.

ISWAP and Boko Haram made an alliance in 2015 before separating in 2016. However, there are reports the two groups were making efforts to get back together.

Last month, Nigeria's army chief warned that the two groups aimed to carve out a Takfiri enclave stretching from Nigeria’s northeast into the wider Lake Chad region.

Boko Haram militants have been fighting government forces for about a decade.

Since 2009, attacks by Boko Haram terrorists have left at least 27,000 dead and made over 2.6 million others homeless.

Boko Haram’s sphere of activities spreads as far as neighboring Niger, Chad and Cameroon.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/05/26/596931/Africa-Nigeria-Borno-State-Daesh-Boko-Haram

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Pakistan

 

‘Historical Guru Nanak palace’ partially demolished by locals in Narowal

Abid MahmoodU

May 27, 2019

NAROWAL: A group of locals partially demolished a four-storey centuries-old building allegedly with the connivance of auqaf department officials and even sold its precious windows, doors and ventilators.

The building seems to have been constructed over four centuries ago in village Bathanwala, 20 kilometres from here, on New Lahore Road.

Its construction comprised old bricks, sand, clay and limestone. There were 16 large rooms in the building all of which had at least three beautiful doors and at least four ventilators.

The rooms were constructed with large broad walls with cupboards in them that had wooden doors with flowers carved on them.

All the rooms were airy and their walls had small lamp enclosures in them. Diyar wood beams of various sizes were used in the roofs; the wood costs thousands of rupees per foot.

The three-foot-wide and sturdy walls surrounding the building were made of small old bricks in beautiful designs and intricately painted with pictures of Baba Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism; as well as of various Hindu rulers and princes. There were stairs on three of the four sides of the building going up to the roof.

A local resident, Muhammad Aslam, said: “This old building is called the Palace of Baba Guru Nanak and we have named it Mahalan. A number of Sikhs from across the world, including India, used to visit this building.”

He further claimed that once a six-member delegation, including a woman carrying a large book with information about the historical building, had come here from Canada. The delegation was elated at visiting the site as if they had found a treasure.

Another local, Muhammad Ashraf, said: “The auqaf department was informed about the demolition of the building by some influential persons, but no officer or official took any action or even reached here.”

He also claimed: “Three storeys of the building have already been demolished and new houses constructed. The influentials have demolished the building with the connivance of the auqaf department and sold its costly windows, doors, ventilators and wood.”

In an effort to determine the legal status of the building, locate its owners or find out which government department maintained its record, this correspondent reached out to various officials, but apparently everyone seemed clueless – from the deputy commissioner, Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) to the family that lived in the building.

Muhammad Anwar claimed to be the owner of the building who, along with some other family members, was also behind its demolition. He claimed that after Partition his forefathers started living in this building where his family continued to reside. “I do not know whose property this building is as we have been living here for generations. We demolished it because it was in a dangerous, dilapidated condition,” he added.

Narowal Deputy Commissioner Waheed Asghar, who is in charge of the record of all properties in the region, said: “There is no mention of this building in the revenue record. As it seemed to be historical, we are checking the municipal committee’s record.” He said he had stopped the demolition of the building.

ETPB Sialkot zone Rent Collector Rana Waheed said: “Our team is investigating the Guru Nanak Mahal Bathanwala. If this palace was the property of Evacuee Trust Property Board, legal action will be taken against those responsible.”

He further said that any property of the ETPB, which was rented out, could not be demolished or anything constructed on it without permission.

Locals demanded Prime Minister Imran Khan take immediate notice of the destruction of this ‘heritage site’ and take action against those who demolished it.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1484817/historical-guru-nanak-palace-partially-demolished-by-locals-in-narowal

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Pakistan army says lawmakers critical of military involved in attack on checkpoint

May 26, 2019

PESHAWAR/ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's army on Sunday accused two lawmakers critical of the military of playing a key role in a clash with troops at a security checkpost in which three people were killed, setting up a potential confrontation with a vast rights movement the two lawmakers helped to found.

Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir, parliamentarians for the volatile Waziristan region bordering Afghanistan, were among the founders of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) civil rights group that has been a thorn in the side of the military with frequent sit-ins and rallies denouncing alleged military abuses.

PTM has been peaceful since its founding in early 2018 and has vowed not to respond with violence to frequent arrests and what it calls "humiliation" of its members, but some analysts have warned that some elements within PTM could turn violent if the state continued with its tough approach.

PTM's support base is mostly among ethnic Pashtuns in the Khyber Pakhtunkwa region that is still scarred by a devastating decade-long Islamist insurgency and was led by the Tehrik-i Taliban Pakistan (TTP), also known as the Pakistani Taliban.

The army said Dawar and Wazir on Sunday led a group that "assaulted" a security checkpost near the North Waziristan town of Boyya, about 10 miles (16 km) from the Afghanistan border.

"They wanted to exert pressure for release of suspected terrorists' facilitator arrested the other day," the army said in a statement. "In exchange of fire three individuals who attacked the post lost their lives and 10 got injured."

The military said five soldiers were also wounded in the attack, following which Wazir and eight others were detained. "Mohsin Javed (Dawar) is at large after inciting the crowd," the army said.

Dawar and Wazir could not be reached for comment.

Sources in the so-called tribal regions bordering Afghanistan said phone and internet networks in the region have been shut down and curfew imposed.

They said Dawar and Wazir were planning to stage a sit-in along with PTM members to protest against the alleged abusive treatment of a Pakistani woman by the security forces.

Dawar told Voice of America's (VOA) Pashto language radio service, Deewa, that about 30 people were wounded in the incident, including himself, and some were seriously injured.

Dawar said the security forces tried to stop protestors going through barricades and initially shot in the air but "then opened straight fire at us. Many our of people were injured," Dawar told Deewa.

PTM, which was founded to protest against the death of a Pashtun man killed by police in the southern port of Karachi, regularly draws thousands of protesters to its demonstrations against state violence.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-army-says-lawmakers-critical-of-military-involved-in-attack-on-checkpoint/articleshow/69508006.cms

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MQM-P wants more administrative units, not Mohajir or Karachi province

Azfar-ul-Ashfaque

May 27, 2019

KARACHI: Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan convener Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui said on Sunday that his party never called for the creation of a ‘Mohajir or Karachi’ province as it wanted the creation of more provinces on administrative lines.

“We are not talking about a Mohajir or Karachi province...We are demanding more and more administrative units in the country for its prosperity and progress,” he told reporters at the annual charity programme of the Khidmat-i-Khalq Foundation (KKF) here.

Referring to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s recent statement that his party was not in favour of the creation of a new province in Sindh, Dr Siddiqui said: “Give us even one reason that more provinces can be carved out of Punjab and other federating units and not in Sindh.”

He claimed that the prime minister through his representatives conveyed to the MQM-P that his viewpoint on new provinces was not presented correctly and the stance of his coalition parties was presented in the media as that of him.

Only last week, the PM while presiding over a meeting with the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, Pakistan Muslim League-Functional and other coalition partners said: “The PTI is against the creation of another province in Sindh. After introduction of the PTI’s new local bodies system there would be no need for any kind of division in the province.”

Dr Siddiqui, who is also the federal minister for information technology and telecom, said the procedure of making new provinces was part of the country’s Constitution and it was not treason to demand new administrative units.

He said it was the stated position of the MQM-P that more administrative units be made keeping in view the growing population of the country. “Not making new provinces is a treasonous act,” he added.

He pledged that the MQM-P would never take any step against the interest of Sindh as it did not want any bitterness.

Without naming the Pakistan Peoples Party, he alleged that one party had divided Sindh on a linguistic basis.

Talking about the KKF, the charity wing of the MQM-P, he said it could not serve the maximum deserving and underprivileged people because of unannounced restrictions on its working. He said the KKF should not be punished for the “mistakes of a single individual”.

He said that despite problems, the KKF was giving handouts to over 10,000 deserving people.

Senior leaders Kanwar Naveed Jameel, Nasreen Jalil, Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar and others were also present.

Meanwhile, disgruntled MQM-P leader Dr Farooq Sattar rejected the prime minister’s statement on new province.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1484757/mqm-p-wants-more-administrative-units-not-mohajir-or-karachi-province

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PML-N plans to table motion in NA for probe into tape leaks

Amir Wasim

May 27, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The main opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) plans to move a motion in the National Assembly seeking formation of a parliamentary committee to probe the recent controversy over some leaked audio and video clips involving National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal when the lower house of the Parliament will meet after a two-day recess here on Monday (today).

Sources in the PML-N told Dawn that the party would take the other opposition parties, including the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), into confidence before start of the session, as the matter could be decided through a vote after its expected opposition by the ruling coalition headed by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).

Talking to Dawn, PML-N’s information secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb said that since the National Assembly Secretariat had already issued the agenda for the sitting, their members would first try to force the speaker to allow them to move a motion seeking suspension of the rules to allow presentation of the motion for formation of the parliamentary committee.

Ms Aurangzeb said that newly-appointed parliamentary leader of the PML-N Khawaja Mohammad Asif would move the motion, if allowed by Speaker Asad Qaiser. She further said that Mr Asif would also write a formal letter to the speaker, asking him to form the committee on the NAB chairman’s issue.

When both the PPP and the PML-N are demanding a proper investigation into the matter, there is a difference over the mode of investigations. The PML-N wants a parliamentary committee for this purpose whereas the PPP believes that parliamentary probe may not be fruitful as the issue will require the use of “forensic” and other techniques to know the facts behind the release of the controversial audio and video clips of the NAB chairman in which he had allegedly been shown talking to a woman on some personal and objectionable matters.

The two parties also differ on the demand for resignation of the NAB chairman. The PPP wants the NAB chairman to step down from his position, at least until completion of an inquiry, whereas the PML-N has not officially made any such demand.

‘Clear and sure’

When contacted, PPP’s parliamentary leader in the National Assembly Syed Naveed Qamar said that so far his party had not decided its strategy over the PML-N’s planned move to seek formation of a parliamentary committee on the NAB chairman controversy. He said the leaders of the two parties were expected to meet before start of the sitting in which they would discuss the matter thoroughly.

In response to a question, Mr Qamar said the PPP obviously could not support the government in the house, if it opposed the PML-N’s motion. However, he said, though they “conceptually” supported the PML-N’s idea, they had not yet devised their own strategy.

“We will discuss it and decide,” he added.

Mr Qamar said the PPP was “clear and sure” that the ruling PTI was behind the release of the controversial audio and video tapes of the NAB chairman as it wanted to pressurise him.

The demand for formation of a parliamentary committee on the controversial audio and video tapes had been made by PML-N’s vice-president and former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi during a news conference in Islamabad on Friday.

In his news conference, Mr Abbasi had announced that the party wanted the parliamentary probe to uncover the truth behind accusations against Prime Minister Imran Khan and to provide the NAB chairman a fair chance to defend himself.

The leaked tape, which went viral on social media and was broadcast by a private TV channel last week before being refuted by the NAB office, intensified the recent controversy over the NAB chairman’s recent interview in which he had claimed he was under severe pressure from government circles.

Mr Abbasi had stated that they wanted justice for all and considered the NAB chairman innocent until proven guilty. “Therefore, instead of a media trial, he should be given a chance to clarify his position at the highest forum of the country, which is the parliament,” Mr Abbasi had stated.

He had said that initially PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif had posted a tweet to ignore the leaked audio calling it a personal matter of the NAB chairman. But then “serious links” surfaced that indicated there could be threats to the NAB chairman, he said, alleging that the audio and video footage was first broadcast on a TV channel, owned by a close friend and one of the advisers to PM Khan.

While defending the government, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan in a quick response to the ex-PM’s demand for the parliamentary body to probe the matter had called the audio and the video “fake and concocted”. She had termed it the work of an “organised gang” of criminals.

Meanwhile, the National Assembly Secretariat issued a five-point agenda for today’s sitting which includes a motion authorising the speaker to nominate 15 members of the house to include them in the Parliamentary Committee to Protect Minorities from Forced Conversions.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1484881/pml-n-plans-to-table-motion-in-na-for-probe-into-tape-leaks

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CPEC expanding to new sectors, says Chinese VP

Baqir Sajjad Syed

May 27, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan opened his three-day visit to Islamabad on Sunday by recalling the strength of the bilateral relationship and expressing the resolve that Pakistan and China would continue to safeguard each other’s interests.

On the first day of the trip, VP Wang inaugurated a number of projects along with Prime Minister Imran Khan and the two leaders witnessed signing of several agreements.

Soon after his arrival at Chaklala airbase, VP Wang spoke at a meeting of “Friends of Silk Road” hosted by the Pakistan-China Institute.

“No matter how the international landscape changes, China and Pakistan will always stay iron brothers that trust and support each other,” he told the political leaders, opinion makers and representatives of think tanks, who had come to attend the forum which, organisers say, links communities, academia, media and think tanks.

Recalling Pakistan’s support for China at “critical moments”, Mr Wang said Beijing too had always supported Pakistan on its “core interests”.

He said the world was passing through a time of “major development, transformation, and adjustment”. The situation, he emphasised, had been further complicated by traditional and non-traditional challenges and conflict between opposing schools of thought and culture.

Mr Wang said China and Pakistan were all-weather strategic partners which would cooperate with each other for development and that their joint undertaking China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was a manifestation of those collaborative relations.

He noted the political and public support for the CPEC in both Pakistan and China. “CPEC is a consensus that transcends political parties, regions and communities across Pakistan. It also enjoys the most extensive and strongest support in China,” he maintained.

Beijing had hosted the first meeting of the Political Parties Forum on the CPEC, which was participated by 10 major political parties from Pakistan. The meeting had concluded with the Beijing Declaration, in which all the participating parties reiterated their support for the CPEC, agreed to further enhance intra-party exchanges, discussions and cooperation and rejected negative propaganda against the project.

Sharing his assessment of the progress on the CPEC and the recently launched second phase, the Chinese leader observed: “CPEC has come a long way over the past five years… CPEC is rapidly extending to new priority areas including industrial parks and livelihoods.

“CPEC will produce new outcomes and lend new impetus to economic and social development of Pakistan and economic integration of the region,” he added.

Speaking on the occasion, Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani called for strengthening people-to-people relations alongside the linkages and infrastructure the two countries were developing.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Pakistan-China friendship was anchored in mutual interests, goals, values, desire for peace and prosperity and shared experiences. He hoped that the ties would become stronger with the passage of time.

Senate Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Mushahid Hussain, who also heads the Pakistan-China Institute, said the presence of political leaders from all parties and provinces in this gathering was an affirmation of the consensus enjoyed by the CPEC across the board since it was a guarantor of a better tomorrow for Pakistan and its people.

Senator Hussain also congratulated Vice President Wang on the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Recollecting Chinese achievements over the past seven decades, he said 750 million people were taken out of poverty, a model foreign policy of non- interference in internal affairs of other countries was pursued and cultural connectivity was promoted.

He said Pakistan rejected any notion of “clash of civilisations” or a return to a Cold War mentality.

VP Wang later called on Prime Minister Imran Khan. The two leaders after their talks witnessed the signing of a number of agreements.

The agreements signed by the two sides, according to the PM Office, included the framework agreement on agricultural cooperation, the memorandum on the requirements of foot and mouth disease-free zone; the letter of exchange of disaster relief goods, China-Pakistan economic agreement and the agreement between the China Machinery Engineering Corporation and the Balochistan government and Lasbela University on modern agriculture comprehensive development in Lasbela.

On the occasion, different projects were inaugurated, including 660KV transmission line project from Matiari to Lahore, Rashakai Special Economic Zone Project, Huawei Technical Support Centre and Confucius Institute at University of Punjab.

Earlier in the talks, PM Khan reiterated Pakistan’s “unwavering commitment” to the CPEC and stressed the importance of further deepening bilateral economic and commercial interaction, industrial collaboration and China’s investment in Pakistan’s special economic zones.

Vice President Wang expressed satisfaction at the increasing momentum of bilateral engagement between the two countries.

The two sides also exchanged views on the regional situation, including recent developments in South Asia.

Award conferred

President Dr Arif Alvi conferred Nishan-e-Pakistan, the highest civil award of the country, on Vice President Wang to recognise his services in promoting Pak-China ties, adds APP.

The award was conferred at a special investiture ceremony held at the President House and attended by the Senate chairman, services chiefs, members of the federal cabinet, parliamentarians and diplomats.

Earlier on his arrival at Nur Khan Air Base, Vice President Wang was accorded red carpet welcome and received by Foreign Minister Qureshi and Planning Minister Khusro Bakhtiar.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1484871/cpec-expanding-to-new-sectors-says-chinese-vp

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3 people killed, 5 soldiers injured in exchange of fire at check post in North Waziristan

Sirajuddin

May 26, 2019

Following reports of violence during a protest in North Waziristan on Sunday, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) released a statement in the afternoon saying that a check post in the area was assaulted by a group and in an exchange of fire, three people were killed while 15 were injured ─ including five soldiers.

According to the statement by the Army's media wing, MNAs Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir ─ both of whom are leaders of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) ─ were leading the group.

"A group led by Mohsin Javed [Dawar] and Ali Wazir assaulted Kharqamar check post, Boyya, North Waziristan tribal district this morning. They wanted to exert pressure for release of suspected terrorists’ facilitator arrested the other day," added the statement, without specifying who the suspect was.

"Troops at the check post exercised maximum restraint in the face of provocation and direct firing on the post. Due to firing of the group, five Army soldiers got injured. In exchange of fire, three individuals who attacked the post lost their lives and 10 got injured," it said.

All injured have been shifted to Army Hospital for treatment, said the ISPR statement, adding that Ali Wazir along with 8 individuals have been arrested while Mohsin Javed [Dawar] is at large.

Dawar, while speaking to VOA Deewa, denied that the group opened fire and accused the Army of initiating violence.

Fazl Khan, a core committee member of PTM, said that the protesters were unarmed and innocent. "How can they reach Waziristan with arms when there is a check post at every kilometre?" Khan asked.

Director general of ISPR, Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, in the evening addressed the "North Waziristan tribal district incident", saying that "innocent PTM supporters/workers need care".

"Only few are inciting and using them against state institutions for vested agenda. No one will be allowed to undo the gains of decades long national struggle & sacrifices especially of brave Pakistani tribals," Maj Gen Ghafoor said via Twitter.

Violence at protest

Earlier in the morning, reports of violence during a sit-in had started making rounds. PTM sources had told Dawn.com that at least 20 people were injured after violence erupted during a sit-in being held in North Waziristan's Doga Macha Madakhel area.

The sit-in staged by residents of the area against the alleged assault on a local woman began on Saturday and was joined by workers of the PTM today. Sources within the PTM said the protest was calm until MNAs Dawar and Wazir reached the area to participate in the sit-in.

Upon their arrival, protesters began sloganeering and the situation turned tense. Unidentified individuals opened fire on the crowd of protesters, PTM sources told Dawn.com, after which Wazir was taken into custody and Dawar received a minor hand injury.

As local news outlets reported that a clash had taken place between law enforcement agencies and the PTM protesters, unverified visuals of the protest and ensuing violence started circulating on social media.

A curfew was imposed in North Waziristan following the incident, and landline, internet and cellphone services have all been suspended, PTM and local sources told Dawn.com.

PTM is a rights-based alliance that, besides calling for the de-mining of the former tribal areas and greater freedom of movement in the latter, has insisted on an end to the practices of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and unlawful detentions, and for their practitioners to be held to account within a truth and reconciliation framework.

In April, Prime Minister Imran had addressed a public gathering in Orakzai in which he endorsed the grievances of Pashtuns, but said that agitation would not yield any benefits.

"PTM rightly speaks about the hardships faced by the tribal areas and the Pashtun people, but the manner in which they are making such demands is not good for our country," the premier had said.

Less than two weeks later, the Army read out a charge sheet against PTM, accusing the Pashtun ethnic rights movement of receiving funds from foreign intelligence agencies and hinted at a possible action against it.

“Those playing in others’ hands, their time is up. Their time is up,” Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor had warned at the time. This was one of the most hard-hitting statements against the PTM by the military to date, though in the past there had been warnings to the group against crossing the proverbial ‘red line’.

MNA Dawar, speaking on the floor of the house, had rejected the allegations levelled by the military spokesman against the PTM and said his party was ready for accountability before the parliament only.

According to Dawar, the PTM was being targeted for making the Army accountable on the issues of "missing persons in tribal areas, extrajudicial killings and targeted killings".

A few days after the DG ISPR's press conference, Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa had said that while the PTM itself was "not an issue", certain individuals "playing in foreign hands" were exploiting the sentiments of people who have suffered hardships because of terrorism.

The army chief had stressed that both the government and the security forces were working to address the genuine issues of the residents of tribal areas "regardless of where they come from".

Politicians condemn violence

Speaking to journalists in Larkana, PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said: "I'm sorry, what? How can Mohsin Dawar attack a checkpost? I don't think an elected representative can conduct such an attack. And, if violence has taken place, we surely condemn it. But, violence should also not take place against peaceful citizens and political workers, whose right it is to hold a peaceful protest. I will find out the facts.

"I have been saying since day one that you may disagree with them [PTM], you can diagree with their point of view 100 per cent, you can argue with them. But, if you will not engage with the young politicians who come from a place such as Fata, if you will not attempt to reduce their grievances or justify their misperceptions, then we have all seen what used to happen during the Musharraf era in Balochistan. We have all seen what happened with Bangladesh, with East Pakistan, following Ayub Khan's dictatorship. And now, if we will label our own citizens, our own children, our own politicians traitors when they talk about rights, democracy, civil rule of law, then we will set ourselves on a very dangerous path," warned Bilawal.

Meanwhile, Maryam Nawaz, a vice-president of the PML-N, in a series of tweets expressed sorrow over the loss of lives and injury to multiple people.

"Every Pakistani citizen's life is precious and his blood sacred. If blood is spilled, the facts must be revealed to the nation. Love, peace, and understanding are far more powerful than weapons. Have we not already paid a very heavy price for crushing protests and stifling voices? May God have mercy on Pakistan," she wrote in the first of three tweets.

"Pakistan cannot remain tolerant of internal tensions. If on both sides there are sons of Pakistan, then political and journalistic circles along with state institutions will have to play a responsible role or else Pakistan may incur irreparable damage," she added in a subsequent tweet.

"May Allah grant patience to the heirs of the deceased and health to all those injured," she concluded in the last tweet.

Akhtar Mengal, the president of the Balochistan National Party faction of his own name (BNP-Mengal), also came forward on Twitter to condemn the attack on protesters.

"Strongly condemn the attack on #PTM workers today. Attacking a peaceful demonstration is in no way acceptable. Violence should not be used to scare those who use peaceful ways to protest," he wrote.

Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, too, in a statement released by his spokesperson expressed sympathy with the deceased and injured in the attack.

"In the democratic world, people have the right to protest," he said, adding that "stopping them from this [conducting a protest] is tantamount to giving birth to incitement and extremism".

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1484709/3-people-killed-5-soldiers-injured-in-exchange-of-fire-at-check-post-in-north-waziristan

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Mobile phone service suspension, pillion riding ban for Youm-i-Ali in Lahore

May 27, 2019

LAHORE: Pillion riding has been banned and the mobile phone service will also be suspended in the provincial capital on Monday to ensure law and order on the occasion of the martyrdom day of Hazrat Ali (AS) and the arrival of the Chinese Vice-President Wang Qishan.

Earlier, the provincial government had banned pillion riding in Lahore for two days on Saturday because of security concerns on the occasion.

The main procession to mark Youm-i-Ali (AS) will be taken out from Mochi Gate to Karbala Gamey Shah outside the Bhatti Gate. It will pass through different localities of the Walled City.

Officials on Sunday said the arrival of the Chinese vice-president warranted additional security measures. And, therefore, mobile telephone service would also remain suspended in the city, especially in the downtown on Monday.

Meanwhile, Punjab Inspector General of Police (IGP) retired Capt Arif Nawaz Khan on Sunday issued a notification to all regional, city and district police officers for making more effective security arrangements for Youm-i-Ali processions in the province. He said all DPOs should be in field to improve security arrangements and patrolling of sensitive worship places and important buildings.

He ordered checking and video recording of the bus passengers entering Punjab from other provinces and maintaining an archive of their data.

He directed senior police officers that the process of checking should be tightened near exit and entrance points of the province and districts, especially at check posts on rivers.

The IG ordered that it should be also ensured that no dubious person or vehicle should be allowed to enter Punjab, whereas the DPOs of Bhakar, Mianwali and Attock should monitor the process of video recording of passengers entering their districts.

He directed all RPOs to ensure that all data of passengers entering their regions should be made a part of the record.

He said the record of the movement of passengers should be saved so that police might trace wanted persons if needed.

The IG said it was the responsibility of Lahore capital city police officer (CCPO) to ensure video recording of passengers entering the city, designating spots for the purpose so that traffic flow might not be disturbed.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1484822/mobile-phone-service-suspension-pillion-riding-ban-for-youm-i-ali-in-lahore

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S. Korean ambassador hosts Iftar dinner

May 27, 2019

Kwak Sung-Kyu, ambassador of the Republic of South Korea, hosted an Iftar dinner last week.

Pakistan Tourist Development Cooperation Chairman Zulfiqar Bukhar, who is also an adviser to the prime minister, was invited to the dinner as chief guest.

The event was attended by diplomats and guests from all walks of life, including representatives from the tourism industry, higher education and cultural sector.

“The Iftar dinner became special because various Korean food dishes were served,” said a guest from the National University of Modern Languages in Islamabad.

A student said he was interested in the K-Pop music competition and the Quiz on Korea, both of which are supported by the embassy.

“I felt that tourism, education and cultural exchange were underlying themes of the Iftar dinner,” said a Pakistani guest.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1484788/s-korean-ambassador-hosts-iftar-dinner

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Soldier martyred in North Waziristan check post attack

May 27, 2019

SHAWAL: Following the attack on an army check post in North Waziristan a day earlier, another military post was attacked in Makki Garh in North Waziristan’s Shawal valley in the wee hours of Monday morning, resulting in the martyrdom of a soldier, said an Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) press release.

The statement said that the terrorist attack was effectively repulsed while the soldier embraced martyrdom during the exchange of fire.

The military media wing further said that five dead bodies with bullet wounds have been found from a nullah approximately 1.5 kilometers away from Khar Kamar post where an army security post was attacked on Sunday.

The identification of bodies is in process, the statement read.

No one has claimed responsibility for the terror attack so far.

The attack was carried out a day after at least three people were killed while dozens, including five soldiers, were injured in a reported clash between army personnel and activists of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) during a sit-in in North Waziristan.

According to a statement released by the ISPR, a check post in the area was allegedly attacked by a group of Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) members, and the casualties and injuries were a result of the “exchange of fire between them and the military”.

The statement added that Members of National Assembly (MNA) Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir ─ both of whom are leaders of the PTM ─ were leading the protestors.

“A group led by Mohsin Javed [Dawar] and Ali Wazir assaulted Kharqamar check-post, Boyya, North Waziristan tribal district this morning. They wanted to exert pressure for the release of suspected terrorists’ facilitator arrested the other day,” it read without disclosing the suspect’s identity.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/05/27/soldier-martyred-in-north-waziristan-check-post-attack/

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Arab World

 

Regime bombing kills 12 civilians in Syria’s northwest

May 27, 2019

MAARET AL-NUMAN/SYRIA: Regime airstrikes killed 12 civilians including four at a market on Sunday in a militant bastion in northwest Syria, a war monitor said.

A young girl was among those killed at the market in the town of Maaret Al-Numan in Idlib province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Eight other civilians were killed elsewhere by regime fire in Idlib, a stronghold of Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, the Britain-based monitor said.

Idlib is supposed to be protected from a massive government offensive by a September buffer zone deal, but the opposition bastion has come under increasing bombardment by the regime and its Russian ally since late April.

An AFP reporter in Maaret Al-Numan saw a young man carry the arched body of what appeared to be a young girl out over grey rubble after the airstrike.

Another man retrieved a distressed, dust-covered young girl, slung over his shoulder. Witness Hamdu Mustafa said he was out shopping when the airstrike hit.

Everybody was “in the street selling and buying,” he told AFP.

“The planes targeted civilians who were buying food for their children,” he said. Nearby, rescue workers known as the White Helmets directed a bulldozer to clear the debris. Fighting has raged to the south of the bastion in recent days.

On Sunday, regime forces took back control of the town of Kafr Nabuda in the north of Hama province, the Observatory and state news agency SANA said.

HTS and allied rebels overran part of the town in recent days, after the regime first expelled them on May 8.

The United Nations has warned that an all-out offensive on the Idlib region would lead to a humanitarian catastrophe for its nearly three million residents.

The Observatory says more than 230 civilians have been killed in the spike in violence since the end of April.

More than 200,000 civilians have already been displaced by this upsurge of violence, the United Nations has said.

A total of 20 health facilities have been hit by the escalation -- 19 of which remain out of service, according to the UN.

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1502501/middle-east

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Aleppo: Syria, Russia Reinforce to Confront Turkey's Possible Aggression

May 26, 2019

The Xber24 news website reported that the Russian troops have built four military points in the city of Tal Rafat in Northern Syria to support the Syrian Army in the war on terrorism.

It pointed to the arrival of a large number of Russian Army forces together with heavy weapons to the military points over the past two days and equipment of these bases, and said that these forces have reinforced their military points in the town of Kashta'ar in Northern Aleppo and some new commanders have also been appointed to the mission.

Meantime, it said that the Russian military reinforcements came as differences have intensified between the Turkish and Russian sides after Ankara supported Tahrir al-Sham in its attacks on the Syrian Army.

According to a military source in Aleppo, the Syrian Army has also sent reinforcements from the capital, Damascus, and Homs to the Southern countryside of the province. The reinforcements have reportedly arrived at the key town of Al-Hadher.

The source told Al-Masdar that the Syrian Army is preparing to launch an offensive around the key town of Tal Al-‘Eis, which they briefly captured during their late 2015 offensive.

In a relevant development earlier today, a Russian newspaper in a report on Ankara's attempt to arm terrorists in Northern Syria in flagrant violation of the Sochi Agreement with Russia disclosed Turkey's support for militants' attack on Humeimem Military Base in Lattakia Province.

After declaring ceasefire by the Syrian Army in Idlib province on May 18, terrorists launched rocket attacks on Russia's Humeimem military base which resulted in emergency phone talks between the Russian and Turkish sides, the Arabic-language service of Russia Today cited Russian daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta as saying.

It added that a news website affiliated to Tahrir al-Sham al-Hay'at (the Levant Liberation Board or the Al-Nusra Front) has released photos on the attack on Humeimem military base as the rockets used in the attack bore Turkish-language imprints. However, the pictures were taken off hours later.

The report also noted that the attack on Humeimem military base had not been possible without Ankara's support, and said that Turkey arms terrorists who are fighting the Syrian government as Humeimem military base constantly comes under attack by terrorists stationed in Idlib. 

Meantime, an expert of Russia's Strategic Research Center Vladimir Ivosif confirmed the report, and said that terrorists' access to modern missile-launchers is only possible from Turkey.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980305000617

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Syrian Opposition: Ankara Increasing Dispatch of Military Equipment for Battle with Syrian Army in Idlib

May 26, 2019

The Middle East Online news website quoted two Syrian opposition leaders as saying that Turkey has increased its military aid to terrorists in the last few days.

Meantime, a senior militant commander said Turkey intends to maintain its influence in Northwestern Syria, and said Ankara has reinforced its military presence in 12 military positions mentioned in the Sochi Agreement.

The source also said that tens of armored vehicles, Grad missile launchers, guided anti-tank missiles and TOW missiles have been sent to the militants for battle against the Syrian Army in Kafar Naboudeh.

Meantime, another militant also disclosed that the Turkish army has sent a military convoy to a military base in Jbal al-Zawieh in Northern Hama.

In a relevant development on Thursday, the Turkish army forces stationed in truce-monitoring points in Shir al-Maqar in Jabal Shahshabou in Northwestern Hama have cooperated with the terrorists in their recent attacks on the town of Kafar Naboudeh, field sources in Northern Syria said.

The Arabic-language al-Watan newspaper quoted the sources as saying on Thursday that Tahrir al-Sham al-Hay'at (the Levant Liberation Board or the Al-Nusra Front) and Turkistani party were logistically supported from Shir al-Maqar region in their move towards the Syrian army positions in Kafar Naboudeh, adding that the Turkish soldiers participated in the terrorists' offensives by artillery and missile fire on the Syrian army.

They noted that the Turkish monitoring points in Northern Syria are used to monitor the Syrian army moves and military and logistic assistance to the terrorists, adding that a joint operation room consisting of Tahrir al-Sham, National Liberation Front, Turkistani Party, Jeish al-Izza, Jeish al-Ahrar and other terrorist groups has been formed.

Meantime, the Arabic-language service of Sputnik quoted a field source as saying that the Syrian army forces withdrew from Kafar Naboudeh on Wednesday after the terrorists' repeated attacks.

He added that all terrorists' moves are within the range of the Syrian army's fire, noting that the army has strengthened its positions in Tal Hawash and other fronts in Northern and Northwestern Hama to retake the region.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980305000998

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Syrian Army Takes Back Control of Strategic Town in Hama

May 26, 2019

The Syrian Army won control over Kafar Naboudeh only a few days after it made strategic withdrawal from the key town.

The Damascus Army's artillery and missile units launched heavy attacks on Tahrir al-Sham's military positions and movements in Kafar Naboudeh in Northwestern Hama and took control of the town, the Arabic-language website of Sputnik news agency reported.

Meantime, a military source also announced that the army troops also managed to kill at least 30 terrorists and also destroy their military vehicles.

The source also said that the Syrian Army has started strengthening its point in the town and cleanse the region from remaining terrorists.

On Thursday, field source in Northern Syria said that the Turkish army forces stationed in truce-monitoring points in Shir al-Maqar in Jabal Shahshabou in Northwestern Hama had cooperated with the terrorists in their recent attacks on the town of Kafar Naboudeh.

The Arabic-language al-Watan newspaper quoted the sources as saying that Tahrir al-Sham al-Hay'at and Turkistani party were logistically supported from Shir al-Maqar region in their move towards the Syrian army positions in Kafar Naboudeh, adding that the Turkish soldiers participated in the terrorists' offensives by artillery and missile fire on the Syrian army.

They noted that the Turkish monitoring points in Northern Syria are used to monitor the Syrian army moves and military and logistic assistance to the terrorists, adding that a joint operation room consisting of Tahrir al-Sham, National Liberation Front, Turkistani Party, Jeish al-Izza, Jeish al-Ahrar and other terrorist groups has been formed.

Meantime, the Arabic-language service of Sputnik quoted a field source as saying that the Syrian army forces withdrew from Kafar Naboudeh on Wednesday after the terrorists' repeated attacks.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980305000803

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Regime bombardment kills 12 civilians in northwest Syria

26 May 2019

Regime air strikes killed 12 civilians including four at a market on Sunday in an extremist bastion in northwest Syria, a war monitor said.

A young girl was among those killed at the market in the town of Maaret al-Numan in Idlib province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Eight other civilians were killed elsewhere by government fire in Idlib, a stronghold of Syria’s former al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the Britain-based monitor said.

Idlib is supposed to be protected from a massive government offensive by a September buffer zone deal, but the extremist bastion has come under increasing bombardment by the regime and its Russian ally since late April.

An AFP reporter in Maaret al-Numan saw a young man carry the arched body of what appeared to be a young girl out over grey rubble after the air strike.

Another man retrieved a distressed, dust-covered young girl, slung over his shoulder.

Witness Hamdu Mustafa said he was out shopping when the air strike hit.

Everybody was “in the street selling and buying,” he told AFP.

“The planes targeted civilians who were buying food for their children,” he said.

Nearby, rescue workers known as the White Helmets directed a bulldozer to clear the debris.

Fighting has raged to the south of the bastion in recent days.

On Sunday, regime forces took back control of the town of Kafr Nabuda in the north of Hama province, the Observatory and state news agency SANA said.

HTS and allied armed groups overran part of the town in recent days, after the regime first expelled them on May 8.

The United Nations has warned that an all-out offensive on the Idlib region would lead to a humanitarian catastrophe for its nearly three million residents.

The Observatory says more than 230 civilians have been killed in the spike in violence since the end of April.

More than 200,000 civilians have already been displaced by this upsurge of violence, the United Nations has said.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/05/26/Regime-bombardment-kills-12-civilians-in-northwest-Syria.html

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Egypt unfreezes assets of Mubarak-era interior minister

26 May 2019

Egypt has unfrozen the assets of its Hosni Mubarak-era interior minister, who was acquitted on all corruption-related charges earlier this month, a judicial source confirmed Sunday.

The Illicit Gains Authority decided last Thursday to lift freezes on Habib al-Adly’s assets and those of aides who were key players in the graft that dominated Egypt under long-time autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

“He is free to walk, with no cases or charges against him at the moment,” the judicial source told AFP.

Al-Adly’s behemoth security apparatus was accused of systematic torture and repression of dissent, helping fuel the 2011 uprising that toppled Mubarak.

In May, a court fined the former minister 500 Egyptian pounds (about $29) on charges of abusing public funds.

Al-Adly was sentenced in April 2017 to seven years in prison along with 10 other former officials, for embezzling about $122 million.

But his case was thrown out, with the court citing procedural errors, and a retrial was ordered last year.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/05/26/Egypt-unfreezes-assets-of-Mubarak-era-interior-minister.html

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Iran Deputy FM discusses ‘regional development’ in Oman

26 May 2019

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi arrived on Sunday in Oman and discussed “regional developments” with Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, the sultanate’s minister responsible for foreign affairs, the state-run Oman News Agency reported.

The visit comes as part of Araghchi’s tour which will also include Qatar and Kuwait.

Bin Alawi said earlier this week that his country is trying “with other parties” to calm tensions between the United States and Iran.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/05/26/Iran-Deputy-FM-discusses-regional-development-in-Oman.html

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Truck bomb explosion kills five, injures eight in Iraq’s Nineveh

May 26, 2019

At least five people have lost their lives and eight others sustained injuries when a truck bomb ripped through a popular market in Iraq’s northern province of Nineveh.

The Iraqi Joint Operations Command said in a statement that the attack took place on Sunday afternoon, when a truck rigged with explosives was detonated at a crowded marketplace in the village of al-Uwaynat near the town of Rabiaa.

Security forces immediately cordoned off the site of the attack, and ambulance workers ferried the wounded to a nearby hospital.

There were no immediate claims of responsibility for Sunday’s attack, but such assaults bear the hallmark of those carried out by Daesh Takfiri terrorists.

Former Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared the end of military operations against Daesh in the Arab country on December 9, 2017.

On July 10 that year, he had formally declared victory over Daesh in Mosul, which served as the terrorists’ main urban stronghold in Iraq.

In the run-up to Mosul's liberation, Iraqi army soldiers and Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters had made sweeping gains against Daesh.

Iraqi forces took control of eastern Mosul in January 2017 after 100 days of fighting, and launched the battle in the west on February 19 that year.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/05/26/596980/Truck-bomb-Iraq-Nineveh

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Syrian forces uncover militant tunnel in northwestern Syria

May 26, 2019

Syrian forces have discovered a long tunnel once used by Takfiri terrorists during a clean-up operation in the country’s western province of Hama.

Syria’s official news agency SANA reported that army soldiers found the 20-meter deep and 50-meter long tunnel on Sunday as they were combing Qalaat al-Madiq town of hidden ordnance and remnants of terror groups.

The tunnel incorporated a detention facility with several rooms, where extremists apparently used to hold civilians in captivity and torment them. Command centers for high-ranking militants were found inside the tunnel as well.

Syrian government forces could recover various kinds of munitions in addition to improvised cannon from the site.

Syrian forces wrest control over Kafr Nabudah town in Hama

Meanwhile, Syrian army troops have managed to establish full control over Kafr Nabudah town in Hama province after eliminating the last remnants of the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham terrorist group, formerly known as al-Nusra Front, there.

SANA reported that government forces scored the victory following intense clashes with the Takfiris, which inflicted heavy losses upon the latter’s ranks.

Syrian govt. forces discover militant weapons cache in Kirkat village

Separately, Syrian government forces have discovered a considerable amount of munitions left behind by Takfiri militants in Kirkat village of Hama province.

The ammunition included mortars, BM-21 Grad rockets and artillery shells.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/05/26/596975/militant-tunnel-in-northwestern-Syria

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Iraq, Iran stress security cooperation to prevent war in region

May 25, 2019

Iraq and Iran have stressed on cooperation between the two neighboring countries to prevent a war that could jeopardize stability in the Middle East region.

The common stance was reiterated during a Saturday meeting between Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Baghdad.

The media office of the Iraqi premier said on its Facebook page that during the meeting, the two officials discussed the recent regional developments, especially with regards to an international nuclear agreement on Iran’s nuclear case.

The two elaborated that the deal, technically known as the JCPOA and signed in 2015 between Iran and world powers, should be preserved in the face of the United States' unilateral withdrawal from the agreement.

Abdul-Mahdi and Zarif reiterated that both Iran and Iraq have been affected by US sanctions on Tehran, which began following the US government’s withdrawal from the JCPOA last year, while stressing that a potential military conflict between the US and Iran over the issue could have far-reaching consequences for the entire Middle East region.

The two said there was a need for increased security cooperation between Iran and Iraq to defuse the current tensions and increase regional stability.

The report said that parts of the meeting was dedicated to a review of efforts in Iraq and Iran to follow up on the agreements signed during a recent trip of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to Iraq and a last year visit by Abdul-Mahdi to the Iranian capital Tehran.

The Iranian foreign minister also discussed regional developments and bilateral relations during a meeting with Iraqi President Barham Salih.

Relations between Iran and Iraq have expanded rapidly over the past few years despite a continuous campaign of pressure on Baghdad by US government and allies in the region.

Iran has also played a major role in restoring stability in Iraq by helping the Arab country in its large-scale battle against terrorism since 2014.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/05/25/596909/Iraq-Iran-security-cooperation-Zarif-Baghdad-visit

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North America

 

US military in region is ‘weakest’ in history: Iran deputy Guards chief

26 May 2019

The US military presence in the Middle East is at its “weakest in history”, a deputy commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards was on Sunday quoted by the semi-official news agency Fars as saying.

US President Donald Trump has tightened economic sanctions against Iran, and his administration says it has built up the US military presence in the region.

It accuses Iran of threats to US troops and interests. Tehran has described US moves as “psychological warfare” and a “political game”.

“The Americans have been present in the region since 1833 and they are now at their weakest in history in West Asia,” said Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi, a deputy Guards commander, according to Fars.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/05/26/US-military-in-region-is-weakest-in-history-Iran-deputy-Guards-chief.html

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Pence drops hints of prolonged US wars in Afghanistan, Iraq

May 26, 2019

US Vice President Mike Pence has indicated that America’s might extend its ongoing military presence in Afghanistan and Iraq, telling young military graduates that they should look forward to see combat in those two countries and other parts of the world. Addressing a group of graduates at the US Military Academy West Point in New York on Saturday, Pence said the young cadets should expect to fight America’s wars abroad.

“Some of you will join the fight against radical Islamic terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq,” he said, using a term coined by the administration of US President Donald Trump for Daesh and other terror outfits fighting in the Middle East.

The remarks came days after Washington unveiled plans to send another 1,500 troops to the Middle East, where it’s already engaged in years-long battled that have so far failed to yield meaningful results.

The war in Afghanistan, which began in 2001 and has been churning on over the past 18 years, is the longest war in the US history.

Washington attacked Afghanistan with the declared aim of ending the rule of the Taliban in the country. Today, however, the militant group remains in control of large parts of the country and is stepping up its attacks on foreign and Afghan security forces by day.

More importantly, Pence’s remarks ran in contrast with Trump’s announcement last year that he was withdrawing troops from Syria and Afghanistan now that Daesh had been defeated.

Trump, under pressure at home, has retracted his stances ever since, saying he is open to keeping some troops in Syria and delaying the Afghanistan withdrawal.

War on Western Hemisphere

Pence also suggested during his speech that the graduates could see combat on the Western hemisphere as well.

“It is a virtual certainty that you will fight on a battlefield for America at some point in your life,” Pence said. “You will lead soldiers in combat. It will happen. Some of you may even be called upon to serve in this hemisphere.”

Currently, the only possibility of a possible war involving the US on the Western Hemisphere is in Venezuela and on America's own border with Mexico.

The Trump administration has so far refused to rule out the possibility of military action in Venezuela, where US-backed opposition leader and self-proclaimed president Juan Guaido has been trying to bring down the legitimate government of President Nicolas Maduro.

In additions to sanctions against Maduro and his government, Washington officials have left the door open on possible military intervention.

They have even called on the Venezuelan military to take up arms and stage a coup.

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Besides Venezuela, the US has als o faced the possibility of a military conflict on its southern border with Mexico, where thousands of troops have been stationed over the past few months as part of Trump’s policy to curb illegal immigration.

Pence told the cadets that Trump was the “best friend” they had.

 “As you accept the mantle of leadership I promise you, your commander in chief will always have your back,” he said. “President Donald Trump is the best friend the men and women of our armed forces will ever have.”

The vice president said Trump had proposed a $750 billion military budget for 2020 because under his leadership the US “is once again embracing our role as the leader of the free world”.

The ceremony was Pence’s second visit to West Point and his first as commencement speaker. Trump has yet to visit the academy himself.

In 2002, then President George W. Bush used the graduation ceremony to outline his doctrine of pre-emptive military intervention. A year later, he authorized the US military to invade Iraq.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/05/26/596988/US-Pence-Afghnistan-Iraq-wars-Trump

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Iraq says stands by Iran against US sanctions

Arif Yusuf

26.05.2019

Iraq stands by Iran against U.S. sanctions, Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohamed Alhakim said Sunday.

Alhakim held talks in Baghdad with his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif, who arrived in the Iraqi capital on Saturday for discussions with Iraqi officials.

The top Iraqi diplomat said bilateral relations between Baghdad and Tehran were the focus of Zarif's visit to Iraq.

"We are against the U.S. sanctions against Iran," Alhakim said.

"We believe economic sanctions against Iran are not helpful," he said. "Communications are underway with regional states to reach a satisfactory solution to all parties."

Zarif, for his part, described his talks with Iraqi officials as "very good".

He said both Tehran and Baghdad have started to build a railway between the two countries.

Tensions between Washington and Tehran have mounted steadily since U.S. President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the U.S. from a landmark nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 group of nations (the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany).

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/iraq-says-stands-by-iran-against-us-sanctions/1489451

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Mideast

 

Iraq warns of ‘danger of war’ as Iran’s FM visits Baghdad

May 27, 2019

BAGHDAD: Iraqi leaders have warned of the risks of war during a visit by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, whose country is locked in a tense standoff with the United States.

Zarif’s visit to neighbouring Iraq — which is caught in the middle of its two allies, the US and Iran — follows a decision by Washington to deploy 1,500 additional troops to the Middle East.

“We are currently repelling all the efforts of war against Iran, whether economic or military,” Zarif said at a joint news conference with his Iraqi counterpart Mohammed Ali al-Hakim. “We will face them with strength and we will resist,” he added.

For his part, Hakim said: “We stand by our neighbour Iran, and economic sanctions are unnecessary and cause great suffering to the Iranian people.” Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi warned of the “danger of a war” during a meeting with Zarif on Saturday night, his office said.

Abdel Mahdi pleaded for the “stability of the region and the upholding of the nuclear deal,” it said, referring to a 2015 agreement between Tehran and major powers.

Iraqi President Barham Saleh discussed with Zarif “the need to prevent all war or escalation,” his office said.

On Saturday, Zarif called the deployment of extra US troops to the region “very dangerous and a threat to international peace and security.” It follows a US decision in early May to send an aircraft carrier strike force and B-52 bombers in a show of force against what Washington’s leaders believed was an imminent Iranian plan to attack US assets.

Washington says the latest reinforcements are in response to a “campaign” of recent attacks including a rocket launched into the Green Zone in Baghdad, explosive devices that damaged four tankers near the entrance to the Gulf, and drone strikes by Yemeni rebels on a key Saudi oil pipeline. Iran has denied any involvement.

On May 15, the United States ordered the evacuation of non-emergency staff from its Baghdad embassy and Arbil consulate, citing an “imminent” threat from Iranian-linked armed groups in Iraq, two of which rejected the claim.

During the three-year battle to oust the militant Islamic State group from Iraqi cities, Iran-backed militias on the ground effectively fought on the same side as US-led coalition warplanes in the skies.

But since Iraq declared victory over the jihadists in December 2017, relations between Washington and Tehran have deteriorated sharply.

In May last year, US President Donald Trump pulled out of the landmark nuclear deal with Iran and later re-instated tough sanctions. Zarif was due to meet representatives of Iraq’s different political forces as well as religious dignitaries in Karbala and Najaf in southern Iraq during his visit through Monday.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1484889/iraq-warns-of-danger-of-war-as-irans-fm-visits-baghdad

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Hamas Welcomes Nasrallah's Invitation for Confrontation against 'Deal of Century'

May 26, 2019

Rafat Marat, the head of Hamas overseas information office, welcomed Nasrallah's invitation for Lebanese-Palestinian talks on standing against the Deal of Century and defend the refugees' right of return.

"Nasrallah's invitation was raised at a proper time and the Lebanese-Palestinian talks is the best and strongest way to confront the Deal of Century and its outcomes," he added.

Marat also warned of attempts to impose the forced accommodation of refugees and ignoring their right of return by the Deal of Century plan.

His remarks came after the secretary general of the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement said Israeli authorities had described his group as “a strategic threat” to the Tel Aviv regime in an attempt to mobilize support and provoke the international community against it.

Addressing his supporters via a televised speech broadcast live from the Lebanese capital of Beirut on Saturday evening, Seyed Hassan Nasrallah stated that the United States and the Zionist regime (of Israel) were conspiring against Hezbollah in a bid to weaken popular support for the movement.

He stressed that Hezbollah had stood firm in the face of US and Israeli hegemonic schemes for the Middle East region.

“The United States would have offered southern Lebanon to Israel if Hezbollah did not exist. Lebanon is not in a position of weakness. We are standing up for our rights concerning Sheba'a Farms, Kfarchouba village as well as the northern section of Ghajar (village),” Nasrallah said.

“Lebanon can stop the Zionist regime (of Israel) from plundering its oil and gas reserves,” the Hezbollah secretary-general added.

He further highlighted that his movement fully supports the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian right of return to their homes.

Nasrallah also called on people worldwide to turn out en masse for International Quds Day rallies.

Commenting on a forthcoming US-led conference in Bahrain next month in support of US President Donald Trump’s controversial proposal for “peace” between the Israeli regime and Palestinians, dubbed “the deal of the century”, Nasrallah emphasized that the initiative is aimed at liquidation of the Palestinian cause.

The Hezbollah chief also praised the position of Bahraini scholars, members of the public as well as political factions in the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom to have expressed their strong objection to hosting the June 25-26 conference in Manama.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Nasrallah said the Lebanese nation rejects permanent settlement of Palestinian refugees in the country, stressing that the latter must not give up on the right to return to their homeland. 

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980305000898

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Ex-Israeli official admits 2015 assassination of Kuntar after tip-off from Syria militants

May 27, 2019

A former Israeli army officer admits that Israel’s military, with the help of militants in Syria, assassinated Samir Kuntar, a commander of Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement, during air raids in 2015.

According to UK-based Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat, the ex-army officer Marco Morno said the operation was carried out with information from “one of the leaders of the Syrian opposition factions.”

The attack was conducted by two warplanes that bombed a building with four long-range missiles in Jaramana, near Damascus, in late 2015.

Kuntar was helping the Syrian government forces and Hezbollah fight back foreign-backed Takfiri terrorists in the Arab country.

“Samir Kuntar, the longest serving Arab prisoner in Israeli jails, was killed in a terrorist rocket attack targeting a building in the southern parts of Jaramana, Damascus countryside,” the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported at the time.

He spent about 30 years in Israeli prisons and was released in 2008 as part of a swap deal between Tel Aviv and Hezbollah in exchange for the bodies of two Israeli soldiers killed during the 2006 war.

According to the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a pro-militant monitoring group, Kuntar had been the target of various failed Israeli assassination attempts in Syria.

Morno, who was responsible for communicating with Syrian militants, revealed the details of Kuntar’s assassination during an interview with an Israeli news site on Thursday. The information he disclosed was allowed to be published under military censorship.

Hezbollah has been effectively helping the Syrian government in its fight against terrorists.

In May 2016, Mustafa Badr al-Deen, a Hezbollah commander, was killed in an Israeli air raid on the Syrian-Lebanese border.

Tel Aviv frequently attacks military targets inside Syria in what is considered as an attempt to prop up Takfiri terrorist outfits that have been suffering heavy defeats against Syrian government forces.

Numerous reports have also emerged of the discovery of Israeli-made weapons and military equipment during clean-up operations by the Syrian army.

The occupying regime has been providing medical treatment to extremist elements wounded in Syria.

Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The Syrian government says the Israeli regime and its Western and regional allies are aiding Takfiri terrorist groups wreaking havoc in the country.

Turkey is one of the main backers of anti-government militants in Syria.

On Saturday, senior militant sources said Turkey has equipped an array of terrorists it backs with fresh supplies of weaponry to help them try to repel a major Syrian assault.

The delivery of dozens of armored vehicles, Grad rocket launchers, anti-tank guided missiles and so-called TOW missiles, helped roll back some army gains and retake the strategically located town of Kfar Nabouda, one senior militant figure said.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/05/27/597010/Israel-tipped-off-militants-Syria-air-raids

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Separatist figure jailed in Turkey calls for end to hunger strikes

May 26, 2019

A separatist figure jailed in Turkey has called for an end to the hunger strikes staged by a number of Kurdish legislators and prisoners in the country in solidarity with him.

Abdullah Ocalan, 71, said in a statement read out by one of his lawyers at a press conference in Istanbul on Sunday morning that he expected those on strike to end the protest action.

“Comrades who have committed themselves to hunger strikes and death fasts, I expect you to end your protest,” he said.

Ocalan, the co-founder of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), has been serving a life sentence for treason in a prison on Imrali Island off Istanbul since his capture in 1999.

Turkey, along with the European Union and the United States, has declared the PKK a terrorist group and banned it.

The PKK, which has been seeking an autonomous Kurdish region since 1984, accepted a shaky ceasefire with Ankara, but the truce collapsed in July 2015. Attacks on Turkish security forces have continued since then.

In protest against Ocalan’s prison conditions and in an attempt to end his detention, pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) lawmaker Leyla Guven went on a hunger strike in November last year. She was herself behind bars at the time but was later released.

Her action reportedly grew to involve several lawmakers and some 3,000 Kurds held in different prisons across Turkey.

Ocalan’s call to end the mass strike came after he was allowed to see his legal representatives for the first time in eight years — on May 2 and 22 — one of the key demands of the strikers.

He then told his lawyers that the hunger strikes “had achieved their goal” and called for them to end.

Some commentators suggested that Ankara’s decision to allow lawyers to visit the PKK leader could be an attempt to win over Kurdish constituencies by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/05/26/596994/Turkey-Abdullah-Ocalan-hunger-strike

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‘Israel has arrested 16,500 Palestinian minors since 2000’

May 26, 2019

Israel has arrested some 16,500 Palestinian children since the outbreak of the Second Intifada (uprising) in late-2000, a study says.

Abdul-Naser Farwana, a Palestinian ex-prisoner and researcher at the Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs Commission, said in a 26-page study that during the last decade (2000-2010), at least 700 cases of arrest had been documented annually, the Palestinian Information Center reported on Sunday.

Farwana added that the number of cases made a sharp jump to 1,250 “in the last eight years.”

The second Intifada began on September 18, 2000 and was known as the al-Aqsa Intifada. It was sparked by former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon’s visit to the al-Aqsa Mosque complex.

Farwana further said that all facts and statistics confirmed that there was a systematic arrest policy adopted by the Israeli regime in targeting Palestinian children, and that the number of child detainees had increased steadily since 2000 and significantly since 2011.

He also revealed that since 1967, Israeli forces had arrested some 50,000 Palestinian children, a policy adopted against Palestinian children with the aim of destroying their life and future.

Israel occupied the West Bank as well as East Jerusalem al-Quds during the Six-Day War in 1967. It later annexed the Palestinian city in a move not recognized by the international community.

Israel lays claim to the whole city, but the Palestinians view its eastern sector as the capital of their future sovereign state.

US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem al-Quds as the Israeli “capital” in December 2017 and moved the American embassy from Tel Aviv to the ancient city in May 2018, sparking global condemnations as well as protests by Palestinians.

Back in March, the UN children’s agency, UNICEF, said that around 40 children had been killed and hundreds more wounded in one year of anti-occupation protest rallies along the fence that separates the besieged Gaza Strip and the Israeli-occupied territories.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/05/26/596974/Palestine-Israel-arrest-children-arrest-Farwana

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Yemeni Defence Units Shoot Down Saudi Spy Drone

May 26, 2019

The official website of Ansarullah movement quoted a Yemeni military official as saying that the reconnaissance drone of the Saudi-Emirati coalition was flying over the Eastern areas of al-Doud in Saudi Arabia's Southwestern border region of Jizan this morning, and was targeted by air defense units of the Yemeni Army and Ansarulah Popular Forces.

Earlier on Sunday, Arabic-language al-Masirah television network reported that Yemeni drones conducted an attack on Jizan military airbase in Southwestern Saudi Arabia.

The report added that the attack was carried out by a Qasef-2K combat drone.

The drone hit the shelters and reinforced hangars of the Saudi jet fighters which were used in airstrikes against Yemeni civilian areas.

The last three drone attacks of the last week on Saudi airbases were conducted against Najran airport.

Jizan airport was opened in 1981 but Saudi Arabia has been using it as an airbase to conduct airstrikes against Yemen in the last 5 years. Riyadh is currently constructing a three-storied civilian airport near the Red Sea in Jizan.

On Thurday, Al-Masirah TV reported that Yemen's Ansarullah movement launched a drone attack on a Patriot missile battery in the airport of the Saudi city of Najran near the Yemeni border.

The attack was carried out by Qasef-2K drones and was successful as it hit the Saudi Arabia’s Patriot missile system inside Najran airport in Southern Saudi Arabia on Thursday.

It was the third strike by Ansarullah Movement in a week, the first one was on Tuesday when the Najran base's ammunition depot was hit and the Saudi fighter jets were hit in their hangar in Najran base on Wednesday.

Ansarullah resistance group has stepped up missile and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia's targets over the past ten days in a resurgence of tactics that had largely subsided since late last year amid United Nations-led peace efforts.

Yemen's Ansarullah movement has warned that its recent attack on a major Saudi oil facility was the start of operations against 300 vital targets in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

The Ansarullah said on Sunday its drone attack on pumping stations of the Saudi state oil company Aramco was the start of operations against 300 vital targets.

The group added that other planned targets include military headquarters and facilities in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating campaign against Yemen in March 2015, with the aim of bringing the government of former Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back to power and crushing the Ansarullah movement.

Despite Riyadh's claims that it is bombing the positions of the Ansarullah fighters, Saudi bombers are flattening residential areas and civilian infrastructures. Weddings, funerals, schools and hospitals, as well as water and electricity plants, have been targeted, killing and wounding hundreds of thousands.

According to a December 2018 report by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, the Saudi-led war has claimed the lives of over 60,000 Yemenis since January 2016.

Save the Children, a charity, has reported that more than 84,700 children under the age of five may have starved to death in Yemen since the Saudi regime and a coalition of its allies launched the brutal war on the already-impoverished nation.

France, the United States, the United Kingdom and some other Western countries have faced criticisms over arms sales to the Saudi Arabia and the UAE, whose aggression against Yemen has affected 28 million people and caused what the United Nations calls “one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world". According to the world body, Yemen is suffering from the most severe famine in more than 100 years.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980305000911

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Israelis protest moves to grant Netanyahu immunity, limit Supreme Court

26 May 2019

Thousands of Israelis protested on Saturday against legislative steps that could grant Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immunity from prosecution and limit the power of the country’s Supreme Court.

The demonstration in Tel Aviv was attended by nearly all opposition parties, a rare show of unity for Israel’s splintered political system. Police did not say how many people attended. A Reuters photographer estimated about 20,000 were present, while organizers put the figure at 80,000.

In office for the past decade, Netanyahu won a fifth term in April despite an announcement by Israel’s attorney general in February that he intended to charge him with fraud and bribery. The prime minister is a suspect in three graft cases.

Netanyahu has denied wrongdoing, calling the allegations a political witch-hunt. The right-wing leader has said that with a renewed public mandate to govern he has no plans to resign, even if charged.

Although the prime minister is under no legal obligation to step down if charged, Netanyahu loyalists in his Likud party have pledged to seek parliamentary immunity from prosecution for him while he is in office.

Expecting legal challenges, they also have been advocating legislation that would annul any Supreme Court ruling rescinding immunity.

Since the election, Netanyahu has not said whether he would seek immunity.

On May 13, Netanyahu said on Twitter that his policy had always been to preserve a strong and independent Supreme Court, but that changes were needed in order to restore the balance between Israel’s executive, legislative and judiciary branches.

The opposition has described any attempt to shield Netanyahu or put limitations on Israel’s highest court as threats to Israeli democracy.

Yair Lapid, one of the leaders of the main opposition party, the centrist Blue and White, said on Saturday at the demonstration that Netanyahu was trying to crush the Supreme Court in order to keep out of prison. “He’s destroying the country,” Lapid said. “We won’t let him.”

Netanyahu is trying to form a new coalition with right-wing, ultranationalist and religious parties that would give him control of 65 of the 120 seats in parliament, which has already been sworn in.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/05/26/Israelis-protest-moves-to-grant-Netanyahu-immunity-limit-Supreme-Court.html

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Saudi Air Defence destroys Houthi drone targeting Jazan airport

26 May 2019

The Saudi Air Defense has shot down a drone launched by the Houthis targeting the King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Airport in Jazan.

The attack comes just days after the Arab Coalition’s spokesperson confirmed that the Saudi Air Defense intercepted a drone carrying explosives that was launched by Houthis in an attempt to target Najran airport.

Colonel Turki al-Maliki, the coalition’s spokesperson, has said that Houthis deliberately target dignitaries, civilians, and civil facilities systematically, warning the Iran-backed militia not to continue targeting, otherwise, there will be a strong response.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2019/05/26/Saudi-Air-Defense-destroys-Houthi-drone-targeting-Jazan-airport.html

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Netanyahu struggles to form government amid talk of new election

May 27, 2019

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu embarked on Sunday on what he termed a “final effort” to break a deadlock on forming a governing coalition ahead of a Wednesday deadline for a deal.

In power for the past decade, Netanyahu has unexpectedly struggled to seal an agreement with a clutch of right-wing, far-right and ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties that would align with his Likud party and ensure him a fifth term following Israel’s April 9 election.

Divisions between former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s ultranationalist Yisrael Beitenu party and United Torah Judaism over a military conscription bill governing exemptions for ultra-Orthodox Jewish seminary students have plunged the coalition talks into stalemate.

Lieberman has long said ultra-Orthodox men must share other Israeli Jews’ burden of mandatory service. Ultra-Orthodox parties say seminary students should be largely exempt from conscription as they have been since Israel was founded in 1948.

A 42-day deadline mandated by law to announce a new government expires on Wednesday, and President Reuven Rivlin can then assign the task to another legislator after consultations with the leaders of political parties.

That could open the way for former military chief Benny Gantz, leader of the centrist Blue and White party, to try. But he would need the backing of some of Likud’s allies to persuade Rivlin he could put together a ruling majority in parliament.

Likud and Blue and White each won 35 of the Knesset’s 120 seats seats in the April ballot, but Netanyahu was seen as having clinched victory because of the right-wing majority that emerged.

In a video published on Twitter on Sunday, Netanyahu said he had invited all of his negotiating partners to meet him in “a final attempt to form a right-wing government” and avoid “an unnecessary election.”

A Likud source said the sessions would be held later in the day and on Monday.

Parallel to the negotiations, Likud announced preparations for a possible national ballot, with November already touted by political analysts as a likely date.

Likud lawmaker Miki Zohar released a draft of a dissolution bill that he said he was submitting to parliament, but no date for a vote in the legislature was announced. Likud said its secretariat would meet on Tuesday “to prepare for an election.”

Some political commentators saw those moves as an attempt to pressure Likud’s negotiating partners into a deal, given the possibility of a voter backlash against another national ballot so soon after the previous one and the uncertainty of the election’s outcome in a country riven by divisions.

The scheduling of an election — and Likud could face an uphill battle for the necessary 61 votes in parliament to pass a dissolution resolution — would pre-empt a coalition-building assignment from Rivlin and ensure Netanyahu remains as interim prime minister until a new government is formed.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1502481/middle-east

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Europe

 

Turkish-Muslim group calls probe into mosque fire in Germany

May 26 2019

Turkish-Muslim association IGMG has called for a complete and thorough investigation into suspected arson attack on May 25 at a mosque in the western German city of Hagen.

“We urge the law enforcement authorities to conduct a swift and thorough investigation, to trace the perpetrators and put them behind the bar,” IGMG's President Kemal Ergun said in a statement.

The group's mosque in Hagen has suffered serious damage after an unidentified person set fire to garbage bins in front of the building.

Security camera footage released on Saturday showed a man with two dogs walking near the garbage bins before the fire.

Germany has witnessed growing Islamophobia and hatred of migrants in recent years triggered by the far-right parties, which have exploited fears over the refugee crisis and terrorism.

Police recorded 813 hate crimes against Muslims last year. At least 54 Muslims were injured in the attacks, which were carried out mostly by far-right extremists.

Germany, a country of over 81 million people, has the second-largest Muslim population in Western Europe after France. Among the country's nearly 4.7 million Muslims, 3 million are of Turkish origin.

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkish-muslim-group-calls-probe-into-mosque-fire-in-germany-143724

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Three French ISIS members sentenced to death in Iraq: judiciary

26 May 2019

An Iraqi court on Sunday sentenced three French citizens to death after they were found guilty of joining ISIS, a court official said.

Captured in Syria by a US-backed force fighting the extremists, they are the first French ISIS members to receive death sentences in Iraq, where they were transferred for trial.

Named as Kevin Gonot, Leonard Lopez and Salim Machou, they have 30 days to appeal.

Iraq has taken custody of thousands of extremists repatriated in recent months from neighboring Syria, where they were caught by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces during the battle to destroy the ISIS “caliphate”.

Iraqi courts have placed on trial hundreds of foreigners, condemning many to life in prison and others to death, although no foreign ISIS members have yet been executed.

Those sentenced on Sunday were among 12 French citizens who were caught in Syria and transferred to Iraqi custody in February.

Rights groups including Human Rights Watch have criticized Iraq's anti-terror trials, which they say often rely on circumstantial evidence or confessions obtained under torture.

The country remains in the top five “executioner” nations in the world, according to an Amnesty International report in April.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/05/26/Three-French-ISIS-members-sentenced-to-death-in-Iraq-judiciary.html

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Germany in push to resurrect Afghan talks with Taliban

26 May 2019

Germany, a leading donor and member of the NATO-led coalition in Afghanistan, has been talking with the Taliban and the Afghan government in an effort to restart peace talks to end 18 years of conflict, officials said.

While the Taliban have been talking with US officials since October about a withdrawal of international troops, they have so far refused formal talks with the Western-backed government, which they dismiss as a “puppet” regime.

Berlin’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Markus Potzel, has visited Kabul for talks with the Afghan government and met Taliban officials in Doha at least twice this month.

“The current chance for a process towards a more peaceful Afghanistan should not be missed. If the friends of Afghanistan - and Germany is one of them - together can help in this effort, then we should do it,” Potzel said.

“In the end only the Afghans themselves, including the Taliban, can decide upon the future of their country.”

Draft agreement

The chief US negotiator in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, in March said that a draft agreement had been reached on a withdrawal of US forces in exchange for a commitment by the Taliban to cut ties with militant groups such as Al Qaeda.

But there has been no agreement yet on a ceasefire or a start to talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, both seen as key conditions for a settlement.

An Afghan delegation had been due to meet Taliban officials in the Qatari capital Doha last month to build the basis for possible negotiations, but the meeting was cancelled at the last minute after a dispute over the number of participants.

“We realise that US-Taliban talks will gain momentum only if the insurgent leaders start engaging with the Afghan representatives,” a senior German official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.  

Seeking peaceful resolutions

Sohail Shaheen, spokesman for the Taliban’s political office in Doha, said that Germany was one among several countries to have offered help to seek a peaceful resolutions. The European Union and Indonesia are among those to have offered help, another Taliban official said, declining to be named.

Discussions were held with Germany about an Afghan-Taliban meeting in Germany but no decision has been made, Shaheen told Reuters.

The moves come at a time when the Taliban controls or exercises influence over more than half of Afghanistan.

At least 3,804 civilians were killed in the war last year, according to a United Nations report, plus thousands of soldiers, police and Taliban militants.

The involvement of Germany, the second-largest donor and an influential member of the 39-member NATO-led coalition in Afghanistan, follows concern among several US allies at being excluded from the talks.

Germany, which last year spent 23 billion euros ($25.76 billion) in integrating hundreds of thousands of refugees from countries including Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, also has pressing domestic reasons for promoting peace. Next year, parliament will have to approve the continued presence of 1,200 German troops in Afghanistan.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/05/26/Germany-in-push-to-resurrect-Afghan-talks-with-Taliban.html

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Germany in push to resurrect talks with Taliban

May 26, 2019

KABUL, BERLIN: Germany, a leading donor and member of the NATO-led coalition in Afghanistan, has been talking with the Taliban and the Afghan government in an effort to restart peace talks to end 18 years of conflict, officials said.

While the Taliban have been talking with US officials since October about withdrawal of international troops, they have so far refused formal talks with the Western-backed government, which they dismiss as a “puppet” regime.

Berlin’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Markus Potzel, has visited Kabul for talks with the Afghan government and met Taliban officials in Doha at least twice this month.

“The current chance for a process toward a more peaceful Afghanistan should not be missed. If the friends of Afghanistan — and Germany is one of them — together can help in this effort, then we should do it,” Potzel said.

“In the end, only the Afghans themselves, including the Taliban, can decide upon the future of their country.”

The chief US negotiator in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, in March said that a draft agreement had been reached on a withdrawal of US forces in exchange for a commitment by the Taliban to cut ties with militant groups such as Al-Qaeda.

But there has been no agreement yet on a cease-fire or a start to talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, both seen as key conditions for a settlement.

An Afghan delegation had been due to meet Taliban officials in the Qatari capital Doha last month to build the basis for possible negotiations, but the meeting was canceled at the last minute after a dispute over the number of participants.

“We realize that US-Taliban talks will gain momentum only if the insurgent leaders start engaging with the Afghan representatives,” a senior German official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Sohail Shaheen, a spokesman for the Taliban’s political office in Doha, said that Germany was one among several countries to have offered help to seek a peaceful resolution.

The EU and Indonesia are among those to have offered help, another Taliban official said, declining to be named.

Discussions were held with Germany about an Afghan-Taliban meeting in Germany but no decision has been made, Shaheen told Reuters.

Captives subjected to abuse

Afghan captives held by the Taliban have been subjected to abuse, ill-treatment and actions that may amount to torture, the UN said on Sunday.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said it interviewed 13 detainees from a group of 53 recently rescued from the Taliban, mainly members of Afghan forces but also civilians and government officials captured by the insurgents.

The group was freed on April 25 when Afghan troops raided a Taliban-run detention facility in the Khas Uruzgan district in southern Uruzgan province.

Most of the captives were held since 2018, with three since 2016, the UNAMA statement said, adding they were kept in poor conditions and subjected to forced labor. It cites the detainees as saying that the Taliban killed some of their captives.

“I am gravely concerned about these serious allegations of ill-treatment, torture and unlawful killing of civilians and security personnel, as well as the deplorable conditions of detention,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the head of UNAMA.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1502411/world

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British Tory party donor charged for funding terrorism

May 26, 2019

A British Conservative Party donor has been charged with funding terrorist organisations, illegal arms dealing, fraud and money-laundering in Bangladesh.

Mohammed Shahid Uddin Khan, 55, of Wimbledon, south-west London, was a former colonel in the Bangladeshi army.

He is facing jail in his homeland after his Dhaka property was raided by counter-terrorism police in January.

According to British paper The Sunday Times, Mr Khan has donated £20,000 (Dh93,395) to the Conservative party and has lived in the UK capital since 2009, when he bought a multimillion-pound “golden visa” to ensure he and his family could stay in the country.

Bangadeshi police say they found detonators, weapons, radical literature linked to Al Qaeda and fake Bangladeshi currency in Mr Khan’s home.

Full report at:

https://www.thenational.ae/world/europe/british-tory-party-donor-charged-for-funding-terrorism-1.866540

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South Asia

 

UN says Taliban captives in Afghanistan subjected to abuse

May 26, 2019

KABUL, Afghanistan: The UN says Taliban captives in Afghanistan have been subjected to abuse, ill-treatment and actions that may amount to torture.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan says it interviewed 13 detainees from a group of 53 recently rescued from the Taliban. They were mainly members of the Afghan forces but also civilians and government officials captured by the Taliban.

The group was freed on April 25 when Afghan troops raided a Taliban-run detention facility in the Khas Uruzgan district in southern Uruzgan province.

The UNAMA statement, released on Sunday, says most of the captives were held since 2018, with three since 2016. It says they were kept in poor conditions and subjected to forced labor. The statement cites the detainees as saying that the Taliban killed some of their captives.

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1502211/world

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19 Taliban militants killed in Paktika and Ghazni operations

26 May 2019

The Afghan Special Forces carried out an operation in south-eastern Paktika province of Afghanistan killing at least 15 Taliban militants.

“An Afghan special forces raid in Bermal district resulted in 15 Taliban fighters killed and large amount of weapons and explosives destroyed,” the informed military sources said Sunday.

In the meantime, the security forces carried out an airstrike in south-eastern Ghazni province killing at least four Taliban militants.

“A strike in Andar district of Ghazni killed 4 Taliban fighters and destroyed 1 vehicle,” the sources added.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/19-taliban-militants-killed-in-paktika-and-ghazni-operations-03491/

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Airstrikes pound Taliban positions amid Afghan Special Forces raid in Helmand

27 May 2019

A series of airstrikes were carried out in southern Helmand province killing at least 6 Taliban fighters.

The informed military sources said Sunday that an airstrike in Musa Qala district killed 4 Taliban fighters.

The sources further added that the security forces carried out a similar airstrike in Sangin district killing at least two Taliban fighters.

The security forces carried out the airstrikes amid ongoing operations of the Afghan Special Forces. “In an Afghan special forces raid in Nad ‘Ali district, 14 IEDs, 250kg of explosives, IED components and weapons were destroyed,” the sources said.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/airstrikes-pound-taliban-positions-amid-afghan-special-forces-raid-in-helmand-03495/

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15 Taliban militants in central parts of Afghanistan

26 May 2019

The Afghan Special Forces conducted an operation in central Wardak province of Afghanistan killing at least 4 Taliban fighters, the security officials said Sunday.

“An Afghan special forces operation in Jalrayz district resulted in 3 Taliban fighters killed and 9 detained,” the officials said.

The security officials further added that “Afghan forces killed 12 Taliban fighters during at attack on a checkpoint in Muhammad Agahah district of Logar province.”

The anti-government armed militants including Taliban have not commented regarding the operation and clash in Logar and Wardak provinces so far.

Both Logar and Wardak are among the relatively volatile provinces in South of Afghanistan.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/15-taliban-militants-in-central-parts-of-afghanistan-03492/

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Myanmar frees soldiers jailed for Rohingya killings after less than a year

May 27, 2019

Myanmar has granted early release to seven soldiers jailed for the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim men and boys during a 2017 military crackdown in the western state of Rakhine, two prison officials, two former fellow inmates and one of the soldiers told Reuters.

The soldiers were freed in November last year, the two inmates said, meaning they served less than one year of their 10-year prison terms for the killings at Inn Din village.

They also served less jail time than two Reuters reporters who uncovered the killings. The journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, spent more than 16 months behind bars on charges of obtaining state secrets. The two were released in an amnesty on May 6.

Win Naing, the chief warden at Rakhine's Sittwe Prison, and a senior prison official in the capital, Naypyitaw, confirmed that the convicted soldiers had not been in prison for some months.

"Their punishment was reduced by the military," said the senior Naypyitaw official, who declined to be named.

Both prison officials declined to provide further details and said they did not know the exact date of the release, which was not announced publicly.

The seven soldiers were the only security personnel the military has said it has punished over the 2017 operation in Rakhine, which drove more than 730,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee to Bangladesh. UN investigators said the crackdown was executed with "genocidal intent" and included mass killings, gang rapes and widespread arson.

Myanmar denies widespread wrongdoing and officials have pointed to the jailing of the seven soldiers in the Inn Din case as evidence Myanmar security forces do not enjoy impunity.

"I would say that we took action against every case we could investigate," the military's commander in chief, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, told officials from the UN Security Council in April last year, according to an account posted on his personal website.

The army chief cited the Inn Din case specifically. "The latest crime we punished was a killing, and ten years’ imprisonment was given to seven perpetrators," he said. "We will not forgive anyone if they commit (a) crime."

Reached by phone on Thursday, a man named Zin Paing Soe confirmed that he was one of the seven soldiers and that he was now free, but declined to comment further. "We were told to shut up," he said.

On Sept. 1, 2017, soldiers and some villagers detained a group of 10 Rohingya. The military said the men were "terrorists"; their family members said they were farmers, high school students and an Islamic teacher.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/05/27/596999/Rohingya-Muslims-Myanmar-army-soldiers-release-killing

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Afghan officials: 10 wounded in Kabul minibus bombing

May 27, 2019

KABUL: Afghan officials say 10 people were wounded when a sticky bomb attached to a minibus carrying government workers detonated in the capital of Kabul.

Police spokesman Ferdus Faramarz says one of the wounded is in critical condition.

Arab Haidari, from the religious affairs ministry, says all the wounded are ministry’s employees who were on their way to work when the explosion took place on Monday morning.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack but both the Taliban and Daesh militants regularly stage attacks in Kabul.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1502601/world

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Mass iftar at Bangladesh mosque shows true Ramadan spirit

May 26, 2019

DHAKA: As the Asr prayer comes to an end, Andorkillah Shahi Mosque in Chattogram develops a festive mood during Ramadan and the junior imams get busy preparing iftar for more than 4,000 fasting Muslims.

The mosque authorities have been distributing free iftar for the past 18 years. Hundreds of Muslims, irrespective of social status or creed, sit in rows and face-to-face to enjoy the iftar provided.

“With the call of the Maghrib prayer, hundreds of fasting Muslims sitting in a row break their fast with the sip of lemon juice. To me it’s a feeling of heavenly life soaked in a sense of fraternity,” said Sayed Anowar Hossain Jabiri Al-Madani, the khateeb of the mosque. 

“I have experienced this mass-iftar arrangement in the Grand Mosque in Makkah and Madinah during my visit to Saudi Arabia, from where the idea crept into my mind. I introduced this mass iftar offering at my mosque in 2001,” Hossain said.

“It costs about $100,000 for the mosque management to provide iftar to devotees during Ramadan. On average, every day we have to spend around $3,000,” said Hossain, who is the chief imam of the mosque. 

Some local businessmen came forward to make Hossain’s dream true, but wanted to remain anonymous as they consider it a small contribution to Muslim devotees. The iftar provided by the mosque contains nine items including juice, dates, piaju (mashed lentils fried with oil), rice, soup, jalebi (a sweetmeat) and samosa (a triangular fried pastry filled with sliced meat or vegetables).

The mosque authority prepares a large portion of the iftar items while some of the items are outsourced. The mosque appoints 10 cooks to make iftar dishes during Ramadan. Starting at 6 a.m., it takes a full day for the cooking team to prepare the items.   “To me it’s not only a job, it is a passion,” Abdul Latif, a member of the cooking team, told Arab News. Latif has been doing this job at the mosque for the past 11 years.

This mass iftar initiative by the 500-year-old mosque creates a sense of amity and brotherhood among the city’s residents.  “I come here every day to have iftar with the hundreds of devotees. It’s an environment of true religious fervor which attracts me most specially at the moment when everybody waits for the prayer call to end the day’s fasting,” said Iqbal Mahmud, a businessman in the city’s new market area.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1502406/world

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