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Islamic World News ( 2 Feb 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Pay Taxes and Clear Debts before Haj Trip: Sunni Barelvi Clerics of India

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: The ISIL terrorist group has executed 43 of its own militants on charges of leaving the battlefields and escaping war against the Syrian army, local sources reported.

 

Pay Taxes and Clear Debts before Haj Trip: Sunni Barelvi Clerics of India

US, Italy Warn of Rising IS Threat in Libya but Strikes off Agenda

ISIL Executes over 40 of Own Militants on Charges of Fleeing From Battlefields

Taliban Gun down 10-Year-Old Militia Hero in Afghanistan

India

Pay Taxes and Clear Debts before Haj Trip: Sunni Barelvi Clerics

'Your Son Has Killed Two Kafirs. I Slit Their Throats with a Dagger'

Name and Shame Countries Which Support Terrorism: India

Will Terror Freeze Indo-Pak Talks?

No Ban on Sikh Turbans, Only On Burqas, Says France

NIA’s Pathankot probe points to an enemy within

‘ISI Agent’ Who Posed As Labourer in Pathankot Cantt Held

Indian Helicopters donated to Afghanistan hailed by US

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North America

US, Italy Warn of Rising IS Threat in Libya but Strikes off Agenda

Obama Mosque Visit Comes As Muslim Fear of Violent Backlash Increases

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Arab World

ISIL Executes over 40 of Own Militants on Charges of Fleeing From Battlefields

Saudi Forces Sustain Heavy Losses in Yemeni Army's Ambush Attacks in Sana'a

Terrorists Fleeing Battlefields in Groups North of Aleppo

Syrian Army Inflicts Heavy Casualties on Terrorists in Dara'a

Syrian Troops, Jets Pound ISIL Positions in Homs Province

Militant Groups Sustain Major Losses in Syrian Army Attacks in Hama

Russian Warplanes Raid Militants' Centres to Back up Nubl, Al-Zahra Operation

Syrian Army, NDF Continue to Target Militants across Deir Ezzur Neighbourhoods

Senior Militant Commanders Killed in Syria's Aleppo

Syrian army presses Aleppo attack as UN envoy meets government

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South Asia

Taliban Gun down 10-Year-Old Militia Hero in Afghanistan

Drone Strike Kills 3 Daesh Militants in Nangarhar

Senior Afghan army commander Gen. Atamir martyred in Helmand

CEO Abdullah seeks regional action plan against terrorism

President Ghani in Kandahar assessing security, development

Afghan National Security Advisor Atmar off to Turkey on two-day state visit

Qatari prince pledges $140 million in aid, joint investment to Afghanistan

Afghanistan needs long-term U.S. support to defeat militant groups: Gen. Campbell

NDS detains seven terrorists in connection with recent attacks in Kabul

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Pakistan

Senior TTP Leader Still Alive? Drone 'Targeting' Sajna Kills 18 Militants

Main facilitator of BKU attack arrested

Nawaz inaugurates Gwadar-Hoshab (M-8) portion of CPEC

SC declares Sheikh Mohammad Akram as returned candidate from NA-89 Jhang

3 Killed, 12 Injured In Clashes between Pakistan International Airlines Staff and Police

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Mideast

Video Shows Turkish PM Saluting Pilgrims in Kaaba While They Chant Slogans

1 Dead, 3 Wounded After Shooting at İstanbul Cafe

UK Warns Citizens against Travel In Southeast Turkey

Kerry: Most of Turkey-Syria border sealed off from ISIL

President: Iran Ready to Cooperate with Germany in Fighting Terrorism

Iraqi Army Makes Remarkable Advances in Fallujah City, Kills Senior ISIL Commanders

Iraqis running out of food and medicine in besieged Fallujah

Soldier dies of wounds after clash with PKK

Iranian president urges de-escalation in Russia-Turkey row

Leader's Aide: Iran, Russia Broadening All-Out Ties

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Europe

Muslim Group Urges Chair of Birmingham Central Mosque to Resign

French Journalists Express Support for Jailed Turkish Colleagues with Banner

British Muslim converts targeted for recruitment as possible informants, a study says

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Africa

Muslim Conference Calls for Protection of Religious Minorities

Nations discuss how to snuff out Islamic State in Libya

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Southeast Asia

Philippines Fears New Fighting With Stalled Muslim Autonomy

Compiled by New Age Islam Edit Bureau

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/pay-taxes-and-clear-debts-before-haj-trip--sunni-barelvi-clerics-of-india/d/106218

 

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Pay Taxes and Clear Debts before Haj Trip: Sunni Barelvi Clerics

Priyangi Agarwal | TNN | Feb 3, 2016

Mufti Mohammed Salim Noori, the cleric who passed the fatwa, said, As per the Islamic law, a person going on Haj should clear all his debts Mufti Mohammed Salim Noori, the cleric who passed the fatwa, said, “As per the Islamic law, a person goi... Read More

Bareilly: A new fatwa issued by Sunni Barelvi clerics of Dargah Aala Hazrat states that as per Islamic law pilgrims should clear their debts before embarking on Haj. The clerics reasoned that all types of taxes imposed by the government are also 'debt', and pilgrims must therefore clear them, including house and income taxes.

Mufti Mohammed Salim Noori, the cleric who passed the fatwa, said, "As per the Islamic law, a person going on Haj should clear all his debts. Prophet Mohammed had said that when a person goes on Haj, he goes to meet Allah. So, the person should not have any debt."

Noori added, "The different forms of taxes levied on residents by the government are also considered debt. Therefore, pilgrims wishing to go on Haj should pay taxes before starting their journey. Also, as per Islam, people should first perform their day-to-day duties honestly and then focus on completing religious duties."

The fatwa goes on to say that when a new financial year starts, pilgrims should pay all their pending taxes. All taxes, including income, house, water, sewer and sales, imposed by government should be cleared.

"Apart from clearing their debts and taxes, people should leave enough money at their home so that their wife and children do not face any financial crisis when they are outperforming Haj. A person should ensure that his family members have adequate funds to run their normal life in his absence," said Noori.

The seminary is known for passing major fatwas.

As reported by TOI on January 19, the clerics here said reading ISIS literature on social media and other platforms or promoting it is against Islam as the religion does not support the ideology of terrorist organizations.

Similarly, clerics had passed a fatwa in July last year, declaring that zakat, donations mandated by Islam, should go towards funding modern education and hi-tech gadgets as well.

In another fatwa in June last year, clerics had decreed that women could run their own businesses, although they had to limit business dealings to other women.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kanpur/New-fatwa-Pay-taxes-and-clear-debts-before-Haj-trip/articleshow/50828190.cms

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US, Italy warn of rising IS threat in Libya but strikes off agenda

AFP | Feb 2, 2016

ROME: The United States and Italy warned on Tuesday that the Islamic State (IS) group is expanding its reach, threatening to seize Libya and launch attacks in Western countries.

But as representatives from the 23 countries of the US-led coalition battling the jihadists' self-declared "caliphate" reviewed their progress at talks in Rome, Italy and France made it clear military action against IS's Libyan wing is not on the immediate agenda.

Italian foreign minister Paolo Gentiloni and US Secretary of State John Kerry opened the talks by telling their allies that, since their meeting six months ago, the IS group had suffered setbacks in its core territory in Syria and Iraq.

But the hosts warned that the group is adapting to the pressure on its heartland and is redirecting its efforts towards Libya, where it has seized new territory, and into attacks like those in Paris, Ankara and San Bernadino, California.

"We are surely not here to brag about anything," Kerry said, after saying IS fighters have lost 40 per cent of their territory in Iraq and 20 per cent in Syria.

"We're here to recommit, we're here to re-evaluate, we're here to make judgements about things we have started that we could do better," he said.

Gentiloni said the challenge facing the coalition of mainly Western and Arab nations is stark.

"We know that we have in front of us an organisation that is very resilient and able to plan strategically and so we should not underestimate it," he said.

"If anything we need to be ever more wary and more watchful because we know that the more Daesh is squeezed in its core territories, the more tempted it is pursue its terrorist activities elsewhere," he warned, using an Arabic acronym for IS.

"We are witnessing renewed activity in Libya and in sub-Saharan Africa," he said.

Within the coalition, Italy has taken the lead in planning how to address the IS threat which is just a short boat ride from its southern shores, in and around the Libyan city of Sirte.

Rome's focus is on trying to rally the international community behind efforts to create a national unity government in Libya that is capable of stabilising its former colony.

Direct military intervention against IS fighters is not on the immediate agenda, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters, rubbishing reports that Paris was pushing for strikes.

"There is absolutely no question of military intervention in Libya," Fabius said. "There is pressure (for that) but that is not the position of the government."

Gentiloni told the Messagero daily time was running out to stabilise Libya but stressed there was no enthusiasm in Rome or the international community for "hasty military intervention."

Washington says it has built a 66-nation coalition to fight the IS group, with Afghanistan becoming the latest country to join, Kerry said.

But a so-called "small group" of 23 nations has taken the lead in carrying out air strikes in Iraq and Syria and training and arming local forces to fight the jihadists.

Kerry said the effort now needs to be stepped up, citing the example of Washington's deployment of small numbers of special forces troops inside Syria.

The allies need to "push ahead with a strategy we have learned will work and to do so relentlessly, giving Daesh no time to regroup, no place to run, no safe havens in which to hide," he said.

Fabius said France also supported intensified strikes in Syria but suggested "more strategic" targeting was required while peace talks are under way in Switzerland.

"We cannot bomb in Syria and negotiate in Geneva," he said in an explicit allusion to Russia's air campaign in Syria.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/europe/US-Italy-warn-of-rising-IS-threat-in-Libya-but-strikes-off-agenda/articleshow/50824093.cms

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Syria: ISIL Executes over 40 of Own Militants on Charges of Fleeing From Battlefields

Wed Feb 03 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The ISIL terrorist group has executed 43 of its own militants on charges of leaving the battlefields and escaping war against the Syrian army, local sources reported.

"The ISIL arrested and killed 43 of its own members on charges of trying to escape to Iraq after the groups' failures in clashes with the Syrian Army and popular forces in the Eastern province," the sources said.

On Tuesday, Syrian army troops, backed by popular forces, staunchly responded to thwart a concerted attack by the ISIL terrorists to seize a university campus in Deir Ezzur city, Eastern Syria, killing an ISIL commander during the fierce clashes with them.

Scores of ISIL militants, spearheaded by explosive-laden vehicles, tried to wreak havoc on army positions to attack the university compound in the Northwestern part of the city; however, pro-government forces foiled the attack and hit them back very severely, killing many of the militants.

Two vehicles of ISIL fighters, fully loaded with explosives, were blown up by the Syrian soldiers well before reaching the Literature School of Deir Ezzur University's premises.

The Syrian army troops and their popular forces allies, in their operation to foil the ISIL militants' assault on the university campus, also manage to round up more than 40 terrorists; among them was an ISIL commander.

The Syrian fighter jets carried out several combat flights over ISIL positions near the Northern neighborhoods of Deir Ezzur after the army troops stopped the terrorist offensive on the city.

The Syrian army and the National Defense Forces also managed to fend off several ISIL offensives on government forces' defense lines in the Northwestern part of the city of Deir Ezzur, killing scores of the terrorists.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941114000471

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Taliban Gun down 10-Year-Old Militia Hero In Afghanistan

Mujib Mashal & Taimoor Shah | NYT News Service | Feb 3, 2016

KABUL: The Afghan government declared Wasil Ahmad a hero for leading a militia's defense against a Taliban siege last year, parading him in front of cameras in a borrowed police uniform too big for him. On Monday, the Taliban triumphantly announced that they had assassinated him with two bullets to the head.

Wasil Ahmad was 10 years old.

He was gunned down in Tirin Kot city, the capital of southern Oruzgan province, just a few months after leaving militia life and enrolling in school as a fourth-grader.

Wasil's story is a painful example of how child combatants continue to be a part of life in Afghanistan, both in the ranks of pro-government forces and among the Taliban insurgents.

Rafiullah Baidar, a spokesman for the Afghan independent human rights commission, said that despite strict orders from President Ashraf Ghani last year against using children in the military, his commission continues to receive reports of child soldiers in the Afghan forces, particularly in the Afghan Local Police militias. The Taliban, he said, used child soldiers, too, in recent fighting in places like Kunduz and Badakhshan, in the northern part of the country.

Baidar said the provincial government had broken the law by parading Wasil in a police uniform after the Taliban siege was lifted. But he also condemned the Taliban's killing of Wasil because the boy had moved to a civilian life.

"There was no threat from this child to the armed opposition," Baidar said. "If they had targeted him in a military base, then they could have raised the question of what was a child doing in a military base. But he was targeted in front of his home."

In many ways, a life of the gun was chosen for Wasil before he was born.

His uncle, Mullah Abdul Samad, was a Taliban commander who decided four years ago to switch sides to support the government along with 36 of his men, including Wasil's father. In return, the Afghan government appointed Samad commander of about 70 Afghan Local Police militiamen in Khas Oruzgan district.

Samad's forces became the government's front against the Taliban. He lost 18 men in the fighting, including Wasil's father. Last summer, as the Taliban intensified its offensives across the country and the security in Oruzgan deteriorated, the noose around Samad's fighters tightened, the Taliban besieging them for more than two months, Samad said in an interview.

About a month into the siege, a Taliban attack wounded Samad and 10 of his men. Wasil took command of the defense, Samad said.

"He fought like a miracle," Samad said, adding that Wasil had fired rockets from a roof. "He was successfully leading my men on my behalf for 44 days until I recovered."

The siege was finally broken in August, and Afghan and NATO forces airlifted Samad and his forces to a hero's welcome in Tirin Kot.

In a celebration hosted by Rahimullah Khan, the deputy police chief of Oruzgan, Wasil was the center of attention, wearing a baggy police uniform with garlands of plastic flowers around his neck. Khan patted him on the back as they posed for pictures. Then the deputy chief went around with wads of cash, handing it to the rescued men. Pictures of Wasil — helmet on, assault rifle in hand — circulated widely on social media.

But that was supposed to be the end of it. Wasil's family enrolled him in a school near their new rented home in Tirin Kot. Though he was not a good student, he excelled with a tutor his uncle hired for him at home, growing proficient in English over five months, relatives said. Still, they said, he always spoke of military matters and wanted to play with weapons and drive police vehicles as a hobby.

"He was not really interested in education because he was highly encouraged by police officials and awarded medals for his bravery," said Ezatullah Khan, a former neighbor of the family's.

Mohammad Karim Khadimzai, the provincial council chief of Oruzgan, said he had disagreed with the police's promotion of Wasil and his actions, even though the boy had bravely stepped forward at a desperate time during the Taliban's assault.

"A program was held at the police headquarters, where his bravery and courage was talked about by officials," Khadimzai said. "I was against this move and told the officials that instead of encouraging him to military activities that will ruin his future, let him go to school. He is too young to hand him a gun."

On Monday, as Wasil walked out of the house to buy vegetables, an armed man on a motorcycle shot him twice in the head and escaped, his uncle said. The boy was buried in Tirin Kot, in the Shahidano graveyard. He left behind two younger brothers.

The Taliban claimed responsibility on their website, saying they had killed a stooge militiaman.

(Mujib Mashal reported from Kabul, and Taimoor Shah from Kandahar, Afghanistan.)

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/Taliban-gun-down-10-year-old-militia-hero-in-Afghanistan/articleshow/50830229.cms

 

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India

Pay Taxes and Clear Debts before Haj Trip: Sunni Barelvi Clerics

Priyangi Agarwal | TNN | Feb 3, 2016

Mufti Mohammed Salim Noori, the cleric who passed the fatwa, said, As per the Islamic law, a person going on Haj should clear all his debts Mufti Mohammed Salim Noori, the cleric who passed the fatwa, said, “As per the Islamic law, a person goi... Read More

Bareilly: A new fatwa issued by Sunni Barelvi clerics of Dargah Aala Hazrat states that as per Islamic law pilgrims should clear their debts before embarking on Haj. The clerics reasoned that all types of taxes imposed by the government are also 'debt', and pilgrims must therefore clear them, including house and income taxes.

Mufti Mohammed Salim Noori, the cleric who passed the fatwa, said, "As per the Islamic law, a person going on Haj should clear all his debts. Prophet Mohammed had said that when a person goes on Haj, he goes to meet Allah. So, the person should not have any debt."

Noori added, "The different forms of taxes levied on residents by the government are also considered debt. Therefore, pilgrims wishing to go on Haj should pay taxes before starting their journey. Also, as per Islam, people should first perform their day-to-day duties honestly and then focus on completing religious duties."

The fatwa goes on to say that when a new financial year starts, pilgrims should pay all their pending taxes. All taxes, including income, house, water, sewer and sales, imposed by government should be cleared.

"Apart from clearing their debts and taxes, people should leave enough money at their home so that their wife and children do not face any financial crisis when they are outperforming Haj. A person should ensure that his family members have adequate funds to run their normal life in his absence," said Noori.

The seminary is known for passing major fatwas.

As reported by TOI on January 19, the clerics here said reading ISIS literature on social media and other platforms or promoting it is against Islam as the religion does not support the ideology of terrorist organizations.

Similarly, clerics had passed a fatwa in July last year, declaring that zakat, donations mandated by Islam, should go towards funding modern education and hi-tech gadgets as well.

In another fatwa in June last year, clerics had decreed that women could run their own businesses, although they had to limit business dealings to other women.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kanpur/New-fatwa-Pay-taxes-and-clear-debts-before-Haj-trip/articleshow/50828190.cms

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'Your Son Has Killed Two Kafirs. I Slit Their Throats with A Dagger'

Rohan Dua | TNN | Feb 3, 2016

At 9:20 am on January 1, Nasir, one of the intruders who attacked the Pathankot airbase, made a phone call from abducted jeweller Rajesh Verma's mobile phone to a Pakistan phone number, +92 3000957212, while hiding inside the airbase. TOI has accessed the full transcript of the chilling 18-minute-long conversation between Nasir and three members of his family — his brother Babar, his uncle and mother. Excerpts:

Nasir: Shhhhh. assalaam-alaykum. Nasir here.

Uncle: Wa-alaikum salam. Where are you? Are you safe?

Nasir: I am in another country. Where is mother?

Uncle: Talk to her quickly.

Mother: My son, where have you been? I hope are you alright...

Nasir: We are inside India. Your son has killed two kafirs. I slit their throats with a dagger. Now we are ready for the big final assault. The other men had got fearful of getting caught. I told them not to fear India.

Mother: Tu jaanbaaz hai. You are a brave man. May Allah help you reach heaven.

Nasir: I am wearing the jacket you stitched for me. Now this will be my shroud as well.

Mother: But how did you manage to reach inside India.

Nasir: We were taken in big SUV cars. Landcruiser dropped us on the border.

Mother: Have you had anything to eat?

Nasir: Just dry fruits and chocolates. Nothing else.

Mother: But did you kill the kafirs?

Nasir: Now I don't have much time to describe. This is my last conversation. I want you to record this call for future.

Mother: I don't know how to do this.

Nasir: Babar can do it. He knows how to use this feature on the phone

(The recorder is switched on... Babar takes the call)

Nasir: Babar. You all must hold a feast when my ustaad (handler) breaks the news of my martyrdom.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Your-son-has-killed-two-kafirs-I-slit-their-throats-with-a-dagger/articleshow/50829483.cms

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Name and Shame Countries Which Support Terrorism: India

PTI | Feb 3, 2016

JAIPUR: India on Wednesday said that countries which support terrorism must be named and shamed, asserting the need for united efforts to combat terror.

Foreign secretary S Jaishankar, while stating this at a security conference in a veiled reference to Pakistan, also said that some countries believe that they can buy peace at home by supporting groups for terror outside, which he said, was "delusional". He did not name any country.

He said India will continue to be in touch with Pakistan with regard to the probe in the terror attack on an IAF base in Pathankot last month.

"Nations which support terrorism must be named and shamed," Jaishankar said at the Counter-Terrorism Conference 2016 here.

He called for fostering greater international cooperation to fight terrorism while pointing out that even so-called victims of terror do not cooperate on fighting terror on international stage.

Jaishankar said that governments must show solidarity through a united message condemning terror attacks.

"Since Pathankot attack happened, we have been in touch with Pakistan. We have been in touch at my level and the NSA level because only by remaining in touch, we can expect them to progress on the basis of information which we have provided to them," he said.

On terrorism in eastern parts of the country, the foreign secretary said the Indian government had discussions with Myanmar on fighting terrorism and there is a greater responsiveness to the concerns of India.

"We had some problems with Myanmar and we have also some discussions with them. Some developments took place in the last few months and possibility of terror attacks occurring in the East from beyond the border would come down," he said in response to a question related to terror activities in the eastern parts of the country.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Name-and-shame-countries-which-support-terrorism-India/articleshow/50833760.cms

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Will Terror Freeze Indo-Pak Talks?

Indrani Bagchi | TNN | Feb 3, 2016

JAIPUR: India and Pakistan appear unlikely to go back to meaningful engagement any time soon. In a sign that the Modi government will continue to take a hard stance on Pak-sponsored terror in the wake of the Pathankot attack, national security adviser Ajit Doval on Tuesday said countries that support and sponsor terrorism have to be tackled more vigorously.

Addressing a conference on counter-terrorism in Jaipur, Doval said, "When states feel they can outsource the instrument of coercion to some non-state actors to achieve their political objectives, that has proven to be the most counter productive method. All countries which have tried it have had it boomerang on them."

Doval's remarks indicate a couple of things — first, India is not ready to go back to talking to Pakistan until there is some clear action against terror sources in that country. Second, despite the Modi government's outreach to Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, terrorism remains the top concern for India. Doval's remarks are more significant given the context of the India-Pakistan dynamic at present. They also make it clear that for India the most important interaction with Pakistan will be on terrorism.

While he did not name Pakistan, Doval's indication could not be more clear. The world, he said, has been fighting on the periphery. "We have to get to the vitals." He stressed it was important to identify the states which sustain terrorism. "Which are the countries that give them ideological and physical support, weapons and sanctuaries?"

There are countries that support terrorists in international fora when action is sought to be taken against them, he added in a reference to China which stopped the UN Security Council from taking action against Jaish-eMuhammad chief Maulana Masood Azhar in 2015. The terror outfit is also blamed for the Pathankot attack.

The world came together to fight terror after the 9/11attacks in 2001, he said. "Where are in 2015. Casualties are 320% higher. Geographical spread of terror has expanded immensely — we are finding it in areas which had never seen terror before. States' expenditure in terms of money, lives and defence systems has also increased manifold. When the history of the world is written, will it be said that these were the wasted 15 years, which created a sense of insecurity in civil societies," he said.

Looking for lessons in the way the world has fought terror so far, Doval said it was important to assess whether the countries fighting terrorism took the wrong decisions that made things worse for the world today. "If countries have to defeat this menace, they have to smother everything that sustains terror. We have gone to the periphery and the symptoms but not the vitals of terrorism. The vitals are the states that have given support to terror. There must be adequate deterrence against them," Doval said.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Will-terror-freeze-Indo-Pak-talks/articleshow/50828491.cms

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No ban on Sikh turbans, only on burqas, says France

TNN | Feb 3, 2016

French embassy in New Delhi says the ban is only on burqa “for obvious security reasons”.French embassy in New Delhi says the ban is only on burqa “for obvious security reasons”.

Seeking to address the allegations regarding the "so-called restrictions'' imposed on the wearing of the Sikh turban, France on Tuesday clarified that there was no ban on Sikhs wearing turbans in public places.

The ban, said the French embassy in New Delhi, was only on burqa "for obvious security reasons".

In a clarification, the embassy said France upheld the freedom of religion, as well as the right not to have one, and opposed discrimination on this ground. The "ban" on turbans, it said, was applicable only in public schools. "French law in this matter is very precise: the restriction applies to the wearing of all visible religious signs, without any discrimination, and it applies only to public schools. It leaves it to the heads of public schools to take the most appropriate measures, so that it is implemented in a sensitive manner,'' said the embassy, adding that, "There has been no particular problem in its application.''

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/europe/No-ban-on-Sikh-turbans-only-on-burqas-says-France/articleshow/50828320.cms

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NIA’s Pathankot Probe Points to an Enemy Within

Bharti Jain | TNN | Feb 3, 2016

New Delhi: The security agencies' worst fears could soon come true, with the NIA intensifying its probe into possible role of an insider element in the Pathankot attack.

A key lead being worked upon is the concertina wire atop the 10-feet boundary wall of the airbase was possibly cut from inside and not outside. This is borne by the position/condition in which the snipped wire was found postattack, top sources in the security establishment told TOI.

"The state and placement of the damaged concertina wire is different depending on whether it is cut from outside or from inside.

A look at the wire soon after the attack had aroused suspicion that it were not the terrorists, but possibly a collaborator inside who cut the wire. The fact that the light at the spot was not working only confirms the location was consciously picked by those who had prior knowledge that the area would be dark.

We are running forensic tests on the concertina wire to scientifically and conclusively establish that it was cut from the inside. The test report can be taken as the first concrete indication of an insider role in the Pathankot attack," said a source following the probe.

Sources in the NIA said "massive work" was on to establish whether any insider had facilitated infiltration of the terrorists prior to the attack; if a recce was done of the route taken by the terrorists to reach the airbase; and if individuals within the airbase had facilitated the terrorists' entry. Towards this end, the NIA is sifting through records of calls made from/to the airbase. Also, those keeping watch on the outer periphery on the day of the attack or just prior to it, as well as airbase residents are being questioned to recall any suspicious movements near the point from where the terrorists entered the airbase.

There are also other leads that point to the role of elements inside the airbase in facilitating the terrorists. First, the spot from where the terrorists crossed the outer periphery of the airbase was next to a firing range. "There is a high embankment wall made out of earth, possibly meant to act as abarrier for bullets that ricochet after being fired, just 4-5 feet inside the boundary wall. The terrorists hid in the gap between the raised embankment and the boundary wall. This convenient hiding place ensured that the terrorists were not visible from the nearest post on either side... they remained undetected for almost 22 hours. That the road outside happened to be the only stretch in the airbase — with a total perimeter of 25-26 km — that was unpatrolled helped matters further," said asource.

The sensitiveness of the location where the terrorists lay in wait can be gauged from the fact that there are family quarters to its left while on the right lies the inner periphery holding vital air assets. "This is where the NSG along with Special Forces ( 1 Para) played a crucial part. Their deployment in the afternoon of January 1ensured that the terrorists were contained in a vacant area housing an abandoned military shed, away from the family quarters and air assets, when they were neutralised barely 150-200 yards away," said an officer of the security establishment.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/NIAs-Pathankot-probe-points-to-an-enemy-within/articleshow/50828852.cms

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‘ISI Agent’ Who Posed As Labourer in Pathankot Cantt Held

Bharti Jain | TNN | Feb 3, 2016

New Delhi: Suspected ISI mole Irshad Ahmed, who was working as a manual labourer at Mamoon cantonment in Pathankot, was arrested by the Punjab police on Tuesday. Irshad, who hails from Poonch district in Jammu & Kashmir, was allegedly using his smartphone to take pictures of sensitive equipment and installations inside the cantonment and passing them on to his Jammu-based handler Sajjad.

The arrest comes exactly a month after heavily armed Jaish fidayeen struck at the Pathankot airbase, killing seven security personnel and a civilian before they were killed.

Sources said nothing has been found so far to link Irshad to the airbase siege.

Irshad's handler Sajjad was recently arrested in Jammu in connection with an Arms Act case. He is being questioned on Irshad's disclosure that he used to pass on photographs of cantonment areas to his Pakistani handlers through emails and secure chat messaging services.

Irshad, son of Mohd Aslam, was tracked and arrested following a tip-off by the central intelligence agencies. He had managed to find a digging job inside the cantonment and used it as a cover for his spying assignment. Intelligence agencies have recovered several photos of sensitive installations from his smartphone. Sources said more leads are being worked on to establish where Irshad was getting instructions from and if there is any money trail of payments made to him in lieu of his espionage services.

Pathankot Cantt is one of the biggest and sensitive military bases of the Army. A division of the Army , which includes infantry and cavalry battalions, is based there.

Irshad is being considered a big catch as his arrest points to Pathankot still being on the terror radar even after the audacious attack at the airbase early last month. Most often, ISI tends to move on to a new target, realising that the level of guard is raised in the place that has already been attacked.

A close watch is being maintained to track any other espionage agents in Pathankot area.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/ISI-agent-who-posed-as-labourer-in-Pathankot-cantt-held/articleshow/50828418.cms

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Indian Helicopters donated to Afghanistan hailed by US

PTI | Feb 3, 2016

WASHINGTON: The three Mi-35 Indian multi-role helicopters donated to Afghanistan have made a big difference in the offensive against militants in the war-torn country, the outgoing commander of US forces in Afghanistan has said. The three helicopters were donated during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Kabul in December last year.

"They do have three Mi-35s (sic) - really Mi-24s and Mi-35s from India. They'll have a fourth one coming in pretty soon that will add to their inventory," General John Campbell told members of the House Armed Services Committee during a Congressional hearing on Afghanistan yesterday.

The Mi-35, a comprehensive upgrade of the Mi-24, is a versatile helicopter gunship with troop carrying capabilities.

In January, three multi-role Mi-35 attack helicopters donated by India were inducted into the Afghan Air Force, giving the country's security forces a much-needed lethal teeth against militant groups like the Taliban.

The Indian gift to Afghanistan has been hailed by the people and government of Afghanistan, and also by the US.

Campbell's remarks on India's donation of attack helicopters came in response to a question from Congressman Rob Wittman who wanted to know about the capabilities of the Afghan Air Force.

Campbell, who has commanded US and international forces in Afghanistan for the past 18 months, is expected to retire. Lieutenant General John Nicholson has been chosen by President Barack Obama to replace Campbell.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Indian-Helicopters-donated-to-Afghanistan-hailed-by-US/articleshow/50830454.cms?

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North America

US, Italy warn of rising IS threat in Libya but strikes off agenda

AFP | Feb 2, 2016

ROME: The United States and Italy warned on Tuesday that the Islamic State (IS) group is expanding its reach, threatening to seize Libya and launch attacks in Western countries.

But as representatives from the 23 countries of the US-led coalition battling the jihadists' self-declared "caliphate" reviewed their progress at talks in Rome, Italy and France made it clear military action against IS's Libyan wing is not on the immediate agenda.

Italian foreign minister Paolo Gentiloni and US Secretary of State John Kerry opened the talks by telling their allies that, since their meeting six months ago, the IS group had suffered setbacks in its core territory in Syria and Iraq.

But the hosts warned that the group is adapting to the pressure on its heartland and is redirecting its efforts towards Libya, where it has seized new territory, and into attacks like those in Paris, Ankara and San Bernadino, California.

"We are surely not here to brag about anything," Kerry said, after saying IS fighters have lost 40 per cent of their territory in Iraq and 20 per cent in Syria.

"We're here to recommit, we're here to re-evaluate, we're here to make judgements about things we have started that we could do better," he said.

Gentiloni said the challenge facing the coalition of mainly Western and Arab nations is stark.

"We know that we have in front of us an organisation that is very resilient and able to plan strategically and so we should not underestimate it," he said.

"If anything we need to be ever more wary and more watchful because we know that the more Daesh is squeezed in its core territories, the more tempted it is pursue its terrorist activities elsewhere," he warned, using an Arabic acronym for IS.

"We are witnessing renewed activity in Libya and in sub-Saharan Africa," he said.

Within the coalition, Italy has taken the lead in planning how to address the IS threat which is just a short boat ride from its southern shores, in and around the Libyan city of Sirte.

Rome's focus is on trying to rally the international community behind efforts to create a national unity government in Libya that is capable of stabilising its former colony.

Direct military intervention against IS fighters is not on the immediate agenda, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters, rubbishing reports that Paris was pushing for strikes.

"There is absolutely no question of military intervention in Libya," Fabius said. "There is pressure (for that) but that is not the position of the government."

Gentiloni told the Messagero daily time was running out to stabilise Libya but stressed there was no enthusiasm in Rome or the international community for "hasty military intervention."

Washington says it has built a 66-nation coalition to fight the IS group, with Afghanistan becoming the latest country to join, Kerry said.

But a so-called "small group" of 23 nations has taken the lead in carrying out air strikes in Iraq and Syria and training and arming local forces to fight the jihadists.

Kerry said the effort now needs to be stepped up, citing the example of Washington's deployment of small numbers of special forces troops inside Syria.

The allies need to "push ahead with a strategy we have learned will work and to do so relentlessly, giving Daesh no time to regroup, no place to run, no safe havens in which to hide," he said.

Fabius said France also supported intensified strikes in Syria but suggested "more strategic" targeting was required while peace talks are under way in Switzerland.

"We cannot bomb in Syria and negotiate in Geneva," he said in an explicit allusion to Russia's air campaign in Syria.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/europe/US-Italy-warn-of-rising-IS-threat-in-Libya-but-strikes-off-agenda/articleshow/50824093.cms

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Obama mosque visit comes as Muslim fear of violent backlash increases

03 Feb 2016

Roosh V: Pro-rape activist organizes covert meetings for men across U.S.

L. TODD WOOD: Russia deploys frontline fighter jets to Syria amid Turkish tension

CHARLES HURT: Ted Cruz wins Iowa, but he won't be the GOP nominee for president

Bernie Sanders to skip MSNBC debate unless Hillary Clinton agrees to future showdowns

Hillary Clinton officially declared victor in Iowa; closest caucus in history, officials say

Obama wants to quadruple military spending in Europe to counter Russian aggression

President Obama’s first visit to an American mosque Wednesday comes as U.S. Muslims are increasingly concerned about anti-Islamic sentiment turning violent.

Since Islamist terror attacks were carried out late last year in Paris and San Bernardino, California, advocacy groups have warned of an uptick in harassment and attacks on Muslims across the U.S. — with incidents ranging from the throwing a severed pig’s head at a Philadelphia mosque to the beating of a Muslim convenience store owner in Queens.

Madihha Ahussain, a staff attorney with the group’s Program to Counter Anti-Muslim Hate, said there was already concern about a rise in anti-Muslim hate crimes between 2013 and 2014. While the number of overall hate crimes decreased in that time, hate crimes targeting Muslims increased from 135 incidents in 2013 and to 154 incidents in 2014, according to the FBI.

Though the figure is still well below the 609 anti-Jewish hate crimes the FBI recorded in 2014 — the most targeted group for hate crimes based on religion — the uptick is a worrying trend that advocates hope Mr. Obama’s visit to the Islamic Society of Baltimore can help to turn around.

“This is something that Muslim advocates have been calling for the president to do for some time now,” Ms. Ahussain said. “His timing couldn’t be more critical given everything that’s going on especially since a lot of leaders are actually distancing themselves from the Muslim community.”

Hate crime victims are most often targeted because of race, according to the FBI, which recorded a total of 5,479 hate crimes in 2014. Anti-Semitism has historic roots, but Muslims only became a frequent target of hate crimes after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, said Heidi Beirich, director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Fear of Islamist radicalization following the latest terror attacks and statements made by public officials, most notably Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s pushing for a temporary ban on Muslim travelers entering the U.S., has only exacerbated anti-Islamic sentiment, she said.

“Speech has consequences,” Ms. Beirich said. “When a public figure says demonizing things, that’s what you get.”

On the flip side, she noted the positive affects of President George W. Bush’s visit to the Islamic Center of Washington less than a week after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

“When Bush did that, it had an incredibly calming effect,” Ms. Beirich said. “We saw the same type of backlash it was like that whole frenzy died down.”

She said American Muslims hoping for a similar effect from Mr. Obama’s visit.

While the president has visited mosques abroad on official trips, his stop in Baltimore will be the first time he’s visited a Muslim place of worship in the U.S.

The issue has been a tricky one for Mr. Obama, who has some critics that have speculated he is secretly a Muslim. His father and stepfather were Muslims and Mr. Obama has spoken highly of Islam. But the president is a Christian who, ironically, took political grief in 2008 because of his closeness to the firebrand minister at his Chicago church, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

The White House has said Mr. Obama’s visit is important for the country as an opportunity to reaffirm the American values of religious freedom and religious tolerance.

washingtontimes.com/news/2016/feb/2/obama-mosque-visit-comes-as-muslim-fear-of-violent/

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Arab World

Syria: ISIL Executes over 40 of Own Militants on Charges of Fleeing From Battlefields

Wed Feb 03 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The ISIL terrorist group has executed 43 of its own militants on charges of leaving the battlefields and escaping war against the Syrian army, local sources reported.

"The ISIL arrested and killed 43 of its own members on charges of trying to escape to Iraq after the groups' failures in clashes with the Syrian Army and popular forces in the Eastern province," the sources said.

On Tuesday, Syrian army troops, backed by popular forces, staunchly responded to thwart a concerted attack by the ISIL terrorists to seize a university campus in Deir Ezzur city, Eastern Syria, killing an ISIL commander during the fierce clashes with them.

Scores of ISIL militants, spearheaded by explosive-laden vehicles, tried to wreak havoc on army positions to attack the university compound in the Northwestern part of the city; however, pro-government forces foiled the attack and hit them back very severely, killing many of the militants.

Two vehicles of ISIL fighters, fully loaded with explosives, were blown up by the Syrian soldiers well before reaching the Literature School of Deir Ezzur University's premises.

The Syrian army troops and their popular forces allies, in their operation to foil the ISIL militants' assault on the university campus, also manage to round up more than 40 terrorists; among them was an ISIL commander.

The Syrian fighter jets carried out several combat flights over ISIL positions near the Northern neighborhoods of Deir Ezzur after the army troops stopped the terrorist offensive on the city.

The Syrian army and the National Defense Forces also managed to fend off several ISIL offensives on government forces' defense lines in the Northwestern part of the city of Deir Ezzur, killing scores of the terrorists.

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Saudi Forces Sustain Heavy Losses in Yemeni Army's Ambush Attacks in Sana'a

Wed Feb 03 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Yemeni army and popular forces in a series of ambush attacks on the Saudi-led forces prevented them from advancing in the Eastern part of Sana'a, killing scores of the enemy's troops.

"At least 28 Saudi-led forces were killed in these ambush operations in Sana'a's Ninth District and the Saudi forces withdrew from Mount al-Eltemas," the Arabic-language media outlets quoted an informed military source as saying on Wednesday.

The source noted that the Yemeni forces also destroyed four military vehicles of the Saudi-led troops.

In a relevant development on Tuesday, the Yemeni army and popular forces raided Saudi Arabia's military bases and military positions in the Southern part of the kingdom and destroyed their military equipment and hardware.

Informed military sources in the Northern parts of Yemen confirmed yesterday that the Yemeni Army alongside the popular forces raided Saudi Arabia's military bases and positions near the borders with Yemen, and destroyed 11 Saudi tanks and armored vehicles.

The Saudi bases were attacked in Najran, Asir and Jizan provinces.

The Yemeni forces annihilated five Abrams tanks and 6 Bradley armored vehicles during the raids on Saudi positions in the Southern part of the Kingdom.

Also on Monday, the Yemeni army missiles razed down a military base in Jizan province, a senior Ansarallah commander said, promising more imminent victories against the Saudi forces in coming days.

"The army and popular forces' missile units targeted al-Mosfaq military site in Jizan by several missiles," Abdullah Hoshami told FNA.

"The Saudi military base blew up in the Yemeni forces' attacks and burned in flames," he added.

Hoshami also confirmed reports of missile attacks against al-Anad military base in Lahij province which killed tens of Saudi-led mercenaries.

His remarks came after Yemeni Army Spokesman Sharaf Luqman said on Sunday that the army and popular forces inflicted heavy losses on the Saudi-led coalition forces in Southwestern Yemen.

"The Saudi forces sustained a great human loss in Yemen's Tochka missile attacks on Al-Anad military base in Lahij province today," he added.

He reiterated that hundreds of Saudi-led forces, including over 200 Sudanese Blackwater mercenaries, have been killed in the Saudi missile attack.

The Yemeni forces' attacks on the Saudi forces' positions in Lahij killed tens of Blackwater mercenaries, including their US commander, and destroyed several Apache and Typhoon helicopters.

The Tochka missiles hit a gathering of the Saudi forces at al-Anad military base, killing 200 Sudanese Blackwater mercenaries and their new commander US Colonel Nicolas Petras.

The Blackwater forces' military operations room and the houses of the Blackwater forces were also destroyed in Yemen's attack.

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Terrorists Fleeing Battlefields in Groups North of Aleppo

Wed Feb 03 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Reports from Aleppo province said on Wednesday that militant groups are evacuating all villages and areas near the towns of Nubl and al-Zahra as the Syrian army, Hezbollah and popular forces continue to gain ground in nearby areas.

Field sources said the Syrian army and its allies' victories in the last 72 hours have forced the terrorist groups, including Nouriddeen al-Zinki movement (al-Nusra affiliated) to withdraw from their positions near the towns of Nubl and al-Zahra to evade more casualties.

Another report said on Tuesday that hundreds of Takfiri terrorists were trying to cross the border to Turkey after losing vast grounds and dozens of their friends in the Syrian army's massive operations in Northern Aleppo province.

The terrorists have sustained heavy losses as the Syrian army is hunting them down in the Northern part of Aleppo province.

Tens of terrorists have been killed and dozens more have been injured in heavy clashes with the Syrian troops in Northern Aleppo in the past three days as the army conducted massive assaults to win back more villages and towns in the region.

Reports said on Tuesday large groups of militants were fleeing their strongholds in different areas of Northern Aleppo province as the Syrian army announced that it has cut off one of the main supply routes of the militants in the Southern part of Ratyan and al-Zahra in Northwest of the province and laid siege on terrorists in one town and several villages.

"The main supply line of the militants, connecting the towns of Hayyan, Anadan, Haraytan and Maayer, was cut off in the Syrian army attack," the army said earlier on Tuesday.

"The cut-off supply line will force the terrorists to face a major problem in the Northern and Western parts of the province, specially in these days that the government forces have launched a massive operation to liberate Nubl and al-Zahra," the army added.

In the meantime, the army said that the militant groups' bases near Ratyan and Hayyan came under heavy missile fire of the Syrian army, which inflicted major losses on the terrorists.

Reports said earlier today that the Syrian army and the popular forces completed siege of the town of Ratyan and the terrorists are now trapped in the town with no way to escape.

"The Syrian army troops, National Defense Forces (NDF), Kata’eb Hezbollah (Iraqi paramilitary) and Harakat al-Nujaba (Iraqi paramilitary) have continued to advance against the militant groups in the different sides of Ratyan and even several special forces of the army have infiltrated the terrorists' defense lines in the town's neighborhoods," the army said.

"Fall of Ratyan into the hands of the pro-government forces is imminent," the army added.

"With the completion of siege on Ratyan, the pro-government forces have only two kilometers to reach al-Zahra and Nubl," the army went on to say.

"Most of the trapped militants in Ratyan are the members of the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front," the army said.

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Syrian Army Inflicts Heavy Casualties on Terrorists in Dara'a

Wed Feb 03 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Syrian army forces inflicted heavy casualties on Takfiri militants in two separate operations on the outskirts of Dara'a city, Southern Syria.

Syrian soldiers, backed by their allies, targeted a militant center in the Northern part of Atman town on the outskirts of Dara'a city, killing or injuring all terrorists there. The terrorists also sustained huge damage on their hardware and vehicles during the attack. 

In a separate development, Syrian army soldiers managed to hit a vehicle carrying a number of Takfiri terrorists on a road West of Atman town; all terrorists in the vehicle died in the attack. 

Earlier in a recent attack, The Syrian army annihilated the Al-Nusra Front Takfiri terrorist group's strongholds in Dara'a province, inflicting heavy losses and casualties on the militants.

The Syrian troops razed the military positions and strongholds of the Al-Nusra Front and other Takfiri terrorists in the neighborhoods of al-Karak, al-Seibeh and al-Abbasiyeh in Dara'a al-Balad.

Meantime, the Syrian troops attacked terrorists' stronghold in a farm in Um Walad village in the Eastern part of Dara'a, killing all the militants inside the farm.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941114000464

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Syrian Troops, Jets Pound ISIL Positions in Homs Province

Wed Feb 03 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Syrian jets and army soldiers, in a joint operation, pounded heavily several ISIL terrorists' center points and hideouts in the Eastern parts of Homs province, leaving scores of terrorists dead and their weapons destroyed.

The main part of the operation was carried out on ISIL positions in three towns of Mahasa, Tuloul al-Soud, al-Quaryatayn, located in Eastern Homs province, and inflicted huge losses and damage on the terrorists.

The Syrian air force, in a separate phase of the operation in the province, launched several airstrikes on the gatherings of ISIL terrorists in Jubb al-Jarrah region, destroying their hideouts and killing dozens of them.

Also in an intensive operation against al-Qaeda's Nusra Front in Homs province, Syrian army troops, backed by popular forces, heavily hit the group's positions in al-Rastan city and the villages of Kisin and al-Ghajar.

According to informed sources on the ground, the raids left dozens of terrorists dead and their hardware destroyed.

Yesterday, Syrian army's artillery units targeted Nusra Front gatherings and the Takfiri group's bases in the rugged areas of Homs province in Central Syria.

Syrian jets pounded numerous hideouts of armed terrorist groups and their positions near Tir Ma'ala in Talbiseh, annihilating scores of militants and their positions in the region.

Also on Tuesday, Syrian jets conducted numerous rounds of airstrikes on militants' positions in  Houla region in the Northern parts of the Homs province, destroying militants' structures and their hardware in the region. Scores of militants were killed in the airstrikes, and dozens more sustained injuries.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941114000306

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Militant Groups Sustain Major Losses in Syrian Army Attacks in Hama

Wed Feb 03 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Army continued to target the concentration centers of the militant groups in the Northern parts of Hama province, causing heavy damage on the terrorists' military grid.

The Syrian army troops' offensives against the positions of the militant groups in Morek, Latmeen, and al-Lataminah in the Northern territories of Hama province near border with the province of Idlib came under the attacks of the Syria army, which not only left several terrorists dead or wounded but ended in the destruction of their military vehicles, construction machinery and weapons.

In relevant developments in Hama province on Tuesday, the Syrian army troops and their popular allies pounded Ahrar al-Sham positions with massive artillery fire, destroying one of their bases in the Southern parts of Hama province in Western Syria.

In the city of al-Suqaylabiyah in Hama province, the Syrian soldiers and popular forces kept one of the militant group's bases under their intensive surveillance and launched massive artillery fire on one of the bases when fighters gathered in there.

Reports said the base burned down to ashes and all militants in there were killed.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941114000225

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Russian Warplanes Raid Militants' Centers to Back up Nubl, Al-Zahra Operation

Wed Feb 03 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Russian fighter jets carried out several combat flights over the defense lines of the militant groups North of Aleppo and targeted them heavily in a move to provide aerial coverage for the massive operation of the government forces' near Nubl and al-Zahra.

The Russian air fleet bombed the militant groups' positions near the town of Hayyan over eight times, inflicting major losses on the terrorists' logistic and military hardware.

The Russian jets, meantime, targeted the militant groups' concentration center inside and outside of the town of Haraytan at least two times, which ended in the destruction of the terrorists military grid.

Both Hayyan and Haraytan enjoy logistic importance for the militant groups operating in Nubl and al-Zahra battlefields.

Reports said earlier today that militant groups are evacuating all villages and areas near the towns of Nubl and al-Zahra as the Syrian army, Hezbollah and popular forces continue to gain ground in nearby areas.

Field sources said the Syrian army and its allies' victories in the last 72 hours have forced the terrorist groups, including Nouriddeen al-Zinki movement (al-Nusra affiliated) to withdraw from their positions near the towns of Nubl and al-Zahra to evade more casualties.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941114000750

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Syrian Army, NDF Continue to Target Militants across Deir Ezzur Neighborhoods

Wed Feb 03 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Army said its troops and the National Defense Forces (NDF) engaged in fierce clashes with the ISIL Takfiri terrorists in four neighborhoods of the Eastern city of Deir Ezzur and inflicted a heavy casualty on the militants.

"Strongholds of the ISIL in the neighborhoods of al-Hwaiqa, al-Sina'ah, Ma'adan and al-Aridi came under attacks of the Syrian army, which left over 25 militants killed and some others wounded," the army said, adding, "The ISIL military hardware and ammunition were also destroyed in the clashes."

On Tuesday, the Syrian army troops, backed by popular forces, staunchly responded to thwart a concerted attack by the ISIL terrorists to seize a university campus in Deir Ezzur city, Eastern Syria, killing an ISIL commander during the fierce clashes with them.

Scores of ISIL militants, spearheaded by explosive-laden vehicles, tried to wreak havoc on army positions to attack the university compound in the Northwestern part of the city; however, pro-government forces foiled the attack and hit them back very severely, killing many of the militants.

Two vehicles of ISIL fighters, fully loaded with explosives, were blown up by the Syrian soldiers well before reaching the Literature School of Deir Ezzur University's premises.

The Syrian army troops and their popular forces allies, in their operation to foil the ISIL militants' assault on the university campus, also manage to round up more than 40 terrorists; among them was an ISIL commander.

The Syrian fighter jets carried out several combat flights over ISIL positions near the Northern neighborhoods of Deir Ezzur after the army troops stopped the terrorist offensive on the city.

The Syrian army and the National Defense Forces, on Tuesday, managed to fend off several ISIL offensives on government forces' defense lines in the Northwestern part of the city of Deir Ezzur, killing scores of the terrorists.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941114000336

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Senior Militant Commanders Killed in Syria's Aleppo

Wed Feb 03 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Several terrorists of al-Nusra Front, including two senior commanders, were killed in the Syrian artillery and air attacks in the Northwestern part of Aleppo province.

The Syrian fighter jets' combat sorties over the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front's positions near the town of Anadan claimed the lives of many terrorists, including one their Emirs.

In the meantime, Abu Jafar Saloum, a notorious commander of al-Nusra Front, was killed in the Syrian artillery shelling in Hardatnin.

A report said on Tuesday that the Syrian army cut off one of the main supply routes of the militants in the Southern part of Ratyan and al-Zahra in Northwest of Aleppo province.

"The main supply line of the militants, connecting the towns of Hayyan, Anadan, Haraytan and Maayer, was cut off in the Syrian army attack," the army said.

"The cut-off supply line will force the terrorists to face a major problem in the Northern and Western parts of the province, specially in these days that the government forces have launched a massive operation to liberate Nubl and al-Zahra," the army added.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941114000789

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Syrian army presses Aleppo attack as UN envoy meets government

Reuters | Feb 2, 2016

BEIRUT/AMMAN/GENEVA: The Syrian army threatened rebel supply lines into the northern city of Aleppo on Tuesday as a UN envoy met government representatives to try to advance peace talks rendered almost impossible by the continued fighting.

A rebel commander told Reuters he was deploying reinforcements including US-made anti-tank missiles to the Aleppo frontline for what he described as a "decisive battle" in northern Syria near the Turkish border.

UN envoy Staffan De Mistura announced the formal start of Syria peace talks on Monday, the first attempt in two years to negotiate an end to a war that has killed 250,000 people and caused a refugee crisis in the region and Europe.

De Mistura's announcement, made after he met the main Syrian opposition council, drew an immediate rebuke from the opposition, which said it had not and would not negotiate unless the government stopped bombarding civilian areas, lifted blockades and released detainees.

Its conditions were steps outlined in a Dec. 18 Security Council resolution, but De Mistura reiterated late on Monday that only world powers could bring about ceasefires.

The refugee crisis and spread of the jihadist Islamic State through large areas of Syria, and from there to Iraq, has injected a new urgency to resolve the five-year-old Syria war.

But the chances of success, always very slim, appear to be receding ever more as the government presses attacks near Aleppo and elsewhere, and with tensions running high among regional and powers drawn into the conflict, notably Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Supported by Russian air strikes, the Syrian government is advancing against rebels in several areas of western Syria where the country's main cities are located.

The attack north of Aleppo that began in recent days is the first major government offensive there since the start of the Russian air strikes on Sept. 30.

The area is strategic to both sides. Its safeguards a rebel supply route from Turkey into opposition-held parts of the city and stands between government-held parts of western Aleppo and the Shi'ite villages of Nubul and al-Zahraa which are loyal to Damascus.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which reports the war using a network of sources on the ground, said the army and allied fighters captured more areas to the northwest of Aleppo on Tuesday.

"Decisive battle"

The advancing forces seized the village of Hardatnin some 10 km (six miles) northwest of Aleppo, the Observatory said, building on gains the previous day. Syrian state media also reported the advance.

Aleppo, once Syria's biggest city and commerical centre, is divided between areas controlled separately by the government and opposition.

The rebel commander said the Russian air force was mounting heavy air strikes in the area.

"We sent new fighters this morning, we sent heavier equipment there. It seems it will be a decisive battle in the north God willing," said Ahmed al Seoud, head of a Free Syrian Army group known as Division 13. "We sent TOW missile platforms. We sent everything there," he told Reuters.

US-made TOW missiles, or guided anti-tank missiles, are the most potent weapon in the rebel arsenal and have been supplied to vetted rebel groups as part of a programme of military support overseen by the Central Intelligence Agency.

A correspondent with the pro-government Al Mayadeen TV embedded with the army said there had been 150 air strikes in the last two days. A tank and armoured vehicle were shown driving through a road in a largely destroyed village.

The sound of jets and crackle of automatic gunfire could be heard during a broadcast by the pro-opposition Orient TV.

The Russian intervention has reversed the course of the war for Damascus, which suffered a series of major defeats to rebels in western Syria last year before Moscow deployed its air force as part of an alliance with Iran.

In an interview with Reuters, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said Russian President Vladimir Putin was undermining international efforts to end the war by bombing opponents of Islamic State in an attempt to bolster Assad.

Opposition wary of envoy

"The Russians say let's talk, and then they talk and they talk and they talk. The problem with the Russians is while they are talking they are bombing, and they are supporting Assad," Hammond said.

Western states opposed to Assad, including the United States and Britain, piled pressure on the opposition to attend the Geneva talks which have been beset by problems including a row over who should be invited to negotiate with Damascus.

In the latest downbeat opposition assessment, lead opposition negotiator Mohamad Alloush said he was not optimistic. "Nothing has changed in the situation on the ground so as long as the situation is like this we are not optimistic," he told reporters. "There are no good intentions from the regime's side to reach a solution."

He was speaking minutes before a government delegation arrived at UN headquarters in Geneva to meet De Mistura to discuss a proposal on humanitarian issues.

De Mistura said on Monday the responsibility of agreeing ceasefires across Syria lay with major powers and that his remit was only to hold talks on a UN resolution on elections, governance and a new constitution.

All previous diplomatic efforts have failed to stop the war.

Complicating the efforts, opposition mistrust of de Mistura is running deep: "The fact is the opposition have a lot of distrust in de Mistura. They have become extremely wary," a Western diplomat said.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/Syrian-army-presses-Aleppo-attack-as-UN-envoy-meets-government/articleshow/50823593.cms

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South Asia

Taliban Gun down 10-Year-Old Militia Hero In Afghanistan

Mujib Mashal & Taimoor Shah | NYT News Service | Feb 3, 2016

KABUL: The Afghan government declared Wasil Ahmad a hero for leading a militia's defense against a Taliban siege last year, parading him in front of cameras in a borrowed police uniform too big for him. On Monday, the Taliban triumphantly announced that they had assassinated him with two bullets to the head.

Wasil Ahmad was 10 years old.

He was gunned down in Tirin Kot city, the capital of southern Oruzgan province, just a few months after leaving militia life and enrolling in school as a fourth-grader.

Wasil's story is a painful example of how child combatants continue to be a part of life in Afghanistan, both in the ranks of pro-government forces and among the Taliban insurgents.

Rafiullah Baidar, a spokesman for the Afghan independent human rights commission, said that despite strict orders from President Ashraf Ghani last year against using children in the military, his commission continues to receive reports of child soldiers in the Afghan forces, particularly in the Afghan Local Police militias. The Taliban, he said, used child soldiers, too, in recent fighting in places like Kunduz and Badakhshan, in the northern part of the country.

Baidar said the provincial government had broken the law by parading Wasil in a police uniform after the Taliban siege was lifted. But he also condemned the Taliban's killing of Wasil because the boy had moved to a civilian life.

"There was no threat from this child to the armed opposition," Baidar said. "If they had targeted him in a military base, then they could have raised the question of what was a child doing in a military base. But he was targeted in front of his home."

In many ways, a life of the gun was chosen for Wasil before he was born.

His uncle, Mullah Abdul Samad, was a Taliban commander who decided four years ago to switch sides to support the government along with 36 of his men, including Wasil's father. In return, the Afghan government appointed Samad commander of about 70 Afghan Local Police militiamen in Khas Oruzgan district.

Samad's forces became the government's front against the Taliban. He lost 18 men in the fighting, including Wasil's father. Last summer, as the Taliban intensified its offensives across the country and the security in Oruzgan deteriorated, the noose around Samad's fighters tightened, the Taliban besieging them for more than two months, Samad said in an interview.

About a month into the siege, a Taliban attack wounded Samad and 10 of his men. Wasil took command of the defense, Samad said.

"He fought like a miracle," Samad said, adding that Wasil had fired rockets from a roof. "He was successfully leading my men on my behalf for 44 days until I recovered."

The siege was finally broken in August, and Afghan and NATO forces airlifted Samad and his forces to a hero's welcome in Tirin Kot.

In a celebration hosted by Rahimullah Khan, the deputy police chief of Oruzgan, Wasil was the center of attention, wearing a baggy police uniform with garlands of plastic flowers around his neck. Khan patted him on the back as they posed for pictures. Then the deputy chief went around with wads of cash, handing it to the rescued men. Pictures of Wasil — helmet on, assault rifle in hand — circulated widely on social media.

But that was supposed to be the end of it. Wasil's family enrolled him in a school near their new rented home in Tirin Kot. Though he was not a good student, he excelled with a tutor his uncle hired for him at home, growing proficient in English over five months, relatives said. Still, they said, he always spoke of military matters and wanted to play with weapons and drive police vehicles as a hobby.

"He was not really interested in education because he was highly encouraged by police officials and awarded medals for his bravery," said Ezatullah Khan, a former neighbor of the family's.

Mohammad Karim Khadimzai, the provincial council chief of Oruzgan, said he had disagreed with the police's promotion of Wasil and his actions, even though the boy had bravely stepped forward at a desperate time during the Taliban's assault.

"A program was held at the police headquarters, where his bravery and courage was talked about by officials," Khadimzai said. "I was against this move and told the officials that instead of encouraging him to military activities that will ruin his future, let him go to school. He is too young to hand him a gun."

On Monday, as Wasil walked out of the house to buy vegetables, an armed man on a motorcycle shot him twice in the head and escaped, his uncle said. The boy was buried in Tirin Kot, in the Shahidano graveyard. He left behind two younger brothers.

The Taliban claimed responsibility on their website, saying they had killed a stooge militiaman.

(Mujib Mashal reported from Kabul, and Taimoor Shah from Kandahar, Afghanistan.)

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/Taliban-gun-down-10-year-old-militia-hero-in-Afghanistan/articleshow/50830229.cms

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Drone strike kills 3 Daesh militants in Nangarhar

By Khaama Press - Wed Feb 03 2016

A drone strike has killed three fighters of the terrorist group of the Islamic State (IS) which is locally known by its Arabic name ‘Daesh’ in eastern Nangarhar province.

Colonel Hazrat Hussain Mashriqiwal, spokesperson for the police headquarters of Nangarhar province said the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) attack was conducted in Bandar area of Achin District around 04:00 PM on Tuesday.

He said the attack left three insurgents of Daesh killed.

According to Col. Mashriqiwal, there was no harm to civilians in the drone strike.

It comes a day after four strikes killed 29 militants of the group in the same district.

The air strikes also destroyed the group’s radio ‘Voice of the Caliphate’ which was running a propaganda campaign against government and recruiting fighters for insurgency.

khaama.com/drone-strike-kills-3-daesh-militants-in-nangarhar-4540

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Senior Afghan army commander Gen. Atamir martyred in Helmand

By Khaama Press - Tue Feb 02 2016

Gen AtamirA senior commander of the Afghan National Army (ANA) was martyred in an explosion in southern Helmand province of Afghanistan, the officials said Tuesday.

The incident took place late on Monday night in Greshk district of Helmand province, provincial governor spokesman Omar Zwak confirmed.

Gen. Atamir Agah was serving with the 3rd Brigade of 215 Maiwand Corps of the Afghan National Army, Zwak said, adding that three soldiers were also wounded.

The district administrative chief Mohammad Sharif also confirmed that Gen. Atamir was martyred while he was on his way to Mosa Qala district when his vehicle struck an improvised explosive device.

However, another source speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Gen. Atamir lost his life along with 25 other soldiers after a group of militants launched an attack on an army camp in Greshk district.

The anti-government armed militant groups have not commented regarding the incident which comes amid deteriorating security situation across the country.

Helmand is among the volatile provinces in southern Afghanistan where anti-government armed militant groups are actively operating and frequently carry out insurgency activities.

The Taliban militants launched a major offensive in a bid to take control of key districts including Sangin last month, forcing the US forces to interfere in support of the Afghan security forces.

khaama.com/senior-afghan-army-commander-gen-atamir-martyred-in-helmand-0070

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CEO Abdullah seeks regional action plan against terrorism

By Khaama Press - Wed Feb 03 2016

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Abdullah Abdullah has proposed a regional action plan to combat with terrorism.

While talking to the Counter-Terrorism Conference in Jaipur, capital of the Indian state of Rajasthan on Tuesday, CEO Abdullah said that terrorism poses grave danger to the regional stability and international peace.

“We are effectively facing a regional cold war where terrorism has become the principal instrument of projecting influence by some states against others. As a consequence, there is no universal appreciation of the grave danger, which terrorism poses to regional stability and international peace and security,” he said.

“That is why to be effective, I propose that each region assess the set of threats terrorism poses to their security and development and then agree to draft and implement a joint a counter-terrorism action plan.”

The CEO said there isn’t much difference in the officially stated regional definition of what constitutes terrorism and how to counter it.

“Looking at how India, China, Pakistan, Iran, and others have defined terrorism, one can see that there isn’t much difference in their individual definitions of the threat,” Abdullah said.

“Each of our neighbours has an elaborate counter-terrorism national action plan backed by strong counter-terrorism legislation. And at the regional level, terrorism has been often acknowledged to be a common enemy of all of us.”

He went on to say that the Heart of Asia Process, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and the South Asian Association Regional Cooperation (SAARC), are the appropriate mechanisms, through which the region could organize collective efforts in the fight against terrorism, drug trafficking, and other such threats.

khaama.com/ceo-abdullah-proposes-regional-action-plan-to-against-terrorism-4542

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President Ghani in Kandahar assessing security, development

By Khaama Press - Wed Feb 03 2016

Leading a high level delegation, President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has arrived in Kandahar province for assessing security and development.

Tight security measures have been taken in Kandahar city where the President landed on Wednesday morning.

President Ghani is accompanied by some cabinet ministers and other high ranking officials from Kabul.

A joint gathering of local government officials, civil society activists, community elders and other residents have been organized at the Governor House of Kandahar where President Ghani would deliver a speech.

He would also hear suggestions from the participants of the gathering for improving security and economic situation of the southern region to which Kandahar is the center.

khaama.com/president-ghani-in-kandahar-assessing-security-development-4544

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Afghan National Security Advisor Atmar off to Turkey on two-day state visit

By Khaama Press - Wed Feb 03 2016

Kabul (Jan. 25, 2009) The Honorable Minister of Interior Mohammad Hanif Atmar addressing attendees at a ceremony held for the family members of two fallen sergeants in MondayÕs fighting between insurgents and ANP in Kabul. During the ceremony families of the fallen sergeants received cash rewards of 100,000 Afghanis for the sergeantÕs actions while sacrificing their lives to save the lives of many more Afghans. The ceremony also saw 76 police officers and sergeants recommended for rank promotion and 351 recommended for monetary bonuses. (Photo by Mass Communications Specialist 1st Class Christopher Mobley/Released)

The National Security Advisor (NSA) Mohammad Hanif Atmar left Kabul for a two-day state visit to Turkey this morning.

On Thursday and Friday, Atmar would hold meetings with his Turkish counterpart, the country’s Interior Minister, Director of National Intelligence and acting Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Both sides would discuss a vast range of topics including mutual security interests, security and intelligence cooperation and fight against terrorism.

They will also discuss ways to improve diplomatic ties and Turkey’s military assistance with Afghan National Security and Defense Forces (ANSDF) under the umbrella of NATO.

According to Tawab Ghorzang, spokesperson for Atmar, the visit is based on the official invitation of his Turkish counterpart.

khaama.com/nsa-atmar-off-to-turkey-for-two-day-state-visit-4543

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Qatari prince pledges $140 million in aid, joint investment to Afghanistan

By Khaama Press - Wed Feb 03 2016

A Qatari prince has pledged $140 million comprised of non-refundable aid and capital for joint investment in key housing sectors in Afghanistan.

Two Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) were signed between the Qatari prince Sheikh Ali bin Abdullah Al Thani, head of the Al-Gharafa Non-governmental Organization, and the Minister of Urban Development Affairs of Afghanistan Syed Sadat Mansoor Naderi in this regard.

Urban Development Affairs Minister Syed Sadat Naderi said the MoUs will cover key areas, including efforts to reduce the lack of shelter for the needy citizens of Afghanistan, creation of job opportunities, attraction of aid and proper use of the available opportunities to boost the economic prospects and opportunities for foreign investment in the country.

The MoUs will also cover efforts including a campaign to reduce the rising cost of residential and commercial properties, including plots and apartments.

Other areas, including creation of a healthy competition in housing construction sector, promotion of modern and standard construction in accordance to the international norms and prevention of illegal buildings.

Hailing the friendly and deep relations between Afghanistan and Qatar, Mr. Naderi said the first MoU consists of $40 million in non-refundable aid which would be utilized in housing construction, specifically for the children of the martyred.

Mr. Naderi further added that the second MoU consists of $100 million funds which will be utilized as a capital for joint investment in various projects, including housing construction, commercial markets, hotels and other construction projects.

Two other MoUs were also signed between the Qatari prince and officials from the Ministry of Agriculture Irrigation and Livestock and National Environmental Protection Agency.

khaama.com/qatari-prince-pledges-140-million-in-aid-joint-investment-to-afghanistan-0072

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Afghanistan needs long-term U.S. support to defeat militant groups: Gen. Campbell

By Khaama Press - Tue Feb 02 2016

The outgoing commander of the U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, Gen. John Campbell, said Tuesday that Afghanistan needs long-term commitment from United States to defeat Taliban and other militant groups.

In his testimony to a congressional committee, Gen. Campbell further added that the commitment must be made in a bid to prevent the security situation to further deteriorate and stop attacks on the West by militants based in Afghanistan.

According to Gen. Campbell, the militants are controlling or having influence on 26 of 407 district centers in the country while 94 districts are viewed as at risk at any given time.

Praising President Barack Obama’s decision to maintain a U.S. troop presence throughout most of this year, Gen. Campbell said aid the United States was developing a five-year vision that would avoid the traditional year-to-year planning mindset.

He also warned that the situation will likely further deteriorate as compared to 2015 if deliberate and measured adjustments are not made.

The remarks by Gen. Campbell comes as the security situation has sharply deteriorated across the country, prompting President Obama to announce in October that the United States would maintain a force of about 9,800 troops in Afghanistan through most of 2016.

The United States was due to draw down the number of forces in the country to an embassy-based presence by 2017 as per the earlier draw down plan.

khaama.com/afghanistan-needs-long-term-u-s-support-to-defeat-militant-groups-gen-campbell-0071

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NDS detains seven terrorists in connection with recent attacks in Kabul

By Khaama Press - Tue Feb 02 2016

The National Directorate of Security (NDS) has detained seven members of Haqqani terrorist network who had planned a number of terrorist attacks in Kabul city.

A statement released by NDS on Tuesday states that the attacks were carried out in Hawa Shinasi area, in front of Hamid Karzai International Airport and on the road leading from Shaheed Masoud square to the airport which left a number of people martyred and wounded.

According to the statement, the terrorists were arrested from Hudkhil area, located in the 9th sector of the city, last night.

They are identified as:

Khalid S/O Shah Mohammad, head of Haqqani terrorist network in Kabul city

Asmatullah S/O Shah Mohammad, head of propaganda campaign of Haqqani network

Noorullah S/O Baba Jan, he was keeping car bombs inside his residence in Hudkhil area

Farhad S/O Zubair, he was keeping suicide bombers

Walid S/O Mohammad Zubair, member of the group

Bahadur S/O Qadir Gul, member of the group

Khoshahal S/O Ahmad Gul, member of the group.

120 kilograms of explosives, four remote controls, a pistol and other terrorist materials were recovered from their hideout.

The terrorists intended to plan and execute more attacks in Kabul city but NDS foiled their plans, the statement adds.

khaama.com/breaking-new-nds-detains-seven-terrorists-in-connection-to-recent-attacks-in-kabul-4539

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Pakistan

Senior TTP Leader Still Alive? Drone 'Targeting' Sajna Kills 18 Militants

Feb 3, 2016

PESHAWAR: Eighteen Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants of the banned organisation's Sajna group were killed in a drone strike in Afghanistan's Paktika province on Monday night, security sources said.

Members of the TTP offshoot were holding a meeting in Paktika's Birmal area during which its leader Khan Said Sajna was expected to appear, sources said.

It is pertinent to mention that Sajna was reported killed in a drone strike last year, but the information had not been independently verified. The Mehsud tribal faction, which Sajna heads, had not denied claims of Sajna's death at the time.

Of the TTP men killed today, 14 belong to the Mehsud tribe and four to the Wazir tribe.

Claims relating to the strike and the deaths could not be independently verified.

Khan Said Sajna became TTP’s deputy leader following the death of Wali-ur-Rehman in May 2013. He fought in Afghanistan and is believed to be involved in the attack on a Naval base in Karachi.

Sajna is credited with masterminding a 2012 jailbreak in which the Taliban freed 400 inmates from a prison in Bannu.

Khan Said Sajna leads the Mehsud faction, which split from TTP in May 2014 after former TTP leader Hakimullah Mehsud was killed in a United States (US) drone strike.

In a public statement following the split, he stated his continued commitment to terrorist activity. The US designated Sajna a global terrorist in Oct 2014.

dawn.com/news/1237178/senior-ttp-leader-still-alive-drone-targeting-sajna-kills-18-militants

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Main facilitator of BKU attack arrested

BUREAU REPORT: 03 Feb. 2016

PESHAWAR: In a major breakthrough, intelligence agencies have claimed to have arrested the main facilitator of the attack on the Bacha Khan University that left about 20 people dead and several others wounded, credible sources said.

According to them, Waheed Ali alias Arshad, categorised as “Terrorist A”, was arrested in Nowshera last week.

“He had made arrangements to flee to Afghanistan and hired a taxi to take him to the Pak-Afghan border at Torkham. Had there been any further delay, the man would have slipped away,” the sources said.

“He had shaved his beard and had packed up. His taxi was intercepted and he was picked up after positive identification,” said the sources, requesting they not be identified.

In his initial statement, according to the sources, the alleged facilitator who is in his early 30s said the planning of the attack on the university had been in works for six months in Achin district of Afghanistan, the base of the militant commander Khalifa Omar Mansoor alias Omar Naray.

He said he had surreptitiously made videos of the Punjab Regiment Centre and a police station in Mardan as possible targets and taken the footages in a memory chip to Omar Naray, but the plans had been dropped because of heavy security in the two places.

The mastermind and planners, Waheed said, later opted for Abdul Wali Khan University in Mardan and prepared a group of four militants to carry out the attack. He said that he was the one who had made the video of the four attackers with Khalifa Mansoor and that was the reason why the Abdul Wali Khan University was mentioned in the video.

He said Khalifa Mansoor had provided him Rs1 million to execute the plan and procure arms and ammunition for the attack. The plan to attack the Abdul Wali Khan University was also cancelled because of better security arrangements and the mastermind was informed about the new target in Charsadda.

According to the sources, the suspect said he had brought with him two attackers while the other two were already with another facilitator, Riaz, in Charsadda. He identified the four attackers, including an Afridi, one from Orakzai, one from Swat and one from South Waziristan.

Waheed met Baitullah Mehsud in 2008 and has since been associated with the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan. He had fled to Karachi where he was involved in extortion. He did his matriculation from Karachi and had lived there in the past as well. He is fluent in Urdu.

According to the sources, Waheed returned to his native town of Amankot in Nowshera about nine months ago and established contacts with Khalifa Mansoor. He had been to Afghanistan a few times to coordinate attacks. The alleged facilitator also provided the names of people from whom he had procured arms and ammunition.

With the arrest of the main facilitator, security agencies had completed the ring of all facilitators of the Charsadda attack. Five other suspects identified as facilitators in the attack are already in the custody of security agencies.

dawn.com/news/1237113/main-facilitator-of-bku-attack-arrested

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Nawaz inaugrates Gwadar-Hoshab (M-8) portion of CPEC

SYED ALI SHAH Feb. 03, 2016

QUETTA: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday inaugurated the Gwadar-Hoshab (M-8) road and reviewed the work being carried out on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

“The land-locked Central Asian states are interested in trade via the Gwadar port,” said the prime minister.

He said on the occasion that CPEC would open new vistas of development and prosperity in the region in general and benefit the country in particular.

The inauguration ceremony of M8 was attended by Chief Minister Balochistan Nawab Sanaullah Zehri, Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif, Commander Southern Command Lieutenant General Amir Riaz and other high ranking military and civilian officials.

The prime minister on the occasion also praised the services and sacrifices rendered by the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) in the construction of CPEC.

“Despite security problems, work is in full-swing on construction of roads in Balochistan,” added Nawaz.

The Prime Minister elaborated that after completion of CPEC and other related projects, Balochistan would not be dependent for financial aid on the federal government. "CPEC would ensure economic development of Balochistan", he said, adding that the people of the province would be major beneficiaries of the mega project.

"Projects cannot be completed through mere slogans, rather a strategy was imperative for completion of projects", he said.

The prime minister also reiterated his commitment on the occasion and said efforts were being made to develop Balochistan and bring it at par with other parts of the country.

Earlier in January, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had inaugurated the western route of the (CPEC) in Balochistan's Zhob and laid the foundation stones of two key projects: upgradation of the Zhob-Mughal Kot section of the Dera Ismail Khan-Qila Saifullah Highway (N-50) and the Qilla Saifullah-Waigam Rud Road section of the Multan-Dera Ghazi Khan-Qilla Saifullah Highway (N-70)

Proposed by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during his visit to Pakistan in May 2013, the CPEC will act as a bridge for the new Maritime Silk Route that envisages linking three billion people in Asia, Africa and Europe.

An official agreement on the corridor was signed between the two countries in May this year during President Xi Jinping's historic visit to Pakistan.

A flagship project of the Belt and Road initiative as well, the CPEC intends to revive the ancient Silk Road with a focus on infrastructure, and constitutes the strategic framework of bilateral cooperation.

The project links China's strategy to develop its western region with Pakistan's focus on boosting its economy, including the infrastructure construction of Gwadar Port, together with some energy cooperation and investment programs.

It also involves road and railway construction including an upgrade of the 1,300-km Karakoram Highway, the highest paved international road in the world which connects China and Pakistan across the Karakoram mountains.

The CPEC will reduce China's routes of oil and gas imports from Africa and the Middle East by thousands of kilometers, making Gwadar a potentially vital link in China's supply chain.

dawn.com/news/1237192/nawaz-inaugrates-gwadar-hoshab-m-8-portion-of-cpec

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SC declares Sheikh Mohammad Akram as returned candidate from NA-89 Jhang

IRFAN HUSAIN 03 February 2016

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday declared PML-N's Sheikh Mohammad Akram as returned candidate from NA-89 Jhang, after he was unseated by an election tribunal on April 9, 2014, which had declared his opponent, Mohammad Ahmed Ludhianvi, as the returned candidate from the constituency.

A three-member bench headed by Justice Saqib Nisar heard the case and announced its verdict on a petition submitted by Akram in 2014 following his disqualification by an election tribunal in April 2014. The tribunal had declared runner-up candidate Maulana Mohammad Ahmed Ludhianvi of the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat elected.

The court also declared the decision of election tribunal as null and void.

Earlier in December 2015, the apex court while reserving its verdict on the petition had suspended the decision of the election tribunal, which had declared the runners up Muhammad Ahmad Ludhianvi as successful candidate from the constituency.

Ludhianvi, the head of the proscribed Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ), and Akram contested May 11, 2013 polls on the National Assembly seat NA-89 (Jhang).

“The judgment is reserved,” Justice Mian Saqib Nisar had announced in December last year, after conducting an extensive hearing. Both Ludhianvi and his opponent’s son Sheikh Waqqas Akram, were present in court along with their supporters. Ludhianvi was represented by senior counsel Tariq Mehmood, while Makhdoom Ali Khan was the counsel for Mr Akram.

Mr Akram had contested the election and won the NA-89 seat in place of his son, Sheikh Waqas Akram, who had been mired in legal proceedings related to a fake degree charge.

The Jhang constituency has always considered a hotbed of sectarian strife. It was won by the founder of the now-outlawed Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), Haq Nawaz Jhangvi, in the 1988 general elections.In 2002, Maulana Azam Tariq – who was the head of the SSP at the time – won the elections on an independent ticket while in prison, defeating Dr Tahirul Qadri and Sheikh Waqas – who was contesting from the platform of the National Alliance.

Maulana Azam Tariq was later killed in Islamabad and Sheikh Waqas was able to win the seat in the subsequent by-election by defeating the slain SSP leader’s brother, Maulana Alam Tariq.

In the 2008 general elections, NA-89 was contested between Mr Ludhianvi as an independent candidate and Sheikh Waqas on a PML-Q ticket. This time, Mr Akram defeated Ludhianvi, securing, 51,976 votes against Ludhianvi’s 45,216.

In the 2013 elections, the petition argued that the tribunal had disqualified Sheikh Akram on two grounds: that the CNIC number of his seconder was incorrect, and that the candidate did not disclose that a criminal case had been pending against him.

These grounds, the petition argued, were based on a misreading of the record and relevant legal provisions as there was no violation of any election rules to justify the tribunal’s decision to unseat Sheikh Akram.

dawn.com/news/1237182/sc-declares-sheikh-mohammad-akram-as-returned-candidate-from-na-89-jhang

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3 killed, 12 injured in clashes between Pakistan International Airlines staff and police

PTI | Feb 3, 2016

KARACHI: At least three persons were shot dead and 12 others injured on Tuesday, during clashes between security forces and staff of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) protesting at Karachi's international airport against the planned privatization of the ailing national flag carrier.

The clashes led to the disruption and then suspension of many domestic and international flights around the country's main airports.

The incident took place near the Jinnah International Airport here after the joint action committee which represents all unions of PIA gave a complete strike call for February 2, despite the government enforcing Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) under which all union activities were suspended and employees told to report on duty.

Though two of the protesters died of bullet wounds, Rangers and police denied opening fire at the site. A third patient succumbed to his wounds later in the night.

Following the deadly clash, PIA Chairman Nasser Jaffer announced that he has resigned from his post on the same day.

He expressed grief over the deaths of the PIA employees and lamented at the events which lead to their deaths. "My conscience doesn't allow me to head the organisation anymore," he told TV channels while in tears.

Jaffer said he was resigning since no one was willing to accept his advice anymore and even the joint action committee did not try to resolve the matter through dialogue.

Kamran Afzal, the deputy inspector general (East Zone), has denied that the police backed by paramilitary rangers had opened fire on the protesting employees including women.

"The police fired tear gas shells and used water cannons but no shots were fired. Police officials on duty say gun fire was opened from within the crowd. We are investigating and will find out the truth after examining the two submachine gun shells that were found from the site," he said.

Pakistan enforced ESMA on Monday, against PIA as the employees of the ailing national carrier announced an indefinite strike from today following the failure of talks with the government on the proposed privatization move.

Pakistan Airlines Cabin Crew Association president Nasrullah Khan said that the strike would go ahead as the government has not accepted their four-point agenda.

A heavy contingent of Rangers and police personnel were deployed at the site to prevent protesters from entering the cargo gate and moving onto Jinnah Avenue.

Three people including a member of PIA's engineering department have died in the incident. At least 12 persons were injured, Sohail Baloch, who heads the joint action committee of the PIA employees, said.

Domestic and international flight operations from Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, Quetta and Multan were disrupted with many flights being cancelled, Baloch claimed.

However, Danish Gillani, spokesman of the PIA told PTI that there were some disruptions in flights schedule but otherwise back up arrangements had been made for undisrupted operation of the flights.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/3-killed-12-injured-in-clashes-between-Pakistan-International-Airlines-staff-and-police/articleshow/50830586.cms

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Pakistan

Senior TTP Leader Still Alive? Drone 'Targeting' Sajna Kills 18 Militants

Feb 3, 2016

PESHAWAR: Eighteen Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants of the banned

organisation's Sajna group were killed in a drone strike in Afghanistan's Paktika province on

Monday night, security sources said.

Members of the TTP offshoot were holding a meeting in Paktika's Birmal area during which

its leader Khan Said Sajna was expected to appear, sources said.

It is pertinent to mention that Sajna was reported killed in a drone strike last year, but

the information had not been independently verified. The Mehsud tribal faction, which

Sajna heads, had not denied claims of Sajna's death at the time.

Of the TTP men killed today, 14 belong to the Mehsud tribe and four to the Wazir tribe.

Claims relating to the strike and the deaths could not be independently verified.

Khan Said Sajna became TTP’s deputy leader following the death of Wali-ur-Rehman in

May 2013. He fought in Afghanistan and is believed to be involved in the attack on a Naval

base in Karachi.

Sajna is credited with masterminding a 2012 jailbreak in which the Taliban freed 400

inmates from a prison in Bannu.

Khan Said Sajna leads the Mehsud faction, which split from TTP in May 2014 after former

TTP leader Hakimullah Mehsud was killed in a United States (US) drone strike.

In a public statement following the split, he stated his continued commitment to terrorist

activity. The US designated Sajna a global terrorist in Oct 2014.

dawn.com/news/1237178/senior-ttp-leader-still-alive-drone-targeting-sajna-

kills-18-militants

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Main facilitator of BKU attack arrested

BUREAU REPORT: 03 Feb. 2016

PESHAWAR: In a major breakthrough, intelligence agencies have claimed to have arrested

the main facilitator of the attack on the Bacha Khan University that left about 20 people

dead and several others wounded, credible sources said.

According to them, Waheed Ali alias Arshad, categorised as “Terrorist A”, was arrested in

Nowshera last week.

“He had made arrangements to flee to Afghanistan and hired a taxi to take him to the

Pak-Afghan border at Torkham. Had there been any further delay, the man would have

slipped away,” the sources said.

“He had shaved his beard and had packed up. His taxi was intercepted and he was picked

up after positive identification,” said the sources, requesting they not be identified.

In his initial statement, according to the sources, the alleged facilitator who is in his early

30s said the planning of the attack on the university had been in works for six months in

Achin district of Afghanistan, the base of the militant commander Khalifa Omar Mansoor

alias Omar Naray.

He said he had surreptitiously made videos of the Punjab Regiment Centre and a police

station in Mardan as possible targets and taken the footages in a memory chip to Omar

aray, but the plans had been dropped because of heavy security in the two places.

Full report at: dawn.com/news/1237113/main-facilitator-of-bku-attack-arrested

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Nawaz inaugrates Gwadar-Hoshab (M-8) portion of CPEC

SYED ALI SHAH Feb. 03, 2016

QUETTA: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday inaugurated the Gwadar-Hoshab (M-8)

road and reviewed the work being carried out on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

(CPEC).

“The land-locked Central Asian states are interested in trade via the Gwadar port,” said

the prime minister.

He said on the occasion that CPEC would open new vistas of development and prosperity in

the region in general and benefit the country in particular.

The inauguration ceremony of M8 was attended by Chief Minister Balochistan Nawab

Sanaullah Zehri, Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif, Commander Southern

Command Lieutenant General Amir Riaz and other high ranking military and civilian

officials.

Full report at: dawn.com/news/1237192/nawaz-inaugrates-gwadar-hoshab-m-8-portion-of-

cpec

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SC declares Sheikh Mohammad Akram as returned candidate from NA-89 Jhang

IRFAN HUSAIN 03 February 2016

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday declared PML-N's Sheikh Mohammad Akram

as returned candidate from NA-89 Jhang, after he was unseated by an election tribunal on

April 9, 2014, which had declared his opponent, Mohammad Ahmed Ludhianvi, as the

returned candidate from the constituency.

A three-member bench headed by Justice Saqib Nisar heard the case and announced its

verdict on a petition submitted by Akram in 2014 following his disqualification by an

election tribunal in April 2014. The tribunal had declared runner-up candidate Maulana

Mohammad Ahmed Ludhianvi of the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat elected.

The court also declared the decision of election tribunal as null and void.

Full report at:

dawn.com/news/1237182/sc-declares-sheikh-mohammad-akram-as-returned-

candidate-from-na-89-jhang

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3 killed, 12 injured in clashes between Pakistan International Airlines staff and police

PTI | Feb 3, 2016

KARACHI: At least three persons were shot dead and 12 others injured on Tuesday, during

clashes between security forces and staff of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) protesting

at Karachi's international airport against the planned privatization of the ailing national

flag carrier.

The clashes led to the disruption and then suspension of many domestic and international

flights around the country's main airports.

The incident took place near the Jinnah International Airport here after the joint action

committee which represents all unions of PIA gave a complete strike call for February 2,

despite the government enforcing Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) under which

all union activities were suspended and employees told to report on duty.

Though two of the protesters died of bullet wounds, Rangers and police denied opening

fire at the site. A third patient succumbed to his wounds later in the night.

Following the deadly clash, PIA Chairman Nasser Jaffer announced that he has resigned

from his post on the same day.

He expressed grief over the deaths of the PIA employees and lamented at the events

which lead to their deaths. "My conscience doesn't allow me to head the organisation

anymore," he told TV channels while in tears.

Full report at: timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/3-killed-12-injured-in-clashes-

between-Pakistan-International-Airlines-staff-and-police/articleshow/50830586.cms

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Mideast

Video shows Turkish PM saluting pilgrims in Kaaba while they chant slogans

February 02, 2016

A video posted on social media on Tuesday purportedly shows Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu saluting a large crowd of pilgrims during a visit to the Kaaba.

The video showed the pilgrims chanting phrases such as “Allahuakbar,” and “Ya Allah Bismillah,” while the prime minister is saluting them. The incident has drawn strong reactions from social media users, who have accused the prime minister of turning Islam's most sacred place into a political rally.

Davutoğlu paid an official visit to the Saudi capital, Riyadh, over last weekend. During his stay, he also visited the Kaaba.

todayszaman.com/national_video-shows-turkish-pm-saluting-pilgrims-in-kaaba-while-they-chant-slogans_411286.html

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1 dead, 3 wounded after shooting at İstanbul cafe

February 03, 2016

Three unidentified gunmen opened fire on a cafe in İstanbul's Eyüp district on Tuesday, killing one person and injuring three others.

İsmail Bayram (26), who was hit in the head during the attack, died of his wounds in the hospital, and three others who were injured are still receiving treatment.

Armored vehicles and dozens of police were dispatched to the area after the shooting. Police have launched a search to locate the assailants, backed by a police helicopter.

Yakup Pala, a member of an association that runs the cafe, said there was a piece of intelligence that had warned of an attack, adding that a police officer was standing guard near the cafe.

A similar attack in which two people died also took place in the Küçükçekmece district of the city on Monday.

todayszaman.com/national_1-dead-3-wounded-after-shooting-at-i-stanbul-cafe_411306.html

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UK warns citizens against travel in southeast Turkey

February 02, 2016

The UK's Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) has updated its advice on travel in Turkey, warning its nationals against going within 10 kilometers of the Syrian border or to the city of Diyarbakır in southeast Turkey.

The FCO's list also advises against travel in the southern and southeastern provinces of Kilis, Hatay, Gaziantep, Mardin and Şanlıurfa -- all of which lie along the border with Syria. It also advises against entering Diyarbakır, Hakkari, Siirt, Şırnak and Tunceli, where clashes between security forces and the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) continue.

Operations by the security forces against the PKK and related groups are ongoing in Diyarbakır's Sur district, a statement by the FCO said.

The statement says over 2.5 million British nationals visit Turkey every year, adding that most visits are trouble-free.

Many countries, including Germany and Russia, have already issued travel warnings for their nationals traveling in southeast Turkey.

todayszaman.com/diplomacy_uk-warns-citizens-against-travel-in-southeast-turkey_411275.html

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Kerry: Most of Turkey-Syria border sealed off from ISIL

February 03, 2016

An international coalition is pushing back Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants in their Syrian and Iraqi strongholds, and most of the Turkey-Syria border has been sealed off, US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday in Rome.

However, the group is threatening Libya and could seize the nation's oil wealth, he warned.

Officials from 23 countries, including Turkey, met in Rome to review the fight against ISIL militants, who have created a self-proclaimed caliphate across swathes of Syria and Iraq, and are spreading into other countries, notably Libya.

One of the remaining obstacles in the anti-ISIL fight in Syria is the group's hold on several towns close to the country's border with Turkey in the north. The US and Turkey are working to accelerate efforts to dislodge ISIL from the northern Syrian town of Jarablus, just next to the Turkish border.

Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu and Kerry met at the sidelines of the Rome meeting on Tuesday.

The meeting comes days after US President Barack Obama convened a National Security Council meeting dedicated to Libya. US Defense Secretary Ash Carter also warned that ISIL militants were consolidating there through establishing training sites, attracting foreign recruits and raising money through taxes.

While Western officials worry about the growing threat posed by ISIL in the former Italian colony, there was no suggestion that foreign powers were preparing to launch a major military offensive against them there at the current time.

ISIL forces have attacked Libya's oil infrastructure and established a foothold in the city of Sirte, exploiting a power vacuum in the North African country, where two rival governments have been battling for supremacy.

"That country has resources. The last thing in the world you want is a false caliphate with access to billions of dollars of oil revenue," Kerry said.

Under a UN-backed plan for a political transition, Libya's two warring administrations are expected to form a unity government, but a month after the deal was agreed in Morocco, its implementation has been dogged by infighting.

Kerry said the two sides were "on the brink of getting a government of national unity." Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said once it was in place, many countries would be prepared to respond to any request for help with security.

However, Kerry said the United States was opposed to deploying any of its ground forces into Libya, and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius dismissed media speculation that his country was poised to intervene in the oil-rich country.

"That is totally inexact," he told reporters in Rome.

The United States is leading two different coalitions carrying out air strikes in Iraq and Syria that have targeted ISIL, but the jihadist group has been left largely untouched in Libya.

"We are still not at the victory that we want to achieve, and will achieve, in either Syria or Iraq, and we have seen Daesh playing a game of metastasizing out to other countries, particularly Libya," Kerry said, using the Arabic term for ISIL.

US says key to defeating ISIL lies in Syria

Defense ministers from the anti-ISIL group are due to meet in Brussels next week to discuss further options, while Kerry said he expected further consultations with allies at a security conference in Munich later this month.

In Washington, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said he will lay out a plan to allies in Europe next week for intensifying the military campaigns in Iraq and Syria, and solicit new contributions. The plan includes Mosul and Raqqa's recapture.

"I'm going to say, OK guys, let's match up what is needed to win with what you have, and give everybody the opportunity to make an assignment for themselves," he told reporters.

While ISIL remains undefeated, it has suffered many setbacks, Kerry said in Rome, losing 40 percent of the territory it once controlled in Iraq and 20 percent of its lands in Iraq.

"Our advances… are undeniable. We have launched nearly 10,000 air strikes, we have interrupted their finance mechanisms, they have had to cut the salaries of their fighters, we have interrupted their capacity to get revenues," Kerry said.

Over the last 16 months, 10,000 air strikes have been carried out, 90 leading militants killed, oil sites targeted, finances disrupted, most of the Turkish border sealed off, and heavy weapons, training sites and infrastructure have all been hammered by the US-led campaign, Kerry noted.

The one-day Rome meeting took place as talks have begun in Geneva to try to end the five-year-old Syrian civil war, which has killed at least 250,000 people, driven more than 10 million from their homes and drawn in the United States and Russia on opposite sides.

While Washington has long said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has lost the legitimacy to lead, it has made clear that its first priority is to try to rein in the ISIL group.

"If you want to beat Daesh quickly, then get a negotiated deal to end the Syria war," Kerry said.

Tuesday's meeting also covered stabilizing areas such as the Iraqi city of Tikrit, which has been wrested from the group, as well as broader efforts to undercut its finances, stem the flow of foreign fighters and counter its public relations efforts, officials said.

todayszaman.com/diplomacy_kerry-most-of-turkey-syria-border-sealed-off-from-isil_411312.html

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President: Iran Ready to Cooperate with Germany in Fighting Terrorism

Wed Feb 03 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in a meeting with German Foreign Minster Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Tehran is fully prepared to step up cooperation with Berlin in fight against terrorism.

"In addition to the ongoing efforts to enhance bilateral ties, Iran and Germany can and should work together to help resolve regional and international issues, particulalry when it comes to fighting terrorism and establishing regional peace and stability," Rouhani added during the meeting in Tehran on Wednesday.

Stressing the need for the international community to stop the flow of financial and material support to the terrorist groups including arms, he said, "Terrorism is a serious threat to all, and  a (an interntional) campaign against it is paramount. Last month events (the terrorist attacks in Paris) showed that terrorism is a danger to everyone, including the European Union."

Steinmeier, for his part, stressed that a new chapter has opened in relations between the EU members and Iran after the nuclear deal, and said, "Berlin is determined to broaden cooperation with Tehran in political, economic, cultural and academic fields."

The Iranian officials have always underlined the country's readiness to participate in anti-terrorism campaigns across the region and the world.

Back on Thursday, President Rouhani called for further interactions between Tehran and Paris to fight terrorism in the region.

"We have many common stances on finding the roots of terrorism and uprooting it," President Rouhani said, addressing a joint press conference with his French counterpart Francois Hollande.

The Iranian president, meantime, pointed to situation in Syria, and said, "Syria is very important for us as the Syrian people have become refugees and the major part of the country has been destroyed and we are duty-bound to help the Syrian nation."

He also pointed to the situation in Iraq, and said, "Unity and integrity of Iraq are important for all of us and we should fight terrorists in Syria and Iraq and support their nations in their fights against the terrorist groups.'

President Rouhani reiterated the importance of the regional stability for Iran, and said, "The human rights issue is very significant for us and we want the people, including refugees and the local residents of different countries o have equal citizenship rights."

The French president, for his part, said that terrorism has influenced the entire world and something should be done to uproot it.

"In all countries fighting terrorists should take place without harming the human rights," Hollande added.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941114000724

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Iraqi Army Makes Remarkable Advances in Fallujah City, Kills Senior ISIL Commanders

Wed Feb 03 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Iraqi army and the volunteer forces made considerable advances against the Takfiri terrorists in the Western part of the city of Fallujah in Anbar province on Wednesday, killing notorious ISIL commanders in fierce clashes.

The Iraqi forces advanced in the strategic region of al-Saqlaviya and reached the surrounding areas of al-Habaniya military base near the riverside.

Over 40 terrorists were killed in the Iraqi forces' attack on their positions in al-Saqlaviya region.

The main purpose of the Iraqi forces' attacks on the Western part of Fallujah was cutting the terrorists' supply lines with the surrounding areas of al-Saqlaviya region.

Notorious ISIL commanders, including Abu Ali al-Salmani, Abu Mansour, Abu Jafar al-Shami, Abu Torab al-Shami and Abu al-Ez al-Souri were among scores of terrorists killed in the Iraqi forces' attacks on the Western part of Fallujah city.

In a relevant development on Tuesday, the Iraqi Security forces managed to cut off supply routes to ISIL terrorists in city of Fallujah.

Iraqi military commanders added the security forces also opened safe passages for the locals to exit the city which has been occupied by the Takfiri terrorists since 2014.

According to media reports, meanwhile, a military commander told reporters that liberating the city will be a gradual process as the noose around ISIL terrorists is being tightened.

This is considered as a significant progress for the Iraqi security forces, as the Iraqi forces recently increased their efforts to win back the strategic city in Western Iraq.

The ISIL terrorists have sustained heavy losses and casualties in recent attacks on their positions in Anbar province in Western Iraq.

During a recent operation Iraqi forces killed 30 terrorists while advancing towards al-Sajjariya region located to the East of Ramadi city and razed their strongholds while defusing seven roadside bombs. It also said that 14 terrorists, including two snipers, were killed and their strongholds were destroyed during the Iraqi air force strikes on their positions.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941114000655

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Iraqis running out of food and medicine in besieged Fallujah

February 02, 2016

A senior Iraqi official has appealed to the US-led coalition to air-drop food and medicine to tens of thousands of civilians trapped in Fallujah, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) stronghold under siege by security forces.

The city's population is suffering from a shortage of food, medicine and fuel, according to residents reached by phone, and local media said several people had died due to starvation and insufficient medical care. Insecurity and poor communications inside the city make those reports difficult to verify.

Sohaib al-Rawi, the governor of western Anbar province where Fallujah is located, said an air-drop was the only way to deliver humanitarian supplies to residents after ISIL mined the entrances to the city and prevented civilians from leaving.

"No force can enter and secure [the delivery] ... There is no option but for airplanes to transport aid," he said in an interview to al-Hadath TV late on Monday, adding the situation was deteriorating by the day.

Fallujah, a long-time bastion of Sunni Muslim jihadists located 50 kilometer (30 miles) west of Baghdad, was the first Iraqi city to fall to ISIL in January 2014, six months before the group that emerged from al-Qaeda swept through large parts of northern and western Iraq and neighboring Syria.

The Iraqi army, police and Iranian-backed Shiite militias have together imposed a near total siege on Fallujah since late last year.

After recapturing the city of Ramadi -- a further 50 kilometers to the west -- from ISIL a month ago, Iraqi authorities have not made clear whether they will attempt to take Fallujah next or leave it contained while the bulk of their forces head north toward Mosul, the largest city under the militants' control.

The US-led coalition estimates there are around 400 ISIL fighters in Fallujah, though some military analysts put the figure closer to 1,000. The coalition, which includes European and Arab powers, has not previously committed significant resources to humanitarian operations.

Rawi said the militants were using civilians as human shields like they did in Ramadi -- a tactic that slowed the advance of Iraqi forces.

He said media reports of up to 10 deaths due to starvation and insufficient medical care were accurate, but Iraqi officials could not provide details.

Lise Grande, UN humanitarian coordinator in Iraq, described conditions in Fallujah as "terrible."

"We're incredibly worried about the unconfirmed reports of people dying because of lack of medicine and widespread hunger," she told Reuters.

The United Nations appealed on Sunday for $861 million to help Iraq meet a big funding gap in its 2016 emergency response to the humanitarian crisis caused by the war against ISIL which has left 10 million people in need of urgent aid.

todayszaman.com/world_iraqis-running-out-of-food-and-medicine-in-besieged-fallujah_411259.html

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Soldier dies of wounds after clash with PKK

February 03, 2016

A soldier who was injured in a skirmish with terrorists from the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) on Tuesday died of his wounds on Wednesday morning.

Three soldiers were injured when PKK members opened fire on security forces during an operation to fill trenches and remove barricades in the Sur district of Diyarbakır province.

The Doğan news agency reported that the soldier who died was shot with a sniper rifle.

todayszaman.com/national_soldier-dies-of-wounds-after-clash-with-pkk_411308.html

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Iranian president urges de-escalation in Russia-Turkey row

February 03, 2016

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Iran must do whatever possible to push for a de-escalation in the ensuing row between Turkey and Russia, saying that the ongoing tension harms regional countries' relations with both sides.

"We have very developed relations with both Turkey and Russia. The crisis between these two countries upset us. Now, we need to every possible thing to help de-escalation of tension," Rouhani said while speaking to the IRINN television station.

The escalation in tension is not good for any country in the region, he said.

Tension flared up between Turkey and Russia after a Russian jet violated Turkish airspace on Friday. In a similar incident, Turkey shot down a Russian bomber jet in late November, igniting a crisis that threatens to affect third countries' relations with Turkey and Russia.

Iran last week banned export of Turkey-originated goods to Russia after pressure from Moscow. Russian authorities imposed a raft of economic sanctions against Turkey after the jet downing.

Tehran is now trying to boost its trade with advanced economies as well regional countries, including Turkey and Russia, after sanctions against Iran were lifted last month as part of a nuclear accord with world powers that was designed to curb Iran's nuclear program.

todayszaman.com/diplomacy_iranian-president-urges-de-escalation-in-russia-turkey-row_411324.html

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Leader's Aide: Iran, Russia Broadening All-Out Ties

Wed Feb 03 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Supreme Leader's top adviser Ali Akbar Velayati said on Tuesday that Tehran and Moscow are making every effort to broaden bilateral relations in all spheres.

"The two countries' high-ranking officials are working round the clock to help develop and cement relations. Such visits and discussions could help them do more to this end," Velayati said in a meeting with President of Russian Institute for Strategic Studies Leonid Reshetnikov as well as high-ranking members of the think-tank in Moscow.

He further noted that the think-tanks play a central role in the strategic affairs of the two coutnries; they can discuss ways and faciliate the development of ties further towards what is now a unique phase in the history of Tehran-Moscow relations.

Velayati headed to Moscow on Monday for talks with Russian officials on the latest bilateral and regional developments.

"We will discuss mutual cooperation in political, security, strategic and regional affairs," he had told journalists before leaving Tehran for Moscow on Monday.

"Relations between the two sides are strategic, and the Russian president has voiced full support for Iran's membership at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the BRICS group (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa)," the leader's top aide added.

According to Velayati, Iran's membership bids were backed during the recent visit by President Vladimir Putin to Tehran and his meeting with Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei.

The leader's top aide is scheduled to meet President Putin and other senior Russian officials during his stay in Moscow.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941114000281

 

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    WASHINGTON — President Obama reached out to Muslims in the United States on Wednesday in an impassioned speech, embracing them as part of “one American family,” implicitly criticizing the Republican presidential candidates and warning citizens not to be “bystanders to bigotry.’’

    In a visit to the Islamic Society of Baltimore, his first to a mosque in the United States as president, Mr. Obama recited phrases from the Quran and he praised American Muslims as a crucial part of America’s history and vital to the nation’s future. “If we’re serious about freedom of religion — and I’m talking to my fellow Christians who are the majority in this country — we have to understand that an attack on one faith is an attack on all faiths,” he said.

    nytimes.com/2016/02/04/us/politics/obama-muslims-baltimore-mosque.html

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin 04/02/2016 01:55:19