Passengers evacuated from Orly airport southern terminal after a shooting incident near Paris, France March 18, 2016. (Reuters Photo)
Posters Asking Youths to Join ISIS Found In Bihar, Cops on Alert
Paris Airport Attacker Shouted ‘I Am Here to Die, There Will Be Deaths’
'We Will Have None of It:' Fear, Optimism among US Muslims
Priest and Shahi Masjid Imam Awarded For Interreligious Harmony 2017
Missing Nizamuddin Dargah clerics are safe, to come back to Delhi tomorrow: External Affairs Minister
France: President Hollande Reaffirms Determination to Fight Terrorism
Refuge-seekers protest against EU-Turkey deal in Greek island
Eleven candidates confirmed in French presidential race
Kurds rally in Frankfurt for ‘democracy in Turkey’
US Asks Hawaii Judge to Clarify Ruling on Donald Trump Travel Ban
Germany owes NATO 'vast sums': Donald Trump
US man charged with hate crime for assaulting, abusing Indian
Donald Trump looks forward to enhancing understanding with China: Rex Tillerson
US: Man arrested for strobe-light tweet that caused reporter’s seizure
No regret on British link to spying on Donald Trump: White House
Two Taliban ‘Commanders’ Killed In Drone Attack
No desire in US to declare Pakistan terror sponsor: envoy
Six bodies found in Mohmand Agency
Security forces foil terror bid in Balochistan’s Kohlu district
Balochistan cancels registration of 3,250 NGOs under NAP
Islamic banking assets increase in Pakistan
Third Party Should Monitor Work on List of Wanted Terrorists, Kabul Tells Islamabad
16 ISIS Militants Killed In Afghan Commandos Operation In Nangarhar
Clash among Junbish and Jamiat gunmen leaves 4 dead in North of Afghanistan
ISIS spy chief Taj Gul arrested in East of Afghanistan
On time supplies played key role in defeating enemies: Ghani
Deir Ezzur: Over 130 ISIL Terrorists Killed, 2 New Regions Liberated by Army
Islamic State Claims Israel Bombed Jihadist Targets in Egyptian Sinai
Evacuation of last rebel-held district of Syria’s Homs begins
Syrian rebels begin evacuation from besieged neighborhood
Syrian Soldiers Advance along Raqqa-Aleppo Highway, Seize Turkey's Armored Vehicles
Deir Ezzur, ISIL's New Capital: Senior Terrorist Commanders Leaving Raqqa, Mosul
Aleppo: ISIL Besieged in Strategic Town of Deir Hafer
Homs: Army Forces Regain Control of Oilfields in Eastern Palmyra
Syrian Army Wins Back Control of Several More Regions in Eastern Aleppo
WHO Warns of Counterfeit Saudi Medications Sent to Iraq
Police “very close” to strategic western Mosul mosque, commander reiterates
Somalia Blames Saudi-Led Coalition for Deadly Strike on Boat
Cameroon: Nine Killed In Suspected Boko Haram Attack
Air raids kill 18 militants in Egypt’s Sinai
Security in Mali ‘worrying’: UN peacekeeping mission
Egypt condemns attack on mosque in province of Marib
Tanzania to send 500 doctors to Kenya to help cover strike
Malaysia Religious Authorities, Police after Raja Bomoh for Allegedly Tarnishing Islam's Image
Big Thumbs-Down to ‘No Alcohol at Malaysian Bar Functions’ Proposal
PM launches patriotism drive
‘Give ex-prisoners a second chance’
Turkey Threatens to Send Europe '15,000 Refugees Each Month'
Daughter of late Iran president gets 6-month prison sentence
Erdogan sees Turkey parliament restoring capital punishment
Top Commander: Iran Owns Missiles with High Precision Striking Capability
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
Mar 19, 2017
PATNA: Three posters carrying the name of ISIS and asking youths in Bihar to join the terror organisation were found pasted on electric poles at Maoist-infested Sikrauli Bihga village under Nauhatta police station in Rohtas district, around 150km from here, on Saturday.
Police sources said the posters in English claimed that the terror group has its presence in all parts of the country, including Bihar. Logo and photos of ISIS are also there on the posters. Police and intelligence personnel have reached the village to verify the authenticity of the posters.
I won't be surprised if RJD, JDU, Scamgress,TMC, AAP and other pigs join hands with ISIS to form a Mahagathbandhan just to defeat Modiji ........
SHO of Nauhatta police station Sanjay Kumar said the police received information about the posters around 6am. "We have launched an investigation," the SHO added.
Rohtas SP M S Dhillon said the village where the posters have been found pasted is remotely located. "We are trying to find out if any suspicious person reached the village during Holi. Villagers are also being quizzed," he said, adding an FIR has been lodged against unknown persons in connection with recovery of posters. "Household computer printer was used to print the posters," the SP said.
Sub divisional police officer, Dehri, Mohammad Anwar Javed Ansari said the police have seized the posters. He, however, suspected it as foul play by some anti-socials to create fear in minds of people. "The police have been asked to be on extra alert in view of recovery of the posters," the SDPO added.
The Paris prosecutor said that the attacker, Ziyed Ben Belgacem, shouted Islamic slogans, before being fatally shot by security staff.
March 19, 2017
French authorities are treating the attack at Orly airport as a terrorist incident, and have placed three people in custody. The Paris prosecutor said that the attacker, Ziyed Ben Belgacem, shouted Islamic slogans, before being fatally shot by security staff.
“I am here to die for Allah, there will be deaths,” the 39-year-old cried, the RT online reported, adding that he attempted to wrest an assault rifle of a young female air force member on duty at Orly, according to Paris prosecutor Francois Molins, who held a press conference in the French capital on Saturday.
Molins said that Ben Belgacem, who had a string of theft and drug-related convictions, had been radicalised in prison – a fact that had been noted by the authorities at the time – and was on probation prior to the attack.
Earlier, French officials revealed that Ben Belgacem, a French citizen, shot and wounded a police officers, who had attempted to stop him at a checkpoint near Le Bourget, another airport near Paris. He also reportedly carjacked a vehicle, before setting off for Orly, one of the country’s busiest transport hubs.
Molins said that Ben Belgacem carried a can of petrol into the terminal building, which he flung down before engaging in a violent altercation with the air force patrol staff. Two soldiers then intervened, and fired eight bullets in three bursts at the man, killing him instantly. A Koran was found on his body.
BY NOVA SAFO
In a sprawling banquet hall, Ahmed Rehab walked to a lectern facing a glittering group of diners and launched into a searing speech excoriating the Donald Trump administration.
"This fight is not just our fight, it is America's fight," Rehab told the packed room of 1,200 attendees - mostly American Muslims at a fundraiser for the Chicago chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), which Rehab heads.
"As you look at those who are trying to ban good people from coming to this country," Rehab continued, "people who've committed no crime whatsoever other than in their minds the crime of being Muslim... we will have none of it."
The room broke into applause.
The president's efforts to institute a ban on travelers from certain Muslim-majority countries have been met with a strong response from Muslim Americans and their supporters.
But there is also fear that Islamophobia is on the rise, and that the Trump administration may still target Muslims.
"There's a real dread of what's coming next, what's going to happen, who will be targeted," said Louise Cainkar, president of the Arab American Studies Association, and author of a book that examined how Arab and Muslim Americans were affected by policies following the September 11 attacks.
"There's a sense that they're going to once again go after civic organizations, possibly surveil mosques, things that have been done in the past," she said.
What is different now, she said, is that Muslim and Arab groups have established ties with other communities -- and demonstrations against Trump's rhetoric now draw a mix of people from various faiths and backgrounds.
"This is new, and this is really energizing people," she said.
- 'It's just scary' -
At the banquet hall, those listening to Rehab's speech had mixed reactions -- some concerned, others optimistic because of the sense of cooperation with outside groups.
"My kids are all American citizens," explained Fraheen Hashmi, a 36-year-old pharmacist with four young children.
"It's just scary to raise them in this environment," she said, worried that they might grow up embarrassed of their heritage or afraid to identify as Muslim.
Zayna Saadeh was worried, too. The 59-year-old Palestinian immigrant has lived in the United States for 40 years. But now, she keeps the front door of her clothing store locked for fear of xenophobic attacks. She unlocks only when someone rings the doorbell.
"We're not stranger(s)," in the United States she said, but"that's how we feel a lot of times right now."
Advocacy groups have reported a sharp rise in hate crimes.
Anti-Muslim groups nearly tripled last year, according to an annual census by the Southern Poverty Law Center. And in 2015, hate crimes against Muslims increased 67 percent, according to the FBI.
Those numbers may be going up, amid increasing reports of new incidents.
Last month, an arson fire damaged a Florida mosque, and a Kansas man was accused of shooting two Indian immigrants who he perceived as Middle Easterners, killing one.
This week, the Islamic Center of Tucson reported that a vandal had scattered ripped up copies of the Quran, Islam's holy text, around the mosque.
- 'Best of America' -
But there has also been a rallying response from Muslim groups and supporters, as Muslim-Americans have felt more scrutiny and threats.
During his speech at the banquet hall, Rehab pointed to new allies in the room -- non-Muslim lawyers who helped travelers during Trump's ill-fated first attempt at a ban that triggered chaos at American airports until it was halted by US courts.
"My friends, you are the best of America," he said.
Other attendees echoed that optimism.
"The negative could be turned into a positive, and I think that's what we're seeing now," said Akif Ali, a 36-year-old born in Houston.
"The best part is that the American public themselves have become very generous to us," added Saqib Khan, a US-born lawyer of Pakistani descent.
- 'Rapidly mobilizing' -
One evidence of the growing support was a gathering at Chicago's Grace Place Episcopal Church, where about 30 people -- many community activists for various other causes -- attended a presentation billed as a teach-in about Islamophobia.
Sofia Sami, dressed in the traditional Muslim head covering known as the hijab, stepped in front of a projection screen to help lead the group.
They watched samples of news coverage, discussed their own perceptions, and considered ways rhetoric shapes policies.
Two hours later as people cleared out, Sami reflected on how American politics are changing.
"A lot of people who aren't Muslims are watching the news and seeking ways to support," said the 24-year-old first generation American of Indian descent.
CAIR, Rehab's group, has expanded its capacity in Chicago to take on hundreds of new volunteers, grown its network of schools, mosques and community centers and held know-your-rights training sessions.
"These are definitely times that are rapidly mobilizing the Muslim community, or co-strugglers of color and allies," said CAIR spokeswoman Hoda Katebi.
LAHORE: An award for how interreligious harmony is carried out in daily work, a work that is an example for the entire African continent: with these reasons the African section of the United Religions Initiative international organisation has given the Award for Interreligious Harmony 2017 to Dominican priest James Channan and Abdul Khabir Azad, the Imam of the Shahi Masjid in Lahore, one of the largest in Asia.
Speaking to Fides, Fr James says: "It is a recognition of the work to promote interreligious dialogue in Pakistan and around the world and to promote a culture of peace, justice, reconciliation and dialogue. Recognitions like this feed the courage and daily work in order to break the walls of hatred between Christians and Muslims, and to build bridges of trust and respect.”
Fr Channan, who is director of the Peace Centre in Lahore and regional coordinator for South Asia of the United Religions Initiative organisation, has been working closely with Abdul Khabir Azad for over 20 years. The two have visited numerous countries in the world to promote Islamic-Christian dialogue.
"I thank God for the gift of my vocation to priesthood and to the Dominican Order because it gives me the opportunity to work for this important apostolate in Pakistan and around the world.
“I thank the Dominican Order because it supports every step in this field," says Fr Channan.
On the current situation of Pakistan, marred by terrorism, Fr Channan reaffirms his commitment to "promote, with all men and women of good will, peace, justice, harmony to make Pakistan a better country in which all citizens, of any religion, can live peacefully".
Deoband Cleric, Masood Madni, Held For Rape
Written by Ishita Mishra | Agra | Updated: March 19, 2017
A Muslim cleric was arrested in an alleged rape case on Saturday in Deoband area of Saharanpur district. The woman — in her twenties and a resident of Jind district in Haryana — in her complaint against Maulana Masood Madni, who is in his forties, said that he raped her on the pretext of performing a “ritual” which could help her bear children. Police have sent the woman for medical examination to confirm rape. The accused, meanwhile, was produced before court and sent to jail.
Senior Superintenent of Police (SSP) of the area, Luv Kumar, said Madni is the brother of Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind general secretary Maulana Mehmood Madni.
Security has been tightened in Deoband to maintain law and order following the arrest of Masood Madni. “The woman has alleged that she had been to a mazar (a place of worship) in Deoband seeking divine help
for a child. She said she has been married for six years. She allegedly met a person at the mazar who suggested that she meet with Maulana Masood Madni, and referred to him as a “spiritual doctor” who may help her conceive. The woman and her husband approached Madni and shared their numbers too,” said the SSP.
On Friday, according to the complaint, Madni called the woman for some ritual to his house in Deoband and asked her to come alone. “The woman alleged that she was administered a sedative and then raped. We have lodged an FIR under IPC Section 376 (rape) against the accused,” added the SSP.
Missing Nizamuddin Dargah Clerics Are Safe, To Come Back To Delhi Tomorrow: External Affairs Minister
The two Indian clerics of Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah, who went missing from Karachi, are safe and will be back in Delhi tomorrow, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj confirmed on Sunday. “I just spoke to Syed Nazim Ali Nizami in Karachi. He told me that they are safe and will be back in Delhi tomorrow,” she wrote on Twitter.
The latest development comes a day after the Pakistan government conveyed to the the Indian High Commission in Islamabad that they have been “traced and have reached Karachi”. Swaraj had earlier spoke to Pakistan PM’s adviser on foreign affairs Sartaj Aziz regarding the issue and sought his help in tracing the two.
On Saturday, it was reported that Syed Asif Nizami, head priest (Sajjadanashin) of Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia Dargah in Delhi, and his nephew Syed Nazim Nizami were in custody of Pakistan’s intelligence agency over their alleged links with Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM). According to reports, both were offloaded from Karachi-bound Shaheen Airlines on March 14 at the Allama Iqbal International Airport in Lahore.
Also Read: Indian clerics ‘traced, reached Karachi’: Pakistan
Speaking to The Indian Express from Karachi on Saturday evening, Syed Wazir Nizami, their host in that city, had said, “The authorities informed us about two hours ago that they had gone to visit their followers in interior Sindh, but due to no cellular service, they were unable to get in touch with us. They are yet to reach home.”
Syed Asif is Syed Wazir’s maternal uncle, and Syed Nazim is his cousin. In Delhi, Asif Ali Nizam’s son Amir said they had received a call from the Home Ministry, informing them that the duo had been traced and released.
France: President Hollande reaffirms determination to fight terrorism
Hollande welcomed the courage and efficiency shown by the police and the military in the face of the attacks committed by a dangerous individual.
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French President Francois Hollande reaffirmed on Saturday the state’s determination to “fight terrorism, defend the security of our compatriots and to ensure the protection of the territory” after a man was shot dead after trying to seize a weapon from a soldier at Orly airport, his office said. In a communique released by the presidency, Hollande welcomed the courage and efficiency shown by the police and the military in the face of the attacks committed by a dangerous individual, Xinhua reported.
The anti-terrorist section of the Paris Public Prosecution has started an investigation to shed full light on the motivations and circumstances of these acts and on possible complicities, added the communique.
The level of vigilance will be maintained at its highest and Sentinelle Operation has demonstrated once again its usefulness in addition to the police and gendarmerie forces, it said.
At about 8.30 a.m., the man was trying to seize weapon from a soldier of Sentinelle operation at Orly south terminal, but he did not succeed and was neutralised.
It was believed that at about 6.55 a.m. on Saturday, the man had shot at three police agents when they were trying to check his car near Stains, north of the Paris region, before fleeing. He was seen later at Vitry-sur-Seine in the southeastern suburbs of Paris, for car-jacking before leaving to Orly airport.
French Interior Minister Bruno Le Roux confirmed earlier that the assailant was known to the police and intelligence services.
About 3,000 passengers were evacuated from Orly south terminal. No explosive was found during the clearance operation.
The demonstration came two days after EU officials hailed the progress achieved in dealing with the refugee influx over the past year.
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Refugee children shout slogans during a demonstration against racism in Athens, Greece, March 18, 2017. REUTERS/Michalis Karagiannis
Over 2,000 refugees, migrants and locals launched a protest on the Greek island of Lesvos on Saturday to protest against the EU-Turkey agreement enforced last March to stem the refugee-migrant flows to Europe. “Freedom”, “Stop deportation” were among the main slogans shouted by refugee seekers from many countries including Syria, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, Xinhua reported.
During a tour at refugee accommodation facilities on the Aegean Sea island on Thursday, European Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos said the successful implementation of the EU-Turkey deal was proved by the reduction of migrants crossing the Aegean sea from about 10,000 per day to less than 100 per day.
UNHCR said more than 20,000 refugees and migrants have arrived in the Aegean islands of Greece since March 20, 2016 when the EU-Turkey deal began to be implemented. Of the total arrivals, about half of them landed in Lesvos which received the bulk of the one million refugee arrivals from early 2015 to early 2016.
The EU said under the EU-Turkey agreement, 916 people had been turned back to Turkey as of March 16.
Mar 18, 2017
PARIS: Eleven candidates have been approved to run for French president, the country's Constitutional Council announced Saturday, a month before the vote.
The eleven received the 500-plus signatures from mayors needed to compete in the first round of the election on April 23, the council's president Laurent Fabius said.
With no candidate expected to win an outright majority at the first round, the two top contenders will go through to a decisive run-off on May 7.
On Monday evening, five main candidates will go head-to-head in the first of three TV debates.
They are: far-right leader Marine Le Pen, centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron, Republicans nominee Francois Fillon, the Socialist Party's Benoit Hamon and Communist-backed candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon.
The other six candidates, none of whom is expected to garner over five percent, include a Trotskyist economy teacher, an anti-American nationalist convinced the European Union is an CIA-backed plot and a conspiracy theorist who has called in the past for a "thermo-nuclear corridor" between Earth and Mars.
Some of the participants carried flags and banners of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, as well as portraits of Kurdish nationalist leader Abdullah Ocalan.
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People hold placards during a demonstration organised by Kurds, in Frankfurt, Germany, March 18, 2017. (REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski)
Some 30,000 demonstrators, who police said were mainly of Kurdish origin, rallied in Frankfurt today calling for “democracy in Turkey” and “freedom for Kurdistan”. Significantly more people turned up than organisers had been expecting for the rally which took place on the Kurdish New Year’s Day. Militants in Turkey have for decades been seeking greater rights and autonomy for the nation’s Kurdish minority. Today’s protest march in Frankfurt went off peacefully, a police spokesman said.
Some of the participants carried flags and banners of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), as well as portraits of Kurdish nationalist leader Abdullah Ocalan.
Police said no banners or flags were confiscated so as to not provoke the crowd, but added that photos had been taken which could lead to future prosecutions.
The PKK has been waging an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984 that has killed over 40,000 people.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday accused German Chancellor Angela Merkel of “supporting terrorists”, part of a spiralling diplomatic row.
Turkey has long accused Germany of providing refuge to Kurdish and other militants.
A Merkel spokesman described Erdogan’s jibe as “clearly absurd”.
Erdogan has also accused Germany of “Nazi practices” for blocking his ministers from speaking to Turkish voters ahead of an April referendum on boosting his powers.
Germany is home to the largest Turkish diaspora in the world, as well as a significant Kurdish community.
US asks Hawaii judge to clarify ruling on Donald Trump travel ban
Watson's ruling concluded there was "significant and unrebutted evidence of religious animus" behind the travel ban
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The government is asking a federal judge to clarify his order blocking President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban, arguing it shouldn’t apply to a global freeze on refugees entering the United States. A Justice Department motion filed yesterday asks US District Judge Derrick Watson to clarify that the temporary restraining order only applies to the president’s temporary ban on travel from six mostly Muslim countries.
Watson issued a 43-page ruling on Wednesday after Hawaii requested he block enforcement of Trump’s executive order, which the government calls a national security measure and critics call an unconstitutional and bigoted attempt to bar Muslims from entering the country. Watson’s ruling concluded there was “significant and unrebutted evidence of religious animus” behind the travel ban, including the president’s own campaign comments regarding Muslims.
Legal Blow To Donald Trump Administration, Hawaii Judge Halts New Travel Ban
He said Hawaii would suffer financially if the executive order constricted the flow of students and tourists to the state. In seeking clarification, the Justice Department argued that the lawsuit “failed to meaningfully challenge” another section of Trump’s order that bars refugees from traveling to the United States for 120 days and caps the number that will be allowed into the US this fiscal year at 50,000 â€” a drop of nearly half. The cap “draws no distinction whatsoever on the basis of religion,” government lawyers argued in a filing. Opponents have argued that if that aspect of the ban takes effect, 60,000 people would be stranded in war-torn countries with nowhere else to go.
WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump on Saturday accused Germany of owing "vast sums of money" to NATO, and said Berlin should pay Washington more for defense, a day after meeting Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The two leaders showed little common ground Friday over a host of thorny issues, including NATO and defense spending.
Today, Trump tweeted: "Germany owes vast sums of money to NATO & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!"
During their joint news conference yesterday, Trump -- who has criticized NATO as "obsolete" -- demanded that America's allies in the military alliance pay back "vast sums of money from past years."
Merkel said Germany had committed to increasing its military spending to the previously agreed level of two percent of GDP for NATO's European members.
As usual, maybe the delivery is not "politically correct", but Trump is right - even Merkel has admitted this "....Merkel said Germany had committed to increasing its military spendin... Read More
Trump set the tone for his relations with Merkel during his campaign last year, saying her decision to allow refugees into Germany was a "catastrophic mistake" and suggested she was "ruining Germany."
He also lashed out at the news media on Saturday. "Despite what you have heard from the FAKE NEWS," he tweeted, "I had a GREAT meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel."
Jeffrey Allen Burgess, 54, has been accused of intentionally harming Ankur Mehta on November 22 because of his "perceived race, colour and national origin".
March 18, 2017
Jeffrey Allen Burgess, 54, of Bethel Park, Pennsylvania, has been accused of intentionally harming a man named Ankur Mehta on November 22 because of his “perceived race, colour and national origin” (Youtube Screengrab/Tomo News US)
An American man has been charged with hate crime for assaulting an Indian-origin man and hurling racial slurs, mistaking him for a Muslim. Jeffrey Allen Burgess, 54, of Bethel Park, Pennsylvania, has been accused of intentionally harming a man named Ankur Mehta on November 22 because of his “perceived race, colour and national origin”. A federal grand jury on Thursday indicted Burgess of a hate crime charge in connection with the alleged assault at a Red Robin restaurant in South Hills Village, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Tom Wheeler of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and acting US Attorney Soo C Song for the Western District of Pennsylvania announced the indictment. At the time of the incident, police said, Burgess was sitting next to Mehta inside the Red Robin restaurant when he began insulting him and then repeatedly elbowed him in the head. “I don’t want you sitting next to me…you people,” Burgess was quoted as saying by witnesses in addition to his anti-Muslim racial slurs, according to a criminal complaint filed by Bethel Park police.
Witnesses told police Burgess struck Mehta four or five times and called him a “(expletive) Muslim,” according to the complaint. Mehta was treated at St. Clair Hospital for a laceration to the upper lip and a loose tooth. Mehta is of Indian descent, police said. In addition to the slurs, Burgess told Mehta “things are different now,” police said, which authorities believe was a reference to the election of Donald Trump. If convicted Burgess faces a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years of prison, a fine of USD 250,000 or both.
Burgess also faces state charges of ethnic intimidation, public drunkenness and simple assault stemming from the same incident. The indictment of Burgess comes amid a series of suspected hate crime cases targeting Indian-Americans. On February 22, Indian nationals Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani were shot at a bar in Olathe, Kansas, by a man shouting “get out of my country”. Kuchibhotla, 32, later died at a hospital. On March 3, a Sikh American was shot and injured in Kent, Washington, by a gunman who reportedly told him to “go back to your own country.”
The US Secretary of State also said the US President Donald Trump places a "very high value on the communications that have already occurred" between Xi Ping and himself.
Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. (Reuters)
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sunday that President Donald Trump looks forward to enhancing understanding with China and the opportunity for a visit in the future. Xi said he was glad to see good progress from Tillerson’s meetings in China so far and that he and Trump expect a new stage of constructive development in bilateral relations. Tillerson said Trump places a “very high value on the communications that have already occurred” between Xi and Trump. “He looks forward to enhancing that understanding in the opportunity for a visit in the future,” Tillerson said. “We know that through further dialogue we will achieve a greater understanding that will lead to a strengthening of the ties between China and the United States, and set the tone for our future relationship of cooperation.”
Xi said Tillerson had made a lot efforts to achieve a smooth transition in this new era of relations. “You said that China-U.S. relations can only be friendly. I express my appreciation for this,” Xi said. Xi added he had communicated with Trump several times. “We both believe that China-U.S. cooperation henceforth is the directions we are both striving for. We are both expecting a new era for constructive development.”
Tillerson and Xi were meeting in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People at the end of Tillerson’s first visit to China after taking office last month. There was no mention of contentious issues like North Korea’s missile and nuclear programmes or self-ruled Taiwan, which China claims as its own. North Korea conducted a test of a new high-thrust engine at its Tongchang-ri rocket launch station and leader Kim Jong Un said the successful test was “a new birth” of its rocket industry, Pyongyang’s official media said on Sunday.
North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests and a series of missile launches, in defiance of U.N. sanctions, and is believed by experts and government officials to be working to develop nuclear-warhead missiles that could reach the United States. Washington wants China, the North’s neighbour and main trading partner, to use its influence to rein in the weapons programmes.
The man has been arrested on charges that he intentionally used an animated tweet to trigger an epileptic seizure in a Newsweek reporter who had been critical of President Donald Trump.
The reporter, Kurt Eichenwald, was at his home office in Dallas on December 15 when he clicked on a Twitter message sent him by a man using the pseudonym “@jew_goldstein.”
A Maryland man has been arrested on federal charges that he intentionally used an animated tweet to trigger an epileptic seizure in a Newsweek reporter who had been critical of President Donald Trump. The reporter, Kurt Eichenwald, was at his home office in Dallas on December 15 when he clicked on a Twitter message sent him by a man using the pseudonym “@jew_goldstein.” A blinding strobe light began flashing on his screen, sending Eichenwald — who has openly discussed his epilepsy — into a seizure. His wife found him on the floor.
The Justice Department said yesterday that it had arrested John R Rivello, 29, of Salisbury, Maryland, on a criminal complaint from Texas charging him with cyberstalking with the intent to kill or cause bodily harm. If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison. An affidavit filed with the complaint said that a search of Rivello’s Twitter account showed he had sent other messages about Eichenwald saying “I know he has epilepsy” and “I hope this sends him into a seizure.”
The authorities also found an altered Wikipedia page in Rivello’s iCloud account that showed a fake obituary for Eichenwald with a death date of December 16. Eichenwald’s lawyer Steven Lieberman said the use of a strobe light against a known epileptic was “no different than a bomb sent in the mail or anthrax sent in an envelope,” according to The New York Times, where Eichenwald spent years as an investigative reporter.
That made the incident different from other cyberstalking cases, where the intent is to cause psychological — not explicitly physical — harm. Eichenwald, 55, has some 319,000 Twitter followers. He had been critical of Trump throughout the presidential campaign last year. When his wife found him on the floor on December 15, she first called 911, and then alerted the authorities to the message from “@jew_goldstein.”
Eichenwald was incapacitated for days, lost feeling in one hand, and had trouble speaking for weeks, his lawyer told The Times. Since the attack, Eichenwald said, 40 more accounts have sent him strobe lights. He has passed their information to the FBI.
GCHQ, the British Electronic Intelligence Agency, had yesterday said such a report of spying on Trump was utterly "ridiculous" and should be ignored.
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The White House has expressed no “regret” in citing an uncorroborated news report that alleged a British intelligence agency, on behalf of the then US President Barack Obama, spied on Donald Trump when he was the presidential candidate.
“I don’t think we regret anything. We literally listed a litany of media reports that are in the public domain,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters soon after a joint news conference of US President Trump and visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“We just reiterated the fact that we were just simply reading media accounts. That’s it,” he said in response to a question amidst reports that the White House has apologised to Britain for Spicer making such an allegation of wiretapping against them.
GCHQ, the British Electronic Intelligence Agency, had yesterday said such a report of spying on Trump was utterly “ridiculous” and should be ignored.
Two Taliban ‘commanders’ killed in drone attack
DERA ISMAIL KHAN: Two ‘commanders’ of the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) were killed when an unmanned aircraft targeted a moving car in Afghanistan’s Paktika province along the border with South Waziristan Agency.
Sources said on Saturday that a US drone targeted the car in the Narr area close to the border, killing local Taliban ‘commanders’ Haroon Shuikhel Wazir and Azmat Mahsud. The former belonged to the Akhtar Mohammad group of the TTP in North Waziristan Agency.
The sources said that the attack took place at around 4pm on Friday.
The funeral prayers for the two were held in the Laman area near the border. They said that a large number of tribesmen displaced from South Waziristan, who are settled in the Laman area, attended the funeral prayers.
March 19th, 2017
WASHINGTON: Pakistan’s new envoy in Washington, Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhary, has said there’s no desire in the United States to declare Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism as both countries want to continue their longstanding relationship.
But former president Asif Ali Zardari saw a clear breach of faith in the US-Pakistan partnership and urged Pakistan to carry more of its own weight while increasing military and commercial cooperation with its allies.
Talking to Pakistani journalists at the embassy on Friday afternoon, Ambassador Chaudhary emphasised the need for re-establishing a multilateral forum, like the Quadrilateral Coordination Group, for reviving the Afghan peace talks.
In a piece he wrote for the Forbes magazine, Mr Zardari noted that the United States had invested billions of dollars in Pakistan since 9/11 attacks, which brought greater stability in the country but the “well of goodwill from which we [Pakistan] can draw is not endless”.
Responding to a question at his briefing, Mr Chaudhary said there’s “a tiny minority” in Washington, which keeps raising this issue of declaring Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism “but the bulk of American polity sees Pakistan as a partner in the war against terrorism”.
Mr Zardari also saw a common ground and urged the United States to “continue to be Pakistan’s partner” as “the terrorists who attack our people are the same who attack Americans and other innocents,” he wrote. Ambassador Chaudhary and Mr Zardari both emphasised the historic nature of a multifaceted relationship between the US and Pakistan and both also hoped that the new administration in Washington would strengthen this partnership.
Mr Chaudhary linked this desire to recent developments in Pakistan, and pointed out that the country was on the verge of an economic take-off and it was in the interest of both countries to forge a closer relationship.
He noted that Pakistan had eliminated almost all terrorist safe havens from Fata [Federally Administered Tribal Areas], an achievement also appreciated by the US lawmakers and generals who have visited the area. The military operation in the area allowed more than 90 per cent of the internally displaced people to return home, he said.
Mr Chaudhary spoke about the Taliban terrorists slipping over to Afghanistan during Operation Zarb-i-Azb and how they keep coming back to Pakistan to attack schools, hospitals and shrines.
He described the temporary closure of Pak-Afghan border as part of a concerted plan for stopping the cross-border attacks. “This is border management, necessary to combat terrorists, not border closure,” he said and invited Afghanistan to jointly manage this border to stop cross-border attacks.
He referred to a recent meeting between Adviser on Foreign Affairs and Afghan National Security Adviser in London, which, he hoped, would lead to closer coordination between the governments in Islamabad and Kabul.
Mr Chaudhary said that Pakistan was well on its way to a future of peace and prosperity. “An improved security situation and the economic reforms have led to a revival of the economy which is now growing at the rate of 4.7pc. And all economic indicators are pointing upwards,” he said.
FAUZEE KHAN MOHMAND
GHALANAI: The bullet-riddled bodies of six unidentified men were found in Michni, a hilly area of Ekkaghound in the Mohmand tribal region, on Saturday, said an official of the political administration.
Security sources said that the men were killed during a clash with security forces in Michni. They claimed that the clash occurred after militants attacked security forces in the area.
Officials of the local administration shifted the bodies to the agency’s headquarters hospital in Ghalanai for post-mortem and identification of the deceased.
A source in the hospital said that the men appeared to be aged between 22 and 35 years.
It may be mentioned here that two suicide bombers attacked the FC training school in Michni on Friday in which one soldier of Frontier Constabulary was killed and three others were injured.
SYED ALI SHAH
Security forces on Saturday foiled a terror bid by seizing a significant quantity of arms and explosives in Balochistan’s Kohlu district.
“The Frontier Corps (FC) and personnel of a intelligence agency conducted a raid and recovered 28 kilograms of explosives, six rockets and other weapons,” said a security official.
The official added that the compound which was raided belonged to “miscreants of an outlawed militant organisation”.
No arrest was made during the raid.
In a separate incident, FC forces and personnel of an intelligence agency arrested four suspected militants during a raid in Quetta’s Smungli area.
Security forces claimed to have recovered five SMGs, three rockets and other weapons from their possession.
The government of Balochistan on Thursday cancelled the registration of 3,250 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) under the National Action Plan (NAP).
Registration of the NGOs was cancelled during a scrutiny process and after checking their documents, said Saira Atta, an official of the Balochistan Industries Department.
The NGOs were registered with the industries and social welfare departments of the provincial government.
“Repeated notices were issued to the NGOs to submit their registration documents and they failed to do so,” said Atta.
The official added that the more than 4,000 NGOs were operating in Balochistan.
"NGOs need to be scrutinised and checked", Amjad Rasheed, a development expert based in Quetta said.
The development expert added that some NGOs were doing good work and they need to be encouraged to better the socio-economic indicators in the province.
The scrutiny was launched by the provincial government after the implementation of NAP. During the verification process, it was found that most NGOs merely existed on paper.
In 2015, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had said that no NGO working against the country's national interest will be allowed to continue its work in Pakistan.
March 19, 2017
KARACHI: Islamic banks’ assets inched up 11.7 per cent in Pakistan in the fourth quarter of 2016 on higher financing to the private sector, the central bank said on Saturday.
The assets’ share of the Shariah-compliant lenders in overall banking industry stood at 11.4 per cent at the end of December 2015.
The State Bank of Pakistan’s (SBP) bulletin on Islamic banking said assets of Islamic banking industry (IBI) registered a growth of 15.1 per cent to reach Rs1.853 trillion during October-December 2016, compared with Rs1.610 trillion in the correspond period of previous year.
Analysts said Islamic banks continued to capture credit opportunities in textile, agribusiness and chemical and pharmaceuticals sectors.
However, banks’ investments in the government securities decreased 26.1 per cent during the quarter mainly due to maturity and Bai Muajjal of Sukuk transaction of IBIs with the government.
The net investments of IBI were recorded at Rs490 billion, compared to Rs663 billion in the previous quarter.
The SBP’s report said deposits of IBI increased 14.4 per cent year-on-year in October-December 2016.
The deposits stood at Rs1.573 trillion against Rs1.375 trillion a year earlier.
The market share of Islamic banks’ deposits showed a stagnant growth to stand at 13.3 per cent in fourth quarter of last year.
It is pertinent to mention here that overall banking industry’s advances to deposits ratio stood at 46.6 per cent by end December 2016.
Meanwhile, Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) of Pakistan on Saturday said it will add around 2,485 megawatts by the next year after the completion of three hydropower projects in order to ease the power crisis.
The projects are expected to complete between this yearend and the mid of 2018.
The projects include 969MW-Neelum Jhelum hydropower plants, 1,410MW-Tarbela 4th extension and 106MW-Golen Gol hydropower plants.
Third party should monitor work on list of wanted terrorists, Kabul tells Islamabad
Sun Mar 19 2017
The Afghan government officials have proposed that a third party should help, verify, and monitor work on the lists of the most wanted terrorists exchanged between Kabul and Islamabad.
The National Security Adviser Mohammad Hanif Atmar quoted by a local newspaper in Pakistan said the Afghan government’s key proposal among the others is that the two sides should work and cooperate.
Atmar further added that a third party must help in verifying and monitoring the work to be done on the lists of the terrorists.
According to Atmar, progress has been made in this regard so that the work should be done in the framework of the mechanism of cooperation between the two countries.
This comes as the Pakistani military summoned a number of the Afghan embassy officials last month and handed over a list of at least 76 terrorists which they claim are having sanctuaries in Afghanistan.
The Afghan government also handed over a list of at least 85 terrorists and several of their hideouts in Pakistan in response to Pakistan’s demands.
The Afghan officials are saying that the key leaders of the Taliban and the notorious Haqqani terrorist network are based in Peshawar and Quetta cities of Pakistan from where they plan and coordinate attacks in Afghanistan.
16 ISIS militants killed in Afghan commandos operation in Nangarhar
Sat Mar 18 2017
At least sixteen militants affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group were killed during an operation conducted by the commando forces of the Afghan National Army in eastern Nangarhar province.
The 201st Silab Corps of the Afghan National Army (ANA) forces in a statement said a special operation was conducted by ANA commando forces in the vicinity of Kot district.
The statement further added that the operation was conducted with the support of the air power and several villages were cleared as a result of the operation.
At least four Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) were also confiscated during the operations, the 201st Silban Corps said.
The Afghan security forces and the local residents did not suffer any casualties during the operation, the source said.
This comes as both the Afghan and US forces conducted regular strikes against the loyalists of the terror group in this province.
The increased raids, usually involving drone strikes, by the US forces followed a broader role granted by the Obama administration earlier last year.
The broader role was granted amid concerns that the loyalists of the terror group are attempting to expand foothold in the country and turn the eastern Nangarhar province into a regional operational hub for its fighters.
At least four people were killed during a clash between the irresponsible gunmen of Jamiat-e-Islami and Junbish-e-Millie in North of Afghanistan.
According to the local government officials in Faryab, the incident took place late on Saturday afternoon in Maimana city, the provincial capital of the province.
Provincial police spokesman Abdul Karim Yurish confirmed the incident and said at least ten people were also wounded during the clash.
He said a number of the police forces are also among those wounded during the clash.
Yurish further added that the clashes ended with the meddling of the local tribal elders and the situation is under the control at the moment
He also added that an investigation will be launched soon regarding the incident and those involved in the clashes will be introduced to the relevant security and judicial institutions.
This is not the first time clashes have taken place between the two parties as several incidents reported from the northern parts of the country, specifically the Faryab province last year.
The Junbish-e-Millie Party is led by the Second Vice President General Abdul Rashid Dostum while Jamiat-e-Islami is led mainly by the former northern alliance leaders, including Ata Mohammad Noor.
The spy chief of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group offshoot in Afghanistan has been arrested by the security forces.
The provincial police commandment in Nangarhar said Taj Gul was arrested during an operation conducted in Haska Mina district.
The Afghan National Police (ANP) Special Forces also arrested another suspect having links with the terror group and a pistol, three mobile phones, and a laptop were confiscated.
In the meantime, at least three militants were wounded after attacking some check posts in Pacher Agam district, the police commandment said, adding that the local residents and security forces did not suffer any casualties during the operations.
Nangarhar is among the relatively calm provinces in eastern Afghanistan but the anti-government armed militant groups have recently increased their insurgency activities in some parts of the province during the recent years.
This comes as the Afghan forces are busy conducting counter-terrorism operations in the restive districts of Nangarhar under the Shaheen-25 operations launched several weeks ago.
The operations are being conducted with the support of the US forces based in Afghanistan who are providing close-air support under a broader role granted by the Obama administration earlier last year to target the terrorist groups in the country.
President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has called on time supplies to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces as a key factor in defeating the enemies of the country.
In telephone conversation with senior military commanders in Faryab and Kunar, President Ghani hailed the defense forces for their bravery in ending sieges created by the militants.
The senior commanders briefed President Ghani regarding the military operations and supplies delivered to the defense forces in the areas under their control.
The Afghan Air Force plays a key role in delivery of the supplies to the ground forces with the current fleet of fixed and rotary wing aircraft.
The Air Force performs scores of sorties on daily basis with majority of them comprising cargo delivery, according to the Afghan Air Force.
The current fleet includes Mi-17 helicopters, C-130 aircraft and some other small aircraft although efforts are underway to further boost the capabilities of the air forces.
In the meantime, the commander of the United States Central Command General Joseph L. Votel has requested the US Congress to approve the budget for the Afghan forces Blackhawk program.
In his statement before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Gen. Votel informed regarding the significant capability gaps in Afghan Air Force, saying “The current rotary wing fleet consisting primarily of the Russian-made Mi-17 is both undersized and proving to be more expensive and difficult to sustain than originally envisioned and is experiencing a higher than expected attrition rate.”
Sat Mar 18, 2017
TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian army launched massive attacks on ISIL and advanced in al-Ma'amel region after repelling the terrorists' offensive on areas near Regiment 137 Base and killing more than 130 militants.
The army units regained control of two districts in al-Ma'amel region after heavy clashes with the ISIL terrorists.
They also killed over 130 terrorists and destroyed 3 of their military vehicles during the clashes to repulse an ISIL attack on areas surrounding Regiment 137 Base.
The Syrian soldiers also killed tens of ISIL militants in artillery and missile attacks against their positions in the Old Airport, al-Hamidiyeh and the Central Park districts.
Meantime, the army forces launched massive attacks on ISIL bases near al-Ta'min Brigade region, destroying two vehicles and inflicting several casualties on the terrorists.
Reports said earlier today that the Syrian army, supported by the air force, repelled two ISIL offensives against their positions near Deir Ezzur airbase and the surrounding areas of Regiment 137, inflicting heavy casualties on the terrorists.
The army units stationed at Deir Ezzur airbase, supported by the Syrian fighter jets, repulsed the ISIL militants' attempts to occupy the region by launching artillery attacks and airstrikes against their moves.
Army reports said one tank, 8 machinegun-equipped vehicles and 2 bomb-laden cars of ISIL were destroyed near al-Ta'min Brigade region and 2 other suicide vehicles were also damaged near al-Ma'amel region.
During the clashes, tens of ISIL terrorists were killed and wounded, the army said.
Also, the army forces fiercely clashed with the ISIL militants who sought to enter the surrounding areas of Regiment 137, inflicting 10 casualties on the terrorists and smashing their machinegun-equipped vehicle.
Meantime, a military source reported that the Syrian soldiers targeted a boat carrying terrorists towards al-Baliqiyeh-Heart Hospital with artillery fire and killed all those on the boat.
by BREITBART JERUSALEM
19 Mar 2017
The Times of Israel reports: Israeli jets bombed Islamic State targets in the Sinai Peninsula Thursday, killing several people, including two children, the jihadist group’s official news outlet claimed Saturday.
The Amaq news agency report said that Israeli planes struck the targets in the northern Sinai, near the cities of Rafah and Sheikh Zuweid. There was no independent confirmation of the report.
The reported airstrike came the same day Israeli Air Force jets struck two Hamas installations in the north of Gaza in response to rocket fire from the territory at Israeli communities. In that incident a rocket landed in an empty field in the Sdot Negev Regional Council near Netivot.
Between 400 and 500 people are expected to leave today, Syrian state television reported.
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Members of the Syrian Red Crescent oversee the departure of opposition fighters and their families as they wait to board buses to leave the al-Waer neighborhood, bound for a town on the Turkish border, in Homs, Syria, Saturday, March 18, 2017. (AP Photo)
Hundreds of rebels and civilians began leaving the last opposition-held district of Syria’s Homs Saturday under a controversial deal that will bring the whole city under government control. The Russian-supervised evacuation of Waer was agreed earlier this month and is expected to last several weeks.
The new agreement aims to finalise implementation of a “reconciliation deal” that has already seen several phases of rebel evacuation from Waer district, but which had stalled in recent months.
Russian troops and vehicles could be seen on Saturday morning just outside the Waer district as the first buses began to pull out, AFP’s correspondent said.
According to the agreement, up to 100 Russian soldiers will deploy inside the neighbourhood to oversee the evacuation and ensure the safety of residents, including any who chose to stay.
The first wave of three green buses pulled out of Waer carrying dozens of fighters, their rifles slung over their soldiers, and civilians including children.
Rebels will be bussed to opposition-held parts of Homs province, the town of Jarabulus on the Syrian-Turkish border or the northwest province of Idlib.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group estimates that a total of 12,000 people, including 2,500 rebels, will leave under the deal.
Syria’s government has agreed “reconciliation” deals in several rebel-held areas, and touts the local agreements that grant safe passage to surrendering fighters as key to ending the country’s war.
But the opposition says it is forced into such deals by siege and bombardment.
Three waves of rebels and their families have already quit Waer under an agreement first reached in December 2015, but the deal has stalled since then.
Over the past month, government forces have stepped up bombardment of the district, killing dozens of people, according to the Britain-based Observatory.
And no aid has reached the area in at least four months, with a UN convoy that attempted to reach Waer in February seized by gunmen who diverted the assistance to a government-held area.
Completion of the Waer agreement will bring Homs city –once known as the “capital of the revolution” — under the full control of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The evacuation is the third phase of an agreement reached last year that saw hundreds of fighters and their families leave the area.
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Scores of Syrian opposition fighters and their families began leaving the last rebel-held neighborhood in the central city of Homs on Saturday as part of a Russian-backed evacuation deal signed earlier this week. By midday around 100 fighters and their families had left the city, once known as the epicenter of the 2011 uprising against President Bashar Assad. They were bound for a town on the Turkish border after the latest in a series of local agreements in which insurgents have relocated to the rebel-held north after months or years under siege in the country’s major cities.
Green government buses ferried the fighters, who were carrying assault rifles, and their families from the northern al-Waer neighborhood to Homs’ western entrance, where they disembarked and had some of their bags searched under the supervision of Syrian and Russian military police. Three fighters arrived in wheelchairs.
The men, women and children, most of them carrying their belongings in suitcases and plastic bags, then boarded white buses that were to take them to the northern rebel-held town of Jarablous on the border with Turkey. The evacuees were assisted by Syrian Arab Red Crescent members as they put their belongings in the busses. The al-Waer neighborhood is home to about 75,000 people and has been under a government siege since 2013, triggering shortages of medicine, and occasionally of food. The evacuation is the third phase of an agreement reached last year that saw hundreds of fighters and their families leave the area.
Homs Governor Talal Barrazi said around 1,500 fighters are expected to leave al-Waer, with only their personal rifles, over the next six to eight weeks. Up to 2,000 people, including more than 400 fighters, will be evacuated on Saturday alone, he said. Once the first batch has left, food and basic aid will enter the neighborhood, Barrazi said. He had said earlier this week that fighters who decide to stay in al-Waer can benefit from a government amnesty that was issued earlier.
Some opposition activists have criticized the agreement, saying it aims to displace 12,000 al-Waer residents, including 2,500 fighters. The opposition’s Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights called the evacuees “internally displaced” people. Maher Kayyal, the head of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent’s operations in Homs, said they were informed of three medical emergency cases, adding that the number might rise to six. Ten ambulances were available at the scene.
“There are no difficulties so far as all parties respect the agreement,” he said. Once the evacuation is completed, the government will be in full control of the city _ Syria’s third largest _ for the first time in years. In the early days of the uprising, the city saw huge, peaceful demonstrations against the Assad family’s four-decade rule. Those and other protests were met with a fierce government crackdown that led to the rise of an armed insurgency. At one point, the rebels controlled much of the city, but government forces gradually regained control. The civil war, which entered its seventh year earlier this month, has killed more than 400,000 people and displaced more than half the country’s population.
TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian army continued military operations in Eastern Aleppo and advanced in more regions along the Raqqa-Aleppo highway.
The army units imposed control of 7 more kilometers of lands on the international Raqqa-Aleppo highway after clashes with the ISIL terrorists and killing tens of them.
A military source reported that during their operations in the past few days, the Syrian army troops have captured 11 towns and villages, adding that the government soldiers have also destroyed 7 bomb-laden vehicles, defused over 2,000 bombs and seized two Turkish-made 'Cobra' armored vehicles.
They also smashed 3 tanks, 9 vehicles, 2 arms trucks carrying ammunition and artillery equipment and 4 drones, 3 of which armed with explosives.
Earlier today, the Syrian army troops continued operations near Kuweires airbase in Eastern Aleppo, and advanced in several more regions.
The army forces regained control of al-Kabariyeh town in the Northern parts of Deir Hafer after clashes with the ISIL terrorists.
They also won back the strategic hill of Khasaf South of Kuweires and North of the town of Sabkhat al-Jaboul after capturing the towns of Khasaf and al-Zubaydeh.
Meantime, the army soldiers targeted the ISIL positions in Deir Hafer and destroyed several ditches and tunnels in the strategic town.
TEHRAN (FNA)- The ISIL power is declining in Raqqa and Mosul, a Russian daily reported, adding that the terrorist group is now very much likely to pick up Deir Ezzur as its new self-proclaimed capital.
Izvestia newspaper reported that the ISIL has transferred its senior commanders to Deir Ezzur after its major losses in Iraq and Syria.
General Turki Hassan, a prominent military expert, told the Russian daily that the ISIL move to Deir Ezzur is not just confined to the military commanders and includes their family members too.
Also, Brigadier General Yahya Soleiman, a retired army commander, said that the ISIL has decided to attack the Syrian army forces in Deir Ezzur and it has launched massive offensives against the army positions near the highly important Deir Ezzur airbase in the past few days which were all repelled.
Meantime, Boris Dolgov, a Russian analyst, underlined that the ISIL is showing futile resistance because after continued defeats in Iraq and Syria, the terrorist group will be turned into an armed group not in control of any specific area which should always be on the move to find another region to base its command center there, and Deir Ezzur is their base choice to this end.
In the latest development in the Southern and Southwestern outskirts of Deir Ezzur city, the ISIL suffered a number of casualties and its military equipment sustained major damage in the Syrian army soldiers' attacks, sources in Eastern Syria said.
The sources said that the army soldiers engaged in fierce clashes with the ISIL South of Brigade 137th garrison Southwest of Deir Ezzur city, destroying three barricades and killing or wounding a number of terrorists.
In the meantime, the army's artillery units shelled heavily ISIL's movements and positions in areas surrounding Deir Ezzur's airbase, al-Thardah mountain, al-Makbat region and Tal (hill) Aloush, inflicting heavy losses on the terrorists.
Also, the Syrian air force and army launched heavy strikes on ISIL positions and moves near Deir Ezzur city on Thursday, destroying several oil tankers and bases of the terrorists and killing tens of them.
TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian army continued military operations in Eastern Aleppo and regained control of all villages located to the South of Kuweires airbase.
The army forces seized back full control over the towns of Rasm al-Abd, Tal Ahmar and al-Asemiyeh to the South of Kuweires that are linked to Sabkhat al-Jaboul region in Eastern Aleppo after heavy clashes with the ISIL terrorists.
A military source also said that the Syrian soldiers laid siege on the strategic town of Deir Hafer from the Northern, Western and Southern directions after retaking control over the town of al-Harmal Southwest of Deir Hafer, adding that the ISIL has already lost the town in military terms.
The Syrian Army troops had on Friday continued their advances against ISIL South of the terrorist-held town of Deir Hafer and managed to retake control over two villages after hours of fierce clashes on Friday.
The army soldiers engaged in heavy fighting with ISIL and drove them out of Zubaydeh and Khasaf villages South of Deir Hafer town, killing and wounding a number of terrorists.
On Thursday, a military source dismissed reports by dissidents-affiliated websites on ISIL's surprise attack against the Syrian government troops near Deir Hafer and the army's withdrawal from Hamimeh al-Kabireh and Hamimeh al-Saqireh regions, stressing that the strategic town will be liberated soon.
The source said that the Syrian army launched massive operations against the ISIL positions near Deir Hafer in the Eastern parts of Aleppo province, adding that at present, heavy clashes were underway between the Syrian soldiers and the ISIL terrorists in the region.
TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian army scored more victories against the terrorists in Eastern Homs and advanced in important areas East of the ancient city of Palmyra (Tadmur).
According to al-Masdar news, the army soldiers continued military operations in Eastern Palmyra and seized back control of all oilfields near al-Mustadireh mountain after regaining the heights from the militants.
Reports said that tens of ISIL terrorists were killed during the army operations in the region.
The Syrian Army troops continued their anti-ISIL operations in the Eastern suburbs of Palmyra to stretch their chain of security around the ancient city, informed sources said.
The sources said that the army spent a great deal of time this week to attack the ISIL's positions around the newly-liberated ancient city of Palmyra, expanding their buffer-zone around the city via forcing ISIL to withdraw from several positions in order to reinforce important regions, including Arak gas fields and T-3 Pumping Station.
They added that the army soldiers liberated several sites from the terrorist group, including the strategic Mazar mountains and Palmyra gas fields North of the city.
The army men also launched another powerful attack this morning that concentrated on the al-Talilah crossroad and al-Antar Mountains at two different fronts.
Al-Talilah crossroad is located in Palmyra’s Eastern countryside, while the al-Antar mountains are to the North of the city.
TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian army troops continued operations near Kuweires airbase in Eastern Aleppo, and advanced in several more regions.
TEHRAN (FNA)- World Health Organization warns of counterfeit Saudi medications sent as “humanitarian aid shipment” to Iraq.
Fadéla Chaib, World Health Organization’s spokeswoman in an interview with United Nations Radio warned of a suspicious Saudi relief cargo sent to Iraq and delivered to Iraqi officials on Thursday, Al Masdar reported.
Chaib pointed to the fact that most of these medications are probably toxic and expired, adding: “the Saudi officials prevented our inspectors stationed at the Riyadh airport to take necessary samples from the consignment and conduct field tests which is obviously mandatory under the international regulations but after long and tenacious discussions with Iraqi officials we could finally conduct laboratory testing. After performing meticulous laboratory tests and quality control we sadly realized that this shipment of Saudi medical donation is replete with either expired or counterfeit drugs.”
We sent a list of Saudi donated medications to our colleagues in US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), added Chaib , and the reply was quite shocking, out of 133 types of Saudi drugs sent to Iraq, 58 of them are considered in experimental stage and unverified pharmaceutically manufactured drugs.
Saudi Arabia "deems Iraqis as laboratory mice. I believe all countries, UN and international bodies must not stand idly by while Poor Iraqis killed silently We cannot witness yet another humanitarian catastrophe,” said WHO’s spokeswoman.
by Mohamed Mostafa
Al-Hadbaa (leaning) minaret in the Grand Nuri al-Kabir mosque in western Mosul.
Nineveh (IraqiNews.com) The Iraqi Federal Police command has reiterated it was “very close” to a strategic mosque in western Mosul, proceeding with operations to clear the region from Islamic State militants.
The service’s chief, Shaker Jawdat, said in a statement on Sunday that his forces were very close to the Grand Nuri Mosque in Old Mosul, another primary target for Iraqi security forces seeking to eradicate IS from western Mosul since February.
“Federal Police troops have become very close to liberating al-Hadbaa Minaret, the second most important strategic target in western Mosul after the liberated government buildings,” Jawdat said, using the Arabic common reference to the mosque’s “leaning” minaret.
The Nuri Mosque was the location where IS supreme leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi delivered his famous sermon in 2014 to declare the establishment of a self-styled “Islamic Caliphate” in Iraq, appointing himself as a Caliph “ruler” of the proclaimed state.
Jawdat added that his forces, advancing towards the mosque, killed tens of militants and destroyed 23 booby-trapped vehicles.
Iraqi government forces recaptured eastern Mosul from IS in January after three months of fighting, and launched a second offensive in February to retake the western region.
Forces have made remarkable achievements since February, retaking main government buildings, the city’s airport and a major military base. The troops have recently pushed deeper into the Old City, a densely-populated and -structured area which military officials view as central to the desired victory over IS militants.
Also on Sunday, the U.S.-led military coalition backing the Iraqi government in its battle said it launched eight airstrikes against IS locations in Anbar, Salahuddin and Mosul.
Somalia blames Saudi-led coalition for deadly strike on boat
The attack highlighted the perils of a heavily used migration route running from the Horn of Africa to the oil-rich Gulf, right through Yemen's civil war.
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Bodies of Somali migrants, killed in attack by a helicopter while traveling in a boat off the coast of Yemen, lie on the ground at Hodeida, Yemen. (AP Photo)
Somalia’s government is blaming the Saudi-led coalition for yesterday’s attack on a boat that killed at least 42 Somali refugees, calling the assault by a military vessel and a helicopter gunship “horrific.” Somalia’s foreign ministry has urged the US-supported coalition to investigate, saying “it Is very sad, targeting a boat carrying Somali migrants.”
The boat packed with dozens of refugees was more than 30 miles off war-torn Yemen’s coast when it came under attack. Yemen’s Shiite rebels also have blamed the Saudi-led coalition. There has been no coalition comment.
The attack highlighted the perils of a heavily used migration route running from the Horn of Africa to the oil-rich Gulf, right through Yemen’s civil war.
A Yemeni trafficker who survived said the refugees had been trying to reach Sudan.
Cameroon: Nine killed in suspected Boko Haram attack
A total of seven bodies of the attackers were found at the base. Two Cameroonian soldiers were also killed.
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Seven attackers and two Cameroonian soldiers were killed in an attack by suspected Nigerian Islamic sect Boko Haram in Cameroon’s Far North Region on Saturday.
One Cameroonian army source who declined to be named told Xinhua the attackers launched attack on a base of Cameroonian forces in Soueram, in Far North Region bordering Nigeria, at around 2.00 a.m., but the attack was repulsed by the army.
According to the initial assessment, a total of seven bodies of the attackers were found at the scene. The source said the attack also left two Cameroonian soldiers killed.
The attack has not been claimed by any organisation so far, neither has an official statement been announced by the Cameroonian authorities.
Since the beginning of March until Saturday, security campaigns in North Sinai have killed at least 30 militants.
air raid, egypt, sinai, gaza strip, palestine, air raid egypt, israel, air raid egypt militant kileld, middle east news Representational image (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, File)
The Egyptian military killed 18 militants during recent air raids in restive North Sinai province bordering Israel and the Palestinian Gaza Strip, the military spokesman said in a statement on Saturday. “The air strikes over the past few days killed 18 major, highly dangerous extremist elements in North Sinai’s cities of Arish, Rafah and Sheikh Zuweid,” spokesman Tamer al-Refaay was quoted by Xinhua as saying.
Since the beginning of March until Saturday, security campaigns in North Sinai have killed at least 30 militants, arrested over 128 suspects over terror-related charges, busted about 300 suspects over different charges including smuggling and illegal migration, ruined several smuggling tunnels, detonated dozens of explosive devices and seized large amounts of weapons and ammunition.
Earlier in mid-February, at least three Egyptian soldiers were killed in Central Sinai’s Mount Halal area when their armored vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb. Three militants were also killed and three others arrested in subsequent fighting.
Anti-government terror attacks in Egypt have killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers since the mid-2013 military removal of former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in response to mass protests against his one-year rule.
Later, security crackdown on Morsi’s supporters killed about 1,000 of them while thousands others were arrested. The ousted president’s Muslim Brotherhood group was also designated as a “terrorist organisation”.
Most of the terrorist attacks nationwide, particularly those in Sinai, have been claimed by a Sinai-based group loyal to the Islamic State regional terrorist group.
Security campaigns in Sinai have killed hundreds of militants and arrested a similar number of suspects over the past few years as part of the country’s anti-terror war declared by former army chief and current President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi following Morsi’s removal.
Egypt’s military intelligence chief, Gen. Mohamed Farag al-Shahhat, said during a military-held symposium in February that at least 500 extremely dangerous terrorists have been killed since a massive anti-terror campaign, known as “The Martyr’s Right,” started in September 2015.
Deployed since July 2013, the UN's 13,000-strong peacekeeping operation is considered one of the deadliest missions in peacekeeping.
mali, mali security, un, united nations, bamako, un peacekeeping mission, un peacekeeping force, minusma, mali infighting, tuareg, insurgency mali, world news
The security situation in Mali “remains worrying” despite recent troop deployments and some progress on the country’s peace accord, the head of the UN’s peacekeeping force has said in Bamako. “The overall security situation remains worrying. We are all too frequently attacked by armed groups,” Herve Ladsous said at a press conference.
Deployed since July 2013, the UN’s 13,000-strong peacekeeping operation — known as MINUSMA — is considered one of the deadliest missions in peacekeeping since the UN deployed to Somalia in 1993, with more than 70 Blue Helmets killed.
“The (peace) process is far from being achieved,” despite the peace accord of June 2015 signed between Bamako and the groups which support it, and the former Tuareg rebels in the north, said Ladsous.
Having arrived late Friday in Bamako, Ladsous spoke after meeting with Malian president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. Ladsous is due to be replaced as head of the peacekeeping force in April by another Frenchman, Jean-Pierre Lacroix.
The peace accord signed by the Malian government and rebels ended years of fighting in the north, but its implementation has been piecemeal.
Mali regained control of the north after a French-led military intervention in January 2013 drove out jihadists, but insurgents remain active across large parts of the region.
CAIRO, 19th March, 2017 (WAM) -- The Arab Republic of Egypt has condemned a missile attack carried out by the Houthi-Saleh militia against a mosque in the Sirwah Directorate in Marib Province, killing and wounding scores of innocent worshipers.
In a statement issued by the ministry yesterday, Ahmed Abu Zeid, Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Egypt, expressed the ministry's condemnation of the attack on a mosque in the strongest terms.
Kenya is going through a health crisis after doctors went on strike in public hospitals on Dec 5 over pay and working conditions.
DAR ES SALAAM (Tanzania): Tanzania will send 500 doctors to Kenya to help overcome the effects of a strike in public hospitals, the Tanzanian president's office said on Saturday.
Kenya's doctors went on strike in public hospitals on December 5 over pay and working conditions. A deal struck this week opened the way to negotiations to end the strike, but many doctors are still not back at work.
The strike means many public hospitals, already stretched for cash and materials, have had to turn away some patients. The situation threatened to undermine Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta's bid for a second term this August.
Tanzanian President John Magufuli approved Kenya's request for more doctors after he met Kenya's health minister, Cleopas Mailu, in Dar es Salaam on Saturday.
"Tanzania has accepted Kenya's request for 500 doctors to help the country deal with a shortage of doctors at its medical centres following a doctors' strike," the statement from Magufuli's office said.
"Kenya's problems are Tanzania's problems," Magufuli was quoted as saying.
Kenya will pay the Tanzanian doctors and provide them housing, the statement said. Tanzanian Health Minister Ummy Mwalimu said Tanzania had many qualified, unemployed doctors.
The Kenyan Health Ministry and the Kenyan doctors' union were unavailable for comment.
On Friday, there were only two doctors on duty at the Kenyatta National Hospital, the biggest public hospital in the country, a nurse told a Reuters reporter.
"We can give you some pain relief but it will be a long time before you see a doctor," she cautioned a bleeding, screaming car accident victim as hospital staff inspected a deep cut to her leg.
Malaysia religious authorities, police after Raja Bomoh for allegedly tarnishing Islam's image
PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Religious authorities and the police are looking for Ibrahim Mat Zin, better known as "Raja Bomoh Sedunia", for allegedly tarnishing the image of Islam.
Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, Datuk Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki, said in a tweet that the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department (Jawi) and the police have been looking for Ibrahim since March 13.
"Jawi and PDRM (Royal Malaysian Police) are working hard to track down the bomoh (shaman) since Monday to arrest and charge him for tarnishing the image of Islam," he tweeted on Sunday (March 19).
The controversial shaman recently made headlines when he resurfaced to conduct his signature rituals to ostensibly "protect" Malaysia from North Korea, as diplomatic ties between the two countries soured with the murder of Kim Jong Nam.
Kim was killed at Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2) on Feb 13. Many believe that he was killed by agents on the orders of his younger half-brother, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Self-styled Raja Bomoh Ibrahim Mat Zin shows how he prays for Malaysia's protection against North Korea, holding up two fingers to bless both nations.
Mocked by many, but bomohs like self-styled Bomoh King of the World have appeal
Ibrahim first came to fame when he conducted similar rituals after Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 disappeared in 2014.
On March 17, Federal Territories mufti Datuk Zulkifli Mohamad al-Bakri condemned the self-styled "Bomoh King of the World" for allegedly practising animistic rituals that are forbidden in Islam, saying he must be stopped.
Ibrahim was also lambasted by Perlis mufti Datuk Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin, while Perak deputy mufti Zamri Hashim announced that the state had issued a fatwa declaring Ibrahim's ritual as forbidden.
In an interview with The Sunday Times, Ibrahim claimed that he has been protecting Malaysia from harm for seven decades.
Sunday, 19 March 2017
KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Bar voted against barring alcoholic drinks at official functions, with an overwhelming majority objecting to the conservative move.
The motion on banning alcohol, proposed by Mohd Amir Sharil Bahari Md Noor, was rejected at the Bar’s Annual General Meeting yesterday, with 588 votes against it, less than 10 in favour and 16 abstaining from voting.
Though he expected the motion to be defeated, Mohd Amir Sharil Bahari said he was just performing his responsibility and felt relieved to have delivered the message of objection.
“I will continue to fight for issues involving Muslim lawyers in the Malaysian Bar,” he said, when contacted after the AGM.
His other motion – to censure fellow lawyer Siti Kasim for uploading a video of the closed-door proceedings of the recent Kuala Lumpur Bar AGM – was withdrawn.
Siti Kasim was one of the 12 newly-elected Bar Council members chosen during the AGM, which included Malaysian Bar president George Varughese, vice-president Abdul Fareed Abdul Gafoor, honorary secretary Roger Chan Weng Keng and treasurer Ravi Nekoo.
Varughese said the motion against Siti Kasim was withdrawn without debate as there was a pending complaint against her before the disciplinary board, which would render the motion academic.
He said the AGM was attended by 841 lawyers who voted overwhelmingly in favour of four other motions: to address Orang Asli and Indigenous rights, deaths in custody and police brutality cases, the prosecution of police involved in death in custody cover ups, and repealing the Prevention of Crime Act.
BY MAZWIN NIK ANIS, JOSEPH KAOS JR, andFATIMAH ZAINAL
A campaign known as Ekspresi Negaraku has been launched, aimed at cultivating love, loyalty and patriotism among the people.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said one of the pillars of a country’s success depended on its citizens’ sentiments for their nation.
“Malaysia is where we were born, raised, educated, earn our living and perhaps die in. That is why we need to love this land of ours and protect it at all cost.
“Ekspresi Negaraku is a platform for all of us to express our love and loyalty to this beloved country. We hope that this campaign will inspire all of us, young and old, men or women, to be patriotic,” he said at the launch yesterday.
Cabinet ministers came out in full force for the event.
Najib paid tribute to the ordinary people, saying that being patriotic did not necessarily mean that one must carry weapons in a battlefield.
“Civil servants who work hard to provide good services to the public are true patriots. Teachers who dedicate their life towards education, or a mother who raises her child to become a good citizen, are also true patriots,” he said.
Najib cited several instances in which Malaysians banded together.
“The people came together to support Datuk Lee Chong Wei during his final match in the Rio Olympics. (Footballer) Faiz Subri won the FIFA Puskas award because Malaysians went all out to vote for him online. We also saw a united Malaysia during the MH370 and MH17 crises.
“Even now, when Malaysia is facing issues with North Korea, we witness the people united in defending the country’s image. These are some of the fine moments when our people showed their love for the country and that they are willing to defend it with their lives,” Najib added.
He also spoke of the “dark moments” that threatened Malay-sia’s unity, citing the intrusion of Sulu gunmen in Lahad Datu and Semporna in 2013.
The incident in Semporna, which saw six police personnel and officers killed, was the work of “an enemy within”, said Najib.
“There was a traitor among them. This was the work of a citizen who is unpatriotic and was willing to conspire with the enemies,” he said.
Najib said expressing one’s love towards the country should not be limited to during National Day celebrations.
“Let’s not only fly the Jalur Gemilang during the Merdeka month. It should be done every day, 365 days, all year round,” he said.
BY ZAZALI MUSA
KLUANG: Malaysia could reduce its dependency on foreign workers if companies are willing to hire former prisoners, says Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan.
He said the ex-prisoners should be given a second chance after serving their jail term and be accepted if society did not want to see them committing crimes again.
Nur Jazlan said the economic sectors which they could be employed in included plantation, manufacturing, retail and service.
“We have a parole programme for prisoners but sadly, there is lack of response not only from companies but also the families of the prisoners,” he told a press conference after the opening of the 227th Prison Day and the National Anti-Drug Agency 2017 national-level celebration at the Simpang Renggam prison here, yesterday.
He said the main reason given by families for not accepting their own flesh and blood under the parole programme, was that the prisoners had not repented.
Some said they were still in trauma due to previous incidents or that they were ashamed of having prisoners in their family, said Nur Jazlan.
He said 17,000 out of 58,700 prisoners in jails in the country had been released under the programme and 2,000 had applied for the programme to date.
Nur Jazlan said 30% of the 2,000 prisoners who applied for parole were rejected with most of them being either hardcore criminals or had committed sex-related offences.
He said 48% of the 58,000 prisoners in jails in the country comprised those involved in drug-related offences while 30% of the total prisoners were foreigners.
The Government spends about RM35 daily for each prisoner which includes meals, medication and teaching them living skills, Nur Jazlan said, adding that the yearly expenditure was about RM739mil.
Earlier, when opening the programme, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the country’s prison recidivism rate was at 8.9% in 2016, which has been acknowledged by many countries as good.
“We will continue to put in more efforts to reduce the number of ex-prisoners getting back into a life of crime after being released from prison,” he added.
TEHRAN (FNA)- Turkey said it could open the way for 15,000 refugees to EU territory each month, as a diplomatic crisis over the blocking of ministers holding rallies in Europe continues.
Turkey's Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu has announced the threat to "blow the mind" of Europe, in an intensifying dispute with the bloc, New Arab reported.
Ankara and Brussels signed a landmark deal on March 18, almost a year ago, that has substantially lessened the flow of refugees from Turkey to Europe.
But the accord is now hanging in the balance due to the diplomatic crisis over the blocking of Turkish ministers from holding rallies in Europe.
"If you want, we could open the way for 15,000 refugees that we don't send each month and blow the mind" of Europe, Soylu said in a speech late Thursday, quoted by the Anadolu news agency.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has already indicated that Turkey could rip up the deal and said Turkey was no longer readmitting refugees who crossed into Greece.
The crisis was sparked when the Netherlands and Germany refused to allow Turkish ministers to campaign in a April 16 referendum on expanding President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's powers, prompting the Turkish strongman to compare them with Nazi Germany.
Soylu, a hardliner considered close to Erdogan, accused The Hague and Berlin of involvement in June 2013 anti-Erdogan protests, October 2014 pro-Kurdish riots and the July 15, 2016 failed coup attempt.
"They are trying to complete the work that they did not finish. Who is doing this work? It's the Netherlands and Germany," Soylu said.
He accused Europe of failing to help Turkey enter the bloc and of not helping with its fight against terror.
"Europe, do you have that kind of courage...? Let us remind you that you cannot play games in this region and ignore Turkey," he added.
The European Union had said it expects Turkey to continue implementing the deal, which drastically cut the numbers making the dangerous passage across the Aegean Sea.
The mass influx of refugees to Europe in summer 2015 was seen as boosting the support of the far-right on the continent.
A key pillar of the deal were pledges by Turkey to boost border security and break people-smuggling networks, moves that analysts say slowed the flow to a trickle.
Erdogan in November last year already threatened Europe with opening the frontiers of Turkey, which borders EU members Greece and Bulgaria.
TEHRAN (Iran): The outspoken daughter of Iran's late President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has been sentenced to six months in prison for "spreading lies against the judiciary," a semi-official news agency reported Saturday, as the country prepares for a May presidential election.
The report by the Fars news agency comes after rumors of a prison sentence handed down against Faezeh Hashemi had been circulating online. While it didn't elaborate, the announcement comes as hard-liners have been cracking down on reformists in the lead-up to the vote.
Hashemi, who protested with others over Iran's disputed 2009 presidential election, has faced prison time before. She served six months in 2011 on charges of propagandizing against the ruling system. She received a six-month suspended prison sentence in 2014 on charges of slandering top officials.
The death of her father in January raised questions about who would now serve as a go-between for hard-liners and reformists in Iran. Hashemi herself drew cheers when she arrived for his funeral, flashing a "V for victory" hand gesture to the crowds.
Her brother, Mahdi, was furloughed from a 10-year prison term over embezzlement and security charges to attend the funeral. He has since resumed his sentence.
Meanwhile, a prominent moderate lawmaker has said 12 people were arrested over their reformist activism on the messaging app Telegram. The semi-official ISNA news agency quoted Ali Motahari on Wednesday as saying he requested the country's intelligence minister explain the arrests, and threatened to launch impeachment proceedings against him.
Meanwhile, the semi-official ILNA news agency reported Saturday that reformist lawmaker Mahmoud Sadeghi has expressed concerns in a letter to the powerful Revolutionary Guard over a series of arrests targeting reformist journalists and activists attributed to the paramilitary organization.
ISTANBUL: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday he expected parliament to approve restoring capital punishment after next month’s referendum in a move that could end Ankara’s bid to join the EU.
His remarks came as Ankara was locked in a bitter standoff with Europe after Germany and the Netherlands blocked Turkish ministers from campaigning for a ‘yes’ vote ahead of the April 16 referendum on expanding Erdogan’s powers.
With the bitter standoff showing no sign of ending, his remarks on restoring the death penalty looked set to further strain relations.
Turkey completely abolished the death penalty in 2004 as part of its efforts to join the European Union and the bloc has made clear that any move to restore it would scupper Ankara’s already-embattled membership bid.
Erdogan raised the idea of bringing back the death penalty after the failed coup of July 15, suggesting it would bring justice to the families of the victims.
“I believe, God willing, that after the April 16 vote, parliament will do the necessary concerning your demands for capital punishment,” Erdogan said at a televised rally in the western city of Canakkale, his words greeted by loud cheers.
To become law, the bill would still need to be signed by the head of state. But Erdogan said he would sign it “without hesitation”.
EU officials have repeatedly warned Turkey that restoring capital punishment would spell the end of its decades-long bid to join the bloc.
But Erdogan and his ministers have said they need to respond to popular demand for such a move to deal with the ringleaders of the coup. The Turkish strongman said he did not care what Europe thought about such a move.
“What Hans and George say is not important for me,” he said, using two common European names. “What the people say, what the law says, that’s what is important for us,” he added.
Erdogan has repeatedly raised the idea that Turkey could restore capital punishment. But this is the first time he has directly called on parliament to approve it after the referendum on constitutional change.
No judicial executions have taken place since Oct 25, 1984 when left-wing militant Hidir Aslan was hanged following the 1980 military coup.
After the measure was outlawed, the 1999 death sentence against Kurdish separatist leader Abdullah Ocalan — and others on death row — was commuted to life behind bars.
Gulen guilt? Berlin unconvinced
And in comments likely to further anger Ankara, Germany’s intelligence chief said Berlin was unconvinced by Turkish assertions that US-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen was the mastermind behind the July 15 coup.
“Turkey has tried on different levels to convince us of that fact, but they have not succeeded,” foreign intelligence service chief Bruno Kahl told Der Spiegel.
In the wake of the putsch, Ankara launched an unprecedented purge of alleged Gulen supporters, with some 43,000 people jailed and awaiting, or on, trial.
Kahl said that the coup was launched by “part of the military” who expected to be hit by a purge.
TEHRAN (FNA)- Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Hossein Baqeri underlined that his country is in possession of missiles which can hit and destroy enemy targets with a margin error of less than 10 meters.
"Missiles with the capability to hit targets with a margin of error of less than 10 meters are one of the weapons owned by just a few countries," General Baqeri said in the Southern province of Khuzestan on Saturday.
"Today, the Islamic Republic of Iran enjoys the capability to produce and use such weapons," he added.
The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Ground Force fired several smart rockets with pin-point precision striking capability to start massive wargames in the Central deserts of Iran late in February.
The IRGC forces targeted simulated enemy targets with smart and advanced rockets with pin-point precision striking capability on the first day of the wargames.
Also, IRGC Lieutenant Commander Brigadier General Hossein Salami announced last month that Iran is in possession of precision-striking ballistic missiles which can target warships and other vessels on the move.
"(Iran's) Achievement of the technology to build such missiles is an astonishing phenomenon and we don’t have any information showing that the US or Russia have been able to manufacture ballistic missiles which can target mobile vessels in the sea with a 100% precision," General Salami said, addressing a forum in Tehran.
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