Modi’s Mandate May Help Solve J&K Conflict: Mirwaiz Umar Farooq
Proof That Easter Bombers Visited India’: Sri Lanka
Islamophobia Focal Point of PM Imran's Maiden Speech At OIC
Helped De-Escalate Tensions during Pulwama Crisis: Pak Official
Aid Independent Of ‘Political, Racial And Religious Differences’: Ksrelief
Will Bury Trump Like We Buried the Shah,’ Says Iran Guardians Council Chief
Fear ‘Deal of the Century’ Will Finish Off Their State
Called Jamal Khashoggi ‘A Terrorist,’ Book Claims
Refuses to Outlaw Hezbollah, Snubbing German Jews After Kippah Row
restrictions lifted, 11 points opened for Pakistan
Five including four militants killed in two separate encounters in Valley
Two militants, over-ground worker killed in Shopian encounter
terrorists from Kulgam shun path of violence, surrender: Police
Says PTM Mnas Have No Right To Be In Parliament
forces foil terror bid outside Imambargah in Quetta
issues through diplomatic means', Pakistan urges Iran
Bhutto accuses Pakistan govt of targeting opposition, judiciary
Imran performs Umrah with first lady Bushra Bibi
meets Ghani, reaffirms Pakistan’s commitment to Afghan peace
envoy to seek Pakistan’s help in ending stalemate in Afghan talks
sentences three militants to five years in jail over terror financing
Wave of Syrians Flee Intensified Bombing on Last Rebel-Held Province
Arabia calls for decisive Arab stand against Iran
regime strikes kill seven in latest Idlib bloodshed
king draws Muslim leaders to Mecca amid Iran tensions
Army Declares Full Alert after Israeli Tanks Cross Alpha Line in Occupied Golan
US Supporting ISIL in Badiyeh
widow helped CIA in hunt for al-Baghdadi, says a report
950 killed in a month of northwest Syria violence: monitor
Salman: We will confront aggressive threats and acts of sabotage
says Iran’s presence in Syria ‘legitimate, lawful’
breaks with Saudi on Iran during Mecca summit
civilians killed in air war on Daesh: US-led coalition
Fear ‘Deal of The Century’ Will Finish Off Their State
Islamic Summit Communique Reiterates Palestinians’ Right To Statehood
Leader Chants ‘Death To America’ After Advocating For Peace
leader says 'it's our duty' to confront Trump's Israel-Palestine deal
Palestinians killed as 200,000 gather for Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque in
leader thanks Iran for long-range rockets, threatens Tel Aviv
shows evidence of Iranian military backing for Houthis
U.S., Russia To Discuss Syria In Trilateral Meeting In Jerusalem
king blasts Iran for 'naked aggression' in the Gulf
Day Terrorist Plot Foiled in Western Iran
signs 'nice' on fake map of Israel gifted to Netanyahu
teen shot dead by Israeli forces
an ‘arm of Iran that threatens Yemen’s existence’
Efforts Underway For Safe Zone In Northern Syria
to present evidence Iran was behind Gulf tanker attacks
Attempt Being Made To Assess Far-Right Extremist Funding, Report Warns
Bomb Suspect Told Police He Pledged Allegiance to ISIS
condemns France ‘outsourcing’ of ISIS trials to Iraq
is on Turkey to rein in militants in Syria's Idlib, Russia says
arrested over ‘hit-and-run' in UK mosque car crash after Taraweeh prayers
Bomber Kills Six at Afghan Defense University While Moscow Talks Fail To
Afghans killed, four US troops wounded in Kabul suicide blast
militants suffer casualties in Helmand and Kandahar airstrikes
Special Forces storm Taliban leadership’s compound in Farah province
and ISIS militants suffer casualties in an infighting in Nangarhar
ceasefire declared during Eid days: Taliban
Taliban fighters killed in Ghazni airstrike
Leader Joins Muslims For Iftar And Prayers
Charity Distributes Holy Qurans In Ethiopia
providing logistics support to Boko Haram terrorists, Army claims
Haram defeated, Nigerian military fighting another terrorist group – Buratai
State puts the Sahel in West Africa – for now
State claims attacks on DR Congo army, UN; FARDC says 26 ADF fighters killed
chief calls on Sudan to resume talks on power transfer
police open fire on Quds Day rally, many feared injured, arrested
Student Movement 'Could Curb' Campus Radicalism In Indonesia
Islamic Religious Council: Political party allegedly collecting compulsory alms
in the state
riots another page in long history of hard-line Muslim ambition
by New Age Islam News Bureau
Modi’s mandate may help solve J&K conflict: Mirwaiz Umar Farooq
the decisive victory that Prime Minister Narendra Modi notched up in the
recently-concluded Lok Sabha elections, All Parties Hurriyat Conference
chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said on Friday the win gives Modi the opportunity
to resolve the Kashmir issue and iterated his support for every initiative that
aims at a “peaceful resolution of the dispute keeping in view the sentiments
and aspirations of the people of Kashmir”.
a gathering at the Jama Masjid on the last Friday in the Ramzan month, Mirwaiz
said, “The people of India overwhelmingly voted for Modi and his party. This
mandate gives PM Modi the opportunity and the power to play a decisive role in
the resolution of the long-pending Kashmir conflict.”
also mentioned the several offers made by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan
for a dialogue on the issue. “I believe that this issue cannot be resolved
militarily or through confrontation but by dialogue and deliberations and
Pakistan PM Imran Khan’s oft repeated offer of dialogue on all issues between
India and Pakistan including on the Kashmir issue should be seriously
considered as the way forward,” he said.
added that all Kashmiris, irrespective of their organisational affiliation,
were speaking in one voice about the “urgent need” for a resolution of the
is an opportune time to initiate political processes which enable and
facilitates conflict resolution,” he added.
past engagements that the outfit had with former Prime Ministers Atal Bihari
Vajpayee, Manmohan Singh, Mirwaiz laid out measures for governments of both
countries that would make the atmosphere for negotiations conducive.
had put forward certain substantial measures to both India and Pakistan as a
precursor to serious negotiations. At that time, both had agreed to
implementing these steps to prepare the ground for serious negotiations,” said
the separatist leader.
proof that Easter bombers visited India’: Sri Lanka
Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena said on Friday he had not received any
report from the country’s security agencies that the suicide bombers behind the
Easter Sunday attacks had travelled to India.
have not received any reports which say that they have travelled to India. My
officers have not reported any connection to India up to now,” Sirisena told a
news conference at which he spoke in Sinhala.
remarks were in contrast to comments by the Sri Lanka Army chief, Lt Gen Mahesh
Senanayake, during an interview with BBC earlier this month. Senanayake said
some bombers responsible for the attacks that killed more than 250 people had
travelled to Kashmir, Kerala and Bengaluru either for training or to establish
links with other organisations.
who was in Delhi for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s swearing-in along with
other leaders from member states of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for
Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (Bimstec), said he was not
informed by Sri Lanka’s defence chiefs about an alert sent by Indian
intelligence agencies more than a fortnight before the April 21 bombings.
that he was in Singapore at the time of the attacks, Sirisena said a “clear
report” had been sent on April 4 by Indian intelligence agencies to their Sri
Lankan counterparts about a possible attack. Letters and correspondence were
exchanged between the defence secretary and inspector general of police on this
issue, he said.
was in Sri Lanka from April 4 to April 16…However, none of the defence chiefs
informed me about the receipt of such intelligence. Had I known of this
possibility, I would never have left the country…That is why I have taken
action to remove the defence secretary and inspector general of police,” he
said Sri Lanka was supported by India, Britain and the US in investigating the
investigation found that the perpetrators operated under an international
organisation. The Sri Lankan terrorists had obtained training in countries
where international terrorist groups are operating,” he said. The terrorists
were from wealthy families and no evidence had been found so far of them being
financed by outside sources, he added.
Islamophobia focal point of PM Imran's maiden speech at OIC
from across the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) met in Saudi Arabia
early Saturday for the 14th session of the Islamic Summit, which follows two
emergency Arab meetings the night before in Makkah criticising Iran’s behavior
and influence in countries like Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.
Muslim leaders discussed a breadth of critical issues, ranging from a spike in
tensions in the Persian Gulf, to Palestinian statehood, the plight of Rohingya
refugees and the growing threat of Islamophobia.
Minister Imran Khan was among the leaders who spoke at the summit.
premier started his maiden speech at the OIC by raising the issue of
Islamophobia: "When someone from the West blasphemed our Holy Prophet
(PBUH), I always felt the response from the Muslim Ummah and OIC was
OIC — us heads of states — owes a responsibility to the Muslim world [...] when
somebody blasphemes our Prophet (PBUH), it is a failure of the OIC that we have
not been able to explain to the other countries the love and affection we feel
for our Holy Prophet," said Prime Minister Imran.
western countries are suffering from Islamophobia. The West should
differentiate between moderate Muslim and extremist Muslim."
international community has to respect the feelings of more than 1 billion
Muslims," he added.
also want to bring up the point that the Muslim world must pay more attention
to science and technology," the premier urged. "We must pay more
attention to quality education and universities; an area in which the Muslim
world lags. I fear the Muslim world may be left behind again and this is the
best forum to raise this concern in."
also touched upon the plight of the people of Kashmir as well as Palestine,
saying Pakistan supports the two-states solution and recognising East Jerusalem
as the capital of Palestine.
people of Kashmir must also have their right to self determination; us as a
body must stand against the oppression happening with the Muslim world."
the summit, the premier met Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
tensions with Iran
Arabia’s effort to bring regional leaders to Makkah reflects the Kingdom’s
desire to project a unified Muslim and Arab position on Iran to further isolate
it internationally and counter Tehran’s growing reach in the Middle East.
Islamic summit, however, drew political figures and heads of state from
countries spanning Africa, the Middle East and Asia with widely varying
policies and priorities.
for the summit’s host, Saudi Arabia, confronting Iran was at the top of the
drone attacks on Saudi oil pumping stations carried by groups supported by Iran
do not only threaten the security of the Kingdom and the Gulf but also threaten
maritime safety and global oil supplies," said Saudi King Salman in his
inaugural speech at the OIC summit.
added that the “sabotage” operations against four vessels, which included two
Saudi oil tankers near the territorial waters of the United Arab Emirates,
represent a dangerous threat against maritime safety, as well as regional and
denies involvement in the attacks.
slams US embassy move to Jerusalem
also slammed the US decision to transfer its embassy to Jerusalem and recognise
the disputed city as Israel's capital.
summit condemned the “transfer of embassies of the United States and Guatemala
to Jerusalem” and urged all members to “boycott” countries that have opened
diplomatic missions in the city, a statement said.
statement comes as US President Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner
prepares to roll out economic aspects of his long-awaited Middle East peace
plan at a conference in Bahrain later this month.
plan, dubbed by Trump as the “deal of the century”, has already been rejected
by the Palestinians, who say Trump's policies have shown him to be blatantly
biased in favour of Israel.
have cut off all contacts with the Trump administration after the president
broke with decades of bipartisan policy to recognise Jerusalem as the capital
of Israel in December 2017.
insists the whole of Jerusalem is its “eternal, indivisible capital”. The
Palestinians demand the city's eastern sector as the capital of their
helped de-escalate tensions during Pulwama crisis: Pak official
Nuclear deterrence led to the de-escalation of tensions during the post-Pulwama
military stand-off between India and Pakistan, a senior official associated
with Pakistan's nuclear programme said here Friday.
Zahir Kazmi, director general Arms Control and Disarmament Affairs at Strategic
Plans Division (SPD) told journalists that the stated purpose of deterrence was
to close space for war and bring states to the negotiating table.
actually means peaceful resolution of territorial disputes in the
subcontinent... nuclear deterrence should be a factor of stability between
Pakistan and Hindustan," The Express Tribune quoted him as saying during a
media interaction with senior Pakistani officials dealing with strategic
between India and Pakistan escalated after the February 14 Pulwama attack by
Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Muhammed (JeM) terror group which killed 40 CRPF
mounting outrage, the Indian Air Force carried out a counter-terror operation,
hitting a JeM training camp in Balakot, deep inside Pakistan on February 26.
next day, Pakistan air force retaliated and downed a MiG-21 in an aerial combat
and captured an Indian pilot, who was handed over to India on March 1.
Kazmi said deterrence worked during the post-Pulwama military stand-off despite
India's attempt to escalate to a different level by talking about mobilisation
of nuclear missile and nuclear submarines.
clarified that deterrence was not an end in itself but a psychological state.
should inspire fear in which the perceived cost of deterrence breakdown is
higher than the desired benefits of preferring war as an instrument for dispute
resolution," the report quoted him as saying.
director general Arms Control and Disarmament, ministry of foreign affairs,
Muhammad Kamran Akhtar said that Pakistan demonstrated a more responsible and
restrained behav iour during the standoff that led to de-escalation.
claimed that Pakistan was a responsible and restrained nuclear power and the
country's safety and security record was immaculate and an example for many countries.
the media interaction organised by Islamabad Policy Institute, Akhtar dismissed
the allegations that Pakistan possessed the fastest growing nuclear programme
in the world.
analyst Syed Muhammad Ali said Pakistan's nuclear programme had significantly
contributed towards meeting both its traditional and non-traditional security
needs. This, he said, also gave Pakistan's leadership and diplomats more
confidence in international diplomacy
“Saudi Arabia has proven its objectivity as it does not link humanitarian aid
to political stances of states, race, nor religion,” Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah,
general supervisor of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center
(KSRelief), said at a press conference in Makkah.
added that hosting the Gulf and Islamic summits in Makkah is part of the
Kingdom’s mission toward the Islamic world, noting that Saudi Arabia in two
decades has already spent $87 billion in humanitarian aid to 81 countries. He
emphasized the compatibility of this aid with international law and the norms
of international organizations. These humanitarian programs included health,
education, rehabilitation of child soldiers and refugee aid.
praised the sponsorship and guidance of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed
bin Salman for the humanitarian aid programs of KSRelief. He said that there
had been more than 1,011 humanitarian aid programs worth $3.5 billion to 44
countries since 2014, the primary beneficiaries being Yemen, Palestine, Syria,
Somalia, Pakistan, Indonesia and Iraq.
care is given to empowering women and 225 projects worth $390 million were
dedicated to this, benefitting 62 million women, Al-Rabeeah said, in addition
to 234 projects that helped 114 million children who benefitted from educational,
nutritional, health, protection and environment programs.
stressed the good treatment of refugees in the Kingdom who are considered
guests of honor by the Saudi authorities and people. These refugees include
561,000 Yemenis, 262,000 Syrians, 249,000 Rohingyas and hundreds of thousands
more from other countries who benefit from the Kingdom’s help to support the
economies of their countries.
said that Yemen is the primary beneficiary of Saudi humanitarian programs,
without discrimination between government or Iran-backed Houthi-controlled
territories. He added that 345 projects worth $12 billion were launched in that
country over the past four years, especially in humanitarian programs and
economic development aid, including support to the Yemen Central Bank.
stressed the importance of the Kingdom’s role, especially when the cholera
epidemic broke out in Yemen last year. He added: “Crown Prince Mohammed bin
Salman supervised the humanitarian initiative organized by KSRelief and other
Saudi institutions in coordination with the Yemeni Ministry of Health, the
World Health Organization and UNICEF to control the epidemic.”
addition, 150 programs worth $500 million were dedicated to rehabilitating
20,000 child soldiers who were recruited by militias — including psychological,
educational, community and family rehabilitation programs — and that nearly
2,000 had been fully rehabilitated.
declared the launch of a new humanitarian aid program called “Masam” to
deactivate and remove 1.1 million mines planted by the militias in Yemen,
considered the biggest project since World War II, and said that 71,000 mines
had already been removed and deactivated.
noted that 78 projects worth $352 million were launched in Palestine in coordination
with UN agencies, in addition to 191 projects dedicated to displaced children
in Syria, including educational, health care and hospitals, and 37 projects
worth $175 million in Somalia.
people’s message is ‘death to the United States’, and as we buried the Shah, we
will bury Trump, and we will also trample the United States,” said the chairman
of the powerful Guardians Council and the Assembly of Experts, Ayatollah Ahmad
of thousands of Iranians marched today as part of ‘Quds Day’, which is held
annually on the last Friday of the month of Ramadan.
steps in the marches of Quds Day are like hitting the head of global arrogance
with a stick,” Jannati said, to a group of journalists.
message of our people [in this year’s Quds Day] is that even if the United
States increases its sanctions one hundred times, our strength and self-respect
will only increase and we will not give up,” said Jannati.
message of our people is ‘death to the United States’, and as we buried the
Shah, we will also bury Trump and trample the United States,” he emphasised.
US should know that in the end it will lose, and we shall be victorious”, he
am not tired and I do not get tired,” the 92-year-old stressed.
fear ‘deal of the century’ will finish off their state
The US blueprint to end the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians,
still in draft form after almost two years, is seen by Palestinians, and by
some Arab officials and politicians, as a plan to finish off the Palestinian
initiative, driven by Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law and White House
adviser, was billed by the US president as the “deal of the century”.
its precise outlines have yet to be revealed, Palestinian and Arab sources who
have been briefed on the draft plan say Kushner has jettisoned the two-state
solution — the long-standing US and international formula that envisages an
independent Palestinian state alongside Israel in the West Bank, east Jerusalem
several postponements, Washington plans a first formal outing of the economic
components of the plan at a “Peace for Prosperity” workshop in Bahrain in June.
plan faces possible delays due to political upheaval in Israel, where Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must fight another election after failing to form a
and Trump, with backgrounds in real estate rather than diplomacy, seem to be
approaching this hitherto insoluble conflict as a transaction, three Arab
officials briefed on the plan said.
the politics keep failing, the reasoning seems to be, then try dangling tens of
billions of dollars before the Palestinians and Israel’s Arab neighbours and do
a deal that could unlock prosperity for the Palestinians and security for
Israel, these officials said.
the deal envisages an expansion of Gaza into part of northern Egypt, under
Egyptian control, Palestinian officials briefed on the plan said.
would be left with a smaller share of the West Bank and some areas on the
outskirts of Jerusalem and no control over their borders.
and Arab sources confirmed the outline of the plan.
Greenblatt, Trump’s Middle East envoy, said “rumours” about an expansion into
Egypt’s Sinai desert were false. He declined to give details of the political
plan before it is released.
the decision not to use the the term “two-state solution”, Grenblatt said: “We
believe that using certain phrases and labels is not helpful because they lack
detail and nuance they mean different things to different people. The detailed
plan, once released, will show what we think may be best solution for the two
parties.” The Palestinians are not buying it.
we’re seeing from the plan is that it will blow up the Palestinians,” one Arab
official said. “The plan doesn’t give justice to the Palestinians.”
senior Palestinian leader said: “The Palestinian cause is being liquidated — no
Jerusalem (as capital), no right of return for refugees, no sovereign state.
That is why this American project is dangerous.”
deal, as outlined so far, has been dismissed by President Mahmoud Abbas’s
western-backed Palestinian Authority in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
has boycotted political dealings with the Trump administration for 18 months.
This followed Trump’s decisions in 2017 to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s
capital and move the US embassy there from Tel Aviv.
then, the Trump administration has curtailed aid to the Palestinian Authority,
shuttered the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) delegation in Washington
and cut off finance to UNRWA, the UN agency supporting Palestinian refugees.
called Jamal Khashoggi ‘a terrorist,’ book claims
President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner has reportedly
called Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi — who was murdered by the
agents of the Saudi royal court last year — a “terrorist.”
to Newsweek, US journalist Michael Wolff says in an upcoming book that Kushner
said of the slain Khashoggi, “This guy was the link between certain factions in
the royal family and Osama [bin Laden]. We know that. A journalist? Come on.
This was a terrorist masquerading as a journalist.”
reportedly made the comment in an off-the-record conversation with a reporter.
It was not clear who the reporter was.
a former advocate of the Saudi royal court who later became a critic of Crown
Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed and his body was dismembered by a Saudi
hit squad after being lured into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2,
a real estate developer-turned-White House adviser, is known to have close ties
Washington Post, for which Khashoggi was a columnist, reported in November last
year that the CIA had concluded that Mohammed personally ordered his killing.
new book, titled “Siege,” covers the second year of the Trump administration
and is to be released on June 4. His first book, “Fire and Fury,” revealed
incendiary insider information about the Trump White House and has sold more
than four million copies.
spokesman for Kushner denied the reporting.
Wolff never reached out to me (or the White House) for comment. The passages
from the book I’ve seen attributed to Jared in the media are completely false,”
Kushner’s White House spokesman Avi Berkowitz said in a statement posted on
a critic of the Saudi regime’s human rights abuses and war on Yemen, had known
former al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden from the early 1980s, when the latter
fought against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, and had interviewed him several
bin Laden was killed by US forces in Pakistan in 2011, Khashoggi reportedly
said that he was once “beautiful and brave” but had “surrendered to hatred and
Refuses To Outlaw Hezbollah, Snubbing German Jews After Kippah Row
Chancellor Angela Merkel and her interior minister, Horst Seehofer, ignored an
urgent plea from the country’s tiny Jewish community to outlaw the terrorist
organization Hezbollah amid a shocking climate of antisemitism.
asked on Wednesday by The Jerusalem Post numerous times if the German
government – in response to a demand by the nearly 100,000-member Central
Council of Jews – plans to ban the Lebanese Shi’ite terrorist organization,
Merkel and Seehofer refused to answer.
president of the Council, Dr. Josef Schuster, said on Monday that “a full ban
of Hezbollah’s organization has already happened in the Netherlands and the
United Kingdom,” adding that “Hezbollah is heavily financed by Iran, and poses,
in its entirety, a threat to the entire world.”
US Embassy in Germany wrote on its Twitter feed on Monday: “Germany’s federal
courts decided years ago that Hezbollah is a unified organization dedicated to
the destruction of Israel. Symbols of Hezbollah are banned, why not the entire
undersecretary in Germany’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, Niels Annen, said shortly
after the UK banned Hezbollah in March that Germany won’t designate all of
Hezbollah a terrorist organization. Annen celebrated Iran’s Islamic revolution
at the Tehran Embassy in February. Iran’s regime is the chief financial sponsor
and Berlin’s mayor, Michael Müller, initiated no legal action to ban Hezbollah
and stop the pro-Hezbollah and pro-Iranian regime al-Qud Day rally on Saturday
in downtown Berlin.
told the Post that US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell brings up the
pressing need for Germany to outlaw all of Hezbollah in the federal republic at
every meeting he attends with German officials.
authorities claim they won’t prevail in court with respect to a ban of the
al-Quds Day rally. The anti-Western and anti-Israel rally calls for the
destruction of the Jewish state. The authorities have declined to test the law.
Saturday, Germany’s federal commissioner to combat antisemitism announced: “I
can’t tell Jews to wear the kippah everywhere all the time in Germany.”
told CNN on Tuesday that “There is to this day not a single synagogue, not a
single daycare center for Jewish children, not a single school for Jewish
children that does not need to be guarded by German policemen.”
CNN interview did not ask Merkel about her consistent refusal to prescribe all
of Hezbollah as a terrorist entity.
has removed restrictions on its airspace along the Pakistan border. According
to a senior official of the state-owned Airports Authority of India (AAI), the
11 entry and exit points for Pakistan were opened on Friday afternoon and the
International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) was informed about it.
flights will be able to use the airspace only when Pakistan also opens the
airspace from its side. We have informed ICAO and now they will hold
consultations with Pakistan. The day Pakistan decides to remove restrictions,
flight operations will resume,” the official added. According to a senior
official of the Indian Air Force (IAF), the temporary restrictions were in
place on the direction of the IAF.
closure of Pakistan’s airspace for nearly three months has hit travellers and
airlines from Afghanistan and Central Asia the hardest. Pakistan shut its
airspace to commercial flights originating in India or transiting through
Indian airspace soon after Indian jets targeted a Jaish-e-Mohammed facility at
Balakot on February 26. The air strike was carried out in retaliation to the
suicide bombing of a CRPF bus by JeM at Pulwama in Kashmir that killed 40
on Thursday extended the ban till June 15. In the case of Central Asian
airlines, the duration of flights from the region to New Delhi has increased by
up to four hours as airlines have to fly via destinations such as Abu Dhabi and
Dubai. Kazakhstan’s Air Astana, which had four flights a week to New Delhi, has
suspended its operations to India till May 31. People familiar with
developments said Air Astana stopped the flights as the higher costs made them
Airways has maintained its flights to Amritsar, Delhi and Mumbai while
Turkmenistan Airways has suspended flights to Amritsar, the people cited above
closure of Pakistani airspace has led to a sharp increase in fares for
passenger flights, and made imports and exports costlier as cargo planes too
have to make lengthy detours.
militants were killed on Friday by security forces in two separate encounters
across the Valley, the Jammu and Kashmir police said.
two Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) operatives were gunned down in an encounter in
Shopian district, two others – whose identity and affiliation is yet to be
ascertained – were killed in Pulwama. A third body was found after the Shopian
encounter however, while locals claimed he was a civilian, security forces said
he belonged to the same HM group.
the Shopian encounter, A J&K Police spokesperson said security forces had
launched a cordon and search operation in the Sugan area of Shopian on Friday
morning, following inputs about the presence of militants. Officials said the
encounter broke out around 4.10 am.
the ensuing encounter, 02 listed terrorists along with the other one who was
part of this group were killed,” the police spokesperson, said. In the evening,
the police spokesperson said Jasim “is also identified as a local militant, who
had joined the terror group recently.”
militants and an over-ground worker (OGW) were killed in an encounter with
security forces in Jammu and Kashmir’s Shopian district on Friday, news agency
to a police official, following specific information about the presence of
militants in Dragad Sugan area of south Kashmir, the security forces launched a
cordon and search operation.
the forces were conducting searches, the militants fired at them, triggering an
encounter in which two militants and their “active associate” were killed, he
of the militants is believed to be Saju Magrey of the Hizbul Mujahideen, the
police official told PTI, adding that Magrey was involved in a series of terror
crimes, including IED incidents.
Five youths from Kulgam district of Jammu and Kashmir, who had joined terrorist
ranks, shunned the path of violence and surrendered, police said Saturday.
youths, who had joined different terror outfits, shunned the path of violence
and returned to the mainstream following efforts by their families and
police," a police official said.
did not reveal their names, saying their identities "stand protected for
of terrorists have laid down arms in Kashmir since 2017 when police announced
that they would accept offer of local terrorists to surrender even during
says PTM MNAs have no right to be in parliament
Ruckus dominated the proceedings of the National Assembly on Friday over the
ongoing controversy surrounding the violent incident at a military check post
in North Waziristan tribal district and shortage of water in Sindh as outraged
members from the treasury and opposition benches gathered in front of the
speaker’s dais and hurled accusations at each other, but stopped short of
coming to blows.
of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammad Khan delivered a fiery speech
and asked Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri, who was presiding over the session, to
cancel the membership of Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir for their alleged
involvement in ‘anti-state’ activities.
said both MNAs were responsible for the recent attack on security check post at
Kharqamar in North Waziristan. “It is because of your wrongdoings my people
lost their lives,” he said, adding that both Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar had no
right to sit in parliament and the country had no place for them.
have given refuge to over 3.5 million Afghans after Russia-Afghanistan war in
1979, but in return for our sacrifice the body of SP Dawar is found in
Afghanistan. Can we ask the Afghan government why his body was found in
Afghanistan,” he added.
Khan wondered why the Afghan authorities had insisted that they would hand over
the body of the police officer to what he called a ‘sold out individual, a
stooge and their loyalist’ who was cutting the roots of Pakistan.
directly naming the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), the minister asked why
Pakistan’s flag, its army and other institutions were maligned in its public
meetings. He said Prime Minister Imran Khan had been fighting for the rights of
the people of tribal areas for the last 25 years.
ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) lawmakers took to the speaker’s rostrum
when the opposition Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) members protested over
non-production of Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar who are currently under custody in
connection with the North Waziristan incident.
was followed by an open clash between the members of the two parties as
Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) also joined the ruling party by displaying
placards against the performance of the PPP-led Sindh government. As the
pandemonium geared up, Deputy Speaker Suri adjourned the session for an
leader Farhatullah Babar termed the ruling party’s agitation “preplanned” and
an attempt to block the speech of PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari who
planned to take on the government over the arrest of the two parliamentarians
from the tribal region and derogatory remarks of Ali Mohammad Khan.
the PPP submitted a privilege motion over the arrest of two PPP women MNAs
during a clash with police on Wednesday.
pandemonium broke out when Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Khurram
Dastagir raised the issue of SP Tahir Dawar who was abducted from Islamabad in
October last year and his body was found Afghanistan.
government is totally silent on the issue. We want to know who had abducted
Tahir Dawar and what happened when officials went to Afghanistan to take his
body,” he added.
this, Minister for States and Frontier Regions Sheryar Afridi said Dawar was
son of the soil and a brave man who had earlier survived two attempts on his
life and lost his brother in Banigala, Islamabad. He said that being then
interior minister when he went to Afghanistan to take the body of SP Dawar, but
authorities in the neighbouring country were not ready to hand over the body to
him but to PTM leader Manzoor Pashteen. The minister said MNA Mohsin Dawar was
sent and the SP’s body was given to him.
blocking of Computerised National Identity Cards (CNICs) of hundreds of
Pashtuns, Mr Afridi said a law had been made in the past under which suspect
Pashtuns had to provide proofs of their nationality before the 1979 Afghan war
as the authorities believed that many Afghans had mingled with the Pashtun community
taking advantage of their resemblance with Pashtuns.
an MNA from tribal areas, said when the body of SP Dawar was to be taken from
Afghanistan then MNA Mohsin Dawar was sent to receive it, but now the same
lawmaker had been taken into custody with another MNA of tribal areas Ali
Wazir. He feared that if the two MNAs were no released and if the situation in
erstwhile Fata was not controlled, the government would not be able to handle
the worst situation there.
Ali Mohammad Khan was speaking on the floor of the house, members of the PTI
went to the speaker’s dais and all opposition members stood up on their seats.
Mr Bhutto-Zardari also spoke vehemently and the PPP members proceeded to the
PTI’s protest against the PPP government in Sindh seemed to be a planned one as
they had brought placards with them inscribed with slogans like “Sindh ko Pani
Do” (give water to Sindh). The members of both PPP and PTI pushed each other
and the former torn placards carried by the latter. During the rumpus, the
deputy speaker adjourned the session for an indefinite period.
leaders of the opposition parties held a press conference outside the
Parliament House and criticised the deputy speaker for not allowing them to
speak on the floor of the house.
chairman Bhutto-Zardari reiterated his demand for issuance of production order
for Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar and said he had written a letter to Speaker Asad
Qaiser for the purpose. Parliament should follow its own rules and laws, he
PPP chairman said the deputy speaker had violated the rules by not allowing any
opposition member to speak on the floor of the house, while members from the
treasury benches were free to talk.
leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi strongly condemned the arrest of PPP’s women MNAs
during the appearance of Bhutto-Zardari in NAB headquarters.
National Party (BNP-M) chief Akhtar Mangal said he was surprised by
dictatorship in democracy.
security forces on Thursday foiled a terror bid outside an Imambargah on
Mecangi Road in Quetta and killed the terrorist.
police said that the suicide bomber tried to enter the Imambargah in a burqa
threw a hand grenade at the police but the police personnel opened fire at him,
foiling his malicious plan. A guard was also injured in the firing of the
Abdul Razzaq Cheema said that the injured guard had been shifted to the civil
hospital. He also said that the police officials must be praised for their
has urged Iran to exercise restraint and resolve issues through diplomatic
message to him [Iran’s foreign minister] was: restraint, calm and resolution of
issues through diplomatic channels,” Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said
while speaking with the Saudi newspaper, Arab News, on the sidelines of the
14th Summit of the Orgnisation Islamic Conference (OIC) in Makkah on Wednesday.
will not pay. It will only aggravate the situation,”he added.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had met FM Qureshi in Islamabad on May 24
to discuss rising tensions between Iran and the United States.
Imran discusses Afghan peace process with Ghani
he was asked to comment on Iran’s role in the escalating tension in the Gulf
region, Qureshi said that any country isolating itself from the rest of the
Muslim world “because of pursuing a particular policy” was going to suffer
negative consequences. However, he added: “Iran is part of the region. It is a
country that you have to live with. We share a border with them, so we
recognise the challenges. But we have to see how those tensions can be defused
the foreign minister said, is willing to play a role to help resolve some of
the region’s “long-standing issues” between Muslim countries. “Our message is
that we have to join hands; we have to understand each other’s concerns and
have a collective objective of peace and stability so that our region can
develop like other parts of the world.”
is important, he further said, for the Muslim world to improve its
have to eliminate terrorist elements, and we have to reverse extremism,” he
the same time he raised some questions:“Why is the world looking at us in a
particular way? And how can we get rid of that image to make the world look at
Pakistan's opposition leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Friday accused the
government of targeting everyone from judges to parliamentarians through
"underhand tactics" after Parliament witnessed a raucous as two
lawmakers were arrested for allegedly inciting an attack on a military check
witnessed unruly scenes lawmakers clashed with each other over the foul language
used against Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar.
trouble during the National Assembly session began after minister of state for
parliamentary affairs, Ali Muhammad Khan, labelled Wazir and Dawar as
"agents of Afghan intelligence" and said they should be expelled from
and Dawar are are accused of inciting local people to attack the Kharqamar
military check post in North Waziristan district on Sunday which resulted in
the killing of at least three civilians.
the chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), stood up to record protest
against Khan's remarks. But several lawmakers of the ruling Pakistan
Tehreeki-i-Insaf (PTI) went near his seat and raised slogans.
brought rival members of the House face to face, creating a tense situation.
The opposition also surrounded Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri who chaired the
session and continued protest until the proceedings were adjourned.
enraged opposition later demanded a probe by Parliament into the Kharqamar
incident. It also demanded that both Wazir and Dawar should be allowed to
attend the session.
Opposition parties are standing together today. What we saw in the Assembly a
little while ago was anything but a display of democracy; the deputy speaker
violated House rules by not letting Opposition members speak on these sensitive
issues," said Bilawal.
few days ago, you all saw innocent Pakistanis and parliamentarians being
targeted on the streets of Islamabad. Our unarmed supporters were tortured and
arrested," he said.
police on Wednesday arrested dozens of activists from Bilawal's party to
prevent them from reaching the main office of an anti-graft body that was
questioning him about alleged corruption.
is not democracy as from judges to parliamentarians, this government is
targeting everyone through underhand tactics and we will not let this
continue," Bilawal said, referring to media reports that that the
government has ordered formal probe of misconduct against some judges of the
Supreme Court and the Sindh high court.
Minister Imran Khan performed Umrah with his wife Bushra Bibi while on a visit
to Saudi Arabia for the 14th Summit of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation
Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Chief Minister Mahmood
Khan, Naeemul Haque and Murad Saeed also accompanied him.
the pilgrimage, the premier prayed for the peace and prosperity of Pakistan and
the unity of the Muslim community all over the world.
PM is in Saudi Arabia to participate in the 14th Organisation of Islamic
Cooperation (OIC) summit to be held in Makkah.
conference titled ‘Makkah Summit: Together for the Future’ hosted by Saudi King
Salman aims to develop a unified stance on current issues and events in the
Minister Imran Khan on Friday reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to a peaceful
and stable Afghanistan during his meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on
the sidelines of the two-day summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation
(OIC) in Makkah.
and Ghani exchanged views on bilateral relations, regional issues and the
Afghan peace and reconciliation process, a statement issued by the Prime
Minister’s Office said.
Minister Imran underlined Pakistan’s support for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned
peace process that could lead to a political solution in the neighbouring
special peace envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad will be arriving in
Islamabad on Sunday for talks on ways how to end stalemate in peace talks with
the Taliban, well-informed sources disclosed to Daily Times.
and Khalilzad have held six rounds of talks in Qatar since October and both
claimed progress. However, they have failed to reach any agreement. The last
round was held on May 1-9.
said that the US envoy would hold talks with senior officials at the Foreign
Office on Pakistan’s cooperation in the peace process.
there has been no deal over the past eight months, Khalilzad has sought
Pakistan’s help in his previous visits to Islamabad to use its influence on the
Taliban and to convince them to accept the US demands. But Pakistani officials have
made it clear to Khalilzad that Pakistan cannot interfere in the talks and that
the US and Taliban should first resolve their differences, sources said.
one hand, there is a stalemate in the Qatar process as the US does not accept
the Taliban demand to publicly unveil a time-frame for the withdrawal of the
troops and Taliban have ruled out possibility of ceasefire and direct talks
with the Kabul administration. On the other, Taliban have stepped up activities
in Afghanistan and on Friday targeted a convoy of foreign forces, injuring four
American security personnel in Kabul.
among the war-weary Afghans is growing over the lack of progress in the peace
talks that could also be annoying for the Trump’s administration.
political spokesman Suhail Shaheeen said in an earlier interview that agreement
on complete withdrawal of the troops will pave the way for discussions on other
political negotiators believe the US side “usually ignores our calls for
signing agreement first on the complete withdrawal of the US and NATO troops.
But the US brings other issues like ceasefire and direct talks with the Kabul
administration that is unacceptable to our side.”
have told them (Americans) that we will not declare ceasefire until the US
makes a public announcement on the withdrawal of the troops and a time-frame
for the withdrawal. We have made it clear that no ceasefire will be announced
while foreign invasion continues,” a Taliban official said, who does not want
to be identified by name.
is also hard for the Taliban to convince their military commanders and foot
soldiers on the ceasefire until there is a deal on the troops withdrawal.
have also categorically told the American negotiators that we want to decide
first the ‘external aspect’ of the conflict with them and that is complete
withdrawal of foreign troops and in return we will ensure that no one used the
Taliban controlled areas against the US and other countries,” he said.
we insist to solve the external aspect of the conflict first, the Americans
call for ceasefire and ignore the real issue. We told them if the US solves the
withdrawal issue, then other issues will be solved,” he further said.
Taliban leader said Taliban told the US side during the 6th round that another
agenda for the ‘internal aspect’ of the problem will be prepared after
agreement on the troops issue.
Pakistani court has sentenced three militants to five years in prison after
finding them guilty of collecting funds for an outlawed group that claimed
responsibility for the suicide bombing that killed 40 Indian troops in Kashmir
earlier this year.
to a statement released by a counter-terrorism department Friday, the three men
have begun serving their sentences.
says the three unidentified men were local leaders of outlawed
Jaish-e-Mohammed, which claimed responsibility for the Feb. 14 suicide attack
in the Indian-held portion of the disputed Kashmir region.
bombing at the time raised tensions between India and Pakistan and brought the
two nuclear rivals to the brink of war.
Carlotta Gall and Hwaida Saad
Turkey — Syrian doctors and humanitarian workers voiced growing alarm at the
plight of civilians in northwestern Syria this week, as fighting intensified in
the nation’s last rebel-held province and hundreds of thousands of people fled
north toward the Turkish border.
has closed that border, after eight years of civil war in Syria spurred more
than three million people to seek safety in its boundaries. Now, refugees are
camping in open fields and in desperate conditions, moving repeatedly as Syrian
and Russian forces have escalated artillery and aerial bombardments in a
concerted attempt to advance into the province, Idlib.
a quarter-million people have been displaced in the past month and 160 people
have been confirmed killed, the United Nations said on Thursday, warning of an
impending disaster if the violence is not stopped. Officials say the actual
number of dead is much higher than 160.
footage of the bombardments, and of dead and injured children being pulled from
the wreckage of homes, has flooded social media. In one, a small girl screams
as she tugs at the arm of her brother, trapped under rubble. In another, a
teenager pulled from a crushed building is told that his brother, lifeless
beside him, is sleeping.
saw some villages completely emptied or half-emptied of their residents,” said
Dr. Zaher Sahloul, the president of MedGlobal, an organization that sends
medical teams to disaster regions, who risked the bombardments and threats from
extremist groups to visit some of the most devastated areas this week.
described seeing at least five attacks that caused multiple deaths, including
one in the town of Ariha, which he said “was hit a few minutes after we drove
away.” At the end of the day, on his way back to Turkey, he and his driver
heard the distinctive sound of cluster bombs exploding, he said.
Zaher said the scale of the bombing was equal to what he had seen in Aleppo,
one of Syria’s largest cities, which was largely destroyed in the years of
fighting through 2016. “It’s huge,” he said. “I saw buildings completely
were living in the open, moving from place to place, and often without
facilities like toilets or kitchens. In Ma’ret Misrine, he came across 32
families who had already moved four times. “They carry their tents from one
camp to another,” he said. “The landowners are afraid if they build toilets
their presence will be permanent.”
refugees are being corralled into a smaller and smaller area toward the Turkish
border, many without shelter and the means of survival, he said.
the battles continue, we’re expecting 600,000 displaced people, it will be a
catastrophe,” he said. “Crossing into Turkey is almost impossible, the borders
are completely sealed.”
are threatened by the battle for the province, according to United Nations
officials. “An estimated three million people in Idlib are caught up in the
crossfire, with some living under trees or plastic sheeting on bare patches of
land,” Ursula Mueller, the United Nations assistant secretary general for
humanitarian affairs, told the Security Council on Tuesday.
are no safe schools or clinics, no way to earn a living. Eight years of
airstrikes and shelling, of deadly terrorist attacks and the constant fear of
sending your child to a school that may be bombed later that day,” she added.
Syrian government is intent on seizing two main intersections in order to open
the highway between Damascus, the capital, and Aleppo. Its forces have already
gained control of 20 towns and villages toward that aim, according to political
and military analysts — and laid waste to an area of some 30 square miles in
if the fighting ceases, many people no longer have homes to return to, Dr.
in Idlib said they were preparing to march to the Turkish border to protest for
an opening, to ease the situation for the displaced people.
grouping of Syrian humanitarian organizations based in Turkey also warned of
the disastrous consequences of the intensified assault, and the lack of
humanitarian support for the Syrian civilians in its path.
northwest Syria vulnerable civilians are living a nightmare,” the group said in
a statement. The group included the Syrian Civil Defense, or White Helmets; the
S.N.A., a group of 21 NGOs; and the Idlib Health Directorate, which coordinates
Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia agreed
in September on a plan to de-escalate the violence and separate the warring
parties, but while both leaders have continued to voice support for the accord,
they have also continued to support opposing sides in the war.
insists that the Syrian government must eventually take control of Idlib and
remove extremist Islamist militants in the region. Turkey has called for a
cessation of hostilities for Idlib to remain under rebel control, to prevent
further waves of refugees into Turkey and to give the rebels more leverage in a
two leaders spoke by telephone this month, and while Mr. Erdogan remonstrated
with Mr. Putin about the bombing of hospitals and schools — more than 20 health
care facilities have been bombed in Idlib in 30 days — both men reiterated
their loyalty to the agreement, according to a Turkish readout of the call.
Turkish official insisted the agreement was by no means dead. Russian
officials, including Mr. Putin, have stressed that they are committed to the
agreement, he said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of his office’s
more stories about the experiences and costs of war, sign up for the weekly At
analysts following the situation said that the six-month agreement was in
Has, an analyst in Turkish-Russian relations based in Moscow, predicted that
Russia was going to ensure the Syrian government gains control of Idlib bit by
bit over the course of 2019.
Russian side is giving a more powerful signal by recent bombardments,” he said,
that it would do nothing to prevent President Bashar al-Assad of Syria from
the United Nations Security Council session Tuesday, Syria’s permanent
representative to the body, Dr. Bashar al-Jaafari, repeated his government’s
determination to retake Idlib.
Erdogan, who is juggling multiple pressures at home and abroad, does not want
more Syrian refugees arriving in Turkey and has been reluctant to give up on
his support for forces opposing Mr. al-Assad, Turkish officials and analysts
has not pulled out of any of its 12 observation posts in Idlib, the Turkish
official said. Its defense minister, Hulusi Akar, has meanwhile been prominent
in the news, visiting troops in southern Turkey and making public statements.
the ground, the rebels seem to have received a recent boost. Syrian reporters
say rebel forces have begun using more sophisticated weapons in the last two
weeks, including antitank missiles, and have so far thwarted an advance on the
ground by Syrian troops.
the middle of this month, the picture began to get clearer,” said Abdullah
Almousa, a researcher in Syrian affairs in Istanbul. “It is clear that Turkey
has decided to keep the Idlib card and not to allow Russia to make further
May 31, 2019
earlier version of this article misstated Dr. Zaher Sahloul’s affiliation. He
is the president of MedGlobal, not the Syrian American Medical Society. (Dr.
Zaher formerly headed that organization)
Gall reported from Ankara, and Hwaida Saad from Beirut, Lebanon.
Arabia has called for the Arab world to take a decisive stance against Iran as
King Salman convened an emergency meeting that condemned the Islamic republic’s
alleged interference in the region.
king, addressing the summit in Mecca on Friday, said Riyadh wanted to avoid war
and sought a peaceful solution, even as he attacked what he described as Iran’s
perpetuation of terrorism in the region directly and via proxies.
has been supporting terrorism for decades and threatening security and
stability with the objective of expanding influence and domination, a matter
rejected by international norms and conventions,” he said in comments carried
by Kuwait’s state news agency.
urged Gulf Co-operation Council states to work together to maintain security in
the wake of what he called “criminal” attacks against four oil tankers off the
United Arab Emirates coast and oil pumping stations in Saudi Arabia this month.
Pompeo, US secretary of state, on Thursday blamed Iran for the attacks, saying
Tehran was trying to raise the price of crude oil. John Bolton, US national
security adviser, said on Thursday that evidence of Iran’s responsibility would
be presented to the UN Security Council.
rejected what it called “baseless accusations” of some Arab leaders at the
summit. “We see the Saudi effort to mobilise opinion as part of the hopeless
process followed by America and the Zionist regime against Iran,” a foreign
ministry spokesman said in comments carried by the state news agency.
in Tehran, foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, called on participating countries
to support the Palestinians “instead of repeating the nonsense told against
Hook, US special representative for Iran, on Thursday told reporters that the
US’s heightened military deployment in the Gulf was in response to Iranian threats.
“We are postured in a way where if we are attacked we will respond with
military force,” he said. But Mr Hook said he would wait for Saudi Arabia, the
UAE and Norway to publish the results of their investigation into the sabotage
of the vessels before consulting with them on “the proper response”.
a communiqué at the end of the Mecca meeting, the six Arab members of the GCC
pledged their support for Saudi Arabia and the UAE to take required action in
response to attacks on their oil infrastructure and tankers. A statement on the
Saudi news agency called on Iran to stop funding militias and “terrorist
Barham Salih, Iraq’s president, warned that if the Gulf tensions were
mismanaged it could threaten a war with Iran, which has influence in Baghdad.
Abdullah bin Nasser al-Thani, Qatar’s prime minister, attended the summit,
marking the highest-level contact since a Saudi-led embargo was launched
against the gas-rich state in 2017.
coverage showed the emir of Kuwait, who has acted as a neutral mediator during
the dispute, engineering a handshake between the Qatari prime minister and the
Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt imposed the trade and travel embargo on
Qatar, accusing it of fostering extremism. Doha, which denies the allegations,
has since had to redirect air and trade routes, and forged closer ties with
Turkey, Oman and Iran.
thaw in the Gulf spat would be welcomed by Washington, which is frustrated by
its regional allies turning on each other rather than uniting against Iran.
air strikes on an extremist enclave in northwest Syria killed seven civilians
on Thursday, a monitor said, the latest deaths in a bloody wave of government
and its ally Russia have pummelled Idlib province and surroundings over the
past month despite a truce deal aimed at staving off a humanitarian
Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring organization says
over 285 civilians have been killed since late April in the enclave, home to
almost three million people.
pace of air strikes decreased relatively on Thursday compared to previous
days,” said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.
bombings still killed seven civilians, including five in the town of Maaret
al-Numan on the western edge of the extremist-held territory, he said.
AFP photographer reported the strikes hit a residential area, collapsing a
building and killing some of those inside.
body of a victim could be seen still in bed as rescue workers struggled to
reach survivors trapped under the rubble.
province and some surrounding areas are mostly controlled by Hayat Tahrir
al-Sham, a group dominated by former members of Al-Qaeda’s Syria affiliate.
United Nations says roughly 270,000 people have been displaced by the fighting
since late April and that aid agencies have been forced to halt work in some
30 health facilities and schools have been hit, the UN says.
the surge in attacks, the government has not announced an all-out offensive to
retake the entire extremist enclave.
and rebel supporter Turkey brokered a ceasefire deal in September to avert a
government assault it was feared could spark the worst humanitarian disaster of
the eight-year war.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday spoke by telephone to his Russian
counterpart Vladimir Putin, calling for the ceasefire to be respected, the
Turkish presidency said.
told Putin it was important to “apply the ceasefire without delay in order to
focus once again on finding a political solution” to the Syrian conflict, a
also “stressed the need to prevent more lives being lost in regime attacks
mainly targeting civilians” and to eliminate the “growing risk” of a wave of
migrants heading for Turkey’s border.
Saudi Arabia — Muslim leaders from some 57 nations gathered in Islam’s holiest
city of Mecca late Friday to discuss a breadth of critical issues ranging from
a spike in tensions in the Persian Gulf, to Palestinian statehood, the plight
of Rohingya refugees and the growing threat of Islamophobia.
from across the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, or OIC, are meeting in
Saudi Arabia as the Sunni-led kingdom seeks to isolate Shiite-led Iran over its
policies in the region.
summit follows two emergency Arab meetings the night before in Mecca
criticizing Iran’s behavior and influence in countries like Syria, Iraq and
have also spiked in recent weeks between Washington and Tehran, with the U.S.
sending an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf. The Trump
administration’s hard-line approach with Iran began with U.S. withdrawal from
Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers last year and later with punishing
economic sanctions on the country.
Arabia’s effort to bring regional leaders to Mecca reflects the kingdom’s
desire to project a unified Muslim and Arab position on Iran to further isolate
it internationally and counter Tehran’s growing reach in the Middle East.
Islamic summit, however, draws political figures and heads of state from
countries spanning Africa, the Middle East and Asia with widely varying
policies and priorities.
for the summit’s host, Saudi Arabia, confronting Iran is at the top of the
meet in Mecca to build the future of our peoples, to achieve security and
stability for our Arab and Islamic countries, and to resolutely confront
aggressive threats and subversive activities,” King Salman said in a tweet
shortly before the start of the meeting.
a unified stance on Iran faces obstacles within OIC member-states, which
includes Iran. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan, who is attending the
summit, has sought good ties with both Saudi Arabia and Iran, for example.
Arab and U.S. officials suspect Iran of being behind the alleged sabotage of
four oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates in past weeks. Iran
was also accused of arming Yemeni rebels who launched a drone attack on a key
Saudi oil pipeline.
denies being involved in the incidents.
President Hassan Rouhani had a message for OIC leaders ahead of the summit,
urging them to stay focused on the rights of Palestinians. In a letter
published on the presidential website Friday, Rouhani said Muslim leaders
should not let the importance of Palestinian statehood be “marginalized” in the
face of the Trump administration’s forthcoming peace plan. Glimpses of the
still undisclosed plan suggest it sidelines or ignores the longstanding goal of
also complained in the letter about not being invited to the Islamic summit,
but expressed his country’s readiness to work with all Muslim leaders to
confront the White House’s so-called “Deal of the Century.”
ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi added further that Iran regrets “Saudi
Arabia’s abuse of its privilege as the host” of the OIC “to sow division
between Islamic and regional countries.”
leader of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group told supporters in Lebanon on
Friday that the Mecca summits are a Saudi call for help from Arab countries
after Saudi Arabia failed to win in Yemen, where the kingdom and its allies
have been at war since 2015 against Iranian-allied Yemeni rebels.
is a sign of failure,” Hassan Nasrallah said. “These summits are calls for help
...that express the failure and the inabilities in confronting the Yemeni army,
popular resistance and people.”
Syria said it rejects the final statement of Thursday night’s emergency summit,
which criticized what it calls Iranian intervention into Syrian affairs.
whose membership in the Arab League remains suspended, said the statement is an
unacceptable interference in the internal affairs of Syria.
which lies on the fault line between Shiite Iran and the mostly Sunni Arab
world, also rejected the Arab League’s final statement after the summit and was
not a signatory to it.
Army Declares Full Alert After Israeli Tanks Cross Alpha Line in Occupied Golan
Arabic-language website of Russian Sputnik news agency reported that the
Israeli Army violated the disengagement agreement signed and designated by the
UN in 1974.
buffer zone is an area where the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force
(UNDOF) is stationed between two Golans to the West of the village of Jbata
al-Khashb in Northern Quneitra.
pointed to the UNDOF's movements from Quneitra and Golan towards the buffer
zone concurrent with Israeli tanks' movements to prevent any clashes between
the Syrian Army and the Israeli forces, and said that the Syrian Army has sent
new military convoys to Golan and placed its troops on full alert.
region was under the occupation of Tahrir al-Sham al-Hay'at (the Levant
Liberation Board or the Al-Nusra Front) for several years.
Tuesday, the Israeli fighter jets attacked a military position of the Syrian
Army with missiles in Quneitra Province as government forces continued the
operation to clean up Northwestern Syria from terrorists.
military position of the Syrian Army came under Israel's missile attack in Tal
al-Sha'ar region East of Khan Arnabeh in Quneitra Province, SANA news agency
quoted a military source as saying on Friday night.
military vehicle of the Syrian Army was damaged in the Israeli attack and a
Syrian soldier was killed and another one was wounded in Israel's attack.
Arabic-language website of the Russian Sputnik News Agency also quoted a
battlefield source as saying three Israeli missiles also hit al-Kasveh region
the Israeli Army claimed that its fighter jets had targeted Syrian Army's air
defense system in Quneitra in response to firing rockets at Israeli warplanes.
Syrian Army backed by Russian air force has reinforced its military points on
the hills overlooking al-Aqirbat and al-Balas regions as well as their
surrounding areas in Eastern Homs, the Arabic-language website of the Russian
Sputnik News Agency quoted a Syrian Army battlefield commander in Eastern Homs
source pointed to the Syrian Army's military operations to clean up the
remaining ISIL terrorists in the Northeastern part of al-Aqirbat in Eastern
Homs, and said the Syrian Army troops are preparing for new battle against the
ISIL on the road leading to Deir Ezzur.
another military source pointed to the ISIL's continued attacks on army
positions in Eastern al-Sukhna, and said that the US is supporting the ISIL
terrorists with logistical aid and attacks on Army positions in T3 Station and
roads along which army units move.
source went on to say that the US is trying to help the ISIL block roads
leading to Badiyeh due to Badiyeh's strategically important oil and gas
a relevant development last Friday, the Syrian Army and Air Force heavily
pounded the military positions and movements of the ISIL terrorists in Eastern
Badiyeh in Homs province, inflicting heavy losses on the remaining elements of
the terrorist groups.
Syrian Army engaged in fierce clashes with the ISIL terrorists in the
surrounding areas of al-Bashri Mount and also outskirts of Humeimem region in
Eastern Badiyeh, killing several terrorists.
the Syrian Army's artillery units pounded the ISIL's military positions in the
battlefronts, destroying several of their military vehicles and killing all the
Syrian warplanes launched consecutive attacks against the ISIL near Jabal
al-Bashri and along the desert region of Badiyeh al-Sukhneh to the provincial
border with Deir Ezzur province, inflicting heavy losses and casualties on
a relevant development earlier in May, the Syrian Army dispatched a massive
military convoy to Palmyra in Eastern Homs from Damascus to clean up the ISIL
remnant from Homs' Badiyeh region.
Syrian Army has sent about 300 troops together with massive military equipment
to Badiyeh al-Sham in Palmyra region in Eastern Homs from the surrounding areas
of Damascus, a military source said.
source pointed to the Syrian Army's military reinforcements near Palmyra, and
said that the dispatch of the Syrian Army troops takes place in line with the
army's military operations to fully get rid of the remaining ISIL terrorists in
Badiyeh region of Homs.
captured widow of an ISIS extremist group leader helped the CIA in its hunt for
the group’s elusive leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a British daily said on
an interview with The Guardian, Nisrine Assad Ibrahim also claimed not to have
played a willing part in the detention of US hostage Kayla Mueller at her home.
has been accused of helping to forcibly hold Mueller and other captives at the
home, where the American woman was sexually assaulted by al-Baghdadi.
when she herself was detained by the US military, the 29-year-old helped the
CIA and Kurdish intelligence gain a detailed overview of the extremist
supremo’s hideouts and networks, investigators told the daily.
February 2016, Ibrahim identified a house in the Iraqi city of Mosul in which
al-Baghdadi was believed to have been staying, but the United States did not
call in an air strike.
told them where the house was,” she told The Guardian at a jail in the Iraqi
Kurdish city of Erbil.
knew he’d been there because it was one of the houses that was provided for
him, and one of the places he liked the most.”
declared a self-styled “caliphate” across large parts of Syria and Iraq in
he kept a low profile as the group steadily lost territory to multiple
offences. Last month he made his first appearance in five years, surfacing to
acknowledge the group’s territorial defeat a month earlier.
was captured in May 2015 from the al-Omar oil field in eastern Syria, The
Guardian said, in a US military raid that also killed her husband, a senior
ISIS leader known as Abu Sayyaf.
has been sentenced to death by a court in Erbil, the paper added.
said US aid worker Mueller was brought to her home in the eastern Syrian town
of Shadadi in September 2014, around the same time girls from the Yazidi
minority abducted to be used as sex slaves arrived.
was treated differently from the Yazidis,” Ibrahim said of Mueller.
was a budget for her, pocket money to buy things from the shop.”
was a lovely girl and I liked her. She was very respectful and I respected
her,” she claimed.
thing I would say is she was very good at hiding her sadness and pain.”
said she last saw Mueller in late 2014, when al-Baghdadi arrived from Iraq.
took her with him in a simple car, a Kia. He was driving, and they went to
months later, she saw a news report about Mueller’s death.
fighters claimed that Mueller, who was kidnapped in the Syrian city of Aleppo in
August 2013, was killed in a February 2015 coalition air strike that buried her
spike in violence in and around an extremist bastion in northwest Syria has
killed 948 people in a month, almost a third of them civilians, a war monitor
said on Friday.
September deal was supposed to avert a full-out regime offensive on Idlib
province and adjacent areas held by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat
the regime and its Russian ally have since late April ramped up deadly air
strikes and rocket fire on the extremist stronghold, and fighters have clashed
on its edges.
April 30, regime and Russian fire has killed 288 civilians including 67
children, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
rocket fire has killed a further 22 civilians including 10 children in
regime-held territory, the Britain-based monitoring group said.
and clashes on the region’s periphery have taken the lives of 369 extremists
and allied fighters, as well as 269 fighters on the regime's side.
United Nations says roughly 270,000 people have been displaced by the fighting
since late April, and aid agencies have been forced to halt work in some areas.
and rebel supporter Turkey brokered the September ceasefire deal to avert an
assault it was feared could spark the worst humanitarian disaster of Syria’s
Russian spokesperson on Friday told reporters that extremists and allied rebels
must halt attacks on regime-held areas for any ceasefire to hold.
ceasefire in Idlib is necessary and it’s also necessary to have terrorists stop
shooting at civilian targets as well as some facilities where our troops are
located -- including in Hmeimim,” a key Russian airbase to the west of Idlib,
Dmitry Peskov said.
Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz tweeted on Friday saying that Riyadh will
confront aggressive threats and acts of sabotage.
gathering in Mecca to work on building a future for our people and achieve
security and stability for our Arab and Muslim countries. We will confront
aggressive threats and acts of sabotage, so that they don’t stop us from
developing our countries and societies,” the King said.
Syrian government has rejected a final communiqué issued following the 14th
summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in the Saudi city of
Mecca, describing the presence of Iranian military advisors in the
conflict-plagued Arab country as “legitimate and lawful.”
dismisses what was declared in the final statement of the emergency Arab summit
in Saudi Arabia regarding the Iranian intervention in Syria’s affairs, and
considers what is mentioned in this communiqué as an unacceptable interference
in the Syrian domestic issues,” an unnamed source at the Syrian Ministry of
Foreign Affairs and Expatriates said on Friday.
source added, “Syria reiterates that the Iranian presence is legitimate because
it came at the request of the Syrian government and contributed to Syria's
efforts in the fight against terrorism sponsored by some participants in the
summit was to condemn the interference of other countries in the Syrian crisis,
which lacks legitimacy and is aimed at providing unlimited support to various
terrorist groups and prolonging the Syrian conflict,” the source pointed out.
has been in Syria on an advisory military capacity since the conflict erupted
in the country in 2011. Russia joined the battle late in 2015. The two
countries intervened in Syria at the official request of the Syrian government.
which deployed troops in Syria in 2014 despite repeated criticisms by Damascus,
has been critical of Iranian and Russian role in the country.
has opposed the final statement of an emergency meeting in Saudi Arabia, which
condemned what it called Iran's "interference" in countries of the
Middle East region.
statement by the (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council and the communiqué issued
after a wider summit both underlined the rights of Saudi Arabia and the United
Arab Emirates (UAE) to defend themselves against Tehran.
statements mainly cited concerns about the recent sabotage attacks against
several ships off the UAE.
Saudi and Emirati officials have blamed the mysterious "sabotage"
attacks on Iran while Iran denies any involvement.
absence of a firm deterrent stance against Iranian behavior is what led to the
escalation we see today," King Salman told the two consecutive meetings
late on Thursday night.
also pointed to Iran's ballistic missile and nuclear programs as sources of
concern, and expressed concern about what he described as Iran's threats to
cripple global oil supplies by closing down the Strait of Hormuz in case the US
seeks to zero out the Islamic Republic's oil exports.
however, which maintains close ties with neighboring Iran and has strong ties
with Washington as well, objected to the communiqué, which required
"non-interference in other countries" as a pre-condition for
cooperation with Tehran.
President Barham Salih asked the gathering to support his country's stability,
arguing that rising tensions with Iran could cause war. He voiced hope that
Iran's security would not be targeted.
are watching before our eyes the escalation of a regional and international
crisis which can turn into war that will engulf all. If the crisis is not
managed well, then we will be faced with the danger of a regional and
international confrontation which will bring tragedy to our countries,"
Islamic Republic of Iran is a Muslim country that is a neighbor to Iraq and
Arabs. It is certain that we do not wish the security of Iran to be targeted.
We share a common border that is 1,400 km long and a long history and
relations, and it is also certain that the security of a fellow Islamic country
is in the interest of Arab and Islamic countries. The region needs stability
based on a mechanism of joint security that guarantees non-interference in
internal affairs and the rejection of violence and extremism," he added.
Mecca communiqué also said the Riyadh regime had all the rights to defend
itself against retaliatory drone strikes by Yemen's Houthi Ansarullah fighters,
after a number of drones flew hundreds of kilometers into Saudi Arabia and
targeted two of the kingdom's oil pumping stations earlier this month.
The US-led coalition said Friday it had unintentionally killed more than 1,300
civilians in air strikes during its fight against the Daesh group in Iraq and
Syria since 2014.
figure is far lower than the death tolls given by groups which have monitored
the conflicts in the two countries.
coalition conducted 34,502 strikes between August 2014 and the end of April
2019,” it said in a statement.
this period, it “assesses at least 1,302 civilians have been unintentionally
killed by coalition strikes.”
coalition said it was still assessing 111 additional claims of civilian deaths,
and was ready to receive new allegations or fresh evidence to review.
coalition has repeatedly said it does all it can to avoid civilian deaths.
an NGO which monitors civilian casualties from air strikes worldwide, estimates
more than 7,900 civilians have been killed in coalition raids — well in excess
of the total acknowledged by the coalition.
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, says coalition
strikes have taken the lives of 3,800 civilians in Syria alone.
militants seized large swathes of Iraq and Syria in 2014, declaring a
“caliphate” in areas they controlled.
several offensives with coalition backing chipped away at the “caliphate” until
it was declared eliminated on March 23.
and hit-and-run attacks have continued in both countries.
Islamic Summit communique reiterates Palestinians’ right to statehood
- The “Mecca Declaration” final communique of the 14th Islamic Summit has
largely focused on the question of Palestine and reiterated the Organization of
Islamic Cooperation’s call for the Palestinians’ right to statehood.
Summit reaffirmed the centrality of the question of Palestine and the issue of
Jerusalem to the Islamic Ummah and reiterated its principled and continuous
support at all levels for the Palestinian people to attain their inalienable
national rights, including their right to self-determination and the
establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian State on the 1967
borders with Jerusalem as its capital, and stressed the need to protect the right
of return for refugees under resolution 194 and to face any denial of these
rights with full force,” a point on the final communique read.
Summit's communique also condemned and rejected any positions issued by
international bodies or countries which supports the "prolongation of the
occupation and expansionist settlement project at the expense of the legitimate
national rights of the Palestinian people, including the recognition by the US
administration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel."
summit this year was titled “Mecca Summit: Together for the Future,” and aimed
at developing a unified stance on events in the Islamic world. Leaders of Saudi
Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Jordan, Turkey, Tunisia, Senegal, Nigeria, Bangladesh,
and Pakistan spoke during the summit.
leaders mainly focused on the issue of Palestine, countering extremism and
terrorism, and the issue of growing Islamophobia around the world.
communique also rejected and condemned in the “strongest terms of any illegal
and irresponsible decision recognizing Jerusalem as the alleged capital of
Israel,” adding that any countries decision to recognize Jerusalem as the
capital of Israel would be considered “null and void and constitutes an attack
on the historical, legal and national rights of the Palestinian people and the
Islamic Summit also called for the complete withdrawal of Israel from the
occupied Syrian Golan Heights and return “to the borders of 4 June 1967, in
accordance with Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), the
Land for Peace legislation, the Madrid Peace Conference and the Arab Peace
Initiative adopted by the Arab Summit in Beirut in 2002.”
issue of Islamophobia was also noted with concern on the final communique.
this regard, the Summit encouraged the United Nations and other international
and regional organizations to adopt March 15 as the International Day against
Islamophobia,” the communique read.
leader chants ‘death to America’ after advocating for peace
Ali al-Houthi, the head of the Iranian-backed Supreme Revolutionary Committee
and Washington Post contributor, chanted “death to America” and “curse on the
Jews” during a speech in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa.
speech, which was given to mark al-Quds day on Friday, comes a few months after
al-Houthi called for peace in an article published in the Washington Post.
day, or Jerusalem day, is a celebration of the support for the Palestinians on
the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan, a day called for by Iranian
Ayatollah Khomeini after the revolution in 1979.
Friday, anti-America and anti-Israel protests broke out in support for al-Quds
day in both Iran and Iraq, where American and Israeli flags were being stepped
on and both US President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
figures were being burned. Hate chants by Mohammed Ali al-Houthi said: “Death
to Israel, curse on the Jews.”
- Lebanon's Iran-backed Hezbollah movement said on Friday it was a duty to
confront the US Middle East plan that President Donald Trump has touted as
"the deal of the century".
is a religious, moral, humanitarian, jihadi duty...The deal is a historic
crime," Hezbollah leader Hassan
Nasrallah said in a televised speech.
Two Palestinians were killed as more than 200,000 Muslims took part in the
final Friday prayers of Ramadan at Al-Aqsa mosque compound in the Old City of
annexed east Jerusalem, as Israel heightened security.
religious authority in charge of the compound, the third holiest site in Islam,
said in total 260,000 worshippers took part in the lunchtime prayers.
prayers came only hours after a Palestinian teenager stabbed two Israelis
inside the Old City before being shot dead by Israeli security.
a separate incident, another Palestinian teenager was shot dead by Israeli
forces in the occupied West Bank as he sought to sneak into Jerusalem,
reportedly to pray at Al-Aqsa.
Jerusalem itself, a 19-year-old Palestinian stabbed one Israeli near the
Damascus Gate and another near Jaffa Gate on the other side of the walled Old
City, police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said.
of the Israelis was in a critical condition and the other suffered serious
wounds, he said.
units that responded at the scene saw the attacker with a knife. The attacker
was shot and killed,” Rosenfeld said.
Palestinian health ministry later named him as Yusef Wajih from Abwein village
in the central West Bank.
video released by police showed a man running through the streets and stabbing
two Orthodox Jews.
Old City has been the scene of numerous stabbings of Israelis by Palestinian
assailants in recent years, though a relative calm has existed for several
the latest attack, gates to the Old City were briefly sealed before being
reopened as thousands thronged toward the mosque.
the mostly uncovered mosque compound, water was sprayed on worshippers to keep
them cool in the baking Jerusalem sun, with temperatures approaching 40
a heavy police presence, there were no reports of further incidents.
said increased security presence would “continue throughout the afternoon and
Al-Aqsa mosque compound is a key religious and political symbol for
Palestinians. It is also sacred for Jews, who refer to it at the Temple Mount.
attack came just two days before Israelis hold a major march to mark Jerusalem
Day, the annual commemoration of the capture of east Jerusalem in the Six-Day
War of 1967.
was later annexed in a move not recognized by the international community.
December 2017, US President Donald Trump broke with decades of bipartisan
policy to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in a move that prompted the
Palestinians to cut all contacts with his administration.
insists the whole of Jerusalem is its “eternal, indivisible capital.” The
Palestinians demand the city’s eastern sector as the capital of their long
Thursday evening, Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner met Israeli
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem as part of a Middle East tour
before Washington unveils its long-awaited plan for Israel-Palestinian peace.
accompanied by Trump envoy Jason Greenblatt, arrived in Jerusalem after earlier
stops in Morocco and Jordan.
is a key architect of the peace plan that the White House says it intends to
present in the coming weeks.
the plan, previously delayed for an Israeli general election on April 9, could
face further postponements due to Israeli politics.
is set to hold another general election in September after Netanyahu failed to
form a coalition government, and the plan is widely seen as too sensitive an
issue to introduce during a political campaign.
Palestinian leadership has rejected the peace plan without seeing it, saying
Trump has shown himself to be blatantly biased in favor of Israel.
cite moves including declaring the disputed city of Jerusalem Israel’s capital
and cutting hundreds of millions of dollars in Palestinian aid.
has also handed Netanyahu other diplomatic coups, notably US recognition of
Israel’s 1981 annexation of the strategic Golan Heights captured from Syria in
the Six-Day War.
leader Yahya Sinwar on Thursday thanked Iran for providing his terror group the
rockets it used to strike deep into Israel and warned the Jewish state that Tel
Aviv would be struck again in response to any offensive against the Gaza Strip.
provided us with rockets, and we surprised the world when our resistance
targeted Beersheba,” Sinwar said in a live TV address, referring to the weekend
of violence at the beginning of the month, during which Hamas and Palestinian
Islamic Jihad fired nearly 700 rockets at Israel.
it not been for Iran, the resistance in Palestine would not have possessed its
current capabilities,” Sinwar said.
Hamas leader then went on to warn that if Israel “resumes its aggression,” his
group would strike Tel Aviv and other cities with twice as many rockets.
has long charged Iran with trying to arm Palestinian terror groups in Gaza and
maintains a blockade of the Strip to try and stop the import of sophisticated
has also supplied tens of thousands of rockets to the Hezbollah terror group in
also blasted the Trump administration’s not-yet released Mideast peace plan,
saying Washington’s proposal is bound to fail. “The conflict will not be over
until the occupation is removed from all of our land.”
criticized Bahrain for hosting the rollout of the economic stage of
Washington’s plan in June and called on citizens of the kingdom to protest
against their government.
balloons from Gaza continue
the Israel Fire and Rescue Services reported that an incendiary balloon
launched from Gaza sparked a fire in an open field near the border with the
was the 45th such fire in May, which has seen ceasefire of rockets since May 6,
but a near daily onslaught of incendiary objects flown from the Strip toward
Israel, burning dozens of acres of land.
announced Saturday night that, as of Sunday, the fishing zone off the coast of
the Gaza Strip will be expanded to 15 nautical miles (27.8 kilometers), four
days after it was reduced to 10 nautical miles (18.5 kilometers) amid a rash of
incendiary balloon attacks from the coastal Palestinian territory.
last March, incendiary balloons have caused fires that destroyed thousands of
acres of farmland and nature reserves in southern Israel, in particular in the
areas bordering Gaza.
weeks have seen tensions in the Strip soar, following a massive two-day
escalation of violence earlier this month between Israel and terror groups in
the Palestinian enclave.
to Israel’s Channel 12 news, the agreement that ended that flare-up included a
Hamas obligation to halt violent incidents along the border fence, maintaining
a buffer zone 300 meters from the border, an end to the launching of incendiary
balloons at Israeli communities and nighttime clashes between Gazans and
Israeli security forces, and a stop to flotillas trying to break through the
maritime border between Gaza and Israel.
return, Israel reportedly agreed to expand the fishing zone, enable the United
Nations cash-for-work programs, allow medicine and other civil aid to enter the
Strip, and open negotiations on matters relating to electricity, crossings,
healthcare and funds.
An exhibition held on Thursday on the premises of Jeddah’s King Abdul Aziz
International Airport showcased missiles, unarmed aerial vehicles (UAVs), boats
and other equipment used by the Iran-backed Houthi militia in Yemen to target
Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
Facts in Minutes exhibition showcased the remains of Iranian missiles and
drones that targeted Saudi Arabia, including a Qiam ballistic missile fired at
Riyadh on March 25, 2018, and a Qiam ballistic missile fired at Makkah in 2016.
exhibition was organized by the Saudi defense and foreign ministries, as well
as the Yemen Development and Reconstruction Center. It was attended by leaders
of 56 countries and about 390 media personnel.
trilateral Israeli, US and Russian meeting of national security advisers is
scheduled to take place in Israel in June to deal with regional security
issues, and is expected to focus on Iran’s involvement in Syria.
Wednesday night, just before the Knesset decided to dissolve itself, the White
House issued a statement saying that US National Security Adviser John Bolton,
Israeli National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat and Russian Secretary of the
Security Council Nikolay Patrushev will meet in Jerusalem in June “to discuss
regional security issues.”
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu mentioned the planned meeting in the agitated
statement he gave after the Knesset vote, saying that these are the issues the
country should be dealing with, not another round of elections.
proposed to [US President Donald] Trump and [Russian President Vladimir] Putin
to form a US-Russia-Israel trilateral committee that would meet in Jerusalem to
discuss the security situation in the Middle East and both of them agreed,”
Netanyahu said. “This is unprecedented. A meeting like has never taken place
before in Israel. Never.”
Russian media reported that Yevgeny Anoshin, a spokesman for Patrushev,
confirmed the meeting to journalists.
first proposed the idea at the Kremlin in February during a meeting with Putin
that dealt primarily with Iran’s presence in Syria.
greatest threat to stability and security in the region comes from Iran and its
proxies,” Netanyahu said before that meeting. “We are determined to continue
with our aggressive action against the efforts of Iran – which calls for our
destruction – and against its attempt to entrench militarily in Syria.”
said at the time that the objective of removing Iranian troops from Syria is
not Israel’s alone. He proposed setting up a team with others to promote the
goal of removing all foreign forces on from Syrian soil and returning the
situation regarding foreign troops to what it was before the start of the
Syrian civil war. He said that a team has been established to deal with this
matter in Israel’s National Security Council.
a meeting in the White House in March, Netanyahu presented Trump with a plan to
remove the Iranians from Syria, and a senior Israeli diplomatic official at the
time said that he is also trying to enlist Putin’s support for that plan.
Arabia's king has accused the kingdom's key rival, Iran, of developing nuclear
and ballistic missiles which threaten regional and global stability, telling
regional leaders that action is needed to stop Iranian "escalations"
following a series of attacks on oil assets in the Gulf.
comments by King Salman Abdul Aziz came as Saudi Arabia on Thursday hosted in
Mecca emergency meetings of the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Organization of
the Islamic Conference and the Arab League to counter what it said was Iran's
Gulf-Arab statement and a separate communique issued after the wider summit
both supported the right of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to defend
their interests after the attacks on oil pumping stations in the kingdom and
tankers off the UAE. But in a sign of regional tensions, Iraq, which has good
ties with neighbouring Iran and the United States, said it objected to the Arab
communique, which stated that any cooperation with Tehran should be based on
"non-interference in other countries".
Arab and Muslim leaders earlier, King Salman pressed the international
community to "use all means to stop Iran from interfering in other
said Tehran's actions threatened international maritime trade and global oil
supplies in a "glaring violation of UN treaties".
is naked aggression against our stability and international security," the
Saudi ruler told the gathered officials.
"recent criminal acts ... require that all of us work seriously to
preserve the security... of GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] countries," the
his opening remarks, Saudi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf said the alleged
sabotage of oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates and drone
attacks on a Saudi oil pipeline by Yemen's Houthi rebels in recent weeks
threaten the global economy and endanger regional and international security.
should confront it with all means of force and firmness," he said.
Iranian official was at the meeting where Assaf spoke.Tehran has denied any
involvement in the attacks.
Bolton, a top US security official, alleged on Wednesday Iranian mines were
"almost certainly" used in the tanker operation. He provided no
Iranian official dismissed Bolton's remarks as "a ludicrous claim".
Salman invited Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, whose country is
home to the largest US military base in the region, to the Mecca summit.
Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser Al Thani attended the meeting
instead, the highest Qatari official to visit the kingdom since Saudi Arabia,
United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt imposed a land, sea, and air blockade
on the gas-rich nation in June 2017.
images of Thursday's gathering showed Sheikh Abdullah shaking King Salman's
Pickering, a former US ambassador the UN, told Al Jazeera the Qatari prime
minister's presence at the summit was an important step.
invitation has opened the door more than just a little bit. His [Sheikh
Abdullah's] presence there and the handshake is a sign that Saudi Arabia wants
unity in the Gulf Cooperation Council and that unity is spreading," said
said the emergency summit will be watched closely for whether or not the Saudis
will endorse Qatar as a mediator in the dispute with Iran the same way the US
this month, Al Jazeera reported that Qatar's foreign minister had held talks
with his Iranian counterpart in Tehran, aiming to defuse the escalating
tensions in the Gulf.
seems to have bet on Doha to de-escalate by opening back channels with Tehran.
The question is whether Saudi and especially UAE can agree on Doha as a
mediator," Andreas Krieg from King's College London told Al Jazeera.
fact that the Saudis contacted the emir of Qatar directly suggests that the
tension with Iran is taken very seriously in Riyadh. So, the kingdom is ready
to build a broader-than-usual consensus on how to deal with Iran," Krieg
states have a joint defence force under the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), but
the 39-year-old alliance has been fractured by the Qatar blockade.
has risen between the US and Iran after Washington pulled out of a
multinational nuclear deal with Tehran, reimposed sanctions and boosted its
military presence in the Gulf.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on a trip to Iraq this month that
Tehran wanted balanced ties with their Gulf neighbours and had proposed signing
a non-aggression pact with them.
of the UAE's main newspapers said in an editorial, which is usually
state-approved, the offer was "bizarre".
of Kordestan Law Enforcement Forces Brigadier General Ali Azadi said three
members of the terrorist cell were captured after police received intelligence
tips about their whereabouts.
noted that different weapons and ammunition have been also seized from the
to the police chief, the terrorists planned to conduct an attack on the
International Quds Day rallies in the provincial capital city of Sanandaj.
International Quds Day is an annual event opposing Israel's occupation of
Beitul-Muqaddas. Anti-Zionist rallies and demonstrations are held on the last
Friday of Ramadan in Muslim and Arab countries around the world, specially in
Iran, as well as a large number of non-Muslim states.
President Donald Trump has autographed a map of the occupied territories which
falsely recognizes Syria's Golan Heights as part of Israel, and gifted it to
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
who had received the State Department map from Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner
as a gift, showed it off in a televised interview on Thursday night.
the show-off, he told the viewers that the new map marked the occupied Golan
Heights as part of Israel, and that Trump had written the word "nice"
Kushner brought me the updated map that includes the Golan Heights within
Israeli sovereignty -- here is the signature of President Trump and he writes
here 'Nice,'" Netanyahu said.
the map, a hand-drawn arrow in black ink points from the word "Nice"
to the Golan. Running along the side of the map in the same black ink is the US
president's spiky signature.
in April, Netanyahu announced he planned to name "a new community on the
Golan Heights" after Trump in gratitude for his recognition of Israel's
claim of "sovereignty" over the strategic plateau.
a highly provocative move on March 25, the US president signed a proclamation
recognizing Israel's "sovereignty" over the Syrian territory on the
direction of a number of his advisers, most notably his adviser Kushner.
strongly condemned the move and called it a "blatant attack on the
sovereignty and territorial integrity" of Syria.
Arab League also denounced the decision, saying, "Trump's recognition does
not change the area's status."
countries, including Iran, Russia and Turkey, along with the United Nations
Security Council, have lambasted Trump's provocative move.
1967, Israel waged a full-scale war on Arab territories, during which it
occupied a large swathe of Golan and annexed it in 1981, a move never
recognized by the international community.
has repeatedly reaffirmed its sovereignty over the Golan Heights, saying the
territory must be completely restored to its control.
Palestinian Territories: A Palestinian teenager was shot dead by Israeli forces
in the occupied West Bank on Friday, the Palestinian health ministry said.
a statement the ministry said Abdullah Ghaith, 16, “died after he was shot by
Israeli occupation soldiers close to Bethlehem and his heart and lungs were
media suggested he was seeking to breach an Israeli fence to get into Jerusalem
to pray at the revered Al-Aqsa mosque on the last Friday of the Muslim holy
month of Ramadan.
The Houthis are an arm of Iran and aim to threaten the existence of Yemen and
neighboring countries, the Arab coalition said on Friday.
at a joint press conference organized on the sidelines of the Gulf, Arab and
Islamic summits in Makkah, coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki said that
Iran was seeking to find a foothold in the Bab Al-Mandab Strait through Yemen.
added that Iranian intervention was a clear violation of UN Security Council
resolutions, and that the “stability of the region” depended on the stability
added that Houthi missiles were supplied by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard,
and Iranian experts were training the militias.
militias planned a coup against Yemen and planned to threaten the Kingdom and
the Gulf nations’ security, and our military operations are recognized by the
international community,” he said.
current situation and the international and regional political events prove the
interrelationship between regimes practicing terrorism and the terrorist groups
and militias, especially in the Middle East.”
the military objectives, Al-Maliki said they were to protect Yemeni citizens in
cities and villages, as well as to destroy the militia’s capabilities and
return legitimacy to the Yemeni state.
added that a comprehensive plan for humanitarian operations in Yemen was being
prepared, in addition to financial support worth $1.5 billion.
Facts in Minutes
exhibition held on the premises of Jeddah’s King Abdul Aziz International
Airport showcased missiles, unarmed aerial vehicles (UAVs), boats and other equipment
used by the Iran-backed Houthi militia in Yemen to target Saudi Arabia. Leaders
of delegations from 56 different states participating in the Gulf, Arab and
Islamic summits have had a look at models of the Iranian ballistic missiles,
equipment and weapons used by the Iranian-backed Houthis militias to target
Saudi Arabia, where the number of missiles that targeted the Kingdom has
reached more than 225 ballistic missiles, including one that targeted Makkah.
two ballistic missiles featured at the exhibition were intercepted in an
attempt targeting Makkah in 2017 and another one targeting Riyadh in 2018.
“Facts in Minutes” exhibition also features models of ballistic Qiyam missiles,
remote-controlled boats, Iranian-made optical binoculars and Iranian Dahlawi
anti-armor weaponry used by Houthi militiamen.
exhibition included a TV screen showing physical evidence of the Iranian
regime’s involvement in providing these arms to the Houthis.
exhibition was organized by the Saudi defense and foreign ministries, as well
as the Yemen Development and Reconstruction Center.
Efforts underway for safe zone in northern Syria
U.S. is planning to set up a safe zone in northern Syria to reduce the risk of
terror attacks on Turkey and avoid further tension in the region, Secretary of
State Mike Pompeo said on Friday.
at a joint news conference with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas following
their meeting in Berlin, Pompeo underlined that the U.S. will continue to
support UN efforts for a political solution in Syria and continue its efforts
to reduce risk of violence.
seen the work that we have done with the Turks in Manbij the west of the
Euphrates River,” Pompeo said referring to the joint patrols by the U.S. and
Turkish troops in the area.
we are attempting to set up a system something that can add to that. Call it a
buffer zone, call it what you will … That will reduce the risk of terrorists
attacking from Syria into Turkey,” he said.
about local media reports that claimed U.S. administration was seeking military
support from Germany and other allies for setting up such a safe zone, Pompeo
confirmed that the talks were underway between the partners.
committed our forces there … and we’ve asked our European partners to assist
us. As we develop the plans, we’ll see what the force requirements would
actually look like,” he said.
underlined that the planned safe zone also intends to prevent further tensions
between Turkey and the U.S.-backed groups in the area.
activities of the terrorist PYD/PKK group in northern Syria has been a major
security concern for Ankara, while the U.S. administration viewed the group as
a “reliable partner” in the fight against Daesh.
leaders have long warned their U.S. counterparts that one cannot rely on a
terrorist organization in the fight against another terrorist group.
PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the
EU, waged a terror campaign against Turkey for more than 30 years and has been
responsible for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people, including women and
United States could present evidence linking Iran to attacks on oil tankers off
the coast of the United Arab Emirates earlier this month to the United Nations
Security Council as early as next week, US National Security Adviser John
Bolton said on Thursday.
during a visit to the UK, Bolton reiterated earlier claims suggesting that Iran
was behind the May 12 attack on four commercial ships in the Gulf.
don't think anybody who is familiar with the situation in the region, whether
they have examined the evidence or not, has come to any conclusion other than
that these attacks were carried out by Iran or their surrogates," Bolton
told reporters in London.
Wednesday, Bolton, without offering evidence, alleged the tankers were targeted
by "naval mines almost certainly from Iran". Tehran rejected the
accusation as "ridiculous" and has repeatedly denied any involvement
in the incident.
between the United States and Iran mounted this month, a year after President
Donald Trump withdrew the US from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and
several other world powers. The deal saw Iran agree to curb its nuclear
programme in exchange for sanctions relief.
has since steadily ratcheted up pressure on Tehran: reimposing sanctions,
moving to cut the country's oil exports to zero, blacklisting Iran's
Revolutionary Guard Corps as a "terrorist group" and deploying US
military units to the Gulf in response to an unspecified threat.
who has previously called for "the overthrow of the mullahs' regime in
Tehran", denied on Thursday that the White House was pursuing a
"policy of regime change" and instead said the US move to send an
aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the region was a move to stymie any show
of aggression by Iran.
don't think this threat is over, but I do think you can make at least a
conditional claim that the quick response and the deployment and other steps
that we took did serve as a deterrent," he said, adding that any attacks
on US troops, military units or facilities in the Gulf would draw a "very
strong response" from Trump's administration.
repeated threats of readiness to retaliate to any attack from the other, both
Washington and Tehran have also repeatedly stated they do not want war.
Thursday, Trump said he was available for talks with Iran's leadership. Iran's
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has ruled out talks with the White House
for the time being, however.
on Thursday, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which have lobbied Washington to contain
Iran, said they wanted to avoid conflict with their regional rival as the
former hosted emergency Arab summits over the ongoing tensions.
days after the attack on the oil tankers off the UAE's coastline, Saudi Arabia
said armed drones struck two oil pumping stations in the kingdom. Riyadh
accused Tehran of ordering the May 14 attacks, for which Yemen's Iran-aligned
Houthi group claimed responsibility.
King Salman told a Gulf Arab meeting, in advance of a separate Arab summit,
that Iran's development of nuclear and missile capabilities and its threatening
of global oil supplies posed a risk to regional and international security.
must be said that the absence of a severe and firm stance towards the
subversive actions of the Iranian regime in the region caused it to go too far,
as we see today," he said.
Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf had told a gathering of his counterparts in
Jeddah before the Mecca summits that the attacks on oil assets must be
addressed with "strength and firmness".
states have a joint defence force under the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), but
the alliance has been fractured by a dispute that has seen Saudi Arabia, the
UAE, Bahrain and non-GCC Egypt impose a boycott on fellow member Qatar since
King Salman invited Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, whose country
is home to the largest US military base in the region, to the Mecca summits.
meanwhile, confirmed Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser Al Thani would
attend, the highest Qatari official to visit the kingdom since the rift.
which shares a giant gas field with Iran, has offered to help ease tensions in
the region, while Iraq and Oman, which have good ties with Tehran and
Washington, said they were working at lessening the friction.
attempt being made to assess far-right extremist funding, report warns
to disrupt and investigate the funding of far-right extremism lags well behind
similar work into ISIS-like groups, a report has warned.
effort has been made to understand the evolving ways and “overlooked
phenomenon” that far-right groups and people are supported financially.
is despite the UK’s interior minister reporting a 36 per cent increase in 2018
in the number of suspected right-wing extremists being referred to the
government's deradicalisation programme.
report by the Royal United Services Institute also urged the private sector,
such as banks and social media companies, to boost their coordination in order
to stem the spread of hate.
cooperation between Facebook and PayPal to limit the influence of anti-Muslim
campaigner Tommy Robinson - real name Stephen Yaxley Lennon - was cited as a
coordinated and harmonised approach is needed if extremist actors are not
easily to find other channels for promoting and financing their activity,” said
the significant threats posed by extreme right-wing groups and, specifically,
extreme right-wing terrorism… it would appear that very limited focus is
applied to the funding of these groups and individuals,” the research found.
and stopping the financing of terror groups was “exclusively confined” to
groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda, it said.
was found that right-wing extremists were becoming ever more resourceful in
circumventing attempts to stop their cash flow
instance, the ‘de-platforming’ of far-right figures from mainstream fundraising
sites such as GoFundMe or Patreon meant extremists had moved onto alternatives
such as the similarly named GoyFundMe or Hatreon.
are also turning to cryptocurrency as bank or cash transfers become more
report cited research that argued cryptocurrencies were especially appealing to
right-wing extremists because they represented a “historical mistrust of global
the paper warned that while right-wing extremism may not always be violent and
indeed is not considered a criminal offence in some countries, it is still
“inextricably linked” to terrorism.
begins as right-wing extremism may progress rapidly into right-wing terrorism,
as vividly illustrated by the transition of the Christchurch killer from online
postings to murderous action,” the research said.
fringe out-and-out violent actors struggled to attract significant funding,
entrenched "mainstream" extreme groups or individuals are backed by
financial links between different groups remains a topic of contention amongst
experts but it is generally accepted that given the prevalence of seemingly
linked far-right groups, there must be some level of global connectivity.
example is Generation Identity, which started in France in 2012 and has spread
to the UK, Germany, Austria, Italy and further afield. Reports say it is linked
to Identity Evropa, one of the groups being a white supremacist rally in
Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.
is also an increased understanding into the significance of specific numbers
that could be indicate a transaction by far-right groups – a phenomenon
distinct from other extremist groups.
example, the first letter of the alphabet is A and the eighth is H – this would
generally be accepted to be referring to AH or Adolph Hitler.
which was scrawled across the weapons and magazines used by the Christchurch
shooter, is 1683. This was the date of the Battle of Vienna, viewed by the
extremist as the moment the Ottoman Empire’s fortunes began to fall.
low-priority risk could become tomorrow’s high priority threat, and developing
a financial analysis and understanding of these groups, their activities and
facilitators is imperative as part of an enhanced response,” the report
— The main suspect in the bombing last week in the central French city of Lyon
has told investigators that he had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, a
French judicial official said on Thursday.
official, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the case, identified
the suspect as Mohamed M., but did not provide any additional details.
suspect was arrested on Monday at a bus stop in Lyon and is still in custody,
where he admitted to investigators that he had carried out the bombing. But his
exact motivations — and whether he had direct ties to the Islamic State or to a
wider network — remain unclear, the French authorities said.
has been no claim of responsibility from the Islamic State for the bombing, in
which 13 people were lightly wounded by a device packed with screws, metal
balls and batteries that exploded outside a bakery in the center of Lyon,
France’s third-most populated city.
300 police officers used witness accounts and footage from video surveillance
cameras to retrace the suspect’s steps and identify him.
French police had taken in the suspect’s parents and brother for questioning,
but the Paris prosecutor’s office, which handles terrorism investigations
nationwide, said on Thursday that all three had been released for lack of
Castaner, France’s interior minister, told the CNews television channel on
Tuesday that the suspect was not previously known by French security or
Castaner declined to confirm or deny French news reports that the suspect was a
24-year-old Algerian, but he said the man had previously stayed in France on
short-term visas and was then refused a student visa.
bomb showed “very efficient” technical know-how but had a “very small volume of
explosives,” Mr. Castaner said.
Collomb, the mayor of Lyon, told Franceinfo on Wednesday that the suspect did
not show any “exterior” signs of recent radicalization but that he had ordered
materials online that could be used for homemade bombs.
Rights Watch on Friday condemned France’s “outsourcing” of trials of ISIS group
suspects held in Iraq where seven of its nationals have this week been
sentenced to death.
of them have “alleged that they were tortured or coerced to confess,” the New
York-based watchdog said in a statement.
and other countries should not be outsourcing the management of their terrorism
suspects to abusive justice systems,” said HRW’s acting Middle East director,
countries should not be sitting idly by while their citizens are transferred to
a country where their right to a fair trial and protection from torture are
Baghdad court sentenced a Frenchman to death on Wednesday for joining ISIS,
bringing to seven the number of French extremists on death row in Iraq.
Sakkam was among 12 French citizens handed over to Iraqi authorities in January
by a US-backed force which expelled the extremist group from its last bastion
sentence came despite France reiterating its opposition to capital punishment
this week. Iraq has taken custody of thousands of extremists in recent months after
they were captured in neighboring Syria.
include hundreds of foreigners suspected of ISIS membership, raising the
question of whether they should be tried in the region or repatriated.
has long insisted it's adult citizens captured in Iraq or Syria must face trial
before local courts, while stressing its opposition to capital punishment.
Iraqi law provides for the death penalty for anyone joining a “terrorist group”
-- even those who did not take up arms.
said it had documented cases of Iraqi interrogators “using a range of torture
techniques, including beating suspects on the soles of their feet,
internationally known as ‘falaka,’ and waterboarding, which would not leave
lasting marks on the person’s body.”
also condemned “the routine failure of the Iraqi justice system to credibly
investigate torture allegations.”
all but one case observed by HRW since 2016, trials had consisted of “a judge
briefly interviewing the defendant, usually relying solely on a confession,
often coerced, with no effective legal representation.”
group representing the families of French extremists has asked the government
in Paris to “do everything possible to stop this fatal chain of death
sentences” and to try them “on our soil.”
Tuesday, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said France was stepping up
efforts to stop Iraq executing those convicted.
high-ranking Russian official says Turkey carries the responsibility to stop
Takfiri militants stationed in Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib from
launching attacks and firing projectiles on civilian facilities and Russian
spokesman Dmitry Peskov made clear on Friday that Moscow was unmoved for the
time being by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s call for a cease-fire in
Idlib, emphasizing that militants were the ones, who had to implement a
cessation of hostilities in the first instance to prevent more civilian deaths
and a refugee influx to Turkey.
really do need a ceasefire in Idlib and what needs to be achieved is for the
terrorists to stop firing on civilian targets and on certain facilities where
our troops are located,” Peskov told reporters when asked about Erdogan's
request for a ceasefire.
is the responsibility of the Turkish side,” the Kremlin spokesperson added.
May 23, the Russian Defense Ministry said its surface-to-air missile systems
had managed to foil an attack by foreign-sponsored Takfiri militants on its
main airbase in Syria's western coastal province of Latakia.
ministry announced in a statement that militants positioned in the
de-escalation zone of Idlib province had launched four missiles at the
strategic Hmeimim airbase.
statement added that Russian air defense systems destroyed all the projectiles
before they could strike the site.
Russian Defense Ministry further noted that the missile launcher, which the
Takfiri terrorists had used to fire the missiles at the Hmeimim base, was later
detected and destroyed.
The development came only a day after
foreign-backed militants fired a barrage of missiles at the same Russian
Russian Defense Ministry stated that eight rockets launched by the extremists
did not reach the Hmeimim airbase, while another nine were shot down by Russian
air defense systems.
has been helping Syrian forces in ongoing battles across the conflict-plagued
Russian military assistance, which began in September 2015 at the official
request of the Syrian government, has proved effective as Syrians continue to
recapture key areas from Daesh and other foreign-backed terrorist groups across
the country with the backing of Russian air cover.
a deal reached following a meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip
Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in the Black Sea resort city
of Sochi on September 17, 2018, all militants in a demilitarized zone, which
surrounds Idlib and also parts of the adjacent provinces of Aleppo and Hama,
were supposed to pull out heavy arms by October 17, and Takfiri groups had to
withdraw by October 15 last year.
National Front for the Liberation of Syria is the main Turkish-backed militant
alliance in the Idlib region, but the Takfiri Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS)
terrorist group, which is a coalition of different factions of terror outfits,
largely composed of the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, holds a large part of the
province and the zone.
HTS, which is said to be in control of some 60 percent of Idlib province, has
yet to announce its stance on the buffer zone deal.
is estimated that between 10,000 and 15,000 members of different factions of
armed groups, which Syria, Russia and Turkey consider terrorists, are active in
the volatile province, which is home to around three million inhabitants.
people have been arrested in a suspected hit-and-run near a UK mosque, which
left a man and a teenager hurt after Taraweeh prayers.
worshipper in his forties was struck in Humberstone Road, after leaving the
Masjid At-Taqwa mosque, in England’s East Midlands, in the early hours of
man remains in stable condition in hospital.
teenage boy was also hit, sustaining minor injuries.
mosque said in a Facebook post: “Our dear brother has suffered multiple
injuries and remains in intensive care. We have however received reassuring
news that he is in a stable condition Alhumdulillah. Our heartfelt and sincere
request to everyone to continue praying for his swift recovery and wellbeing.
Our thoughts and prayers are also with the brother’s family. We will continue
to liaise with, and support them in any capacity during this difficult time.”
mosque then thanked the police and ambulance service for their “rapid response
and professionalism” when addressing the crash.
will continue to work closely with the police and provide any assistance to aid
their investigation. We reach out to the community also, to contact the Police
if you may have any information that could help in this matter and to remain
vigilant,” a spokesperson for the Masjid At-Taqwa mosque added.
the incident, a 21-year-old woman and a 23-year-old man have been held on
suspicion of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.
do not believe the crash was intentional, but said the drivers failed to stop
after the collision. An investigation into the exact circumstances surrounding
the incident is continuing.
inspector Paul Allen said: “While we have made an arrest the investigation is
very much ongoing and we have a team of officers working to establish the exact
circumstances of what has happened and to locate the vehicle.
bomber kills six at Afghan defense university while Moscow talks fail to
Pamela Constable and
— A suicide bomber detonated a vehicle filled with explosives Thursday
afternoon outside the national military academy here, killing at least six
people and wounding 16, officials said.
vehicle exploded as cadets at the Marshal Fahim National Defense University
were leaving the hillside campus overlooking the Afghan capital for their
weekly two-day break. The extremist Islamic State group asserted responsibility
for the bombing.
attack occurred after three days of Afghan peace talks in Moscow concluded
without any significant progress in ending the war, or even the hoped-for
announcement of a cease-fire at the end of the holy month of Ramadan next week.
Last June, a three-day truce raised nationwide hopes for a war settlement.
the talks, a 14-member Taliban delegation headed by Abdul Ghani Baradar held
several lengthy closed-door meetings with Afghan power brokers. They did not
include representatives of the elected Kabul government, which the insurgents
view as a U.S. puppet, although members of a government-appointed peace council
attended the conference.
participants included former president Hamid Karzai, former national security
adviser Hanif Atmar — a key contender challenging President Ashraf Ghani in
elections slated for September — and Atta Mohammad Noor, a former provincial
governor and influential figure.
publicly appealed to the Taliban on Tuesday, when the conference opened, to
propose a cease-fire before the talks ended. But a Taliban spokesman said Thursday
no truce would be offered, although progress had been made.
Taliban’s chief negotiator, Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, right, and head of its
political office, Abdul Ghani Baradar, left, attend peace talks with senior
Afghan politicians in Moscow on Thursday. (Evgenia Novozhenina/Reuters)
discussed the cease-fire, and we will continue this discussion,” the spokesman,
Muhammad Sohail Shaheen, told journalists. “We are satisfied with how
negotiations went.” The conference marked the second such event hosted by
Moscow, which brought together Taliban and influential Afghan figures in
brief closing joint statement in Pashto said both sides had discussed a range
of issues, including the pullout of foreign troops, the “consolidation of the Islamic
system” and women’s rights. It said that agreement was reached on some issues
but that others “needed further debate.”
a co-founder of the Taliban and head of its political office, spoke publicly
for the first time Tuesday about the importance of reaching a peace deal. He
indicated that months of efforts to end the 18-year war may be advancing
despite continued attacks by the insurgents and the lack of progress in months
of parallel U.S.-Taliban talks.
Islamic Emirate is firmly committed to peace, but the first step is to remove
obstacles and end the occupation of Afghanistan,” he said, using the Taliban’s
busiest figure at the conference, though, was Karzai, who was widely seen as
the chief broker between the two sides. There were numerous group photo-ops,
with Karzai in the center, flanked by Taliban representatives and Afghan
was very, very positive. We had good discussions,” Karzai said as the meeting
ended. “We are leaving very, very happy.”
the Islamic State and the Taliban have attacked the military academy since it
opened in 2014 soon after the death of Muhammad Marshal Fahim, a former vice
president and anti-Taliban militia leader.
August of that year, an apparent insider attack claimed by the Taliban killed
U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene, the highest-ranking U.S. officer to die
in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. He was shot by a man in military uniform
during a visit by U.S. and NATO generals to the facility.
January 2018, Islamic State militants attacked Afghan soldiers guarding the
academy in an early morning assault, killing 11 troops and wounding 16.
Officials said a suicide bomber struck the security unit, then other militants
October, a suicide bomber on foot approached the walled campus as Afghan
officers were leaving and detonated his vest, killing 15. The Taliban asserted
responsibility for that attack.
reported from Moscow. Sayed Salahuddin in Kabul contributed to this report.
least four Afghans were killed and four US troops lightly wounded when a car
bomber attacked a US military convoy in Kabul on Friday, officials said.
blast, which was claimed by the Taliban, occurred around 8:40 am (0410 GMT)
when an explosives-laden vehicle drove into the convoy that was travelling in
eastern Kabul, according to interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi.
in the attack, four of our countrymen were martyred and three others wounded –
they were passers-by,” Rahimi said.
spokesman for Resolute Support, the US-led NATO mission in Afghanistan, said
four US service members had suffered minor injuries.
US forces move about in Kabul, they typically travel in tall, heavily
reinforced tactical vehicles that can provide good protection against bombs.
as MRAPs, for Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected, the vehicles are sturdy but
present a very visible target. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the
insurgent group was behind the attack, which he claimed to have killed “10
officers and soldiers of invading forces”. The Taliban frequently exaggerate
claims after attacks.
blast came one day after an Islamic State suicide bomber blew himself up
outside an Afghan army military academy, killing at least six people. It also
followed a meeting between the Taliban and Afghan opposition figures in Moscow
this week that yielded no tangible results.
security forces carried out separate airstrikes in Helmand and Kandahar
provinces killing at least 7 Taliban militants.
airstrike in Kajaki district of Helmand province killed 2 Taliban fighters and
destroyed 1 vehicle,” the informed military sources said Thursday.
sources further added that the security forces carried out a similar airstrike
in Now Zad district of Helmand killing 2 Taliban fighters. “In Now Zad
district, a strike killed 2 Taliban fighters,” the sources said.
security forces carried out similar airstrikes in southern Kandahar province.
“Airstrikes in Ma’ruf district of Kandahar province killed 3 Taliban fighters
and wounded 1,” the military sources added.
anti-government armed militants including Taliban have not commented regarding
the airstrikes so far.
security situation in some districts of Both Helmand and Kandahar provinces
remain tense. Taliban militants are active in several restive districts of the
two provinces and often attempt to carry out terrorist related activities
against the government.
Special Forces of the Afghan military targeted a compound of Taliban leadership
in western Farah province killing at least three militants.
an Afghan special forces raid targeting Taliban leadership killed 3 Taliban
fighters and destroyed a Taliban medical facility and a large number of weapons
and explosives,” the military sources said Thursday.
sources further added that the 1st Brigade of the 203rd Corps operations in
Ahmadabad, Sayyid Karam, Jani Khel and Musa Khel of Paktiya and Khost has
killed 3 Taliban fighers and wounded two others.
Afghan special forces also killed 2 Taliban fighters in Kunduz district of
northern Kunduz province.
Taliban and ISIS militants clashed with each other in eastern Nangarhar
province of Afghanistan on Thursday, the Afghan military said Friday.
201st Silab Corps in a statement said the Taliban and ISIS militants clashed
with each other in Khogyani district on Thursday.
statement further added that the clash left one ISIS fighter and 5 Taliban
militants dead including a Taliban commander Abdul Rahman.
to 201st Silab Corps, the clash also left two Taliban militants wounded.
anti-government armed militants including Taliban and ISIS sympathizers have
not commented regarding the infighting so far.
comes as the security situation in some remote districts of Nangarhar province
has deteriorated during the recent years. Both Taliban and ISIS militants are
active in remote areas of the province.
Taliban group has rejected rumors regarding a ceasefire declaration during the
three days of Eid-ul-Fitr.
spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid in a statement said audio clips circulating on
social media regarding ceasefire declaration is not new and belongs to last
comes as the former Afghan President Hamid Karzai had earlier welcomed a
ceasefire declaration by Taliban group during the three days of Eid-ul-Fitr.
Office of the Former President in a statement said the former President Hamid
Karzai welcomes declaration of ceasefire by Taliban group during Eid-ul-Fitr
statement further added that the former President urges the government to
declare a ceasefire as a gesture of goodwill and refrain from any military
also hailed the declaration of a three-day ceasefire as a good start for
bringing peace in the country.
security forces have carried out an airstrike in south-eastern Ghazni province
killing at least 21 Taliban fighters.
informed military sources said Saturday that the security forces carried out an
airstrike in Qarabagh district of Ghazni killing 21 Taliban militants.
anti-government armed militants including Taliban have not commented regarding
the airstrike so far.
comes as the security situation in some districts of Ghazni province has
deteriorated during the recent months. Taliban militants often carry out
terrorist related activities in some restive districts of the province.
the meantime, the Afghan forces are busy conducting counter-terrorism
operations against both groups in this province.
leader joins Muslims for iftar and prayers
Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday evening joined Muslims at Kenya's biggest mosque for
iftar (fast-breaking meal) and prayers.
addressing the worshippers inside the Jamia Mosque in capital Nairobi, Kenyatta
preached inter-faith harmony and urged citizens to foster peace.
are proud of our diversity as a nation of many ethnic groups, colors and
religions, tolerance is the bedrock of harmonious coexistence," Kenyatta
said, according to a statement from his office on Friday.
we see violence occasioned, this violence is not occasioned by Muslims or
Christians but by criminals. It is this criminal that we fight because they are
enemies of Muslims and Christians and all other religious groups.”
leaders from across Kenya who had gathered at the mosque commented that
Kenyatta had opened "a new window of unity" by making this visit.
is the first time in the history of Kenya a sitting president has visited a
mosque. He is opening new doors for the unity of the country,” said professor
Abdilatif Essajje, a Muslim leader and Jamia Mosque's chief treasurer.
president also flagged off food aid for various mosques.
charity distributes Holy Qurans in Ethiopia
Turkiye Diyanet Foundation (TDV) has begun distributing an Amharic version of
the Holy Quran at mosques in Ethiopia’s capital.
1,200 copies were given out to worshippers at the Grand Anwar Mosque in Addis
Ababa who had just completed their last Friday prayers before the Eid al-Fitr
holiday, which marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.
foundation financed the printing of 15,000 copies in collaboration with Addis
Taha Muhamed Harun, the imam of the Grand Anwar Mosque, told Anadolu Agency
that they had begun discussing cooperation with the foundation six months ago.
thanked the TDV for what he described as a job well done.
are happy that they came to us to distribute the Quran copies and to pray the
Friday Salat [prayer] with us,” he said of the TDV officials.
Diyanet promised us blankets. And also we would be happy if they help us dig a
water well inside the mosque.”
Alici, the religious services advisor at the Turkish Embassy in Addis Ababa,
told Anadolu Agency that TDV in collaboration with a Turkish businessman and
the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) will undertake the
refurbishment of the mosque.
will also set up a soup kitchen inside the Grand Anwar Mosque so that food can
be distributed on special days,” Alici said.
said demand for the Amharic Qurans remains high.
Hassan Tolahi spoke to Anadolu Agency after taking his share of the Qurans.
need as many copies of the Amharic version of the Quran [as possible] because
while we and our children recite the Quran, we may not understand it.”
we need it for the reference; to understand the meaning better,” he said.
Nigerian Army has again accused some Non-Governmental Organisations operating
in the North East of breaching security and sabotaging ongoing
counter-terrorism operations in the zone.
Spokesman, Col. Sagir Musa, on Thursday said the military established this
after the arrest of a Boko Haram commander, Mohammed Modu on Sunday.
army had in 2018 levelled similar accusations against NGOs operating in the
alleged that the high profile commander belonged to the Abubakar Shekau’s
faction of the terrorist group.
army spokesman said that preliminary investigations revealed that the Shekau’s
faction of Boko Haram had been receiving “humanitarian support of food and
drugs supplies from some NGOs operating in the North East.’’
described the NGOs’ actions – providing logistics support to terrorists, as
“serious security breaches.’’
therefore, warned the affected NGOs to “desist from compromising Nigeria’s
national security and war efforts against terrorism.’’
advised them to operate in accordance with the extant rules and regulations
guiding the operations of humanitarian aid workers.
said they must also operate in line with the guidelines and procedures of
International Humanitarian Laws, as well as the Laws of Armed Conflict.
further warned, “The Nigerian army will no longer tolerate such acts of
sabotage inimical to the fight against terrorism by any organisation or agency,
and will not hesitate to sanction any such recalcitrant organisation as
reports that in December 2018, the army suspended the operations of the United
Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund in the North-East theatre until
of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Yusuf Buratai has said that Boko Haram has
to him, Nigerian military was now fighting an international criminal gang known
as Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP).
Army Chief spoke in Abuja when pupils of several schools in Abuja interacted
how he copes with the pressure of office, the COAS said, “When I was appointed
the Chief of Army Staff, I had the feeling that I will be the least
controversial COAS. I had the feeling I will have an excellent relationship
with the media.
first thing I did was to call the then Director of Army Public Relations and I
told him that henceforth, all our actions and activities must be reported and
made known to the media.
had a right to know. It is the Nigerian Army. There should be no gaps about
information in our operations in the North East or elsewhere.
then, we used to have so many reporters in the north east including informants
for the terrorists who plant stories and breaking news some of which went
contrary to happenings, with a ploy to make troops unstable or demoralized.
we started reporting events and occurrence about the battle, attacks in the
northeast. We were breaking the news ourselves but this time, the real actions
on the ground, not fabrications.
also commenced interaction with stakeholders for them to see and know the true
happenings, which later opened their eyes to appreciate what we were going
through and the heroic efforts of troops.
interacted with the NBA, Human Rights Groups, the Media, & others and they
now understood our job better. “I also took personal steps to ensure troops
fitness and agility particularly on the battlefield by issuing orders for
officers and soldiers to trim down”.
also had pressures from International Organizations including Amnesty
International who also found fault in anything we do.
believe they have a hidden agenda which is best known to them by reporting
falsehood against Nigerian military But by and large we set up investigation
teams and found out the allegations they made were fabricated.
ensured rules of engagement were adhered to in all our operations and those who
flouted them were dealt with according to the rules.”.
in May, Islamic State began to attribute insurgent activities in the
Mali-Burkina Faso-Niger tri-border area to its West Africa Province affiliate.
This region is far to the west of ISWAP’s normal operational area around Lake
Chad, but rather than a westward expansion by that Nigerian-led group, these
claims appear to represent the promotion of the actions of the Islamic State in
the Greater Sahara under the West Africa Province brand. ISIS finally
recognized ISGS as a local affiliate years after its leadership first pledged
bayat to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
told The Defense Post that ISIS has grouped ISGS with the Wilayah of West
Africa, but that doesn’t mean there is a definitive link between ISGS and
ISWAP, and there remains the potential for ISIS central to give ISGS control of
its own province.
MUJAO to ISGS, or a potted history of ISIS in the Sahel
was founded in mid 2015 by Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahrawi. Believed to be from
Western Sahara, Sahrawi (also spelled Sahraoui) had been involved in Islamic
militancy for years, and was spokesperson for MUJAO, the Movement for Oneness
and Jihad in West Africa. When MUJAO merged with Mokhtar Belmokhtar’s al-Mulathameen
(the Masked Ones) in 2013, Sahrawi remained a senior commander in the new
al-Mourabitoun (The Sentinels).
is an al-Qaeda-linked group based in northern Mali, but it has carried out
attacks in other countries in the region, often working with other jihadist
groups including al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which was born in Algeria but
operates across the Sahara and Sahel.
was responsible for several deadly attacks on hotels including the November
2015 attack at the Radisson Blu hotel in Mali’s capital Bamako that left 22
May 2015 Sahrawi pledged allegiance to ISIS leader Baghdadi in a message sent
to the Mauritanian news agency Al Akhbar, saying the bayah was on behalf of the
entirety of al-Mourabitoun, a claim that Belmokhtar disputed. Sahrawi split
from al-Mourabitoun along with some fighters to form Islamic State in the
Greater Sahara and there were reports of clashes between the two groups around
Al-Mourabitoun in 2017 merged with several groups, including Ansar Dine and the
Sahara branch of AQIM to form the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (JNIM),
which is al-Qaeda’s Mali branch.
difficulties in forming effective lines of communication between ISGS meant
there was little or no functional relationship between the two. Sahrawi’s group
operated unilaterally while maintaining that it was acting in the name of
Islamic State, yet there were no official ISIS statements about ISGS activity
from 2016 until earlier this year.
has independently released statements and videos claiming responsibility for
around a dozen attacks, often through news agencies such as Al Akhbar. Many
more unclaimed attacks have been attributed to the group, and all have taken
place in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger.
commands an estimated 425 ISGS fighters, according to an August 2018 report by
West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center, although estimates vary.
foreign forces and ethnic adversaries
is strongly opposed to foreign involvement in the Sahel and has carried out
several attacks on foreign forces. France, the former main colonial power in
Western Africa until the 1960s, is a major focus for ISGS, with the country
singled out in propaganda and its forces targeted. In April 2018, ISGS abducted
a teacher in the Soum region of Burkina Faso for instructing in French, and in
a statement to AFP shortly after the attack an ISGS spokesperson threatened
those who taught in French.
Operation Barkhane, France maintains an active counter-terrorism force of
around 4,500 troops in the Sahel that fight various jihadist groups. The
deployment’s origins are in the Operation Serval mission that battled a
jihadist insurgency which itself exploited a Tuareg separatist uprising that
began in Mali in 2012.
is also a significant ethnic dynamic to the Sahel conflict. ISGS has heavily
recruited from the Fulani community and has been blamed for multiple massacres
of Tuareg civilians, while two mainly Tuareg militia groups – GATIA and MSA –
have been accused of carrying out massacres of Fulani civilians.
and MSA, who both signed up to the 2015 peace deal with the government, have
been major opponents of ISGS and have been backed by French forces and
quickly went dormant following Sahrawi’s 2015 pledge, and it was over a year
later in September 2016 that the group first claimed responsibility for an
attack. In a message sent to Al Akhbar, ISGS said its fighters attacked a post
on Burkina Faso’s frontier with Niger, killing a civilian and a border guard.
soon claimed responsibility for a second attack in the same way, an October 2
assault on a Burkina Faso military outpost in the town of Intangom near the
border with Mali that killed three soldiers. A failed jailbreak at Koutoukale
high-security prison in Niger on October 17 was also claimed by ISGS.
afterwards, Islamic State central issued its first statements about ISGS,
recognizing Sharawi’s pledge of allegiance via the Amaq propaganda agency and in
the weekly Al-Naba newsletter in late October 2016, some 17 months after he
originally made it. Amaq also released a short video showing Sahrawi and a
group of fighters pledging allegiance to Baghdadi.
appears ISGS then lost communication with ISIS central for an extended period.
Al-Naba occasionally summarized news articles about ISGS activities, and ISGS
released content independently, but there were no further releases by ISIS
adds Greater Sahara to West Africa
changed on March 22 this year, when ISIS released a picture showing a group of
seven militants in Burkina Faso, although the photo appears to have been taken
in December 2018. It made no mention of ISGS, with the picture attributed
instead to Wilayah West Africa.
few days later on March 28, two pages were dedicated to ISGS in edition 175 of
Al-Naba, including claims of responsibility for a number of older and more
recent attacks. These included the infamous Tongo Tongo ambush in Niger in
October 2017 that killed four U.S. and several Nigerien soldiers, an SVBIED
attack on French forces in Mali in March 2019, and the abduction in Burkina
Faso and later killing of Canadian geologist Kirk Woodman in January.
included background on the conflict in the Sahel, including mentioning
GATIA/MSA and Tuaregs. It also stressed ISGS’s opposition to foreign forces,
particularly those from France, suggesting ISIS is aware of the nature and
specifics of the conflict.
released a video on April 3, the first to feature combat in Mali, apparently
showing an ambush of French forces in the Mali-Niger border area. Subsequently
some ISGS attacks have been claimed by ISIS either in statements or through
in his April video, ISIS leader Baghdadi specifically mentions Adnan Abu Walid
Sahrawi and notes pledges of allegiance from Mali and Burkina Faso, calling for
them to “intensify their strikes on Crusader France and its allies.”
communication between ISIS central and ISGS
reconnection of ISGS with ISIS, the latter reporting on insurgent activities in
the Sahel, and the recognition of Sahrawi by Baghdadi appears to have had an
Conflict Location and Event Data Project researcher Héni Nsaibia told The
Defense Post that he thinks “the re-established connection has translated into
action on the ground.”
recent series of attacks apparently carried out by ISGS supports this idea.
a statement issued on May 16, ISIS claimed responsibility for two attacks in
first was a May 13 attack that ISIS said was “in the vicinity” of Koutoukale
prison, a high-security facility that holds members of various militant groups,
including ISGS and ISWAP. The apparent prison break was foiled, and although
one Nigerien national guard junior officer later died from his injuries, but it
could have been much more deadly: an unexploded SVBIED was found nearby.
second was an ambush near Tongo Tongo a day later on May 14 that left 28 Niger
the photo of fighters in Burkina Faso was published, subsequent statements and
images issued by ISIS about ISGS activities have all been attributed to West
‘West Africa’ suggests a broad geographic reach, the capabilities and nature of
the ISWAP group means attacks have mainly been limited to the Lake Chad area of
eastern Niger, western Chad, northern Cameroon and northeastern Nigeria, with
the overwhelming majority of attacks in Nigeria.
ISIS activity in the geographic Wilayah of West Africa was carried out by a
single group – Jama’at ahl al-sunna li-Da’wah wa-l-qital wal-Jihad, better
known as Boko Haram. The group’s leader Abubakar Shekau pledged allegiance to
ISIS in March 2015 and it became Islamic State West Africa Province.
late 2016 the group split into two after ISIS replaced Shekau as leader. One
faction remained loyal to Shekau while the other ISIS-recognized faction was
led Abu Musab al-Barnawi. Another
ISIS-decreed leadership change occurred in March when Abu Abdullah Ibn Umar
al-Barnawi was reportedly appointed the new governor of the Wilayah of West
future Islamic State Sahel Province?
ISGS attacks are attributed now to the Wilayah of West Africa, ISGS likely
remains operationally independent of ISWAP, and not under the command of the
ISIS appointed governor for the province.
Zenn, assistant professor Violent Non-State Actors in World Politics at
Georgetown University told The Defense Post that he thinks this “is more of a
branding issue then an actual merger.”
ISIS has grouped ISGS under the West Africa Province has been explicitly
articulate,” Nsaibia said, while also stressing that he doesn’t believe this
“should be conflated with subordinating ISGS as a group under the command of
while seemingly remaining separate, there are potential connections between the
do think that links have been developed between ISGS and ISWAP,” Nsaibia said.
been circulating reports that point to ISGS members being dispatched toward the
Nigerian border,” he said, but stressed there is “still there is no solid
evidence that corroborates these reports” and that “there is a lack of more
concrete reporting to confirm such a hypothesis.”
Jason Warner, Assistant Professor of Social Sciences at West Point, said he
believed “there has been at least some minimal interaction between the groups”
though he added that ISGS attacks attributed to the Wilayah of West Africa were
“more of a branding exercise by IS Central than it is evidence of any deep or
meaningful links between the two groups.”
the differences between ISGS and ISWAP, operating in different areas with
different local dynamics, and the limits of current links between them, ISIS
decided to group them together, attributing ISGS attacks to the Wilayah of West
Africa. It is possible that, because ISGS activities are still within West
Africa, it makes sense for ISIS to incorporate them into the pre-existing
addition, Zenn suggested the potential unreliability of ISGS may also have been
a factor in ISIS incorporating them in Wilayah of West Africa, as opposed to
creating a new region for the group.
have always been troubles with the IS-ISGS relationship, including skepticism
about whether al-Sahrawi was in the IS relationship for money and therefore not
trustworthy or whether he would return to the AQ fold, and there were issues
maintaining communications with him,” Zenn said.
ISIS affiliates have taken a hardline stance against al-Qaeda through
propaganda or in open fighting, but ISGS has been different with suggestions it
is in communication with Al-Qaeda-linked groups in the Sahel and potentially
could be a concern for ISIS, though Nsaibia said that “ISIS are aware (to a
certain extent) of the local specificities and dynamics, and probably more
pragmatic with regard to this context.”
the time being, ISIS appears to have opted to place ISGS, at least for
publicity purposes, in the Wilayah of West Africa, but recent restructuring of
ISIS provinces leaves the possibility of more changes in Africa.
July 2018, ISIS upgraded its affiliate in East Asia to a full Wilayah. Later
that year ISIS merged multiple Wilayah in countries that contained more than
one – such as Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Libya – into a single entity covering the
State Central Africa Province was confirmed in April 2019 after ISIS attributed
an attack on Congolese soldiers at Kamango in the Democratic Republic of Congo
to it. In the video released in April, Baghdadi is seen looking over documents
covering various ISIS provinces, including the never-before-mentioned Wilayah
Turkey, although ISIS has not yet claimed any attacks in this apparent new
relevant, ISIS this month split its long existing Wilayah Khorasan. A statement
released on May 10 attributed an attack in Indian-controlled Kashmir to Wilayah
al-Hind, while two May 15 releases attributed attacks in Quetta to Wilayah
Pakistan. Previously attacks in these locations would have been placed in
Wilayat Khorasan, which now appears to have been reduced to just Afghanistan.
after Sahrawi first pledged allegiance, ISGS activities are finally and
reliably being recognized by ISIS. The central leadership appears to have
decided – for the time being at least – to place ISGS activities in the Wilayah
of West Africa for propaganda purposes, but with no clear evidence to support a
merger or subordination, ISGS likely remains operationally independent from the
State claimed fighters from its Central Africa Province affiliate attacked
military bases in Mavivi in the Democratic Republic of Congo, while the
Congolese army said more than 20 Allied Democratic Forces fighters had been
killed in nearby Ngite.
in a Thursday, May 30 statement claimed ISCAP fighters attacked three “barracks
of the Congolese army and the United Nations crusader forces” near Mavivi. It
said the forces were preparing to attack ISCAP positions, and that clashes led
to “dozens” killed and injured, while the “Mujahideen returned to their
later release from ISIS propaganda agency Amaq said that “Islamic State
fighters today attacked 3 military bases located on Road No. 4” near Beni,
clashing with Congolese army and U.N. MONUSCO peacekeeping forces for three
hours. It said “dozens” were killed and wounded before the ISCAP fighters
withdrew from “the attack area near the city’s airport.”
town is in Beni territory of North Kivu province, and Ngite is just to the
north. Mavivi airport, also known as Beni airport, is on the south side of the
town, just off the N4 road to Beni city which is around 10 km south. MONUSCO,
which has a base at the airport, rehabilitated the runway in 2016.
said the attack was to counter a mobilization of Congolese army and U.N. forces
in three bases “in preparation for an attack on the positions of fighters of
the Islamic state in the northeast of the country.”
spokesperson Florence Marchal told The Defense Post that peacekeepers were not
targeted in the initial attack, but did respond to the incident.
said that suspected ADF insurgents attacked an FARDC camp near Beni (North
Kivu) earlier today and the mission “deployed two contingents in response to
Peacekeepers subsequently engaged the attackers, resulting in one South African
peacekeeper injured,” Marchal said, adding that there were “an unconfirmed
number of fatalities on the side of ADF.”
3,000 troops are deployed to the MONUSCO Force Intervention Brigade based in
Beni. Its primary goal is countering armed groups including ADF.
spokesperson for the armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC)
said that 26 Allied Democratic Forces militants were killed in “victorious
operations” in Ngite, which is just outside Mavivi.
morning at 5 a.m. in the Ngite locality, the Armed Forces of the DRC conducted
victorious operations against the ADF terrorists and found 26 ADF neutralized.
Our army is determined to conduct operations to restore peace,” Major General
Leon-Richard Kasonga told reporters, Actualite.cd reported.
this morning, the ADF attacked our position in the town of Ngite-Mavivi, our
men reacted and inflicted a heavy loss in their ranks,” Kasonga later told AFP.
Radio Okapi reported that MONUSCO peacekeepers alongside FARDC personnel had
repelled an ADF attack on the Ngite headquarters of the first battalion of the
32nd brigade of FARDC rapid reaction units.
said that a second group of ADF militants positioned on Road No. 4 to intercept
reinforcements were engaged by FARDC and MONUSCO personnel in heavy clashes
that lasted around an hour.
to Radio Okapi, a military spokesperson said the bodies of 23 militants had
been recovered, along with 20 weapons, but did not mention MONUSCO or FARDC
bodies of 23 militants were later displayed outside Beni town hall and
thousands of people came to view them, Acutalite.cd reported.
also released an image of ISCAP fighters captioned “Islamic State fighters
camped in northeastern Congo,” dated May 30, but the militants pictured appear
to be in the same location and wearing the same clothing as an image published
in issue 179 of the weekly ISIS newsletter Al-Naba that was released on April
April, ISIS formally recognized its Central Africa Province in Democratic
Republic of Congo, when its centrally controlled media outlets began to
attribute attacks to ISCAP, and during his first video appearance in five
years, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was seen viewing a document entitled
“Wilayat Central Africa.”
was earlier evidence that ISIS had ties to the Allied Democratic Forces, a
Ugandan-led but DR Congo-based militant group that mainly operates in the
border area of North Kivu province, but it is unclear if the new ISIS affiliate
is the ADF, a splinter group, or a different organization.
in 1995, the ADF is thought to have killed at least 700 civilians and more than
20 U.N. peacekeepers, but although it is often blamed for killings, robberies
and kidnappings, numerous armed groups operate in the region and it is often
difficult to be certain who the true assailants are.
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday called on Sudan’s military rulers
and protest groups to go back to the negotiating table and quickly reach a deal
on handing over power to a civilian-led government.
said in a statement that the sides must “conclude the negotiations over the
transfer of power to a civilian-led transitional authority as soon as
between protesters and the military council have broken down over whether a
planned transitional body would be headed by a civilian or a military figure.
deadlock has raised fears that the military will seek to tighten its grip on
power, crushing hopes of a democratic process in Sudan.
Friday, hundreds of people rallied in support of Sudan’s military rulers in
military council has ruled the country since the ouster of president Omar
al-Bashir on April 11, after months of protests against his authoritarian rule.
called for the “utmost restraint” and stressed the importance of upholding
human rights, including the right to freedom of assembly and of expression.
authorities on Thursday shut down the Khartoum office of Qatari-owned Al
Jazeera television and banned its journalists from reporting in the country.
generals, backed by key Arab powers, have resisted calls from African and
Western governments to hand over the reins of power.
head of the ruling military council, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, paid a
visit to Saudi Arabia this week following talks in Egypt last week.
May 14, the protest leaders and the military reached a breakthrough by agreeing
on a three-year transition period for transferring power to a civilian
also agreed that parliament be composed of 300 members for the transition, with
around two-thirds from the protest alliance and the rest drawn from other
negotiations were suspended the following day by the military, which demanded
that demonstrators remove roadblocks following clashes in which five people
resumed on May 19 but broke down the following day over disagreement on whether
the military or a civilian should lead the transitional authority.
people are feared injured or arrested in Nigeria after police attacked peaceful
demonstrators who had rallied in support of Palestine and to mark the
International Quds Day, condemning decades-long Israeli occupation of the
of people took to the streets of Kaduna metropolis in central Nigeria on
Friday, chanting slogans in support of the Palestinian cause and condemnation
of the Israeli regime. They also carried signs and banners reading “Free
Palestine” and “Free Zakzaky.”
top Muslim cleric Sheikh Ibrahim al-Zakzaky, the leader of the Islamic Movement
in Nigeria (IMN), has been in detention since late 2015.
before the commencement of the rally in Kaduna, a large contingent of the riot
police, in full gear, had been stationed along the main streets, Ibrahim Mousa,
the head of media forum of the IMN, said in a statement on Friday.
added that police started to open fire at demonstrators without prior warning
soon after the rally began, targeting the march with tear gas canisters and
live ammunition. They also mounted road blocks and emergency checkpoints in the
streets, diverting traffic away from the central area.
at the time of filing this, it is not clear how many people were injured or
arrested as the police action has led to severe traffic gridlock
inconveniencing road users,” Mousa said.
IMN official, however, added that other rallies marking the International Quds
Day were held across the African country without police intervention, holding
responsible the governor of Kaduna for “the unnecessary violence” inflicted
upon peaceful marchers in the city.
International Quds Day is a legacy of the late founder of the Islamic Republic
of Iran, Imam Khomeini, who designated the day in solidarity with the
the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, the International Quds Day has been marked
worldwide on the last Friday of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
student movement 'could curb' campus radicalism in Indonesia
- The lack of varied and critically minded student movements in Indonesia might
have contributed to the growing radicalism on campuses after the fall of
Suharto, experts say.
have long been recruitment grounds for radical Islamic groups, with the State
Intelligence Agency (BIN) noting in 2017 that 39 per cent of state university
students across 15 provinces in Indonesia had shown an interest in radical
(Islamic) teachings started entering universities when the Suharto regime
implemented the NKK/BKK policy in the 1980s, by which students were banned from
political activities. The vacant political space then made room for radical
groups to enter," the Habibie Centre research director Mohammad Hasan
Ansori said during a discussion on campus radicalism on Thursday (May 30).
Ansori was referring to Suharto's New Order policy that barred external
organisations affiliated with political parties from setting up inside campus.
these organisations were the Indonesian Nationalist Student Movement (GMNI) and
the Association of Islamic Students (HMI), both of which had produced
well-known politicians, such as Vice-President Jusuf Kalla.
a result, the organisations are not funded nor directly facilitated by state
Saiful Umam, former executive director at the Centre for the Study of Islam and
Society (PPIM) at Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University (UIN Jakarta),
said the policy resulted in the proliferation of Islam-related campus
activities organised by Muslim student groups in each university, usually known
as the Campus Dakwah Institution (LDK).
problem was that the LDK, funded by state universities, had a conservative
bent, Mr Saiful noted.
should provide more room for student activists so that they can contribute to
the discourse surrounding religion. Even if they're not institutionalised, at
least the discourse won't be dominated by the relatively conservative
LDK," he told The Jakarta Post on the sidelines of the discussion.
have raised concerns over the LDK's teachings as the organisation trains rohis
or students who become Islamic study assistants in extra-curricular activities
in high schools. Such rohis frequently join the LDK once they enter
LDK is massive and conservative, and being conservative is only one step away
from being extremist. Once the members are exposed to the networks and
narratives, they turn extreme," Mr Ansori said.
a 2016 survey conducted by the Wahid Foundation and the Religious Affairs
Ministry of more than 1,600 rohis participants as respondents, it was found
that 33 per cent of them defined jihad as a holy war against non-Muslims, 41
per cent would support any cause to turn Indonesia into an Islamic state under
a caliphate, while 60 per cent would go on jihad to countries like Syria if
they had the chance.
psychologist from the University of Indonesia and an expert member of the
National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT), Mr Hamdi Muluk, said that students
must be exposed to a variety discourses to prevent them from adopting extremist
should refrain from having singular identities, such as only being rohis. They
should be in contact with various groups, so that they will naturally grow to
become open-minded," he said during the discussion.
Saiful shared this sentiment, adding that the solution might also help address
another issue that is heavily linked to campus radicalism, which is intolerant
2018 study by the PPIM found that more than 50 per cent of Muslim teachers
promoted intolerant views. Teachers who joined the LDK in university had a
higher tendency to have intolerant views than those who joined the GMNI, Mr
the LDK would only be counter-productive. Universities should understand the
map of student movements better and supervise them," Mr Saiful said.
Ansori echoed the statement, adding that universities should go as far as to
heighten monitoring of campus mosques, where more radical groups such as the
Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI) and the Indonesian Islamic State (NII) could also
spread their teachings and recruit members.
TOWN, May 31 — The Penang Islamic Religious Council (MAINPP) wants a certain
political party which is allegedly collecting RM7 compulsory Infaq Ramadan
(alms) from Muslims to immediately stop the practice.
president Datuk Abdul Malik Abul Kassim said he had received complaints from
most of the state’s ‘zakat fitrah’ amil (persons authorised to collect the
Muslim tithe) about the matter.
to him, this action by the political party could confuse the public regarding
their payment of ‘zakat fitrah’ during the month of Ramadan.
it is proven that there is an attempt by the party to collect ‘zakat fitrah’
from among the Muslim community in Penang, as the governing body who appointed
the zakat fitrah amil, we will not hesitate to take the necessary action,” he
said in a statement, here today.
noted that according to Section 33 of the Syariah Criminal Offences Enactment
(Penang) 1996, any person who collects zakat or fitrah without being appointed
as an amil or authorised by MAINPP are guilty of an offence and liable to be
fined, upon conviction.
had been clear for weeks that some form of insurrection was looming as
Indonesian presidential challenger Prabowo Subianto refused to accept that he’d
been defeated in the April 17 presidential election.
the official announcement approached, his insistence and that of his close
supporters that he’d been robbed of victory by massive cheating stoked anger
among the hard-line Muslims who had piggy-backed on the attempt of the former
special forces general to take control of the country.
the General Election Commission (KPU) tried to forestall the planned protests
by announcing the victory of incumbent President Joko Widodo and his running
mate Ma’ruf Amin the day before initially scheduled, and in the middle of the
night, there were hopes that an angry reaction could be avoided.
of a few hundred forlorn protesters making their point through prayer
surrounded by a sea of riot police told the story of the first hours after the
decision early on May 21. But then, said police, the nature of the crowd
changed. The quiet protesters went home, to be replaced by angry young men who
immediately started to cause trouble, throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails.
continued for some 36 hours across a wide swathe of central Jakarta. A police
barracks was burned down and the mob raged across the city, trashing cars and
other property in a mad riot of protest. Slowly but steadily the police, backed
by the army and with a total of some 60,000 personnel at their disposal,
restored order, arresting more than 250.
planned the fiery protest — and there was evidence to demonstrate that the
rioters had been paid to do their work — failed to allow for the fact that the
authorities had also been aware well ahead of time that trouble was brewing.
had been brought into the capital from across the country and police in the
regions stopped busloads of would-be demonstrators from traveling to Jakarta. A
protective cordon was thrown up to the east of the capital to stop protesters.
When demonstrators arrived at the KPU and the Election Supervisory Board
(Bawaslu), they were faced with walls of razor wire and lines of police in full
appears that the plan had been to recreate the events of 1998, when protests
over the collapse of the economy and the failure of the 32-year rule of
President Suharto morphed into three days of rioting.
the rioting was sparked by the killing of four students by police from a
flyover across from their campus in West Jakarta. This time, an attempt to
smuggle an unlicensed sniper rifle and silencer into the country was foiled,
and a retired general arrested.
the weeks before the KPU announcement, the police also rounded up dozens of
terrorist suspects, some of whom they accused of planning to explode devices in
the midst of the crowd of protesters. Outrage over the killings, it was
planned, would spark nationwide protests and chaos that could justify the
ousting of the president.
spread rapidly alleging that Chinese police had joined the ranks opposing the
demonstrators, feeding on the widespread belief that Widodo is too close to
Beijing. Other messages claimed protesters had been shot and killed while
taking refuge in mosques. The authorities closed down social media for three
version of what happened has it that the money that was supposed to pay the
thugs enlisted for the task failed to turn up, meaning the numbers confronting
the police were too few. The coming weeks are likely to see what role was
played in this, if any, by Subianto and his allies amongst the community of
retired police and military officers.
the meantime, he is challenging the election result in the Constitutional
Court, but his claims of massive and structural cheating are seen as unlikely
to receive much of a hearing, given that Widodo won 16 million more votes than
will allow Widodo and running mate, senior Muslim cleric Ma’ruf Amin, to
finally be declared the winners and prepare to take over the running of the
country next October.
outcome of the election, and the failure of the protest movement, left a small
proportion angry and frustrated. Having been convinced by the rhetoric of
Subianto and his allies that right was on their side and victory within their
grasp, they now have to live with the bile created when they were pushed aside.
provinces sided strongly with Subianto and his running mate, businessman and
former Jakarta deputy governor Sandiaga Uno. In West Sumatra, the pair gained
2,268,693 votes, against only 362,460 for Widodo and Amin. The provinces that
backed Subianto and Uno are known for their strong association with conservative
Islam, often strongly influenced by the austere Wahhabi creed.
and Amin were successful in populous Central and East Java, both known for
their preference for the more tolerant brand of Islam promoted by the Nahdlatul
Ulama (NU) organization, the country’s largest Muslim grouping. They also won
strong backing in non-Muslim regions.
the NU and Muhammadiyah, the second largest religious organization, told their
followers not to join the protests against the election result, lining up once again
on the side of those who support secular Indonesia’s Pancasila ideology.
failure of the push to propel Subianto to the presidency is the latest in a
long line of moves in which secular forces have triumphed. Since independence,
pressure to acknowledge Islam as the majority religion of the state has been
brushed aside. A series of elections dating back to the country’s first experiment
in democracy, in 1955, have seen Islamic parties trounced at the polls.
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