New Age Islam
Thu Dec 03 2020, 02:13 AM

Islamic World News ( 17 Feb 2018, NewAgeIslam.Com)

'Pakistan Troops Sent To Saudi after Defining Rules Of Engagement'













Photo: Pakistan today said the decision to send its troops to Saudi Arabia was taken after clarifying the "rules of engagement" for which negotiations were ongoing for some time.

 

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Pakistan

'Pakistan Troops Sent To Saudi after Defining Rules Of Engagement'

COAS Urges US Not To Blame Pakistan for Its Failures

Nawaz, Maryam arrive in Sheikhupura for rally

Pakistan to Send Transgenders As Haj Volunteers

Pak court gives four death sentences to Zainab's killer

Zardari 'regrets' calling Rao Anwar 'brave kid', retracts remarks

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Arab World

Kurdish Media Reveals Secret Cooperation between ISIL Terrorists, Turkish Army in Northern Syria

Saudi Paper Warns of Islamic State Plot to Recapture Iraq’s Kirkuk

Tens of Ankara Forces, Allied Militants Killed in Northern Syria, Turkish Territory

Over 1,610 Kurdish Fighters Killed, Captured in Turkish Military Operation in Northern Syria

Countdown Starts for Syrian Army's Imminent Operation in Eastern Damascus

Syrian Army Repels Terrorists' Attack at Border with Lebanon

Mediator in US-Kurd Talks with ISIL Gunned down in Northeastern Syria

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Southeast Asia

‘Mobile Mosques’ Eyed To Provide Places for Prayer at 2020 Games

Anti-Yameen Protests Erupt Across Maldives

Maldives police break up opposition protests; many injured

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Africa

19 Killed In Attacks by Three Boko Haram Suicide Bombers in Nigerian Fish Market

Tunisia Coastguard Rescues 48 Migrants from Sinking Boat

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South Asia

US Drone Strike Kills 7 ISIS Militants in Kunar Province

5 ISIS Militants Killed In Afghan Commandos Operation in Dehbala

Abdullah’s deputy Mohammad Khan calls for the launch of e-NIC distribution

Samangan’s ousted governor defies government’s decision for leadership change

ONSC rejects Chinese military presence in Badakhshan province

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Mideast

'Do Not Test Israel', Benjamin Netanyahu Tells Iran, Brandishing Drone 'Piece'

Iranian President Pledges to Stick To Nuclear Deal Commitments

Turkey accused of gas attack in Syria

Israel strikes Gaza after blast wounds four soldiers

Plane crashes in Iran, killing all 66 aboard

Iranian President: US to Regret Withdrawal from N. Deal

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India

India to Get Operational Control of Iran’s Chabahar Port

Rouhani's visit gives push to Indo-Iran oil deal

India, Iran agree to step up efforts to help Afghanistan

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Europe

Christians Encouraged To Join In With Visit Your Mosque Day

Pope revives lapsed sex abuse commission amid scepticism

App used in battles against Islamic State ‘was a game changer’

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North America

US Fighter Jets Continue Green-on-Blue Bombing in Eastern Syria

US Continues to Evacuate ISIL Commanders Trapped in Hasaka, Syria

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/-pakistan-troops-sent-to-saudi-after-defining-rules-of-engagement-/d/114320

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'Pakistan troops sent to Saudi after defining rules of engagement'

PTI | Feb 17, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan today said the decision to send its troops to Saudi Arabia was taken after clarifying the "rules of engagement" for which negotiations were ongoing for some time.

Defence Minister KhurramDastigir Khan said the role of Pakistani troops was limited to advisory and training to Saudi forces.

"Negotiations were ongoing regarding the rules of engagement and once we attained clarity on the issue that the troops will be on training and advisory mission to strengthen the ground defence of Saudi Arabia, the troops were sent," he told Geo News last night.

He ruled out any involvement in the Yemen civil war but said that Pakistan will not provide any air defence against missiles by Houthi rebels.

"We only want to train their forces and better advise them. The areas bordering Yemen are mountainous, and as Pakistan's army is highly trained in mountain warfare, we will train and advise them," he said.

In a major policy shift, Pakistan decided to deploy troops in Saudi Arabia under an existing bilateral security cooperation agreement with its close ally which is involved in a civil war in neighbouring Yemen.

The Pakistan Army announced the decision to send troops on a training and advise mission to Saudi Arabia after a meeting between Army Chief General Qamar JavedBajwa and Saudi ambassador to Pakistan Nawaf Saeed Al-Maliki at the army headquarters in Rawalpindi on Thursday.

Separately, the Express Tribune reported that the deployment of troops was sanctioned by Prime Minister ShahidKhaqanAbbasi as part of a longstanding defence cooperation between Islamabad and Riyadh.

Currently, there are 1,379 Pakistani troops deployed in Saudi Arabia, most of whom are from Pakistan Army, along with air force and navy officials, according to security sources.

The exact number of troops being sent is not known, but the fresh deployment is said to be slightly over 1,000 soldiers, according to the newspaper.

Security sources also clarified that there is nothing new about the deployment of Pakistani troop in the oil-rich kingdom, as defence cooperation with Saudi Arabia is based on a 1982 bilateral protocol for training and advisory roles.

The report said defence cooperation in the Persian Gulf is not limited to Riyadh, as there is currently a deployment of 627 Pakistani troops in Qatar, including 165 from the army and 462 from the navy and air force.

Islamabad also maintains a similar working relationship with Iran, which currently has 10 pilots in training with the Pakistan military.

The Iranians will be sending five more pilots "sometime in April" and even "more in subsequent years," sources said.

Pakistan has stayed away from the conflict in Yemen where Iran strongly opposes the involvement of the Saudi-led military coalition.

In November last year, army chief General Qamar JavedBajwa visited Tehran where he met top Iranian civil and military leaders, including President Hassan Rouhani.

Bajwa has also visited Saudi Arabia five times in his first year in charge.

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have been involved in a number of joint training exercises in recent months, the most recent being a joint naval exercise in Karachi codenamed Affa Al-Sahil, which concluded on Friday.

The exercise has been performed annually since 2011 and aims to enhance interoperability and sharpen tactical proficiency in countering maritime human trafficking, piracy and terrorism.

Meanwhile, naval exercises are currently underway between Pakistan and Saudi Arabian marines in Saudi waters.

Saudi special services participated in the last Pakistan Day parade, while there are currently 200 Saudi cadets in the Pakistan Military Academy, PAF Academy, and Naval Academy.

A source said that last year, close to 1,500 Saudi officers and soldiers were trained in Pakistan, mostly by the interior ministry.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-troops-sent-to-saudi-after-defining-rules-of-engagement/articleshow/62959619.cms

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Kurdish Media Reveals Secret Cooperation between ISIL Terrorists, Turkish Army in Northern Syria

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- A Kurdish media outlet disclosed on Sunday that one of the notorious commanders of ISIL terrorist group has assisted the Turkish army's Operation Olive Branch against the Kurds in Afrin region in Northwestern Aleppo.

Hawar news reported that SeifBulad Abu Bakr, a former commander of ISIL in al-Bab region, is now one of the commanders of Ankara-backed militants against the Kurds in Afrin.

It went on to say that Bulad Abu Bakr was Emir of ISIL in al-Bab region in Aleppo province before the Army and the Ankara-backed militants could take control over the region, adding that Abu Bakr in now the commander of Ferqa al-Hamzah affiliated to the Turkey-led Euphrates Shield that has participated in Afrin operation.     

Hawar news quoted well-informed sources as disclosing on Friday that the Turkish government agreed to transfer the ISIL groups, deployed in Idlib, to the Turkish territory and later forward them to Jandariseh region in Northwestern Aleppo.

Local sources in Jandariseh reported movement of black-wearing militants with ISIL flag.

The militant-affiliated sources had previously reported that hundreds of ISIL gunmen have joined other terrorist groups in Idlib.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961129000765

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‘Mobile mosques’ eyed to provide places for prayer at 2020 Games

February 18, 2018

Plans are under way to deploy “mobile mosques” to event venues, training camps and other sites at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics for use by Muslim athletes and other participants.

The mosques would be set up in large trucks, enabling them to be moved anywhere at any time for use by Muslims as secure places of worship.

The idea was devised by Yasuharu Inoue, a 58-year-old Tokyo resident who is president of an event organizing company. Inoue brought a footbath to the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, and held an event at the 2012 London Games to express gratitude for the support provided by foreign countries after the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Through these and other events, Inoue has used the Olympics as an opportunity to bring together foreign and Japanese athletes and participants.

Inoue’s latest idea arose from a Japanese cultural project he helped organized in Qatar.

“Prayer is an essential practice for Muslims. I want to welcome them [to the 2020 Games in Tokyo] with Japanese hospitality by providing a comfortable environment for worship,” he said.

Inoue is working with domestic automakers and other entities to create the mobile mosques, and has asked an interior designer from Qatar to plan the interior.

The first model is expected to be completed this year, with plans to produce five to 10 units by 2020.

As Qatar will host the 2022 soccer World Cup, Inoue said he is also negotiating with its organizing committee over deploying mobile mosques for the event.

“I want the Tokyo Games to be an opportunity to expand Japan’s contribution to Islamic society globally, and in the future use [the mosques] at refugee camps, conflict zones and other areas for peaceful causes.”Speech

http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0004240829

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19 killed in attacks by three Boko Haram suicide bombers in Nigerian fish market

AFPFebruary 17, 2018

Three suicide bombers killed 19 people at a fish market in northeast Nigeria, civilian militia leaders said on Saturday, in an attack blamed on Boko Haram terrorists.

Friday's deadly attacks came in the week that hundreds of Boko Haram suspects went on trial at civilian courts at a military base.

One fighter involved in the 2014 abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls from the Borno state town of Chibok was jailed for 15 years.

The suicide blasts happened at about 8:30 pm (local time) on Friday in Konduga, some 35 kilometres southeast of the Borno state capital, Maiduguri.

BabakuraKolo and Musa Ari, from the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) assisting Nigeria's military against the militants, said the bombers were all men.

“We have 19 dead and about 70 others injured... Two of the bombers attacked the TashanKifi fish market. Then four minutes later, a third bomber struck nearby,” said Kolo.

“The victims included 18 civilians and one soldier. The TashanKifi is an informal market which serves as an eatery, market and also hang-out for residents.”

Ari said 22 of the 70 injured were in a critical condition, adding: “There is no question as to who did it: Boko Haram has targeted Konduga several times.”

There was no immediate comment from the military or the police in Borno state, which has borne the brunt of the violence in Boko Haram's nearly nine-year insurgency.

At least 20,000 people have been killed and more than 2.6 million others made homeless since 2009. Nigeria's military and government maintains the group is a spent force.

But suicide attacks and raids persist, with civilians in hard-to-reach rural areas and outlying towns at risk.

On January 31, two female suicide bombers blew themselves up at Mandarari village, near Konduga.

Trials and reward

The blasts happened shortly after another bomber killed four and injured 44 at a displaced persons' camp in Dalori, 22 kilometres away on the same road to Maiduguri.

A fourth bomber also blew herself up outside the camp.

The Nigerian officer in charge of operations against Boko Haram, Major General Rogers Nicholas, on Wednesday said the Islamic State group affiliate was “in disarray”.

Operations since the start of this year had flushed them out of their stronghold in the Sambisa Forest area of Borno state, which had previously been cleared in December 2016.

Nicholas called the terrorists “callous” for “forcefully using the most vulnerable in our society... as IED (improvised explosive device) couriers”.

On Tuesday, the army claimed Boko Haram leader AbubakarShekau was “running for his dear life” because of military action against his hideout.

Army spokesman Brigadier General Sani Usman said Shekau was “desperately trying to escape... disguised as a woman” wearing a hijab to avoid detection.

The military said it would give a reward of three million naira ($8,310) for “credible information” leading to his arrest.

In 2012, the army had said it would give a 50 million naira reward.

The United States, which considers Shekau an international terrorist, has said it would offer up to $7 million for information on his whereabouts.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1390001/19-killed-in-attacks-by-three-boko-haram-suicide-bombers-in-nigerian-fish-market

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US drone strike kills 7 ISIS militants in Kunar province

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun Feb 18 2018

At least seven militants affiliated with the Islamic State terror group were killed in US drone strike in eastern Kunar province of Afghanistan.

According to the local security officials, the latest drone strike was carried out in the vicinity of Chapara Dara district.

Acting provincial security chief Zaman Ayar confirmed the airstrike and said at least seven militants affiliated with the terror group were killed.

Ayar further added that a local leader of the terror group was also among those killed.

The anti-government armed militant and terrorist groups including the ISIS loyalists have not commented regarding the report so far.

Kunar is among the relatively volatile province in East of Afghanistan where the anti-government armed militant groups are actively operating in some of its districts and often carry out insurgency activities.

Militants loyal to the ISIS terrorist group and other insurgents including the Al-Qaeda operatives are also active in some of the districts of Kunar.

This comes as a group of ISIS insurgents launched a coordinated attack on the security posts in WataPur district nearly three weeks ago.

The attack sparked gun battle that lasted for several hours leaving an insurgent dead and two others wounded, according to the local military officials.

https://www.khaama.com/us-drone-strike-kills-7-isis-militants-in-kunar-province-04512

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Pakistan

'Pakistan troops sent to Saudi after defining rules of engagement'

PTI | Feb 17, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan today said the decision to send its troops to Saudi Arabia was taken after clarifying the "rules of engagement" for which negotiations were ongoing for some time.

Defence Minister KhurramDastigir Khan said the role of Pakistani troops was limited to advisory and training to Saudi forces.

"Negotiations were ongoing regarding the rules of engagement and once we attained clarity on the issue that the troops will be on training and advisory mission to strengthen the ground defence of Saudi Arabia, the troops were sent," he told Geo News last night.

He ruled out any involvement in the Yemen civil war but said that Pakistan will not provide any air defence against missiles by Houthi rebels.

"We only want to train their forces and better advise them. The areas bordering Yemen are mountainous, and as Pakistan's army is highly trained in mountain warfare, we will train and advise them," he said.

In a major policy shift, Pakistan decided to deploy troops in Saudi Arabia under an existing bilateral security cooperation agreement with its close ally which is involved in a civil war in neighbouring Yemen.

The Pakistan Army announced the decision to send troops on a training and advise mission to Saudi Arabia after a meeting between Army Chief General Qamar JavedBajwa and Saudi ambassador to Pakistan Nawaf Saeed Al-Maliki at the army headquarters in Rawalpindi on Thursday.

Separately, the Express Tribune reported that the deployment of troops was sanctioned by Prime Minister ShahidKhaqanAbbasi as part of a longstanding defence cooperation between Islamabad and Riyadh.

Currently, there are 1,379 Pakistani troops deployed in Saudi Arabia, most of whom are from Pakistan Army, along with air force and navy officials, according to security sources.

The exact number of troops being sent is not known, but the fresh deployment is said to be slightly over 1,000 soldiers, according to the newspaper.

Security sources also clarified that there is nothing new about the deployment of Pakistani troop in the oil-rich kingdom, as defence cooperation with Saudi Arabia is based on a 1982 bilateral protocol for training and advisory roles.

The report said defence cooperation in the Persian Gulf is not limited to Riyadh, as there is currently a deployment of 627 Pakistani troops in Qatar, including 165 from the army and 462 from the navy and air force.

Islamabad also maintains a similar working relationship with Iran, which currently has 10 pilots in training with the Pakistan military.

The Iranians will be sending five more pilots "sometime in April" and even "more in subsequent years," sources said.

Pakistan has stayed away from the conflict in Yemen where Iran strongly opposes the involvement of the Saudi-led military coalition.

In November last year, army chief General Qamar JavedBajwa visited Tehran where he met top Iranian civil and military leaders, including President Hassan Rouhani.

Bajwa has also visited Saudi Arabia five times in his first year in charge.

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have been involved in a number of joint training exercises in recent months, the most recent being a joint naval exercise in Karachi codenamed Affa Al-Sahil, which concluded on Friday.

The exercise has been performed annually since 2011 and aims to enhance interoperability and sharpen tactical proficiency in countering maritime human trafficking, piracy and terrorism.

Meanwhile, naval exercises are currently underway between Pakistan and Saudi Arabian marines in Saudi waters.

Saudi special services participated in the last Pakistan Day parade, while there are currently 200 Saudi cadets in the Pakistan Military Academy, PAF Academy, and Naval Academy.

A source said that last year, close to 1,500 Saudi officers and soldiers were trained in Pakistan, mostly by the interior ministry.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-troops-sent-to-saudi-after-defining-rules-of-engagement/articleshow/62959619.cms

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COAS urges US not to blame Pakistan for its failures

The Newspaper's Staff ReporterFebruary 18, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa on Saturday asked the US to stop blaming Pakistan for its problems in Afghanistan and instead search for the reasons for its failures.

He was speaking at the Munich Security Conference where military chiefs and civilian leaders have gathered to discuss the world’s most pressing security issues. The conference is a three-day event.

Tensions between Islamabad and Washington intensified after the announcement of Trump administration’s strategy for South Asia and Afghanistan, which was very critical of Pakistan for its alleged inaction against terrorist sanctuaries allegedly used for sustaining the insurgency in Afghanistan.

A bilateral engagement process started afterwards to find common ground, but the National Security Strategy document unveiled by the US, President Trump’s New Year’s Day tweet, and suspension of security aid left little doubt that the extensive Pak-US talks had failed to resolve the differences.

Almost at the same time as suspension of security aid, Pentagon quietly opened another channel with the GHQ over the problems in security cooperation. The GHQ later shared broader sense of conversations with US Centcom Commander Gen Joseph Votel and an unnamed American senator.

It is widely believed the GHQ is running a secret dialogue with the US. Recently, at the corps commanders’ conference the military’s top brass had signalled its desire for cooperation with the US.

In Munich the army chief again categorically denied the existence of terrorist sanctuaries on the country’s soil and recalled the steps taken to prevent unauthorised movements across the porous border.

Gen Bajwa said that Pakistan was being attacked from terrorist hideouts on Afghan soil. He also emphasised the need for repatriation of 2.7 million Afghan refugees currently residing in Pakistan.

Pointing to the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and Islamic State safe havens, he said terrorists had established sanctuaries on the Afghan soil along the border with Pakistan.

Gen Bajwa said Pakistan had rendered a lot of sacrifices for defeating terrorism. He also underscored the importance of international cooperation against terrorism.

Speaking about the operations launched in the country against terrorists, he said that besides kinetic operations, a lot of emphasis had been put on cutting off their financial sources.

He said Pakistan’s counterterrorism operations were being carried out under a National Action Plan.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1390159/coas-urges-us-not-to-blame-pakistan-for-its-failures

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Nawaz, Maryam arrive in Sheikhupura for rally

Dawn.comFebruary 18, 2018

PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif and his daughter, Maryam Nawaz, arrived at Sheikhupura Company Bagh on Sunday where they will address a gathering of supporters and party workers.

"As we were making our way to the venue for the rally, it seemed as though all of Sheikhupura was participating in the rally," Maryam said, addressing PML-N supporters.

A photograph of the crown made specially for Maryam Nawaz. DawnNews

PML-N supporters in the area prepared a gold crown studded with diamonds as a gift for the former premier's daughter.

Speaking to DawnNews, the head of a local traders' body said: "It is an 8-tola gold crown. The diamonds were more expensive. But the lump sum is no object, we are proud to present our leaders this gift.

This is the second rally the father-daughter duo have attended in as many days.

On Saturday, Nawaz, his brother Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, his son Hamza, and Maryam all put up a united front in Lodhran, where PML-N candidate Syed Iqbal Shah on Monday won the NA-154 by-poll with a sizeable margin of some 25,000 votes against Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Ali Tareen, the son of Jahangir Tareen.

Maryam had separately addressed a social media workers' convention in Mansehra on Friday.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1390192/nawaz-maryam-arrive-in-sheikhupura-for-rally

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Pakistan to send transgenders as Haj volunteers

PTI | Feb 18, 2018

ISLAMABAD: For the first time in the history of Pakistan, transgenders will be part of a team of boy scouts being sent to Saudi Arabia to serve as volunteers during 2018 Haj pilgrimage, a media report said today.

"Efforts for sending transgender youth to Saudi Arabia to serve as KhuddamulHujjaj (volunteers during the annual Haj) are underway," IPC Sindh Boys Scouts Commissioner Atif Amin Husain was quoted as saying by the Express Tribune.

Blue Veins, a transgender welfare organisation, is coordinating with the IPC on the matter, the paper said.

"At least two to three transgender persons will be selected from each of the remaining three provinces for joining the scouting community that leaves for Saudi Arabia every year.," Husain said.

He said recently 40 transgender youth from Sindh were administered oath on joining the Pakistan Boy Scouts Association (PBSA) a national scouting organisation and one of the largest volunteer forces in the country.

The transgender persons would be part of a team of more than 150 boy scouts, he said, adding that last year over a hundred boy scouts had been sent.

"The recruitment process for KhuddamulHujjaj includes physical training and a test. After that, the PBSA sends a list of successful candidates to the Federal Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony for a final approval," Husain said, explaining the process.

This year the list would include names of transgender youth, he added.

Husain feels that by joining the PBSA, transgender youth would get social acceptance, attain confidence, feel secure and move forward, the paper said.

Blue Veins Programme Coordinator Qamar Naseem said that after the recruitment of 40 transgenders in Sindh, his organisation is planning recruitment processes in Punjab, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.

"This can be a game changer and can significantly improve the social acceptance of transgender youth in our society," he said.

He termed the recruitment step a positive initiative that would help the transgender community in improving its image at local as well as regional level.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-to-send-transgenders-as-haj-volunteers/articleshow/62968465.cms

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Pak court gives four death sentences to Zainab's killer

Omer Farooq Khan | TNN | Feb 17, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s anti-terrorism court on Saturday gave four death sentences, one lifetime imprisonment, a seven-year jail term and around $32,000 fine to a 24-year-old man, Imran Ali, for raping and murdering a six-year-old girl last month in Kasur district of central Punjab.

The body of the victim, Zainab Ansari, was found in a trash heap in Kasur, south of Lahore, on January 9. Her murder sparked riots, killing two protestors, and massive outrage against police failure to arrest the criminal.

On Saturday, the verdict against the rapist was announced at Lahore’s Central Jail in KotLakhpat. The victim’s father was present in the court.

The four death penalties were awarded for kidnapping, rape, murder and act of terrorism. The life sentence along with a $10,000 fine, was handed to Ali for committing an “unnatural act”, while another 7-year jail sentence and $10000 fine were imposed for concealing the body in a dump. The penalty of $10000 will be paid to the victim’s heirs, the judge ruled.

Following the verdict, Zainab’s mother, Nusrat Bibi, demanded that the execution of the death penalties be carried out in public. “I want him to be hanged publicly at the place where he took Zainab,” she told reporters outside the jail.

The culprit faces additional charges in the cases of at least seven other children he had attacked, five of whom were murdered.

Dozens of witnesses testified against Ali and forensic evidence including DNA and polygraph tests were also presented during the trial. His lawyer had withdrawn from the case after Ali confessed to the charges.

The convict now has 15 days to challenge the verdict and file an appeal.

Zainab’s murder was the twelfth such incident to occur within a 10km radius in Kasur district over a 12-month period.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pak-court-gives-four-death-sentences-to-zainabs-killer/articleshow/62962545.cms

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Zardari 'regrets' calling Rao Anwar 'brave kid', retracts remarks

Nadir GuramaniUpdated February 17, 2018

A day after referring to absconding police officer Rao Anwar as a "brave kid", former president Asif Ali Zardari has retracted the remarks he issued in support of the suspended SSP, saying he had made them "unwittingly".

Amid reports that Anwar enjoyed his blessing, Zardari had put his weight behind the ex-SSP Malir on Friday when he contested a police report that held him responsible for 444 extrajudicial killings in alleged 'encounters'.

In an interview with 24News, the PPP co-chairman said Anwar was the only one among 54 SHOs who had carried out an operation against the MuttahidaQaumi Movement during the second tenure of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

Dawn Investigation: Rao Anwar and the killing fields of Karachi

“Rao Anwar is among those brave kids who survived while fighting [against] MQM. There were 54 SHOs who were [involved] in the operations [carried out under the supervision] of Gen Babar [the then interior minister]. Fifty-three of them were killed and this is the boy who survived.”

But a statement issued by PPP spokesman Farhatullah Babar on Saturday said Zardari "regretted the remarks he made in [the] interview... that sought to give the impression of [him] supporting the absconding former SSP Malir Rao Anwar".

The former president has described his words as "misspoken and regretted any offence [caused] to anyone", it added.

Denouncing extrajudicial killings as “abhorrent, criminal and unacceptable”, Zardari called for those involved in such murders to be brought to book.

"Enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings are twins of a deepening curse," Babar said in the statement, reiterating that PPP would never support such occurrences.

Zardari "realises that his remarks made unwittingly in the flow of conversation may have caused anguish and has regretted it", he added.

'Mere talk'

In the interview, Zardari has rubbished the claim that Anwar was behind 444 extrajudicial killings in ‘encounters’.

“This is merely talk... Why 440 petitions [against him] are in courts,” he asked.

He said the Sindh government had not submitted the report to the Supreme Court that said Rao Anwar was involved in 444 extrajudicial killings. He said the Sindh police had filed the report and the inspector general of police was appointed by the apex court and not the chief minister.

The former president maintained that the report against Rao Anwar was a result of grouping within the police.

Without mentioning the NaqeebullahMehsud killing case, he said the issue had been sensationalised by media, “Twitter and other social media brigade” and “that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is a fact”.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1390010/zardari-regrets-calling-rao-anwar-brave-kid-retracts-remarks

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Arab World

Kurdish Media Reveals Secret Cooperation between ISIL Terrorists, Turkish Army in Northern Syria

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- A Kurdish media outlet disclosed on Sunday that one of the notorious commanders of ISIL terrorist group has assisted the Turkish army's Operation Olive Branch against the Kurds in Afrin region in Northwestern Aleppo.

Hawar news reported that SeifBulad Abu Bakr, a former commander of ISIL in al-Bab region, is now one of the commanders of Ankara-backed militants against the Kurds in Afrin.

It went on to say that Bulad Abu Bakr was Emir of ISIL in al-Bab region in Aleppo province before the Army and the Ankara-backed militants could take control over the region, adding that Abu Bakr in now the commander of Ferqa al-Hamzah affiliated to the Turkey-led Euphrates Shield that has participated in Afrin operation.     

Hawar news quoted well-informed sources as disclosing on Friday that the Turkish government agreed to transfer the ISIL groups, deployed in Idlib, to the Turkish territory and later forward them to Jandariseh region in Northwestern Aleppo.

Local sources in Jandariseh reported movement of black-wearing militants with ISIL flag.

The militant-affiliated sources had previously reported that hundreds of ISIL gunmen have joined other terrorist groups in Idlib.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961129000765

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Saudi paper warns of Islamic State plot to recapture Iraq’s Kirkuk

by  MohammedEbraheem

Feb 18, 2018

A picture shows Islamic State militants doing a military exercise with their flag appearing clearly in the background

Baghdad (Iraqinews.com) – A Saudi daily paper warned on Sunday of a plot by the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group to storm Kirkuk and use it as a starting point for regaining control of Mosul.

In its report, Okaz newspaper quoted reliable security sources as saying that “The so-called Islamic State Operations Command in the Nineveh Plain seeks to storm Kirkuk before using it as a starting point for recapturing Mosul.”

The sources mentioned nothing about measures taken by the Counter-Terrorism Service in response to the IS move, however they stressed that “there is military and security coordination to face this threat.”

On Saturday, leaders of al-Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Forces) and Federal Police held a meeting to discuss mutual coordination to protect civilians from IS attacks.

Kirkuk officials previously urged reinforcing military troops in the south and west of the province, as the region still has Islamic State members who escaped during liberation of Hawija to remote areas.

A government campaign, backed by paramilitary troops and a U.S.-led coalition, has been fighting, since October 2016, the militant group, which declared a self-styled “caliphate” from Mosul.

The war against IS has so far displaced at least five million people. Thousands of others fled toward neighboring countries including Syria, Turkey and other European countries, since IS emerged to proclaim its self-styled “caliphate”.

On July 10, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced liberation of the second largest Iraqi city of Mosul from IS militants. More than 25000 militants were killed throughout the campaign, which started in October 2016.

Despite the victory over IS there the city, observers say IS is believed to constitute a security threat even after the group’s defeat at its main havens across Iraqi provinces.

https://www.iraqinews.com/iraq-war/saudi-paper-warns-islamic-state-plot-recapture-kirkuk/

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Tens of Ankara Forces, Allied Militants Killed in Northern Syria, Turkish Territory

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- Tens of Turkish Army men and Ankara-backed militants have been killed in the Kurdish fighters' attacks in Turkish territory and in Afrin region after the army kicked off Operation Olive Branch against the Kurds in Northwestern Aleppo, a media outlet reported on Sunday.

The Kurdish-language Hawar news reported that the Kurdish units stormed the Turkish army positions in Qara Khan region in Hatay province and managed to destroy a management base that was leading Operation Olive Branch in Afrin.

Hawar news said that seven Turkish soldiers were killed in the attack.

It further said that the Kurdish fighters attacked the Turkish soldiers and Ankara-backed militants near the villages of Qoudeh and Belilka in Rajou region, killing 13 soldiers and militants.

Also, the Turkish Army General Staff announced in a statement that a Turkish soldiers was killed in clashes with the Kurds in Afrin.    

Speaking to RIA Novosti, ReizanHedu, representative of the Kurdish self-defense forces in Afrin, claimed on Saturday that the Turkish army used internationally-banned arms in its military operation in the Syrian region.

"The Turkish army possesses aircraft, tanks and missiles, and is using weapons banned by the international convention, [namely] napalm and shells with chlorine," Hedu said.

He added that "they have tens of thousands of terrorists, in addition to the Turkish military."

Hedu also pointed out that the Turkish troops actually do not advance in Afrin, opting to engage in hit-and-run tactics, which he said were typically used by the self-defense forces.

His remarks came as the Syrian state-run news agency SANA reported that at least six people with symptoms of suffocation had been hospitalized in Afrin after the Turkish military used toxic agents in the village of Aranda.

On January 20, the Turkish army launched Operation Olive Branch against Kurdish YPG forces, which Ankara believes have links to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), blacklisted by Turkey as a terrorist organization.

Damascus has condemned the operation as "treacherous aggression" and an assault on the country's sovereignty. Russia, for its part, urges all parties to show restraint and respect Syria's territorial integrity.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961129000546

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Over 1,610 Kurdish Fighters Killed, Captured in Turkish Military Operation in Northern Syria

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- A sum of 1,614 Kurdish gunmen have thus far been killed or captured in the Turkish Army forces' operation in Afrin in Northwestern Aleppo, the Turkish Army General Staff said in its latest statement on Sunday.

The statement said that the Turkish army men and Ankara-backed militants continued Operation Olive Branch against the Kurds in Afrin, adding that a sum of 1,614 Kurdish fighters have been killed or captured in the operation that started on January 20.

In relevant developments on Saturday the Turkish Army forwarded more troops and military hardware to the border with Syria to continue assault on the Kurdish militias as a number of Arab media outlets claimed that the Syrian army plans to deploy in Afrin to stand against the Turkish aggression.

The sources said that the Turkish army sent a convoy of military vehicles and ambulances to Hatay province at the border with Syria's Idlib to further join the Ankara forces' operation against the Kurds in Northern Aleppo.

The sources said that the convoy includes several personnel carrier vehicles, adding that the convoy is to be sent to Afrin to join Operation Olive Branch in Northwestern Aleppo.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961129000672

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Countdown Starts for Syrian Army's Imminent Operation in Eastern Damascus

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Army troops are preparing for an imminent operation against terrorists after arrival of more forces and equipment in Eastern Ghouta, local sources reported on Sunday.

The sources said that a long convoy of army vehicles, including several armored and personnel carrier vehicles and a large number of fresh forces arrived in Eastern Damascus.

They added that the army is now fully prepared to kick off a large-scale operation against terrorists in the region. 

A field source reported last week that the army troops stormed the positions of two main terrorist groups in Eastern Ghouta and beat them back from more positions to expand the security zone around government-controlled regions.

The army men struck the strongholds of Ahrar al-Sham and Al-Nusra Front (Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at or the Levant Liberation Board) Northwest of the town of Arbin in Eastern Ghouta and imposed control over al-Nofous building, Abdul Rahman Bin Aowf grand mosque and a Lebanese-Jordanian Company building.

Also, the army's artillery and aircraft pounded terrorists' positions in Arbin, killing or wounding a large number of militants.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961129000340

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Syrian Army Repels Terrorists' Attack at Border with Lebanon

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Army's border guards opened heavy fire at a group of terrorists deployed in Lebanon that tried to cross the borderline and enter Syria, pushing them back.

A group of terrorists, organized in Lebanon, tried to make an illegal crossing South of al-Badouseh area in Tal Kalakh region and enter Western Homs, but the Syrian border guards' heavy fire forced them to retreat.

A number of the terrorists were killed or wounded and their remaining pockets retreated to evade more casualties.

Well-informed sources reported last week that the army troops engaged in heavy fighting with terrorists in Eastern Homs, inflicting major losses on them,.

The sources said that the army men exchanged heavy fire with ISIL in al-Mo'ayzaliyah region near Homs border with DeirEzzur province, killing a number of militants and destroying their equipment.

Also, the Syrian Air Force pounded ISIL's positions in Eastern Badiyeh (desert) and near Mount al-Mohassa in Southeastern Homs, destroying their positons and killing a number of them.

In the meantime, the army's missile and artillery units shelled heavily terrorists' strongholds near the towns of al-Qantou and al-Sa'an region and the village of TirMa'ala after militants violated ceasefire and targeted the army positions in Northern Homs.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961129000453

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Mediator in US-Kurd Talks with ISIL Gunned down in Northeastern Syria

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- Field sources in Northeastern Syria reported on Sunday that Ibrahim Ahmad al-Salama, a mediator in the talks between the US and ISIL terrorist group in Raqqa province, was killed by unknown gunmen.

The sources said that al-Salama was the mediator in the talks between the US forces and its allied SDF and the ISIL for the exit of the latter from the town of al-Tabaqa and Raqqa city.

They went on to say that al-Salama was assassinated by several unidentified gunmen who spoke Kurdish language on Thursday, adding that the assailants attacked al-Salama's house in al-Tabaqa and gunned him down after seizing his mobile and searching his house.

The sources said that al-Salama kept the voice of the talks between the US officers, Kurds and ISIL in Raqqa and al-Tabaqa.

Based on reports, al-Salama was first close to ISIL but started cooperating with the Syrian Democratic Forces and the US-led coalition after the ISIL retreated from Raqqa.

Local sources in Hasaka in Northeastern Syria said on Saturday that the US helicopters conducted heliborne operations in the village of Tuwaimin, 50km Northeast of al-Shadadi, in Southern Hasaka.

The sources said that 4 militants, including an ISIL security commander, were evacuated from the region in the operations.

The area where the operation took place is still occupied by the terrorist group.   

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961129001119

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Southeast Asia

‘Mobile mosques’ eyed to provide places for prayer at 2020 Games

February 18, 2018

Plans are under way to deploy “mobile mosques” to event venues, training camps and other sites at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics for use by Muslim athletes and other participants.

The mosques would be set up in large trucks, enabling them to be moved anywhere at any time for use by Muslims as secure places of worship.

The idea was devised by Yasuharu Inoue, a 58-year-old Tokyo resident who is president of an event organizing company. Inoue brought a footbath to the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, and held an event at the 2012 London Games to express gratitude for the support provided by foreign countries after the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Through these and other events, Inoue has used the Olympics as an opportunity to bring together foreign and Japanese athletes and participants.

Inoue’s latest idea arose from a Japanese cultural project he helped organized in Qatar.

“Prayer is an essential practice for Muslims. I want to welcome them [to the 2020 Games in Tokyo] with Japanese hospitality by providing a comfortable environment for worship,” he said.

Inoue is working with domestic automakers and other entities to create the mobile mosques, and has asked an interior designer from Qatar to plan the interior.

The first model is expected to be completed this year, with plans to produce five to 10 units by 2020.

As Qatar will host the 2022 soccer World Cup, Inoue said he is also negotiating with its organizing committee over deploying mobile mosques for the event.

“I want the Tokyo Games to be an opportunity to expand Japan’s contribution to Islamic society globally, and in the future use [the mosques] at refugee camps, conflict zones and other areas for peaceful causes.”Speech

http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0004240829

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Anti-Yameen protests erupt across Maldives

AP | Feb 18, 2018MALE: Dozens of pro-opposition supporters were injured and many were arrested after police in the Maldives broke up countrywide protests demanding the resignation of President Yameen Abdul Gayoom and the release of his political opponents from prison.

Thousands of people took part in the protests in the archipelago nation on Friday despite the country being under a state of emergency.

Several people were hospitalised with injuries and many protesters were arrested, but hospital and police officials refused to provide numbers. The injured included about 10 reporters who were covering the protest.

Police said on Saturday that the demonstrators had ignored warnings that the right to protest has been suspended under the state of emergency. "In spite of the warning, certain political leaders encouraged this protest, encouraged citizens to face off against security services personnel."police said in a statement . The Maldives has been in a political turmoil since February 1.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/anti-yameen-protests-erupt-across-maldives/articleshow/62965866.cms

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Maldives police break up opposition protests; many injured

AP | Updated: Feb 17, 2018

MALE: Dozens of pro-opposition supporters were injured and many were arrested after police in the Maldives broke up countrywide protests demanding the resignation of President Yameen Abdul Gayoom and the release of his political opponents from prison.

Thousands of people took part in the protests in the archipelago nation Friday despite the country being under a state of emergency.

Several people were hospitalized with injuries and many protesters were arrested, but hospital and police officials refused to provide numbers. The injured included about 10 reporters who were covering the protest.

Police said in a statement on Saturday that the demonstrators had ignored warnings that the right to protest has been suspended under the state of emergency.

``In spite of the warning, certain political leaders encouraged this protest, encouraged citizens to face off against security services personnel,'' the statement said.

``We also note that the actions of some journalists mirrored that of some protesters,'' it said, apparently trying to explain how the reporters were injured.

The Maldives has been in political turmoil since February 1, when the country's Supreme Court ordered the release of several of Yameen's political opponents imprisoned after trials that were criticized locally and internationally for alleged violation of due process.

The prisoners include Mohamed Nasheed, the country's first president elected in a free election, who could have been Yameen's main rival in his re-election bid later this year.

After days of conflict with the judiciary, Yameen declared a 15-day state of emergency and had the country's chief justice and another Supreme Court judge arrested on bribery allegations. Yameen'shalf brother and former dictator Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, whom Nasheed defeated in the country's first democratic election 10 years ago, was also arrested for conspiring to overthrow the government.

The Maldives became a multiparty democracy in 2008 after decades of autocratic rule. However, Yameen has rolled back much of the country's democratic gains and freedoms since being elected in 2013.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/maldives-police-break-up-opposition-protests-many-injured/articleshow/62960985.cms

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Africa

19 killed in attacks by three Boko Haram suicide bombers in Nigerian fish market

AFPFebruary 17, 2018

Three suicide bombers killed 19 people at a fish market in northeast Nigeria, civilian militia leaders said on Saturday, in an attack blamed on Boko Haram terrorists.

Friday's deadly attacks came in the week that hundreds of Boko Haram suspects went on trial at civilian courts at a military base.

One fighter involved in the 2014 abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls from the Borno state town of Chibok was jailed for 15 years.

The suicide blasts happened at about 8:30 pm (local time) on Friday in Konduga, some 35 kilometres southeast of the Borno state capital, Maiduguri.

BabakuraKolo and Musa Ari, from the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) assisting Nigeria's military against the militants, said the bombers were all men.

“We have 19 dead and about 70 others injured... Two of the bombers attacked the TashanKifi fish market. Then four minutes later, a third bomber struck nearby,” said Kolo.

“The victims included 18 civilians and one soldier. The TashanKifi is an informal market which serves as an eatery, market and also hang-out for residents.”

Ari said 22 of the 70 injured were in a critical condition, adding: “There is no question as to who did it: Boko Haram has targeted Konduga several times.”

There was no immediate comment from the military or the police in Borno state, which has borne the brunt of the violence in Boko Haram's nearly nine-year insurgency.

At least 20,000 people have been killed and more than 2.6 million others made homeless since 2009. Nigeria's military and government maintains the group is a spent force.

But suicide attacks and raids persist, with civilians in hard-to-reach rural areas and outlying towns at risk.

On January 31, two female suicide bombers blew themselves up at Mandarari village, near Konduga.

Trials and reward

The blasts happened shortly after another bomber killed four and injured 44 at a displaced persons' camp in Dalori, 22 kilometres away on the same road to Maiduguri.

A fourth bomber also blew herself up outside the camp.

The Nigerian officer in charge of operations against Boko Haram, Major General Rogers Nicholas, on Wednesday said the Islamic State group affiliate was “in disarray”.

Operations since the start of this year had flushed them out of their stronghold in the Sambisa Forest area of Borno state, which had previously been cleared in December 2016.

Nicholas called the terrorists “callous” for “forcefully using the most vulnerable in our society... as IED (improvised explosive device) couriers”.

On Tuesday, the army claimed Boko Haram leader AbubakarShekau was “running for his dear life” because of military action against his hideout.

Army spokesman Brigadier General Sani Usman said Shekau was “desperately trying to escape... disguised as a woman” wearing a hijab to avoid detection.

The military said it would give a reward of three million naira ($8,310) for “credible information” leading to his arrest.

In 2012, the army had said it would give a 50 million naira reward.

The United States, which considers Shekau an international terrorist, has said it would offer up to $7 million for information on his whereabouts.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1390001/19-killed-in-attacks-by-three-boko-haram-suicide-bombers-in-nigerian-fish-market

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Tunisia coastguard rescues 48 migrants from sinking boat

AFP | Feb 17, 2018, 18:36 IST

TUNIS: Tunisia's coastguard has rescued 48 Tunisian migrants whose boat began sinking as they tried to reach Italy by sea, the interior ministry said Saturday.

A patrol spotted the vessel on Friday night off Jebeniana, 210 kilometres (130 miles) south of Tunis.

The nine-metre (30-foot) craft "was sinking after taking on water", the ministry said in a statement.

The passengers were all Tunisians aged 16 to 40, from the governorates of Medenine and Sfax, it added.

Tunisians regularly try to cross the Mediterranean to seek a better future in Europe, but departures peaked last September.

According to NGOs, the uptick reflected frustration among young people hard hit by unemployment.

In October, a collision between a migrant boat and a Tunisian military ship left at least 44 dead, in what Prime Minister Youssef Chahed called a "national disaster".

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/rest-of-world/tunisia-coastguard-rescues-48-migrants-from-sinking-boat/articleshow/62961699.cms

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South Asia

US drone strike kills 7 ISIS militants in Kunar province

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun Feb 18 2018

At least seven militants affiliated with the Islamic State terror group were killed in US drone strike in eastern Kunar province of Afghanistan.

According to the local security officials, the latest drone strike was carried out in the vicinity of Chapara Dara district.

Acting provincial security chief Zaman Ayar confirmed the airstrike and said at least seven militants affiliated with the terror group were killed.

Ayar further added that a local leader of the terror group was also among those killed.

The anti-government armed militant and terrorist groups including the ISIS loyalists have not commented regarding the report so far.

Kunar is among the relatively volatile province in East of Afghanistan where the anti-government armed militant groups are actively operating in some of its districts and often carry out insurgency activities.

Militants loyal to the ISIS terrorist group and other insurgents including the Al-Qaeda operatives are also active in some of the districts of Kunar.

This comes as a group of ISIS insurgents launched a coordinated attack on the security posts in WataPur district nearly three weeks ago.

The attack sparked gun battle that lasted for several hours leaving an insurgent dead and two others wounded, according to the local military officials.

https://www.khaama.com/us-drone-strike-kills-7-isis-militants-in-kunar-province-04512

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5 ISIS militants killed in Afghan commandos operation in DehBala

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun Feb 18 2018

At least five militants affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group were killed in DehBala district of Nangarhar province.

The 201st Silab Corp said the militants were killed during the operations of the Afghan commandos which were conducted with the help of the close-air support.

According to Silab Corps, the operations were conducted in Char Wazi and Nari Oba areas of the district and as a result at least three weapons and ammunition depots were also destroyed along with another depot containing foods and commodities belonging to the terror group.

The Afghan national defense and security forces and the local residents have not suffered any casualties during the operations, the Silab Corps added.

The anti-government armed militant and terrorist groups including the ISIS loyalists have not commented regarding the report so far.

Nangarhar is among the relatively calm provinces in the East but the terrorist and anti-government armed militant groups have started their operations in some of its remote districts during the recent years.

This comes as the Silab Corps said Friday that the US forces based in Afghanistan also carried out airstrikes on a hideout of the terror group in Achin district, leaving at least one member of the terror group dead.

https://www.khaama.com/5-isis-militants-killed-in-afghan-commandos-operation-in-deh-bala-04509

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Abdullah’s deputy Mohammad Khan calls for the launch of e-NIC distribution

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun Feb 18 2018

The First Deputy of the Chief Executive of the Unit Government Eng. Mohammad Khan has called for the launch of the electronic National Identity Cards (e-NIC) distribution.

This comes as controversies surround the distribution of the electronic National Identity Cards with the Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah opposing with the start of the process as he insists for a national consensus and nationwide agreement to prevent further chaos.

However, Eng. Khan believes there is no issue left for the launch of the electronic National Identity Cards distribution.

Deputy Chief Executive’s media advisor Safi Omar Khel says the stance of the First Deputy Chief Executive is clear as he believes the issue has been passed by the cabinet as well as the parliament.

He said Eng. Khan calls for the immediate launch of the electronic National Identity Cards distribution.

This comes as a joint parliamentary commission approved a presidential decree to pave the way for the start of the process late in December last year.

The decree by President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani was issued to modify the controversial article#6 of the census law which prevented the launch of electronic national identity cards distribution since a long period of time.

The decree stated that the nationality of the ID card holders should be mentioned as Afghan while the religion should also be reflected in the card as Islam.

https://www.khaama.com/abdullahs-deputy-mohammad-khan-calls-for-the-launch-of-e-nic-distribution-04514

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Samangan’s ousted governor defies government’s decision for leadership change

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun Feb 18 2018

The ousted governor of the northern Samangan province Abdul Karim Khedam defies the recent decision of the government for the change in the political leadership of the province.

Khedam appeared in a press conference today as he condemned the government’s move insisting that the decision is not acceptable for him.

He also added that he will continue to his work as the governor of the province along with his deputy until a final decision has not been taken by the Jamiat-e-Islami and Turkmen people of the province.

The Independent Directorate of the Local Governance (IDLG) said on Saturday that the Afghan government has appointed new governors for five different provinces of the country.

According to a statement by IDLG, the new governor’s were appointed based on the recommendations of the directorate and approval of the Office of the President.

The statement further adds that a number of the existing provincial governors have simply been transferred to the other provinces.

According to IDLG, Abdul Latif Ibrahimi has been appointed as the new governor of Samangan province to replace Abdul Karim Khedam.

https://www.khaama.com/samangans-ousted-governor-defies-governments-decision-for-leadership-change-04511

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ONSC rejects Chinese military presence in Badakhshan province

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun Feb 18 2018

The Office of the National Security Council (ONSC) has rejected the reports regarding the presence of the Chinese military in northeastern Badakhshan province of Afghanistan.

A statement by the Office of the National Security Council (ONSC) said incorrect information are being circulated during the recent days suggesting that the Chinese military is willing to establish a military base in Badakhshan province.

The statement further adds that there will be no military cooperation with the foreign countries unless it has not been approved by the National Security Council and the President of the country.

The Office of the National Security Council says China is also being affected by the menace of terrorism and therefore the country is cooperating with Afghanistan similar as the other nations.

According to ONSC, the bilateral cooperation and relation between Afghanistan and Chinese has a broad scope but the reports regarding the presence of the Chinese military in Afghanistan are untrue and have never been raised by the officials of the two countries.

This comes as reports have emerged during the recent days that the Chinese military is looking to expand its military presence in northeastern parts of the country amid concerns regarding the growing activities of the terrorist outfits.

https://www.khaama.com/onsc-rejects-chinese-military-presence-in-badakhshan-province-04510

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Mideast

'Do not test Israel', Benjamin Netanyahu tells Iran, brandishing drone 'piece'

AFP | Updated: Feb 18, 2018

MUNICH: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Tehran on Saturday over aggressions by what he called Iran and its "proxies" in Syria, while showing what he claimed was a piece of an Iranian drone shot down in Israeli airspace.

Saying he had "a message to the tyrants of Tehran" during a speech at the Munich Security Conference, he warned: "Do not test Israel's resolve."

He brandished a rectangular piece of dark green metal which he called "a piece of that Iranian drone, or what's left of it, after we shot it down."

@IsraeliPM

Mr. Zarif: do you recognize this? You should. It’s yours. Don’t test Israel’s resolve.

3:02 PM - Feb 18, 2018

379

Israel has said it shot down the drone on February 10 after it entered the country from Syria, and responded with a raid on what it said was the Iranian control systems for the craft in Syria.

During the strikes, one of Israel's F-16 fighter jets was shot down, believed to be the first loss of an Israeli plane in combat since 1982.

Israel's response marked the first time it publicly acknowledged hitting Iranian targets in Syria since the 2011 start of the civil war there.

Calling Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad JavadZarif the "smooth-talking mouthpiece of Iran's regime," Netanyahu said: "Mr. Zarif, do you recognise this? You should, it's yours."

Again referring to Zarif, who is expected to speak later in Munich, the Israeli leader said: "No doubt Mr Zarif will brazenly deny Iran's involvement in Syria."

"He lies with eloquence."

The Israeli military has claimed the drone was a copy of a US model captured by Iran in 2011, based on an analysis of the drone's debris.

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Iranian president pledges to stick to nuclear deal commitments

Reuters | Updated: Feb 17, 2018, 21:28 IST

NEW DELHI: Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday it would adhere to commitments under its 2015 international nuclear agreement, signed with six world powers to limit its disputed nuclear programme.

"We will adhere to our commitments made," Rouhani said at an event in New Delhi. "After signing a contract, haggling with it is ridiculous."

Under the agreement signed with the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China, Iran agreed to limit its nuclear activities in return for the lifting of many sanctions.

U.S. President Donald Trump has been pushing for changes to the agreement.

"If the U.S. violates this agreement... you will see that America will regret this decision," he said adding his country had always adhered to contracts deals so long as other party did not violate the contract.

Rouhani arrived in India on a three-day visit part of efforts to expand bilateral ties and cooperation in economic development.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/iranian-president-pledges-to-stick-to-nuclear-deal-commitments/articleshow/62962029.cms

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Turkey accused of gas attack in Syria

APUpdated February 18, 2018

BEIRUT: Six civilians suffered breathing difficulties and other symptoms indicative of poison gas inhalation after an attack launched by Turkey on the Kurdish-controlled enclave of Afrin, local doctors and Syria’s state-run news agen­cy reported on Saturday.

Jiwan Mohammed, a doctor at Afrin’s main hospital, said the facility was treating six people who had been poisoned who arrived Friday night from the village of Arandi after it was attacked by Turkish troops.

Another doctor, Nouri Qenber, said the victims suffered shortness of breath, vomiting and skin rashes. One of the victims had dilated pupils, he said, quoting one of the rescuers. Both spoke via messaging service.

State-run news agency SANA and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group also quoted local doctors in their reports.

The claims could not be independently verified, and videos released from the hospital showed people being fitted with oxygen masks who did not otherwise show symptoms of poison gas inhalation such as twitching, foaming at the mouth or vomiting.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the US is aware of the reports “but we cannot confirm them. We continue to call for restraint and protection of civilians in Afrin”.

SANA on Saturday said Turkey fired several shells containing “toxic substances” on a village in Afrin on Friday night, causing six civilians to suffer suffocation symptoms.

The Turkish military repeated in a weekly statement published Saturday that it does not use internationally “banned ammunition” in its Afrin operation and said, “the Turkish Armed Forces does not keep such ammunition in its inventory”.

The army also said it is careful to not harm civilians and only targets “terrorists” and their positions in the Afrin region.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1390144/turkey-accused-of-gas-attack-in-syria

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Israel strikes Gaza after blast wounds four soldiers

AFP | Feb 18, 2018

GAZA CITY (PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES): Israeli jets struck the Gaza Strip on Saturday after four soldiers were wounded when an improvised explosive device blew up along the border with the Palestinian enclave.

The explosion earlier Saturday, which left two of the Israeli soldiers severely injured, was one of the most serious incidents on the border of the Hamas-ruled enclave since the Islamist movement and Israel fought a war in 2014.

In response Israel's army said it attacked "18 terror targets belonging to the Hamas terror organisation" in two waves of air strikes.

"Eight targets were attacked in a military compound near Deir el Balah, which belongs to the Hamas terror organization, including weapon-manufacturing and training infrastructures," a statement released early Sunday read.

An earlier statement said the fighter jets had targeted "six military targets in Gaza belonging to Hamas, including: a terror tunnel in the Zaytun area and military compounds near Deir el-Balah and Khan Yunis".

The army also reported that a "launch was identified from the Gaza Strip at Israeli territory", with a projectile hitting near a home in a southern Israeli community.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a security conference in Munich called the Gaza border incident "very serious" and pledged to "respond appropriately".

A Palestinian security source said the Israeli air strikes hit three bases belonging to Hamas in the east of the blockaded Gaza enclave.

Two Palestinians were injured in the raids, Palestinian medical sources said.

Earlier in the day the army said "two soldiers were severely wounded, one moderately and one slightly" when an improvised explosive device blew up along the border fence with Gaza.

None of the soldiers' lives were in danger, a spokesman clarified.

In response Israeli forces said a tank quickly opened fire at an "observation post" in southern Gaza, causing no injuries on the Palestinian side.

Palestinian security sources said the explosion took place east of the city of Khan Yunis.

Israeli army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus said a "rogue group" had claimed responsibility for the blast, likely indicating one of the more radical Islamist groups who are present in Gaza.

But he insisted that "from our point of view Hamas is responsible" and said the explosive had been planted during a protest arranged by the group on Friday.

Israel holds the Islamist Palestinian movement Hamas responsible for any fire coming from the blockaded coastal enclave.

The Israeli army responds automatically to any strikes on its territory, generally targeting Hamas facilities.

Hamas's armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, in a statement said they had fired at the Israeli jets overhead.

But Conricus said there was no truth to the claim.

Hamas and Israel have fought three wars since 2008, and the last conflict in 2014 was waged in part over tunnels from Gaza that were used to launch attacks.

Israeli aircraft hit Hamas targets in the southern Gaza Strip repeatedly in early February, after it said Palestinians there fired a rocket into the Jewish state.

Tensions between the Palestinians and Israel have been high since US President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state in December.

Netanyahu will visit the White House next month, a senior US administration official told AFP on Friday.

The March 5 visit comes after a war of words between close allies Israel and the US over settlements, and a scandal that has seen police recommend Netanyahu be indicted for graft.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/israel-strikes-gaza-after-blast-wounds-four-soldiers/articleshow/62969130.cms

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Plane crashes in Iran, killing all 66 aboard

AP | Dawn.comUpdated February 18, 2018

Iran's Aseman Airlines plane carrying 66 people crashed on the outskirts of Iran's central city of Semirom, Isfahan province, on Sunday morning, Tehran Times reported.

The plane was heading from Tehran to the southwestern city of Yasouj when it disappeared from radar, the publication said quoting Fars news agency.

A spokesman for Aseman Airlines spokesman told state TV that the crash has killed all 66 people who were on board. Mohammad TaghiTabatabai spoke to state TV on Sunday.

He said that the flight carried 60 passengers, including one child, and six crew members, adding that the plane crashed in Mount Dena, which is some 440 meters (1,440 feet) tall.

Due to foggy condition, rescue helicopters couldn't reach the crash site in the Zagros Mountains, state TV reported.

The ATR-72, a twin-engine turboprop used for short-distance regional flying, went down near the remote mountain town of Semirom, some 620 kilometers (390 miles) south of the capital, Tehran.

Aseman Airlines, owned by Iran's civil service pension foundation, is a semi-private air carrier headquartered in Tehran that specializes in flights to remote airfields across the country. It also flies internationally.

The carrier has a fleet of 29 aircraft, including six ATR aircraft, according to FlightRadar24, a plane-tracking website. It is Iran's third-largest airline by fleet size, behind state carrier Iran Air and Mahan Air.

The Iranian Red Crescent said it has deployed to the area and authorities said they would be investigating.

Locals described hearing the crash, though no one had found the crash site yet, according to state TV.

European airplane manufacturer ATR, a Toulouse, France-based partnership of Airbus and Italy's Leonardo S.p.A., said it had no immediate information about the crash. The manufacturer specializes in regional turboprop aircraft of 90 seats or less.

Under decades of international sanctions, Iran's commercial passenger aircraft fleet has aged, with air accidents occurring regularly in recent years.

Following the 2015 landmark nuclear deal with world powers, Iran signed deals with both Airbus and Boeing to buy scores of passenger planes.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1390182/plane-crashes-in-iran-killing-all-66-aboard

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Iranian President: US to Regret Withdrawal from N. Deal

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned that Washington's possible withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and the world powers will harm the US and its people.

"The US should not mix up the world of politics with the world of trade and if it breaks the nuclear deal, the US administration and people will regret," President Rouhani said, addressing the elites and members of Observer Research Foundation (ORF) think tank in New Delhi on Saturday.

He stressed that the nuclear deal is an agreement among 7 countries and endorsed by the UN Security Council, adding, "We will not violate it as long as they don’t."

President Rouhani also underlined that Washington's attempt to renegotiate the nuclear deal is "ridiculous".

In relevant remarks last Monday, Russian Ambassador to Tehran Levan Jagaryan warned that Washington's withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and the world powers would endanger not only the US but also the entire world.

"We stress that Iran has been 100% and fully committed to its undertakings. Therefore, we expect the US Congress and administration to remain in compliance with the nuclear deal as their withdrawal will endanger the US and the whole world, and will lead to negative events," Jagaryan said in an interview with Iran's state TV.

He also dismissed US President Donald Trump's allegations about Iran's support for terrorism, and said, "Iran itself is a victim of terrorism and we have witnessed this at the country's Eastern and Western borders."

"At present, Iran is fighting against terrorism along with Russia and the Syrian government forces," Jagaryan further stressed.

Also, earlier this month, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov slammed Washington's biased approach towards Tehran, and said that the US should not mix the nuclear agreement with Iran's defense programs.

"There are other countries in the region with such programs; we must look at it as a whole as it is hardly justified to mix nuclear affairs with defense affairs and human rights and put the issue on the agenda that Iran should stop taking certain steps in the region," Lavrov said.

"To my mind, a frankly discriminatory, biased and unjustifiably captious approach can be seen behind these US actions," the Russian foreign minister added.

Lavrov pointed to Iran nuclear deal officially known as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and said, "This agreement is effective."

Trump, who had said his administration would decertify the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, decided on Jan 12 to extend the sanctions waiver to the country for the third time as a part of the JCPOA.

He claimed that this is the "last time" that he certified the JCPOA unless the amendments that he had mentioned earlier be included to the landmark nuclear deal.

Since Trump announced his decision on Iran deal, many European and American officials have expressed support for the deal.

“We remain committed to the continued full and effective implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” EU spokesperson earlier said taking note of US President Donald Trump’s recent statement on Iran deal.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961128001552

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India

India to get operational control of Iran’s Chabahar port

AgenciesUpdated February 18, 2018

NEW DELHI: India and Iran on Saturday signed agreements, including Tehran leasing to New Delhi operational control of part of the Iranian east coast port of Chabahar for 18 months.

The $85 million project, just 90km from Gwadar port, creates a transit route between India, Iran and Afghanistan, bypassing Pakistan.

India is trying to develop Chabahar as a way to gain access to the markets of Central Asia countries as well as Afghanistan.

New Delhi, Tehran sign agreements; Modi, Rouhani discuss peace in Afghanistan

But progress is slow because of concern that President Donald Trump’s administration in Washington may eventually scrap the Iran nuclear deal.

A leasing agreement giving operational control to India of ShahidBeheshti port — phase one of the Chabahar port — was signed in the presence of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Later, addressing a joint press conference with the Iranian president, Mr Modi said both countries wanted to expand bilateral ties and cooperation in economic development.

“We will support the construction of the Chabahar-Zahedan rail link so that Chabahar gateway’s potential could be fully utilised,” he said. “We want to expand connectivity, cooperation in the energy sector and the centuries-old bilateral relationship.”

Other agreements included a double taxation avoidance treaty, extradition, and cooperation in the farm sector.

Mr Rouhani, who arrived in the southern city of Hyderabad on Thurs­day, will later address industrialists.

Peace in Afghanistan

The Indian prime minister and the Iranian president agreed to step up efforts to bring stability to war-ravaged Afghanistan.

Mr Modi reiterated India’s commitment to help Afghanistan become “a peaceful, secure, permanent, prosperous and pluralistic country” after holding talks with Mr Rouhani in New Delhi on the last day of his three-day visit.

“Looking at our common interests, we are committed to stopping the expansion of such forces that promote international organised crime in terrorism, extremism, illegal drug trafficking, cyber crime and various forms,” Mr Modi said.

“We want to see our region and the world free from terrorism,” he added.

There was no mention of financial assistance or providing weapons to help Afghanistan fight militants by either leader. They did not name Pakistan.

India has been a key supporter of Kabul’s government and has poured more than $2 billion into the country since the Taliban were toppled in 2001.

India has been a key purchaser of Iranian oil and gas, and maintained trade ties even as international sanctions were imposed on Tehran over its nuclear programme between 2012 and 2016. However, local Indian media have reported frustrations over delays in awarding a contract to develop a major gas field known as Farzad B in the Gulf.

India’s foreign ministry said on Saturday that “discussions continue” on Farzad B.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1390165/india-to-get-operational-control-of-irans-chabahar-port

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Rouhani's visit gives push to Indo-Iran oil deal

TNN | Updated: Feb 18, 2018

New Delhi has agreed to buy more Iranian crude and Tehran reciprocating by offering "good incentives".

After a meeting between oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan and his Iranian counterpart BijanNamdarZanganeh, both sides were brimming with positive vibes.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Delhi on Saturday. (AP photo)Rouhani's visit gives push to Indo-Iran oil deal

NEW DELHI: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's visit appears to have smoothened the creases in bilateral energy ties that had developed over delayed Farzad-B gas field deal, with both sides going back to the negotiating table as well as New Delhi agreeing to buy more Iranian crude and Tehran reciprocating by offering "good incentives".

India also used the new-found bonhomie created by Rouhani's visit to seek stake for its state-run companies in Iran's South Azadigan oil field to transform their crude buyer-seller relationship into that of strategic investors in each other's oil economy.

After a meeting between oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan and his Iranian counterpart BijanNamdarZanganeh on Saturday, both sides were brimming with positive vibes. "I am very optimistic about the future of relationship between the two countries and our companies," Zanganeh said.

He also expressed optimism on signing of an agreement awarding development rights for Farzad-B to ONGC Videsh Ltd, which had discovered the field a decade ago.

India has agreed its public and private sector refiners will raise their crude purchase by half a million barrels a day (or 25 million tonne) in 2018-19, marking an increase of 25% over the 370,000 barrels per day (18.5 MT) estimated for 2017-18. In 2016-17, India had imported 510,000 barrels per day (25.5 million tonne) of oil from Iran. On Farzad-B, Pradhan said both sides agreed to remove "the bottlenecks on capex, return (on Indian investments) and timeline. We have decided today to reopen and re-engage on all three issues again."The oil deal appears to be the most crucial breakthrough since India had reduced Iranian crude imports by a quarter in retaliation forIran's flip-flop over sealing a deal over Farzad-B.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/rouhanis-visit-gives-push-to-indo-iran-oil-deal/articleshow/62965961.cms

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Europe

Christians encouraged to join in with Visit Your Mosque Day

Sun 18 Feb 2018

By EnoAdeogun

Churches across the country are encouraging Christians to join in with Visit Your Mosque Day.

The annual initiative, now in its fourth year, will have over 200 mosques across the UK opening their doors on Sunday to welcome people under the theme 'Open Doors, Open Mosques, Open Communities'.

The aim of the day, which is also being backed by Derby Cathedral, is to tackle negative stereotypes and Islamophobia.

Sub-dean, Elizabeth Thomson tells Premier they hope it will strengthen community ties.

"Friendship with people of different faiths is a good thing because friendship is a good thing.

"I'm stating it as simply as that because it is as simple as that. Friendship is a good thing, peace is a good thing, love is a good thing."

A YouGov Poll commissioned by the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) found that almost 70 per cent of Britons hadn't seen the inside of another faith's place of worship, and almost 90 per cent hadn't been inside a mosque, in recent years.

Rev Dr Toby Howarth, Bishop of Bradford, said he would be encouraging local clergy and congregation members to visit a mosque on the Sabbath day.

"Crossing the threshold of a different place of worship can be an important step in learning about and getting to know our neighbours," he said.

"As a bishop and as a trustee of the Christian Muslim Forum, I very much welcome the Visit My Mosque Day initiative. I plan to visit mosques in Bradford on 18th February with local clergy and congregation members, and I warmly encourage others to do the same where they are."

Mosques from across London, South East, Midlands, Scotland, Wales, Lancashire, Yorkshire and the Humber and Northern Ireland will be taking part.

https://www.premierchristianradio.com/News/UK/Christians-encouraged-to-join-in-with-Visit-Your-Mosque-Day

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Pope revives lapsed sex abuse commission amid skepticism

AP | Feb 17, 2018, 18:24 IST

VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis revived his lapsed sex abuse advisory commission by naming new members on Saturday, after coming under fire for his overall handling of the scandal and his support for a Chilean bishop accused by victims of witnessing and ignoring their abuse.

The announcement of the new members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors came on the same day that a Vatican investigator will take the testimony in New York of one of the main whistleblowers in the Chilean cover-up scandal.

Francis tasked Archbishop Charles Scicluna with the fact-finding mission into Bishop Juan Barros after he came under blistering criticism in Chile for defending Barros and calling the victims' cover-up accusations against him slander.

The initial three-year mandate of commission members had lapsed two months ago, on Dec. 17. Francis named nine new members Saturday and kept seven from the initial group. A Vatican statement said survivors of abuse are included, but didn't identify them to protect their privacy.

None of the most outspoken lay advocates for victims from the original group returned, but a statement stressed that the commission's work would be imbued throughout with the experience of victims. Commission members are to open their April plenary by meeting with victims privately, and discussions are continuing to create an ``international survivor advisory panel'' to advise the commission and make sure the voices of victims are heard in all its deliberations, the statement said.

Francis created the commission in December 2013, responding to complaints that he hadn't prioritized the fight against clerical abuse and cover-up enough. The group's mission was to advise the pope on best practices to protect children, but it faced strong in-house resistance to some of its core proposals.

Commission members found greater reception in hosting grassroots workshops in bishops' conferences around the world. To date, it has worked with almost 200 dioceses and religious communities worldwide to raise awareness and to educate staff on safeguarding.

The first members of the commission were named in March 2014, including Marie Collins, an Irish survivor of abuse and advocate for victims. But by March of last year, Collins had resigned, citing the ``unacceptable'' resistance to the commission from within the Vatican, and in particular the office tasked with investigating sex abuse cases.

The commission's most significant proposal came in 2015, when it successfully persuaded Francis and his ``kitchen cabinet'' to create a tribunal section inside the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to judge bishops who botched handling cases of their abuser priests. Francis approved funding and personnel for an initial five-year term.

But amid resistance, the tribunal never got off the ground and Francis scrapped it entirely in 2016. Instead, he issued a document laying out essentially existing procedures for the Vatican to investigate negligence. There is no transparency to the process, however.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/rest-of-world/pope-revives-lapsed-sex-abuse-commission-amid-skepticism/articleshow/62961476.cms

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App used in battles against Islamic State ‘was a game changer’

February 18 2018

An app created using a map seized from Islamic State was a “game changer” in the battle to defeat the extremists in Raqqa, a British man who fought the murderous group has said.

Macer Gifford spent three years fighting alongside the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in a bid to help eradicate the jihadis after they swept across and took control of vast swathes of Syria and Iraq.

Speaking to the Press Association, the 30-year-old said he understands the app was put together by the Americans using a very detailed map of Raqqa that was captured from IS.

Mr Gifford said the app did not have a name and was just something they had at their disposal, and described it a “massive game changer” in the battle to defeat the extremists in the city.

Isis had no idea where we were going to come from

Macer Gifford

Discovered on the computer of an IS commander, he said the map had been created using drone images taken from height that were then stitched together.

He said the GPS template was then added to this, along with icons that could be dragged onto it and which allowed the information to be shared amongst those battling against the extremists.

“It was a very simple app, and it was something that all the SDF people could have and it meant even the most untrained man in the world could call in an airstrike,” Mr Gifford, who uses a pseudonym, said.

“I would be walking down the street and would take fire from a building or I would see enemy movement or a tank, all I’d have to do is move my dot, get the grid co-ordinates and call it in.”

A former banker who worked in foreign exchange before heading out to the Middle East to fight alongside the Kurdish militia (YPG), he said he got the app early on in the battle to retake Raqqa.

“I didn’t just use it for airstrikes, in fact I mostly used it to understand my position within the city – it was sometimes very confusing,” he said.

Mr Gifford said the information could be used to establish where other YPG units were, identify safe places to run to, and possible routes suicide vehicles that could be driven at them may take.

Allowing users connected to the internet to share information easily, positions of enemy fighters could also be marked on it.

Mr Gifford fought against IS in every major battle and has previously said that he was motivated to do so because of their “butchery”.

He described the skies above Raqqa as being full of American aircraft and how on looking up there would be a dozen drones and F-16 jets “just circling the sky”.

“Their coverage of Raqqa was 24/7, it was incredible – there was barely anything that could move in the city without being watched at some point, or without being seen,” he added.

Mr Gifford said introducing technologies such as the app into a local force “is what wins modern wars against groups like the Taliban and groups like Isis”.

Quizzed on whether the Americans ensured they were hitting a valid target before striking, he said “sometimes it would be hours before there was a bomb”, but that if there was an airstrike, the feeling amongst his unit was that they had been right.

Pressed on whether he thought the app was a key part in the fight to liberate the Syrian city, Mr Gifford said “massively”, with the ability to know “exactly where things were”.

“The real way that we won in Raqqa was that there was more of us, we completely surrounded the city and that meant we could attack from the north one day, the south the other,” he added.

“Isis had no idea where we were going to come from.

“On top of that, a spy network inside the city and also the constant, constant surveillance meant infrastructure within the city – command and control centres, logistics points, barracks for men – were constantly being hit.

“That destroyed their ability to really effectively move men around and have a coherent defence.”

https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/uk/app-used-in-battles-against-islamic-state-was-a-game-changer-36615660.html

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North America

US Fighter Jets Continue Green-on-Blue Bombing in Eastern Syria

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- The US-led coalition fighter jets once again bombed friendly troops and destroyed a position of the Kurdish fighters in SoutheasternDeirEzzur, inflicting major losses on the Kurds, an Arab media outlet reported.

The Arabic-language Al-Manar TV channel reported that the warplanes bombed an stronghold of the Kurdish gunmen Northeast of the village of al-Sha'afa in SoutheasternDeirEzzur.

In the meantime, local sources said that the Kurdish forces' positions sustained major damage and a number of the militants were killed or wounded. 

The Turkish-language Daily Sabah reported on Monday that the US warplanes pounded mistakenly a main positon of the YPG, killing a sum of 300 Kurds.

The Daily further said that wrong peculiarities provided by the field sources were the cause behind the US careless air raid on the YPG.

In the meantime, the Arabic-language al-Manar TV also confirmed that the coalition's warplanes bombed mistakenly the Kurdish militants' positions Northeast of the town of al-Souseh Southeast of DeirEzzur.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961129000620

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US Continues to Evacuate ISIL Commanders Trapped in Hasaka, Syria

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- The US forces have intensified their heliborne operations to evacuate ISIL commanders who have been trapped in Hasaka province.

Local sources in Hasaka confirmed that the US helicopters have conducted heliborne operations in the village of Tuwaimin, 50km Northeast of al-Shadadi, in Southern Hasaka.

The sources said that 4 militants, including an ISIL security commander, were evacuated from the region in the operations.

The area where the operation took place is still occupied by the terrorist group.

In a relevant development late in December, several military helicopters of the US-led coalition carried out another heliborne operations in Southern Hasaka to evacuate a number of ISIL members from the region to an unknown location, local sources disclosed.

The sources said that several US helicopters that had taken off from the surrounding areas of al-Basel Dam in Southern Hasaka were flying over Assad Refugee Camp and transferred the ISIL terrorists from the camp to an unknown location.

The sources said that the helicopters were transferring militants who had been previously transferred from the Eastern outskirts of DeirEzzur, al-Shaitat region in particular.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961128001480

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/-pakistan-troops-sent-to-saudi-after-defining-rules-of-engagement-/d/114320


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