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Islamic World News ( 31 Dec 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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New Year’s Attack on Packed Istanbul Club Leaves 39 Dead

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Attack at nightclub in Instabul, Turkey

(Photo: Getty)

 

Terrorist Groups Planning to Move to Saudi Arabia, Arab States Following Defeats in Syria

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Mideast

New Year’s Attack on Packed Istanbul Club Leaves 39 Dead

Gunman Attacks Istanbul Mosque, Injures 2

Manhunt in Turkey after New Year's nightclub shooting

Erdogan says Istanbul nightclub attack sought to create chaos in Turkey

Massacre in Istanbul’s Reina a blatant terror attack

Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate condemns terror attack at Reina club

Terror organizations directly attacking our daily lives will not prevail: CHP head

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Arab World

Terrorist Groups Planning to Move to Saudi Arabia, Arab States Following Defeats in Syria

20 ISIL Terrorists Killed in Iraqi Drone Attack in Mosul

Yemeni Forces Capture 3 Saudi Military Bases in Al-Jawf Province

Saudi Warplanes Kill 7 Yemenis in Hajjah, Ma’rib Provinces

Jordan Army Chief Says ISIL Militants Acquired Anti-Aircraft Missiles

Terrorists Once Again Violate Syria's Nationwide Truce in Aleppo

ISIL's Centers in Deir Ezzur Sustain Major Damage in Syrian Air Raids

UN Security Council to vote on Syria ceasefire agreement

Iraq: ISIL's Senior Commander, Coordinator of Suicide Bombers Killed in Diyala

Syrian Envoy Lauds Iran, Russia for Ceasefire

Saudi Militias Set New Record of 78 Defeats in 1 Week

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Africa

Nigeria Seeks New Rapprochement with Militants, Shia

10-Year-Old Girl Used as Human Bomb in Nigeria Attack

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India

Two Indians Killed In Istanbul Terror Attack: Sushma Swaraj

National Security Guard website hacked, defaced with abusive message against PM Modi

India-Iran links go back to pre-Islamic period on January 1, 2017

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Pakistan

58 Pakistani Shia Muslims Martyred In 2016

Terrorism equally threatening Afghanistan and Pakistan: Pak Army Chief

US Top Export Destination, China Top Import Source for Pakistan: Report

Missile development, CPEC security termed major successes for Pakistan

Pakistan to hand over dossier on India to new UN chief

Disgruntled elements in army wanted to destroy parliament through Imran Khan: Javed Hashmi

Pakistan COAS phones Afghan leaders

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Europe

UK Minister Sees Threat of Islamic State Chemical Attack in Britain

Russia, Iran agree to work closely

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South Asia

Taliban Suffer Heavy Casualties in Uruzgan Air and Ground Raids

Senior Afghan army general injured in roadside bomb explosion

Afghan army and police officers kidnapped by Taliban in Herat

Top Taliban commander killed by his relative in Takhar province

MoD reacts on Afghan armed forces outposts’ abandonment report

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Southeast Asia

Muslims Must Understand Palestine Issues Deeply Without Influence of Militant Ideology - Raja Muda Of Perlis

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North America

Donald Trump Needles Enemies In New Year's Message

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/new-year’s-attack-on-packed-istanbul-club-leaves-39-dead/d/109561

 

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New Year’s attack on packed Istanbul club leaves 39 dead

January 1, 2017

ISTANBUL: At least one gunman shot his way into an Istanbul nightclub packed with hundreds of New Year’s revellers on Sunday, killing 39 people and wounding more than 40 in what the provincial governor described as a terrorist attack.

One assailant shot a police officer and a civilian as he entered the Reina nightclub before opening fire at random inside, Istanbul Governor Vasip Sahin said at the scene. Some reports suggested there were multiple attackers.

“A terrorist with a long-range weapon … brutally and savagely carried out this attack by firing bullets on innocent people who were there solely to celebrate the New Year and have fun,” Sahin told reporters.

The attack again shook Turkey as it tries to recover from a failed July coup and a series of deadly bombings in cities including Istanbul and the capital Ankara, some blamed on Islamic State and others claimed by Kurdish militants.

The club, one of Istanbul’s most iconic, popular with locals and foreigners alike, overlooks the Bosphorus Strait separating Europe and Asia in the city’s cosmopolitan Ortakoy district.

Around 500 to 600 people were thought to have been inside when the gunman opened fire at around 1:15 a.m. (2230 GMT), broadcaster CNN Turk said. Some jumped into the waters of the Bosphorus to save themselves and were rescued by police.

U.S. President Barack Obama, on vacation in Hawaii, expressed condolences and directed his team to offer help to the Turkish authorities, the White House said.

Sahin said there was only one attacker but other reports, including on social media, suggested there may have been at least two, dressed in Santa Claus costumes which they later ditched.

The Hurriyet newspaper cited witnesses as saying there were multiple attackers and that they shouted in Arabic.

“We were having fun. All of a sudden people started to run. My husband said don’t be afraid, and he jumped on me. People ran over me. My husband was hit in three places,” one club-goer, Sinem Uyanik, told the newspaper.

“I managed to push through and get out, it was terrible,” she said, describing seeing people soaked in blood and adding that there appeared to have been at least two gunmen.

“POLICE MOVED IN QUICKLY”

Dozens of ambulances and police vehicles were dispatched to the club in Ortakoy, a neighbourhood on the city’s European side nestled under one of three bridges crossing the Bosphorus and home to nightclubs, restaurants and art galleries.

“I didn’t see who was shooting but heard the gun shots and people fled. Police moved in quickly,” Sefa Boydas, a Turkish soccer player, wrote on Twitter.

“My girlfriend was wearing high heels. I lifted her and carried her out on my back,” he said.

Hurriyet quoted Reina’s owner, Mehmet Kocarslan, as saying security measures had been taken over the past 10 days after U.S. intelligence reports suggested a possible attack.

Turkey, a NATO member and part of the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State, faces multiple security threats including spillover from the war in neighbouring Syria.

It launched a military incursion into Syria in August against the radical Islamist group and is also fighting a Kurdish militant insurgency in its own southeast.

The New Year’s Eve attack came five months after Turkey was shaken by a failed military coup, in which more than 240 people were killed, many of them in Istanbul, as rogue soldiers commandeered tanks and fighter jets in a bid to seize power.

Istanbul, Turkey’s most populous city, has seen several attacks this year, the latest on Dec. 10, when two bombs claimed by Kurdish militants exploded outside a soccer stadium, killing 44 people and wounding more than 150.

In June, around 45 people were killed and hundreds wounded as three suspected Islamic State militants carried out a gun and bomb attack on Istanbul’s main Ataturk airport.

blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/toi-news/new-years-attack-on-packed-istanbul-club-leaves-35-dead/

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Terrorist Groups Planning to Move to Saudi Arabia, Arab States Following Defeats in Syria

January 1, 2017

TEHRAN (FNA)- Media sources disclosed that a number of terrorist groups have decided to forward their forces to Saudi Arabia and other Arab states in the Middle East after devastating defeats in the battlefields across Syria.

Waltir Net reported that recent advances of the Syrian army troops against militants in different parts of the country and in the meantime Turkey's overt retreat from its previous positions to topple President Bashar al-Assad have caused the terrorist groups to decide to leave the country for Saudi Arabia and other Middle-Eastern countries.

The website said that terrorists of Ahrar al-Sham, in a meeting held in the group's council on December 19, underlined that they do not intend to merge with Fatah al-Sham Front (previously known as the al-Nusra Front).

Ahrar al-Sham's meeting was held before the recapture of Eastern Aleppo by the Syrian pro-government forces, which was a sign of major defeat of Fatah al-Sham and Ahrar al-Sham.

The website went on to say that latest images released recently show that two groups of Ahrar al-Sham and Fatah al-Sham are practically hoisting different flags indicating their defection.

The two groups showed their wide differences with their white and black flags.

Meantime, dissident sources said Al-Nusra Front is preparing war plans to force Ahrar al-Sham militant group out of Idlib after reports said the latter has signed the ceasefire agreement brokered by Russia and Turkey between the Syrian government and some militant groups.

Sources close to the dissident groups in Northwestern Syria said that Al-Nusra has prepared war plans to capture the entire Idlib province and force Ahrar al-Sham back across the border into Turkey after the latter militant group joined the ceasefire agreement between the Syrian government and the so-called moderate dissidents that tasks Ahrar al-Sham to assign a new mission to all its militants that used to fight against the Syrian government to stand against the Al-Nusra Front as a terrorist group and open war on the Al-Qaeda offshoot in Idlib.

Meantime, media sources reported that Turkey has warned all militant groups in Idlib that merger with al-Nusra would amount to "suicide" as Ankara has agreed to separate al-Nusra Front and extremist commanders from other groups in Northern Syria.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951012000722

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Mideast

New Year’s attack on packed Istanbul club leaves 39 dead

January 1, 2017

ISTANBUL: At least one gunman shot his way into an Istanbul nightclub packed with hundreds of New Year’s revellers on Sunday, killing 39 people and wounding more than 40 in what the provincial governor described as a terrorist attack.

One assailant shot a police officer and a civilian as he entered the Reina nightclub before opening fire at random inside, Istanbul Governor Vasip Sahin said at the scene. Some reports suggested there were multiple attackers.

“A terrorist with a long-range weapon … brutally and savagely carried out this attack by firing bullets on innocent people who were there solely to celebrate the New Year and have fun,” Sahin told reporters.

The attack again shook Turkey as it tries to recover from a failed July coup and a series of deadly bombings in cities including Istanbul and the capital Ankara, some blamed on Islamic State and others claimed by Kurdish militants.

The club, one of Istanbul’s most iconic, popular with locals and foreigners alike, overlooks the Bosphorus Strait separating Europe and Asia in the city’s cosmopolitan Ortakoy district.

Around 500 to 600 people were thought to have been inside when the gunman opened fire at around 1:15 a.m. (2230 GMT), broadcaster CNN Turk said. Some jumped into the waters of the Bosphorus to save themselves and were rescued by police.

U.S. President Barack Obama, on vacation in Hawaii, expressed condolences and directed his team to offer help to the Turkish authorities, the White House said.

Sahin said there was only one attacker but other reports, including on social media, suggested there may have been at least two, dressed in Santa Claus costumes which they later ditched.

The Hurriyet newspaper cited witnesses as saying there were multiple attackers and that they shouted in Arabic.

“We were having fun. All of a sudden people started to run. My husband said don’t be afraid, and he jumped on me. People ran over me. My husband was hit in three places,” one club-goer, Sinem Uyanik, told the newspaper.

“I managed to push through and get out, it was terrible,” she said, describing seeing people soaked in blood and adding that there appeared to have been at least two gunmen.

“POLICE MOVED IN QUICKLY”

Dozens of ambulances and police vehicles were dispatched to the club in Ortakoy, a neighbourhood on the city’s European side nestled under one of three bridges crossing the Bosphorus and home to nightclubs, restaurants and art galleries.

“I didn’t see who was shooting but heard the gun shots and people fled. Police moved in quickly,” Sefa Boydas, a Turkish soccer player, wrote on Twitter.

“My girlfriend was wearing high heels. I lifted her and carried her out on my back,” he said.

Hurriyet quoted Reina’s owner, Mehmet Kocarslan, as saying security measures had been taken over the past 10 days after U.S. intelligence reports suggested a possible attack.

Turkey, a NATO member and part of the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State, faces multiple security threats including spillover from the war in neighbouring Syria.

It launched a military incursion into Syria in August against the radical Islamist group and is also fighting a Kurdish militant insurgency in its own southeast.

The New Year’s Eve attack came five months after Turkey was shaken by a failed military coup, in which more than 240 people were killed, many of them in Istanbul, as rogue soldiers commandeered tanks and fighter jets in a bid to seize power.

Istanbul, Turkey’s most populous city, has seen several attacks this year, the latest on Dec. 10, when two bombs claimed by Kurdish militants exploded outside a soccer stadium, killing 44 people and wounding more than 150.

In June, around 45 people were killed and hundreds wounded as three suspected Islamic State militants carried out a gun and bomb attack on Istanbul’s main Ataturk airport.

blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/toi-news/new-years-attack-on-packed-istanbul-club-leaves-35-dead/

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Gunman attacks Istanbul mosque, injures 2

1 Jan, 2017

At least two people have been injured in a shooting incident at one of Istanbul’s mosques, according to Turkish media.

Gunfire was reported on Sunday afternoon at the Hasan Pasha Mosque in Algeria, located in the northern part of Istanbul’s European side, Turkish Dogan News Agency (DHA) said.

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 turkhaber Gazetesi @gazeteradikal34

Sarıyer, Cezayirli Hasan Paşa Camii'nde pompalı saldırı turkhabergazetesi.com/gundem/sariyer-cezayirli-hasan-pasa-camii-nde-pompali-saldiri/4160 …

7:52 PM - 1 Jan 2017

Photo published for Sarıyer, Cezayirli Hasan Paşa Camii'nde pompalı saldırı

Sarıyer, Cezayirli Hasan Paşa Camii'nde pompalı saldırı

İstanbul Sarıyer'de Cezayirli Hasan Paşa Camii'nde bir saldırganın pompalı tüfekle açtığı ateş sonucu 2 kişi yaralandı.

turkhabergazetesi.com

  1 1 Retweet   likes

Two people have been hospitalized.

rt.com/news/372434-istanbul-mosque-gun-attack/

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Manhunt in Turkey after New Year's nightclub shooting

AP — PUBLISHED 13 minutes ago

A manhunt is on in Turkey for an assailant in a Santa Claus hat who unleashed a salvo of bullets in a crowded Istanbul nightclub during New Year's celebrations Sunday, killing at least 39 people.

Foreigners were among the fatalities, including an 18-year-old Israeli woman and a Belgian national, according to the two countries' respective foreign ministries. Close to 70 others were injured in what authorities described a terror attack.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vehemently condemned “the terror attack in Istanbul's Ortakoy neighbourhood in the first hours of 2017” and offered condolences for those who lost their lives, including “foreign guests.”

The attacker, armed with a long-barrelled weapon, killed a policeman and a civilian outside Istanbul's popular Reina club at around 1:15am before entering and firing on people partying inside, Governor Istanbul Vasip Sahin said.

“Unfortunately (he) rained bullets in a very cruel and merciless way on innocent people who were there to celebrate New Year's and have fun,” Sahin told reporters.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack and authorities did not name any suspects. The bloodiest attacks that Turkey endured in 2016 were the work of the militant Islamic State (IS) group or Kurdish militants.

Turkey is a member of NATO and a partner in the US-led coalition against the IS group. The country is also facing renewed conflict with Kurdish rebels in the southeast, and across the border in Syria and Iraq.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said the attacker has not been identified as yet and is still at large. “Our security forces have started the necessary operations. God willing he will be caught in a short period of time,” he said.

Private NTV news channel said the assailant entered the upscale nightclub, on the shores of the Bosporus, on the European side of the city, dressed in a Santa Claus outfit. The minister said the lone attacker was believed to have left the club wearing different clothing.

Security camera footage obtained by AP from Haberturk newspaper, shows the male assailant dressed in black and carrying a backpack as he shoots down a police officer outside the Reina nightclub.

Footage taken by a different camera shows him inside the venue wearing different clothes and a Santa Claus hat.

Turkey's Minister of Family and Social Policies Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya said citizens of Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Lebanon, and Libya were among those hurt in the attack. Lebanon's Foreign Ministry said three Lebanese citizens were wounded.

At least 15 of the dead were foreign nationals, according to Turkey's interior minister. Five of the victims were identified as Turkish nationals while authorities were still trying to identify the rest.

At least 69 people were being treated in hospitals, four in serious condition, Soylu said, describing the attack as a “massacre, a truly inhumane savagery.”

He said three or four of the Turkish victims may have been employees at the nightclub, some customers reportedly jumped into the waters of the Bosporus to escape the attack.

Mehmet Dag, 22, was passing by the club and saw the suspect shoot at a police officer and a bystander. He said the suspect then targeted security, gunning them down and entering the club. “Once he went in, we don't know what happened. There were gun sounds, and after two minutes the sound of an explosion.” The nightclub area remained sealed off on Sunday morning.

Heavily armed police blocked the snowy street in front of the nightclub where the entrance was covered with blue plastic sheeting below a Turkish flag. Police patrolled the Asian side of the Bosporus on the other side of the club.

Crime scene investigators were seen inside the club searching through piles of mingled chairs, tables and pieces of clothing left behind during the panic among the guests.

And there were emotional scenes in front of a city morgue where those shot dead were brought for identification. Some relatives cried out and fell to the ground as they apparently learned the fate of their loved ones.

Major attacks carried out by IS or Kurdish militants killed more than 180 people in Istanbul and Ankara alone in 2016.

On Dec 10, a double bomb attack outside a soccer stadium near the Reina nightclub killed 45 people and wounded some 150 others. The attack was claimed by Turkey-based Kurdish militant group, the Kurdish Freedom Falcons.

“Turkey continues its combat against terror and is absolutely determined to do whatever is necessary in the region to ensure its citizens safety and peace,” said President Erdogan in a written statement Sunday.

The nightclub attack drew quick condemnation from the West and Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his Turkish counterpart a telegram of condolences, saying “it is hard to imagine a more cynical crime than killing innocent people during New Year celebrations.”

“However, terrorists don't share moral values. Our common duty is to combat terrorists' aggression,” Putin said.

The White House condemned what it called a “horrific terrorist attack” and offered US help to Turkey.

An estimated 600 people were celebrating inside the club that is often frequented by famous locals, including singers, actors and sports stars. Several shocked revellers were seen fleeing the scene after the attack and the music fell silent.

The prime minister's office issued a media blackout on the events and asked media to refrain from broadcasting and publishing anything that may cause “fear in the public, panic and disorder and which may serve the aims of terrorist organisations.”

Security measures had been heightened in major Turkish cities, with police barring traffic leading up to key squares in Istanbul and the capital Ankara.

In Istanbul, 17,000 police officers were put on duty, some disguised as Santa Claus and others as street vendors, Turkey's Anadolu news agency reported.

dawn.com/news/1305787/manhunt-in-turkey-after-new-years-nightclub-shooting

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Erdogan says Istanbul nightclub attack sought to create chaos in Turkey

 

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday's attack by an armed assailant who stormed a popular nightclub in Istanbul, killing 39 people during New Year celebrations, sought to create chaos in Turkey.

"They are working to destroy our country's morale and create chaos by deliberately targeting our nation's peace and targeting civilians with these heinous attacks," Erdogan said in a statement on the presidency website.

The attack began just over an hour into the New Year when the attacker shot dead a policeman and a civilian at the entrance to the Reina club, one of the city's most exclusive nightspots, and then went on a shooting rampage inside, Turkish officials said.

It comes after a bloody 2016 after Turkey suffered a string of terror attacks in Istanbul and elsewhere at the hands of militant Islamic State group and Kurdish fighters, leaving hundreds dead.

But Erdogan vowed that Turkey would continue its fight against terrorism.

"Turkey is determined to continue to fight to the end against terror and to do whatever is necessary to ensure the security of its citizens and secure peace in the region," he said.

He added that Turkey would deploy any means, from military, economic and political to social, against "terror organisations" and the countries supporting them, without giving details on as to which groups or nations he was referring.

dawn.com/news/1305783/erdogan-says-istanbul-nightclub-attack-sought-to-create-chaos-in-turkey

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Massacre in Istanbul’s Reina a blatant terror attack

January/01/2017

Turkey was shaken once again in the first hours of 2017, as one of Istanbul’s jet set nightclubs was raided by a gunman who killed 39 and wounded 65 people, four of whom are in a critical condition.

The terrorist arrived at Reina nightclub on the coast of the Bosphorus at 01.15 a.m. local time in a taxi, according to eyewitness accounts. He took a bag from the trunk, removed an automatic rifle from the bag, shot the policemen waiting in front of the club as he was crossing the street, and then stormed his way inside, spraying bullets on the nearly 800 people (including employees) who were celebrating the new year. He then removed his overcoat and cap and disappeared in a different outfit. Security experts speaking on Turkish TV say the attacker behaved in a “professional, trained and cold-blooded” manner and had likely previously explored the site to gather intelligence.

As of midday on Jan. 1 no one had claimed responsibility. But sources in Ankara say the investigation focused on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), or DEASH in Arabic initials, which has been carrying out many terrorist attacks other than suicide bombings, as in the recent example in Berlin, Germany.

President Tayyip Erdoğan said the Turkish people should keep their calm and unity, thus showing they would not let “dirty games be played” with them. Erdoğan also said such attacks were not “independent from developments in the region,” meaning the Middle East and particularly Syria and Iraq.

It is not difficult to see that terrorist attacks on Turkey, whether from ISIL or the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), are rising as Turkish military moves inside Syria pressure both of them. In the case against ISIL, that pressure comes with the consent of both the U.S. and Russia. Only a few hours before the attack on Dec. 31 – though this does not mean they were related - the U.N. Security Council endorsed the ceasefire in Syria that has been in effect since midnight on Dec. 30, under the guarantee of Russia and Turkey. That ceasefire is reportedly still largely holding, with only minor and sporadic violations. Turkey has changed its Syria policy gradually over the past year towards more cooperation with the international community, and militant groups active in the Syria theater may be showing their reaction by awakening the sleepers they recruited in Turkey back when they could move around more freely inside the country (before Ankara’s Syria policy changed).

Many governments of both East and West, as well as international institutions, responded quickly to side with Turkey after this latest terrorist attack (four condemnations came from the U.S. alone, including one from President Barack Obama). There have thus been no accusations from the Turkish government that the West is indifferent to terrorist attacks here because it wants a weaker Turkey.

There are two other dimensions of the Istanbul New Year attack.

The first one is about the attack itself and possible intelligence failures. There have recently been a number of warnings sent to provincial governors that major terrorist attacks are expected in big cities, especially in Istanbul and Ankara, focused on crowded places like shopping malls, restaurants and nightclubs frequented by foreign nationals and tourists. If there is a failure, the precautions side of security should now be debated.

For many years, Turkey’s security and judicial agencies were effectively sub-contracted to sympathizers of Fethullah Gülen, an Islamist preacher living in the U.S., who used to cooperate closely with Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) governments. Now Gülen and his network are accused of being behind the thwarted July 15 coup attempt, and their sympathizers are being cleansed from the state apparatus in their thousands. This has led to questions over how the gap is being filled.

Some of those replacing purged Gülenists are novices (the policemen killed in front of the nightclub was a 21-year-old in his 10th month on duty), sleepers in disguise (as suspected for the police officer who murdered the Russian ambassador to Ankara on Dec. 19), or remaining members of the notorious “deeper state” before it was handed over to the Gülenists under AK Parti rule. There may therefore be serious coordination problems within the police force, as well as the court system.

Another question surrounds the political atmosphere in Turkey, which is getting more poisonous every day with rising nationalist and religious chauvinism. Religious Affairs Directorate head Mehmet Görmez was quick to make a statement after the attack, saying there was “no difference” between terror attacks targeting places of worship and attacks targeting entertainment sites, and they should be equally condemned. That statement followed cheering after the attack among certain social media users who believe that celebrating the New Year is un-Islamic and something to be despised.

Görmez’s statement was welcome. But just two days before, the Friday sermon prepared by Görmez’s Diyanet and read in more than 80,000 mosques across Turkey harshly criticized New Year celebrations as illegitimate and having no place in Islam or Turkey’s cultural traditions. Only a few days ago, members of an ultranationalist group made headlines by performing street theater in the Western province of Aydın by pointing a pistol at the forehead of another militant dressed in a Santa Claus costume. Unlike the cases frequently opened against critical media in Turkey, the police and the courts took no action against them for “praising crime” or “stirring hatred among the people.”

hurriyetdailynews.com/news-analysis-massacre-in-istanbuls-reina-a-blatant-terror-attack.aspx?pageID=238&nID=108008&NewsCatID=509

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Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate condemns terror attack at Reina club

January/01/2017

Directorate of Religious Affairs Head Mehmet Görmez released a statement on Jan. 1 condemning the deadly attack at a nightclub in central Istanbul, which claimed 39 lives, describing the act as “savage and horrific.”

“The people of Turkey are deeply hurt and saddened by the brutal armed attack committed against vulnerable individuals during the first hours of the new year. The action is savage and horrific. It is a murder and a massacre,” Görmez said.

“There is no difference whether this barbarous act is committed in a bazaar, a place of worship, or in an entertainment place. The targets of terrorists are not places but the people, the country, the nation and humanity. Terrorism can never be accepted, no matter who it is committed by or against whom it is committed,” he added.

“The only thing that differentiates the terrorist action committed tonight from others is that it aims to divide the nation and incite people from different lifestyles,” Görmez said.

A day before the attack, on Dec. 30, the Diyanet released its Friday sermon, calling on Muslims to remember that “at the end of the year gone by, it is completely unbecoming for a believer to forget about themselves and their purpose of creation and display unlawful attitudes and behavior that in no way comply with our values. It is worrying that the first hours of a new year are often turned into waste with the New Year entertainment style from other cultures.”

hurriyetdailynews.com/turkeys-religious-affairs-directorate-condemns-terror-attack-at-reina-club.aspx?pageID=238&nID=108007&NewsCatID=393

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Terror organizations directly attacking our daily lives will not prevail: CHP head

January/01/2017

Terrorist organizations directly attacking the daily lives and habits of our nation will not achieve their goals, the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) head Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said on Jan. 1 after a terror attack in an Istanbul nightclub killed 39 people in the early hours of Jan. 1.

“Terrorist organizations that directly attack our daily lives and habits and aim to shatter our endless trust and love for our country will not achieve their goals. We will eliminate terrorist organizations with the strength of our solidarity, our rooted democracy and secularism,” Kılıçdaroğlu said in a written statement.

He criticized the government for not taking sufficient security measures after a series of deadly attacks hit Turkey.

“Our country has long become an open target for terrorist organizations. Whichever steps the government takes, terror attacks cannot be prevented. Statements and precautions after every terror attack have encouraged terrorists in their next attacks,” he said.

“The reason for this situation is that the government is not rationalistic, scientific and sustainable in its anti-terror policies. On the other hand, the fact that authorities are not held accountable for nor resign from office also creates a weakness in the fight,” he added.

hurriyetdailynews.com/terror-organizations-directly-attacking-our-daily-lives-will-not-prevail-chp-head.aspx?pageID=238&nID=107993&NewsCatID=338

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Arab World

Terrorist Groups Planning to Move to Saudi Arabia, Arab States Following Defeats in Syria

January/01/2017

TEHRAN (FNA)- Media sources disclosed that a number of terrorist groups have decided to forward their forces to Saudi Arabia and other Arab states in the Middle East after devastating defeats in the battlefields across Syria.

Waltir Net reported that recent advances of the Syrian army troops against militants in different parts of the country and in the meantime Turkey's overt retreat from its previous positions to topple President Bashar al-Assad have caused the terrorist groups to decide to leave the country for Saudi Arabia and other Middle-Eastern countries.

The website said that terrorists of Ahrar al-Sham, in a meeting held in the group's council on December 19, underlined that they do not intend to merge with Fatah al-Sham Front (previously known as the al-Nusra Front).

Ahrar al-Sham's meeting was held before the recapture of Eastern Aleppo by the Syrian pro-government forces, which was a sign of major defeat of Fatah al-Sham and Ahrar al-Sham.

The website went on to say that latest images released recently show that two groups of Ahrar al-Sham and Fatah al-Sham are practically hoisting different flags indicating their defection.

The two groups showed their wide differences with their white and black flags.

Meantime, dissident sources said Al-Nusra Front is preparing war plans to force Ahrar al-Sham militant group out of Idlib after reports said the latter has signed the ceasefire agreement brokered by Russia and Turkey between the Syrian government and some militant groups.

Sources close to the dissident groups in Northwestern Syria said that Al-Nusra has prepared war plans to capture the entire Idlib province and force Ahrar al-Sham back across the border into Turkey after the latter militant group joined the ceasefire agreement between the Syrian government and the so-called moderate dissidents that tasks Ahrar al-Sham to assign a new mission to all its militants that used to fight against the Syrian government to stand against the Al-Nusra Front as a terrorist group and open war on the Al-Qaeda offshoot in Idlib.

Meantime, media sources reported that Turkey has warned all militant groups in Idlib that merger with al-Nusra would amount to "suicide" as Ankara has agreed to separate al-Nusra Front and extremist commanders from other groups in Northern Syria.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951012000722

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20 ISIL Terrorists Killed in Iraqi Drone Attack in Mosul

January/01/2017

TEHRAN (FNA)- A security source in Nineveh province disclosed minutes ago that an Iraqi combat drone bombed a gathering of ISIL in Mosul, killing at least 20 terrorists and wounding several more.

"An Iraqi CH4 drone targeted a concentration center of ISIL militants in Kornish region in the Tigris River's right bank, leaving at least 20 terrorists dead," the source said.

"It was the first time that this model of drone targeted ISIL's position in the right bank of the river in Mosul," the source pointed out.

Reports said earlier today that Iraq's joint military forces continued their advances in Mosul and near the city in Nineveh province, and took control of more lands back from ISIL.

The Iraqi popular forces and Federal Police in a joint operation seized back the village of Shokran Westward of Mosul city.

A large number of ISIL terrorists were killed in fierce clashes with the Iraqi forces near Shokran village.

Meantime, Iraq's joint military forces won back al-Arkoub district in the Eastern part of Mosul city.

The Iraqi counterterrorism command headquarters in a statement announced that the Iraqi forces have purged terrorists from the Northern parts of al-Hodaba district.

The Iraqi forces inflicted heavy losses on the ISIL terrorist group.

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Yemeni Forces Capture 3 Saudi Military Bases in Al-Jawf Province

January/01/2017

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Yemeni army and popular forces took control of three more military bases of the Saudi army in al-Jawf province in the Northeastern part of Yemen while their comrades blocked the advances of the kingdom's mercenaries in Shabwah province.

The Yemeni forces captured three Saudi bases in the towns of Khob and al-Sha'af in al-Jawf province, killing 30 military men.

Meantime, the Yemeni forces prevented pro-Saudi mercenaries from making advances in al-Hajr district in the town of Asilan in Shabwah province.

At least 30 pro-Saudi militias were killed and wounded in Shabwah province and sustained heavy losses in the Yemeni attacks.

In a relevant development on Saturday, informed battlefield sources disclosed that the Yemeni army and popular forces continued their advances in Ta'iz province, and killed several more pro-Saudi mercenaries in fierce clashes.

"At least 11 pro-Saudi militias were killed and several more were wounded in tough battle in Ta'iz province," the Arabic-language al-Massirah news website quoted informed Yemeni military sources as saying on Saturday.

Meantime, another Yemeni battlefield source said that six Saudi mercenaries were killed in the Eastern part of Gabal al-Han in al-Zobab region of Ta'iz province.

"Another four pro-Saudi mercenaries were also killed in al-Salou region in Ta'iz province," the source added.

He, meantime, said that the Yemeni army's artillery units pounded the pro-Saudi militias' gathering centers in the Southern part of the village of al-Hariqieh.

"Several mercenaries were also killed in the Yemeni army's artillery attack on their gathering centers in the Ninth District of the city of Sana'a," the source added.

More than 12,800 Yemenis, including women and children, have been killed in the course of the Saudi military aggression against neighboring Yemen since March 2015.

This is while international right groups have repeatedly condemned Riyadh over its onslaught against Yemen. They have also warned of a humanitarian crisis in the impoverished country.

The Saudi campaign was launched with the aim of reinstating Yemen’s former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.

Hadi, a loyal Riyadh ally, resigned last year and fled to the Saudi capital. He later returned to the country’s port city of Aden.

Hadi has rejected a United Nations peace roadmap, saying the initiative favors Ansarullah movement, while the movement is the main popular base which has been defending the country against the Saudi invasion.

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Saudi Warplanes Kill 7 Yemenis in Hajjah, Ma’rib Provinces

January/01/2017

TEHRAN (FNA)- At least seven Yemeni civilians were killed and nearly a dozen more sustained injuries after Saudi Arabia’s warplanes carried out areal aggression on two provinces of Hajjah and Ma’rib in the war-torn country.

Saudi fighter jets carried out two airstrikes on a residential building in the Wadi Hobab area in the Sirwah district of Ma’rib on Sunday, killing at least five civilians and wounding several others, including women and children, Al Masirah reported.

Elsewhere, in Hajjah's Hiran district, Saudi warplanes also bombarded two tanker trucks, killing at least two people and injuring seven others.

Separately, the Saudi regime also conducted a number of other airstrikes on Kataf district in the Northern province of Sa'ada, and on the Manakhah and Sa'fan districts in the Western province of Sana’a, but there was no immediate word on possible casualties or damage.

Other reports say that at least two Yemeni civilians sustained injuries after Saudi border guards opened fire on a valley in the Shida district in Sa'ada.

Late on Saturday, Saudi warplanes also killed at least on man and wounded three more people after they bombarded residential buildings in Hawzan area, where dozens of displaced families live, in Dhubab district in the Western province of Ta’izz.

Also on Saturday, at least one Saudi soldier was killed after Yemeni forces launched a barrage of retaliatory cross-border gunfire and shelling against Saudi military bases in the kingdom’s southwestern province of Jizan. Official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) confirmed the report, citing a spokesperson from the Saudi Interior Ministry as saying.

Saudi Arabia has been engaged in a deadly campaign against Yemen since March 2015. The Saudi aggression, which has killed at least 12,800 people, was launched in an attempt to reinstate Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a Saudi ally who has resigned as Yemen’s president but seeks to forcefully return to power, and to undermine Yemen’s popular Houthi Ansarullah movement.

The Saudi strikes have also taken a heavy toll on the country’s facilities and infrastructure, destroying many hospitals, schools, and factories.

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Jordan Army Chief Says ISIL Militants Acquired Anti-Aircraft Missiles

January/01/2017

TEHRAN (FNA)- The head of Jordan's armed forces warned that ISIL may have acquired anti-aircraft missiles in the area bordering Syria and Israel.

Mahmoud Freihat said that ISIL held the missiles near the Golan Heights and that they were of unknown origin, New Arab reported.

"ISIL faction is a constant and close threat to Jordan," he said.

"Some of the areas its fighters are in are a kilometer away from the border."

ISIL may have acquired the missiles after they seized Russian armaments abandoned in Palmyra, or they could have been taken from Syrian militants that were armed by the United States.

According to Freihat, Jordan was taking an active role in training various militants in Syria and Iraq to fight against ISIL.

Freihat was appointed to his role by King Abdullah in October as part of a major shake-up of the country's military in favor of a younger and more tech-savvy command.

"The king wants the Jordanian Armed Forces to be a young, mobile, professional, digital army that uses the latest technology," said Aref Zabin, the former commander of special forces.

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Terrorists Once Again Violate Syria's Nationwide Truce in Aleppo

January/01/2017

TEHRAN (FNA)- Terrorist groups targeted Syrian army troops' positions Southwest of Aleppo city, breaching the newly-brokered ceasefire again.

Terrorists' missile units hit the army positions in the Air Defense Battalion regardless of the ceasefire.

The army soldiers in a retaliatory move opened fire at terrorists' bases in the districts of al-Rashedeen 4 and 5 and Rahbat al-Madra'at South of Aleppo city.

A nationwide ceasefire between Syrian government troops and several militant groups came into force at midnight local time on Friday (22:00 GMT on Thursday).

The militant groups targeted residential areas in different provinces, violating the newly-brokered truce agreement on its first day of implementation.

In relevant developments on Saturday, militants deployed near the venue of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) along the Damascus-Homs highway targeted positions of the Syrian army in the region and forcing the army units to respond on the first day of the implantation of ceasefire agreement initiated by Russia and Turkey.

In the meantime, terrorists affiliated to Jeish al-Islam targeted residential areas in a refugee camp with mortar shells near the UNHCR venue along the Damascus-Homs highway.

Also, the terrorist groups attacked Tal (hill) Biju near the village of Mharadeh in Northern Hama, engaging in clashes with the army.

Jund al-Aqsa and Jeish al-Ezzah militants accused each other of violating ceasefire, but field sources said as Jund al-Aqsa has no militant in the region, the breach of the ceasefire must have been done by Jeish al-Ezzah, adding that the breach entitles the Syrian army to target any militant group in the region.

Terrorists' mortar units in Dara'a province also targeted the town of Khbib in al-Lijah region in the Northern part of the province, violating the truce.

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ISIL's Centers in Deir Ezzur Sustain Major Damage in Syrian Air Raids

January/01/2017

TEHRAN (FNA)- Syrian fighter jets carried out several combat sorties over ISIL's gatherings and concentration centers near the Eastern city of Deir Ezzur, killing or wounding a number of terrorists.

The warplanes targeted the movements and centers of ISIL in Panorama region in the Southern part of Deir Ezzur city in continued air raids, inflicting major losses on the terrorists.

Also, the army aircraft pounded ISIL's defense lines in al-Thardah mountain Southeast of Deir Ezzur and in areas near Deir Ezzur's airbase, inflicting heavy casualties on the militants.

The army soldiers that had repelled several attacks of ISIL on their positions in recent days, and stormed the militants' gatherings and movements in different parts of the province.

Also, Syrian Army troops warded off a second large-scale attack of ISIL on their defense lines in Deir Ezzur's neighborhoods on Saturday.

The ISIL terrorists, whose first massive attack on army positions on al-Roshdiyeh neighborhood had been repelled on Thursday night, managed to carry out a second large-scale offensive to prevail over army positions in the key neighborhood but failed again and retreated from the battlefield after leaving behind over 20 dead members and two destroyed vehicles.

ISIL used tens of forces in its attack but the army soldiers could fend off the attack.  

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UN Security Council to vote on Syria ceasefire agreement

AP | Dec 31, 2016

UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council will vote on Saturday on a resolution that would endorse the ceasefire agreement in Syria brokered by Russia and Turkey, and reiterate support for a roadmap to peace that starts with a transitional government.

The resolution also calls for "rapid, safe and unhindered" access to deliver humanitarian aid throughout the country. And it looks forward to a meeting in late January between the Syrian government and opposition in Kazakhstan's capital Astana "as an important part of the Syrian-led political process facilitated by the United Nations."

Russia and Turkey are on opposing sides of the Syrian conflict: Moscow along with Iran provides crucial military support to Syrian President Bashar Assad, while Turkey has long served as a rear base and source of supplies for the rebels.

Divisions in the Security Council between Russia and the veto-wielding Western powers, the US, Britain and France who support the moderate opposition and demand that Assad steps down, have blocked action to end the war, now in its sixth year.

Russia and Turkey sent the cease-fire agreement and the draft resolution to Security Council members Thursday night.

After closed discussions in the council today morning, Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin circulated a revised draft, urged council members to support it, and called for a vote today.

The Security Council needs to participate "in this important process," Churkin said.

The council is scheduled to meet at 11 am (local time). Russia's UN Mission said members would hold closed consultations and then vote.

The cease-fire agreement, if it holds, would mark a potential breakthrough in a conflict that began in 2011 with an uprising against decades of rule by President Bashar Assad's family and has left over 250,000 dead and more than 13.5 million people in need of urgent assistance, and triggered a refugee crisis across Europe.

The draft resolution reiterates "that the only sustainable solution to the current crisis in the Syrian Arab Republic is through an inclusive and Syrian-led political process based on the Geneva communique of June 30, 2012," which was endorsed by the Security Council.

The communique, adopted by key nations, calls for the formation of a transitional government with full executive powers "on the basis of mutual consent" and steps leading to elections.

Churkin told reporters "there is no competition" between the talks in Astana and negotiations that the UN special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, hopes to arrange between the government and opposition in Geneva on February 8.

"As you know Staffan de Mistura had trouble reconvening the talks, so Russia and Turkey obviously decided to give the United Nations a hand in pushing things forward, and this is what we see happening," Churkin told reporters.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/un-security-council-to-vote-on-syria-ceasefire-agreement/articleshow/56272687.cms

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Iraq: ISIL's Senior Commander, Coordinator of Suicide Bombers Killed in Diyala

January/01/2017

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iraq's joint military forces killed a senior ISIL commander in charge of coordinating the suicide bombers and transferring explosives in Diyala in Northern Salahuddin province.

"Al-Malah, senior ISIL commander, and his companion were killed by the Iraqi forces in Diyala province on Saturday," the Arabic-language media quoted an unnamed security sources as saying on Sunday.

He reiterated that Al-Malah and one of his men were killed near Hamreen lake located 58 kilometers to the Northeast of Baquba while their boat was also destroyed.

"Al-Malah was important because he was responsible for the direct transfer of the suicide bombers and explosives between the two flanks on the banks of Hamreen lake for the ISIL terrorist group," the source added.

The ISIL terrorist group has stirred up violence in the areas near Hamreen lake.

Meantime, the Iraqi forces pushed back the ISIL terrorists who were trying to penetrate into Jabal Mahkoul region in Northern Salahuddin province, killing at least 20 of them.

The Iraqi government troops also destroyed two ISIL's military vehicles.

Iraq's joint military forces continued their advances in Mosul and near the city in Nineveh province, and took control of more lands back from ISIL.

The Iraqi popular forces and Federal Police in a joint operation seized back the village of Shokran West of the Mosul city.

A large number of ISIL terrorists were killed in fierce clashes with the Iraqi forces near Shokran village.

Meantime, Iraq's joint military forces won back al-Arkoub district in the Eastern part of Mosul city.

The Iraqi counterterrorism command headquarters in a statement announced that the Iraqi forces have purged terrorists from the Northern parts of al-Hodaba district.

The Iraqi forces inflicted heavy losses on the ISIL terrorist group.

In relevant remarks on Saturday, Spokesman of Iraq's Counterterrorism Department Sabah al-Nauman disclosed that the country's joint military forces have seized back several new areas in the early stages of the second phase of the Mosul Liberation Military Operation.

"The ISIL's defense lines in the Western part of the city of Mosul have been demolished and new areas have come under our forces' control in the beginning of the second phase of Mosul liberation operation," al-Nauman told FNA.

He underlined that the main aim of the second phase of the Mosul liberation operation is to take full control of the remaining districts of Western Mosul.

Also on Saturday, Iraq's joint military forces continued their advances in the Eastern part of the city of Mosul, and seized back a new strategic district there.

The Iraqi forces took full control of the ISIL-controlled al-Qods al-Sanieh district in Eastern Mosul city.

Several terrorists were killed and wounded in fierce clashes with the Iraqi army and its allies.

Meantime, the Iraqi forces advanced further into Sumer and Jadideh al-Mufti districts in Eastern Mosul, killing 25 ISIL terrorists in tough battle.

Also on Saturday, Iraqi Federal Police Commander Major General Raed Shaker Judat announced that several more ISIL terrorists, including four senior commanders, have been killed in fierce clashes with the country's joint military forces.

"At least 10 ISIL terrorists, including four notorious commanders, were killed in tough battle with the Iraqi government forces," the Arabic-language media quoted General Judat as saying.

He, meantime, said that the Iraqi forces continued their advances in the city of Mosul, adding, "Over 66 ISIL terrorists have been killed in the Iraqi Federal police's military operations."

General Judat also said that hundreds of families in Mosul city have been transferred to military camps from al-Entesar and Shahrzad districts of the city.

On Thursday, the Iraqi security forces began the second phase of the Mosul operation in a number of Eastern and Southeastern districts of Mosul city, following a major halt of the offensive for much of December.

Iraqi Federal police initiated the advance on the districts of Somar, Saha, Intisar, and the industrial area on the left bank of Mosul, General Yahya Rasul, the spokesperson for the Iraqi Joint Command said, Baghdad Post quoted security officials as saying.

Also, Abdul-Ghani Al-Asadi, commander of the Iraqi Counterterrorism Forces (ICTF) told Iraqi media that the fresh offensive begun at 7:00 am on Thursday.

He said his forces have entered the eastern district of al-Quds, and made “progress” in the early hours on Thursday morning.

A military statement for the Nineveh operation said that the Iraqi army, the federal police and the ICTF are taking part in a joint operation to “fully liberate the left bank of Mosul”.

An officer from the rapid response forces told Reuters news agency that they are pushing from the Southeastern district of Intisar.

"Our troops now are advancing. In the first five or 10 minutes they took 500 meters. Just now they are starting to shoot," the rapid response officer said, an elite force under the command of the Iraqi interior ministry.

The commander of the Golden Division, Fazil Barwari, earlier told Rudaw that he expects to liberate the East side of the city by New Year ’s Eve.

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Syrian Envoy Lauds Iran, Russia for Ceasefire

January/01/2017

TEHRAN (FNA)- A senior Syrian diplomat hailed Iran and Russia for their efforts to establish ceasefire in his country, and said liberation of Aleppo also played an important role in this regard.

"If we had not earned victory in Aleppo, naturally ceasefire would have been impossible and it is a big defeat for the Takfiri groups who are supported by the West, Turkey and the Persian Gulf sheikhdoms," Syrian Ambassador to China Imad Mustafa told FNA on Sunday.

He referred to Tehran and Moscow's assistance to Syria in the war on terrorism and their efforts to change Turkey's approach on the crisis in Syria, and said, "Now Russia and Iran should be given the opportunity to implement the ceasefire agreement."

His remarks came after Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani underlined that the war against the ISIL and al-Nusra Front (recently renamed to Fatah al-Sham Front) will continue in Syria, adding that any talks that weaken the sovereignty of the legal Syrian government are doomed to failure.

"Any political path and talks which weaken the sovereignty of the comprehensive and legal government over the entire territories of Syria or aim to give control over a part of the Syrian territories to the terrorist groups and foreign military occupation are against people's interests, a threat to the regional countries and doomed to failure," Shamkhani said in a meeting with Director of the Syrian National Security Bureau General Ali Mamlouk and Muallem in Tehran on Saturday.

Describing the freedom of Aleppo as a turning point in Syria's political-military developments and the power equations in the region, he said, "War against the ISIL and al-Nusra Front terrorists in Syria will continue and the armed groups which don’t comply with the terrorists' front should seize the opportunity of the ceasefire and return to the negotiations table for talks with the legal Syrian government."

Shamkhani underscored that the only path which can restore peace and security in Syria is unrelenting fight against terrorism and focus on Syrian-Syrian talks to reach a national agreement to hold comprehensive elections.

His remarks came after Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his Syrian counterpart held three rounds of talks in Tehran on Saturday to discuss ceasefire and political initiatives to settle the crisis in Syria.

Muallem arrived in Tehran Saturday afternoon and held three rounds of talks with his Iranian counterpart on the latest developments in Syria, including durable ceasefire, sending humanitarian aid to the Syrian people, fight against the terrorist groups and political initiatives for talks and peace in the country.

Zarif had earlier described the ceasefire in Syria as an important breakthrough for the Syrian government and nation.

"Ceasefire in Syria is a major achievement," Zarif wrote on his Twitter account on Friday.

The Iranian foreign minister called for uprooting the terrorist and extremist groups.

The Syrian Army and the Armed Forces General Command on Thursday declared a comprehensive cessation of hostilities across all Syrian territories starting at 00:00 on 30/12/2016 in the wake of the victories and advances achieved by the Syrian armed forces on more than a front.

The Command added that the ISIL and Al-Nusra Front terrorist groups as well as their affiliates are excluded from the agreement, pointing out that the ceasefire comes with the aim of creating suitable circumstances for supporting the political trend to resolving the crisis in Syria.

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Saudi Militias Set New Record of 78 Defeats in 1 Week

January/01/2017

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Yemeni army and popular forces managed to defeat the pro-Saudi mercenaries nearly 80 times in different warfronts over the past week, while the Western media have not mentioned even one.

The Saudi mercenaries were defeated at least 78 times by the Yemeni forces across Yemen and also in Southern Saudi Arabia.

The Yemeni army and popular forces also struck a heavy blow at the Saudi militias in Sana'a's Ninth District, Sirwah, al-Jawf and Najran regions.

Meantime, the Yemeni forces managed to take full control of the terrorists' centers in Hayd al-Zahab region.

In a relevant development on Sunday, the Yemeni army and popular forces took control of three more military bases of the Saudi army in al-Jawf province in the Northeastern part of Yemen while their comrades blocked the advances of the kingdom's mercenaries in Shabwah province.

The Yemeni forces captured three Saudi bases in the towns of Khob and al-Sha'af in al-Jawf province, killing 30 military men.

Meantime, the Yemeni forces prevented pro-Saudi mercenaries from making advances in al-Hajr district in the town of Asilan in Shabwah province.

At least 30 pro-Saudi militias were killed and wounded in Shabwah province and sustained heavy losses in the Yemeni attacks.

Also on Saturday, informed battlefield sources disclosed that the Yemeni army and popular forces continued their advances in Ta'iz province, and killed several more pro-Saudi mercenaries in fierce clashes.

"At least 11 pro-Saudi militias were killed and several more were wounded in tough battle in Ta'iz province," the Arabic-language al-Massirah news website quoted informed Yemeni military sources as saying on Saturday.

Meantime, another Yemeni battlefield source said that six Saudi mercenaries were killed in the Eastern part of Gabal al-Han in al-Zobab region of Ta'iz province.

"Another four pro-Saudi mercenaries were also killed in al-Salou region in Ta'iz province," the source added.

He, meantime, said that the Yemeni army's artillery units pounded the pro-Saudi militias' gathering centers in the Southern part of the village of al-Hariqieh.

"Several mercenaries were also killed in the Yemeni army's artillery attack on their gathering centers in the Ninth District of the city of Sana'a," the source added.

More than 12,800 Yemenis, including women and children, have been killed in the course of the Saudi military aggression against neighboring Yemen since March 2015.

This is while international right groups have repeatedly condemned Riyadh over its onslaught against Yemen. They have also warned of a humanitarian crisis in the impoverished country.

The Saudi campaign was launched with the aim of reinstating Yemen’s former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.

Hadi, a loyal Riyadh ally, resigned last year and fled to the Saudi capital. He later returned to the country’s port city of Aden.

Hadi has rejected a United Nations peace roadmap, saying the initiative favors Ansarullah movement, while the movement is the main popular base which has been defending the country against the Saudi invasion.

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Africa

Nigeria seeks new rapprochement with militants, Shia

 

Nigerian President Buhari wants fresh rapprochement with delta militants, Shia in a new year message

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has called on militants in the country's oil-rich delta region to embrace peace and shun pipeline bombings that seriously harmed the local economy in 2016.

“We will continue to pursue peace initiatives in the Niger Delta as I again, call on our brothers in that region who have taken to violent disruptions of economic infrastructure to come to the negotiating table,” Buhari said in a new year message to his country.

The president also, for the first time, sought rapprochement with the country's Shia Muslims whose mass killings by security forces in December 2015 - following disagreements with the army - and attempts to proscribe them dominated much of last year.

Apparently responding to Shia’s insistence on the release of their detained chief and nonstop condemnation of his administration, Buhari called on the Shia Muslims to embrace peace, respect the law and not be ‘islands by themselves’.

“At the same time, the law enforcement agencies must treat them humanely and according to the rule of law,” Buhari added.

But the Shia have fired back at the president, saying they have never been violent but have been victims of state repression.

“Buhari's statement (with regards to security agencies) proves correct what all human rights organizations have been saying about the monumental savagery and gross inhumanity of Nigerian security forces against (our) members,” Harun El-Binawi, a top Shia Muslim, said in a statement on Sunday.

The delta militants have not responded to the president’s statement.

Reporting by Rafiu Ajakaye; Writing by Emre Solak

aa.com.tr/en/africa/nigeria-seeks-new-rapprochement-with-militants-shia/718049

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10-Year-Old Girl Used as Human Bomb in Nigeria Attack

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- One person was seriously injured when a suicide bomber aged around 10 blew herself up in a New Year's Eve attack in the Northeastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri, witnesses and aid workers said Sunday.

Witnesses said that the girl approached a crowd buying noodles from a food vendor in the Customs area of the city and detonated her explosives, the Daily Star reported.

Although no one has claimed responsibility the attack bore the hallmark of Boko Haram terrorists who are notorious for using suicide bombers, mostly women and young girls, in attacking civilian targets.

"The girl walked towards the crowd but she blew up before she could reach her target," said witness Grema Usman who lives in the area.

"She died instantly, while one person was seriously hurt after he was hit by shrapnel."

"Judging from her corpse the girl was around 10 years old," Usman said.

An aid worker involved in the evacuation of the body gave a similar estimate of the bomber's age.

"The girl was clearly not more than 10 and this could have made her too nervous, making her to detonate the explosives prematurely," the aid worker suggested.

Borno state police spokesman Victor Isuku, meanwhile, said a second female suicide bomber was caught and lynched by an angry mob. Her bomb was safely detonated by security forces, he said.

In December two girls aged between seven and eight detonated explosives in suicide attacks on market in the city, injuring 19 people.

Authorities blamed the attack on Boko Haram, whose seven-year insurgency has killed 20,000 people and displaced 2.6 million others. The conflict has spilled into Nigeria's northern neighbors.

The attack came a week after Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said the terror group had been routed from Sambisa forest, its last stronghold in Borno state.

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India

Two Indians killed in Istanbul terror attack: Sushma Swaraj

January 1, 2017

NEW DELHI: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today said two Indian nationals were killed in the terrorist attack that took place in Istanbul, Turkey earlier in the day.

“I have a bad news from Turkey. We have lost two Indian nationals in the Istanbul attack. Indian Ambassador is on way to Istanbul,” Swaraj tweeted.

The minister said in another tweet that the victims are Abis Rizvi, the son of a former Rajya Sabha MP, and Khushi Shah from Gujarat.

Turkish police stand guard outisde the Reina nightclub by the Bosphorus, which was attacked by a gunman, in Istanbul, Turkey, January 1, 2017.    REUTERS/Umit Bektas

As many as 39 people were killed, and dozens wounded earlier on Sunday, when a gunman stormed a popular Istanbul nightclub and sprayed bullets at revellers celebrating the New Year.

There were reportedly as many as 700 people dancing to celebrate the New Year, which chimed in just over an hour before the attack.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/toi-news/two-indians-killed-in-istanbul-terror-attack-sushma-swaraj/

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National Security Guard website hacked, defaced with abusive message against PM Modi

January 1, 2017

NEW DELHI: Suspected Pakistan-affiliated operatives today hacked the official website of the elite National Security Guard (NSG) and defaced it with a profanity-laden message against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The hacking attempt was noticed early today and the URL -nsg.gov.in – was blocked soon after by the counter-terror force from its headquarters here, officials said.

“Indian NSG Commandos hacked Pakistan Zindabad,” the group, which calls itself ‘Alone Injector,’ wrote.

In its message, the group denied that Indian Army’s surgical strikes ever took place.

Official sources said the hacking attempt could have been carried out by Pakistan-affiliated hackers, though they were still trying to ascertain exact details in this regard. The matter has been brought to the notice of the National Informatics Centre (NIC), and “remedial action” is being taken.

The NSG was raised in 1984 as the federal contingency unit to undertake counter-terror and counter-piracy operations. Its website gives out basic information about the force, its origin and operations.

Today’s hacking of the NSG website isn’t the first high-profile hack in recent times. Just days ago, cyber attackers from Pakistan compromised the websites of the Cochin and Trivandrum airports. A group of hackers from Kerala responded by hacking Sialkot airport’s (in Pakistani’s Punjab province) website.

In addition, a group of hackers called Legion was in the news last month for compromising email and Twitter accounts of several major public figures, including beleagured liquor baron Vijay Mallya and Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi.

Show hurled at Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal in Haryana

blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/toi-news/cyber-attackers-hack-national-security-guard-website-call-for-free-kashmir-and-insult-prime-minister-narendra-modi/

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India-Iran links go back to pre-Islamic period on January 1, 2017 | 10:46:05

January 1, 2017

In May 2016, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi undertook a visit to Iran to bring new dimensions to India’s strategic ties. For India and Iran, the continuous revalidation of cultural ties from ancient times is a necessity for world peace, world trade, a better understanding of harmony between religions and the spread of fundamental civilisational values.

A cultural agreement that was signed between India and Iran 60 years ago was renewed with vigour and panache through a series of programmes. There was a conference titled “India-Iran Two Great Civilisations: Retrospect-Prospects” as part of the festival organised by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) in collaboration with the Indian embassy in Tehran, Bonyad-e-Sadi, and Farhangistan-e-Zaban-o-Adab-e-Farsi. This conference consisted of scholars, experts in the Farsi language and script, a presentation of the influences of Persian craft on India’s creative practices, a dastangoi performance and a sitar recital in jugalbandi between sitar maestro Nishat Khan and an Iranian tar artiste. In this particular case, strategic and trade ties went hand in hand with India’s only partially tapped treasure—its cultural power. It was a masterstroke to combine the agreements on a trade route through Afghanistan and the assistance for the construction of the Chabahar Port that the cultural agreement was the third leg of the stool that brought India and Iran together so closely after centuries.

A major highlight of the festival’s inauguration was the release by PM Modi of a Persian manuscript called Kalila va Dimna, which is a translation of the Panchatantra Tales. ICCR president Lokesh Chandra, under whose charge the festival was organised, said, “The facsimile edition of the Kalila va Dimna is a tribute to the cultural interflow between India and Iran over millennia, attested by the nexus of the Rig Vedic hymns and Gathas of Zarathushtra, coming down to the reign of Akbar who introduced Persian as the language of administration in India, which continued till the middle of the 19th century under the East India Company.” Indians would be proud to know that various regimes in Iran vied to produce even better translations of these texts. It still stands out as a gem amongst the texts shared by Iran and India, and symbol of the cultural connect between both countries.

The links between the two countries go back to the pre-Islamic period and does not begin, as some like to believe, during the Mughal period. Iran is probably the primary country that engaged in a sharing of influences with India and goes back the longest. History books tell us, “In 532 BC, Iran’s greatest king, Cyrus took control of north-west India and his successor Darius extended the territory further to the east. The invaders brought with them their culture and ingredients like spinach, pistachio, almond, pomegranate, saffron and rosewater.” It is interesting to note that during this time they were introduced to rice, a grain indigenous to India, which soon became and still is an Iranian staple.

Sanskrit scholars in India had accounted linguistic similarities between the Indian Vedas and the Iranian Zend Avesta. In a recently published book by Audrey Truschke called Culture of Encounters: Sanskrit at the Mughal Court, the author studies the close engagement between the Mughal courts and India’s Brahmin and Jain scholars. The reasons the author finds are interesting. She says Mughal dynasties refined and advanced their sense of authority and power by engaging with Sanskrit texts, thinkers and ideas. In fact the Sanskrit scholars served as interlocutors for the imperial elite. Truschke says the Mughals understood power as “an aesthetic practice”, so instead of seamlessly merging with existing traditions offered by Muslims, e.g., Persian, Arabic and Turkish practices, they “wanted to think about themselves as an Indian Empire”.

Aesthetics and civilisational values in Iran go beyond regimes and reigns that may have been controversial and contentious. The common love for and pride in their built artistic heritage is what differentiates the Iranian from the radical fundamental Islamists, who have set themselves upon a spree of destruction of monuments and museums that do not adhere to the rigid and austere tenets of the Caliphate. Art at Ladakh monasteries show textiles of the Sassanian period of Iran. Blue turquoise stone colours for dress and decoration of mosques is shared with Buddhist traditions. The common Indian gamchha, used by Indian men as a towel or head-cloth has a counterpart in Iran called the dhoti, which men use in hamams while bathing. A hand-made stringed instrument created by Iranian’s decades ago is called, like its more elaborate Indian counterpart, a sitar. Many other areas of engagement and harmonious outcomes have emerged from the meeting of two ancient civilisations like Sufism, coinage, religious practices and rituals. It is perhaps the best example of how religion can be a meeting point rather than a divisive force amongst peoples.

Unfortunately, often government programmes are announced with great fanfare at their initiation, when the highest dignitaries are involved, but the follow up is always uncertain, often unnoticed and sometimes more in the nature of a formality to be completed for its own sake rather than a continuing, developing exercise involving more people from both countries. Scholars are at universities and performers are on stages. There is a distance from the common people. Multi-dimensional engagements need to be created.

4 January 2017 will see another layer of this cultural engagement unfolding amongst the creative crafts persons of Iran and India at Dilli Haat in New Delhi, when India’s Minister of Textiles, Smriti Irani (yes, the surname is significant) and the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Ambassador Gholamreza Ansari will inaugurate an exhibition and crafts and cultural exchange workshop during the Dastkari Haat Samiti’s annual crafts bazaar. Ties will be renewed in textile printing, calligraphy, fine art, metal work, wood marquetry and other skills to understand a shared past and a new future. The Prime Minister had recalled in Iran that Persian calligraphers used to write texts, while Indian artists illustrated them. Artists and calligraphers will create a small book telling the story of this renewed journey by the end of the Dilli Haat interaction.

realiran.org/india-iran-links-go-back-to-pre-islamic-period/

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Pakistan

58 Pakistani Shia Muslims martyred in 2016

January 1, 2017

As many as 58 Shia Muslims embraced martyrdom due to targeted attacks on them by the takfiri terrorists of banned Deobandi ASWJ and its allied-wings in Pakistan in 2016.

(AhlulBayt News Agency) - As many as 58 Shia Muslims embraced martyrdom due to targeted attacks on them by the takfiri terrorists of banned Deobandi ASWJ and its allied-wings in Pakistan in 2016.

Takfiris of banned Deobandi terror outfits continued attacks on peaceful and law-abiding patriot Pakistan Shia Muslims, the co-religionists of founder of Pakistan Mohammad Ali JInnah but the State authorities have failed to take needed action to eliminate the banned terror outfits.

Some 256 Shia Muslims were martyred in 2015. Although, the numbers of the victims were reduced, much needs to be done to rid Pakistan of takfiri terrorism. Stern action including public hangings of the assassins is also needed to establish the writ of the government.

Below is a list of Shia martyrs in different cities reported throughout the year:

Monthly Report

January 2016

The year started with killing of three (03) innocent Shia Muslims by takfiri terrorists. Naved Ahmed, Mukhtar Zaidi and Naveed Abbas were martyred in Quetta, Karachi and Attock respectively.

February 2016

On 8th of February, Malik Iftikhar, a Shia Muslim was gunned down in Peshawar at the hands of takfiri militants.

March 2016

Karachi, Peshawar and D.I. Khan witnessed four (04) innocent shiite being murdered at the hands of hardcore terrorists. Their names were reported as Azhar Hussain, Syed Razi ul Hasan, Shamsher Ali and Abid Raza.

April 2016

Altogether four (04) innocent momineens were martyred with three (03) in Karachi and one (01) in Hyderabad. Names mentioned were; Shahid Hussain, Ali Sajjad, Hashim Rizvi and Imdad Jafri. It’s worth mentioning that all three individuals in Karachi were targeted at a go, Hashim Rizvi was a Gold Medalist from Physics Department at University of Karachi.

May 2016

Sectarian intolerance amplified when this month witnessed 8 martyrdom of innocent shiites. Renowned activist-cum-journalist Khurram Zaki was silenced in this month, for his voice perturbed the illicit ideologies of west borne upon muslims in Pakistan. Khurram was martyred in Karachi, whereas D.I. Khan witness massacre of 4 innocent shias on the same day, with two advocates among them.

On may 5, Advocate Atif Ali, Advocate Murtajiz, Athar Abbas and Mukhtar Abbas embraced martyrdom in D. I. Khan.

May 7 was the day when Khurram Zaki was killed.

May 12 was when parachinar witnessed martyrdom of Nasir Ali, Yahya Hussain and Akbar Ali.

June 2016

Apart from the heinous murder of renowned qawal and singer ‘Amjad Sabri’, June witnessed another kill in Karachi with martyrdom of Muhammad Abbas.

On June 22 Muhammad Azhar and Amjad Sabri were murdered, whereas Nadeem Abbas was killed in D. I. Khan on June 30.

July 2016

Advocate Shahid Abbas Shirazi was gunned down in D. I. Khan.

August 2016

Three Shia Muslims were shot in this very month.

On Aug 1 Muhammad Nabi and Ghulam Nabi in Quetta

On Aug 23 Saim Raza in Karachi.

September 2016

Death was accounted in Karachi and Shikarpur, with Muhammad Rafique in Shikarpur on Sept 17 and Shabad Haider in Karachi on Sept 20.

October, November 2016

According to Shiitenews, October witnessed Muharram processions this year again, with last year witnessing 255 innocent shias Muslims martyred in the name of sectarian rift. This year there were 4 major incidences recorded with 25 innocent Muslims martyred to include women.

en.abna24.com/service/centeral-asia-subcontinent//archive/2017/01/01/802075/story.html

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Terrorism equally threatening Afghanistan and Pakistan: Pak Army Chief

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun Jan 01 2017

Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa has said terrorism and extremism equally threatens Afghanistan and Pakistan as he pledged full support to cooperate in eliminate the menace of terror.

The Office of the Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah said Gen. Bajwa conveyed the message during a telephone conversation on Saturday afternoon.

Reiterating Pakistan’s hope for a peaceful and stable Afghanistan, Gen. Bajwa said ‘He is hopeful the two brotherly nations work together for a lasting peace considering the current challenges and threats the two countries are facing.’

According to a statement by Chief Executive’s Office, Gen. Bajwa has called extremism and terrorism a joint threat to both the nations as he pledged full support by Pakistan to eliminate the shared threats.

In his turn, CE Abdullah congratulated Gen. Bajwa for his appointment as the new Chief of Staff of Pakistan’s army and said terrorism and extremism poses a serious threat for peace and stability of both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Abdullah further added that both Afghanistan and Pakistan should work closely to fight the menace of terrorism and extremism in a bid to ensure peace and stability of the region.

khaama.com/terrorism-equally-threatening-afghanistan-and-pakistan-pak-army-chief-02598

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US top export destination, China top import source for Pakistan: report

January 1, 2017

The United States (US) remained the top export destination of Pakistani products during the fiscal year 2015 (FY2015) while China was the top import destination from where goods were traded into the country.

Out of the total $22.09 billion in exports, Pakistani exports to the US stood at $3.66bn during FY2015 followed by China where Pakistani products worth $1.93 billion were exported during the year, according to a Pakistan Business Council (PBC) report.

Top 10 Pakistani export destinations in FY15:

America ($3.66bn)

China ($1.93 bn)

Afghanistan ($1.72bn)

United Kingdom ($1.57bn)

Germany ($1.15bn)

United Arab Emirates ($0.90bn)

Spain ($0.78bn)

Bangladesh ($0.70bn)

Netherlands ($0.67bn)

Italy ($0.62bn)

Out of the total imports of $43.99 billion in FY2015, the imports from China stood at $11.02bn, the PBC report revealed.

Top 10 sources of imports in FY15:

China ($11.02bn)

United Arab Emirates ($5.73bn)

Saudi Arabia ($3.01bn)

Indonesia ($2.04bn)

United States of America ($1.92bn)

Japan ($1.73bn)

Kuwait ($1.71bn)

India ($1.67bn)

Germany ($0.97bn)

Malaysia ($0.91bn)

dawn.com/news/1305785/us-top-export-destination-china-top-import-source-for-pakistan-report

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Missile development, CPEC security termed major successes for Pakistan

January 1st, 2017

KARACHI: The military has enumerated successful tests of various missiles by the army and navy, arrangements for the security of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and targeted strikes by the air force on militant hideouts in support of operation Zarb-i-Azb among its accomplishments during 2016.

According to a message released on social media by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) director general on New Year’s Eve on Saturday, an enhanced version of the Babur cruise missile and the indigenously produced air-launched Ra’ad missile were successfully tested during the year.

The navy test-launched the shore-based anti-ship missile Zarb and fired a surface-to-surface anti-ship missile in the North Arabian Sea from the Sword Class Frigate PNS Aslat.

Arrangements for the actualisation and security of the CPEC, consisting of an 870km road network and raising of a Special Security Division and Task Force 88 for its maritime security were carried out.

According to the ISPR, the navy proved its vigilance and operational preparedness by detecting and blocking an Indian submarine from entering Pakistani waters south of the country’s coast.

Also during the year, the groundbreaking of an air power centre of excellence was carried out to enhance PAF’s capacity to meet future challenges and undertake counterterrorism operations.

The Pakistan Air Force’s C-130 won the best aircraft trophy at the Royal International Tattoo Show in the United Kingdom.

dawn.com/news/1305699/missile-development-cpec-security-termed-major-successes

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Pakistan to hand over dossier on India to new UN chief

PTI | Updated: Dec 31, 2016

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan would hand over a dossier on alleged Indian spy+ Kulbhushan Jadhav and evidence of the alleged attempt to violate the maritime boundary by an Indian submarine+ to incoming UN secretary general Antonio Guterres on Monday, his first working day after assuming office.

Pakistan's permanent UN representative Maleeha Lodhi will officially pass on the dossier to Guterres at the UN headquarters in New York, Dawn reported, citing officials.

"Soon after assuming office incoming UN secretary general Antonio Guterres will get a feel of Pak-India rivalry as Islamabad is set to raise the issue of Indian interference with him," the paper said.

Pakistan claims+ that Jadhav, an Indian navy officer and an alleged operative of India's intelligence agency RAW, was caught by its security forces earlier this year. His capture was announced in March and was flaunted by military as "proof of Indian interference and state-sponsored terrorism".

The government, which had pledged to expose alleged Indian hand in terrorism in Pakistan, domestically faced a lot of criticism for the delay in presenting to the international community evidence of Jadhav's alleged involvement in subversive activities.

Responding to criticism in the senate, adviser on foreign affairs Sartaj Aziz had on December 7 said that "insufficient material" had delayed the finalization of the dossier+ .

"It is not that material has been provided and it's lacking in English and we are overcoming it. The (provided) material, in our view, was insufficient," Aziz had told a meeting of the Senate Committee of the Whole House.

"The required additional information" has now been made available and the dossier has been completed, the paper said, citing the officials.

The officials did not share the specifics, but said it would contain proofs that India was allegedly patronising terrorism in Pakistan.

The new UN chief would also be informed about the attempt by an Indian submarine to "intrude into Pakistani waters before it was spotted and forced to abandon the mission", the paper said.

The submarine incident, which happened last month, coincided with the fourth Pak-China joint naval exercise for promoting maritime security and stability in the region and the start of shipping activity under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor from Gwadar.

Lodhi had in October 2015 presented three dossiers to the then secretary general Ban Ki-moon, which were said to be containing proofs of alleged Indian interference in Balochistan, Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Karachi.

But, the move did not get much traction.

When the attention of the officials was invited to the "credibility deficit" that Pakistan internationally faces, they expressed the hope that the UN would look into the fresh evidence that would be placed before it.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-to-hand-over-dossier-on-india-to-new-un-chief/articleshow/56271134.cms

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Disgruntled elements in army wanted to destroy parliament through Imran Khan: Javed Hashmi

January 1, 2017

Former president of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Javed Hashmi and PTI Chairman Imran Khan on Sunday traded barbs after Hashmi on a TV show accused the 'frustrated' PTI chief of planning to dissolve the government during the 2014 sit-in because he failed to win votes in the election.

Imran accused the veteran politician of lying. "What response can I give to Hashmi's jhoot plus?" he asked.

Hashmi's allegations

Javed Hashmi speaks to journalists in Multan.

Hashmi alleged that "Disgruntled elements in the army wanted to make Raheel Sharif unsuccessful at any cost, and through Imran Khan, they wanted to destroy the parliament. A frustrated Imran Khan, because he didn't get votes."

The former PTI leader alleged that party members asked if there had been rigging in Punjab during the election. "The parliamentary leader was Shah Mahmood Qureshi. Presiding over the parliamentary leaders, he said that there had been no rigging in Punjab. At most, in one or two constituencies," Hashmi claimed.

"When we asked [during the 2014 sit-in] 'Why hasn't the umpire raised his finger?', he [Imran] said we weren't able to deliver on the commitment we promised them, so how will it happen? All of this was being guided step-by-step by a written script," he alleged.

"Our script writers, whoever they were, wrote that Tahir-ul-Qadri would go to parliament and we [the PTI] would sit behind them. That was the main script... It was his [Imran's] second step to get everything done by the Supreme Court," he claimed.

"Imran said [former Chief Justice of Pakistan] Tasadduq Jillani would leave and then Nasir-ul-Mulk would come. He would [listen to us] and either dissolve the assemblies. And after that, there would be elections in 90 days. During that time, he said, the Supreme Court will take over and then we [the PTI] will win," Hashmi alleged.

"I said, Imran Khan, this is not how it happens. This sit-in will not be successful."

"I was asked how many seats we would get in the election. I said 40, and we got about 37," he said. "Now everyone's assessment was that we aren't winning seats. So if you're not winning, don't destroy the entry country because you're frustrated," Hashmi said, referring to the PTI chief.

"I resigned because the Supreme Court's holidays were cancelled... This seemed like a very big conspiracy to me," he said. "This seemed like the last item [on the script]. Because the generals had already told Imran Khan that Nawaz Sharif would not sign his resignation letter," Hashmi claimed.

The veteran politician recalled when General Mahmood in 1999 asked Nawaz Sharif to sign his resignation letter, saying that the premier chose not to sign his resignation letter and told the general to kill him instead.

"This story about Nawaz was told to Imran by a man of Gen Rashid Qureshi's... It was his second step to get everything done by the Supreme Court."

Hashmi also said he has always been against the strategy of the PTI's sit-ins. "It isn't the right strategy as it will only produce more struggle for the young political workers in your party," he said, adding that he had warned Imran his party workers would struggle on the streets for five years without any outcome.

"Young people see things in black and white," he said. "I am more experienced than he is in politics. I know what I am saying."

'What response to Hashmi's jhoot plus?'

Imran responded to Hashmi's allegations by implying the veteran politician had lost his senses and was lying.

"I think Javed Hashmi has reached the age where his mental state is not sound. What response can I give his madness, his jhoot plus?" he asked.

Hashmi, responding to Imran Khan's jibe at his age, said, "Imran Khan is only a year and a half younger than I am... A board should examine his mental state and mine too. Then it will be clear who is sharper."

"If a mental health institution [tested us] and released a report, then the country would be free of Imran Khan... They will be surprised to learn what a liar he is."

"I think there should be a commission. There has been such a big fraud with the people. I guarantee you, he will not dare to sit and say otherwise in front of me."

Hashmi's resignation from the PTI

In 2014, Javed Hashmi announced his resignation from the party presidency and its membership following suspension after allegations against Imran Khan, which party leadership said he had failed to explain.

Hashmi had said that he could no longer continue his membership with a party 'conspiring' to dismantle democracy in Pakistan.

In a memorable speech to a joint session of Parliament in 2014, the seasoned politician had claimed that a system existed in the country "to engineer making and breaking of governments."

He made the claims shortly after disclosing "a scripted plan to overthrow the government, using violent protests as a pretext."

dawn.com/news/1305784/disgruntled-elements-in-army-wanted-to-destroy-parliament-through-imran-khan-javed-hashmi

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Pakistan COAS phones Afghan leaders

January 1st, 2017

ISLAMABAD: A challenging year for ties between Pakistan and Afghanistan ended on Saturday with phone calls from Gen Qamar Bajwa to President Ashraf Ghani and other Afghan leaders in which the army chief conveyed his New Year greetings, a move that could set in a thaw in the relationship.

The Afghan leadership reciprocated by inviting Gen Bajwa to Afghanistan, according to military spokesman Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, who tweeted about the calls.

In his conversations with President Ghani, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and his counterpart Gen Qadam Shah Raheem, Gen Bajwa offered his best wishes for the new year and pledged to work with them for peace.

The year 2015 had ended with similar hopes when Gen Raheel Sharif visited Kabul and an agreement on making the Quadrilateral Coor­dination Group (QCG) for peace in Afghanistan operational was reached.

Later, the Afghan intelligence chief visited Islamabad for talks. But the failure of the QCG process and a major attack by the Haqqani network on a building of the National Directorate of Security in Kabul on April 19, 2016 induced a negative cycle in the relationship.

dawn.com/news/1305700/coas-phones-afghan-leaders

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South Asia

Taliban suffer heavy casualties in Uruzgan air and ground raids

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun Jan 01 2017

The Taliban militants suffered heavy casualties in the ground and airstrikes conducted by the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) in southern Uruzgan province.

According to the local security officials, the militants suffered the casualties in the past 24 hours in the vicinity of the strategic Tarinkot city, the provincial capital of Uruzgan.

The officials further added that their information indicate at least 24 militants were killed during the operations.

The 205th Atal Corps of the Afghan National Army confirmed the report and said several weapons, ammunition, and explosives of the militants were also destroyed during the operations.

The Taliban militants group has not commented regarding the report so far.

Uruzgan is among the relatively volatile provinces in southern Afghanistan where the Taliban insurgents and militants belonging to other insurgent groups are actively operating in a number of its remote district.

The Afghan security forces launched an operation in this province earlier last month amid ongoing efforts by the militants to stage attacks in some key parts of the province.

The security officials said the operations were launched with the support of the Afghan air force and other security institutions and at least 18 militants were killed during the first days of the operations.

khaama.com/taliban-suffer-heavy-casualties-in-uruzgan-air-and-ground-raids-02596

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Senior Afghan army general injured in roadside bomb explosion

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun Jan 01 2017

A senior general of the Afghan National Army (ANA) forces sustained injuries in a roadside bomb explosion in central Logar province of Afghanistan.

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) confirmed the vehicle of the commander of 203rd Thunder Corps of the Afghan National Army struck a roadside bomb during an operation in Charkh district.

MoD further added that the commander was injured in the attack and was shifted to the hospital on time.

According to the ministry, the health condition of the commander is satisfactory as he being treated in the provincial hospital.

The anti-government armed militant groups including the Taliban insurgents have not commented regarding the report so far.

aliban militants and insurgents belonging to other militant groups are frequently using Improvised Explosive Device (IED) as the weapon of their choice to target the security forces and government officials.

However, in majority of such attacks, the ordinary civilians are targeted as the anti-government armed militants are accused of incurring the most casualties to the civilians.

The  United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said late in October that the mission has documented 8,397 conflict-related civilian casualties (2,562 deaths and 5,835 injured) between 1 January and 30 September,  representing a one per cent decrease compared to the same period in 2015.

Ground engagements remained the leading cause of civiliancasualties, followed by suicide and complex attacks, and improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

UNAMA further added that the anti-Government Elements caused 61 per cent of civilian casualties – 1,569 civilian deaths and 3,574 injured (5,143 total civilian casualties).

khaama.com/senior-afghan-army-general-injured-in-roadside-bomb-explosion-02597

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Afghan army and police officers kidnapped by Taliban in Herat

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun Jan 01 2017

The Taliban militants have kidnapped two officers of the Afghan National Army (ANA) forces and Afghan National Police (ANP) forces in western Herat province of Afghanistan.

According to the local government officials, the two officers were kidnapped as they were travelling in a vehicle in Chesht district.

Provincial governor’s spokesman Jilani Farhad confirmed that the two officers were travelling in a private vehicle and were stopped by the Taliban insurgents as they were on their way to Herat city.

The Taliban militants group has not commented regarding the report so far.

Herat is among the relatively peaceful provinces in western Afghanistan but the Taliban insurgents are active in some remote districts of the province.

The group often conducts insurgency activities by carrying out direct attacks, road side bombings, and establishing check posts to kidnap those working for the government.

This comes despite the provincial governor of Herat Mohammad Asif Rahimi’s earlier statement where he said the abduction cases have reduced by almost 40 percent in this province.

In the meantime, the Afghan forces are busy conducting their annual counter-terrorism operations which were launched in response to Taliban’s annual spring offensive.

khaama.com/afghan-army-and-police-officers-kidnapped-by-taliban-in-herat-02595

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Top Taliban commander killed by his relative in Takhar province

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun Jan 01 2017

A top commander of the Taliban group was killed by one his relatives in northeastern Takhar province of Afghanistan.

According to the local government officials, the slain Taliban commander has been identified as Majeed who was operating for the group in Yangi Qala district.

The officials further added that Majeed was killed by his nephew in what appears to be having links with personal enmity.

A local security official speaking on the condition of anonymity said the assailant joined the public uprising forces following the attack.

The Taliban militants group has not commented regarding the report so far.

Takhar is among the relatively volatile provinces in northeastern Afghanistan where the Taliban insurgents are actively operating in a number of its districts.

Infighting among the Taliban leaders is not new but incidents involving insider attacks have rarely been reported.

Numerous deadly incidents involving infighting have been reported in some restive provinces during the recent years, specifically following the death of the group’s founder and supreme leader Mullah Mohammad Omar.

Mullah Omar’s death resulted into a fraction among the Taliban leaders, mainly comprising differences on the appointment of the new supreme leader for the group.

khaama.com/top-taliban-commander-killed-by-his-relative-in-takhar-province-02594

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MoD reacts on Afghan armed forces outposts’ abandonment report

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun Jan 01 2017

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) has reacted on reports suggesting the abandonment of outposts by the Afghan armed forces, insisting that the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) have never and will never abandon any outpost.

According to a statement by MoD, the exchange and replacement of outposts by the ANDSF normally takes place for better coordination and proper use of force to suppress the insurgency activities of the enemies.

The statement further added that the Afghan National Police (ANP) forces were due to replace the Afghan National Army (ANA) forces in two locations in northern Baghlan province of Afghanistan.

The ministry also added that the step has been considered to properly target the militants as part of Shahfaq-2 military operations.

This comes as reports emerged recently suggesting that the abandonment of outposts by the Afghan armed forces could further lead to deterioration of security in this province.

Baghlan is among the relatively volatile provinces in northern Afghanistan where the anti-government armed militant groups have increased concentration as part of their offensive in the North during the recent years.

khaama.com/mod-reacts-on-afghan-armed-forces-outposts-abandonment-report-02593

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Southeast Asia

Muslims Must Understand Palestine Issues Deeply Without Influence Of Militant Ideology - Raja Muda Of Perlis

Jan 1

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 1 (Bernama) -- Muslims must have a deep understanding on Palestine issues without being influenced by militant ideology and subversive elements, said the Raja Muda of Perlis Tuanku Syed Faizuddin Putra Jamalullail.

According to a press statement issued by the Perlis Islamic Religious and Malay Customs Council (MAIPs), he said such a measure was important to ensure any action by Muslims when dealing with the issue do not contravene with what has been outlined in Islam.

Tuanku Syed Faizuddin, who is also MAIPs president suggested a continuous intellectual discourse with open minds and without being emotional so that the issue discussed would have a clear direction.....

bernama.com/bernama/v8/ge/newsgeneral.php?id=1316075

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Europe

UK minister sees threat of Islamic State chemical attack in Britain

Jan 1

Islamic State militants have aspirations to launch mass-casualty chemical attacks on targets in Britain and elsewhere in Europe, the British security minister said in a newspaper interview published on Sunday.

Ben Wallace also said British authorities feared that as the militant group was driven out of strongholds in the Middle East such as the Iraqi city of Mosul, Britons fighting for the group would return home and pose a growing domestic threat.

"The ambition of IS or Daesh is definitely mass-casualty attacks," Wallace told the Sunday Times newspaper.

"They have no moral objection to using chemical weapons against populations and if they could, they would in this country. The casualty figures that could be involved would be everybody's worst fear."

The report said no specific chemical plot had been identified but security services had been carrying out exercises to prepare for the possibility.

Islamic State used sulfur mustard gas in an attack on the Syrian town of Marea in August 2015, according to global watchdog the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

Wallace pointed to the dismantlement of an Islamic State cell in Morocco in February as evidence of the group's ambition to carry out chemical attacks elsewhere.

"Moroccan authorities dismantled a cell involving chemical weapons. They recovered toxic chemical and biological substances and a large stock of fertilizer. The substances found could have been used to produce home-made explosives and could have been transformed into a deadly toxin," he said.

About 800 Britons are thought to have traveled to Syria, many to join Islamic State, since the outbreak of the civil war in that country. Around 100 have been killed.

"The big concern is if Mosul collapses and all the other bases of Isis (Islamic State) collapse. We know there are a significant number of [Britons] fighting for IS in Syria. They will probably want to come home," said Wallace.

In a separate report, the Sunday Telegraph newspaper quoted the head of Britain's regulator of charities as saying that reports of links between charities and extremism had trebled over the past three years to reach a record high.

The Charity Commission made 630 referrals to police in 2015/16 over "allegations made ... about abuse of charities for terrorist or extremist purposes, including concerns about charities operating in Syria and other higher risk areas", the report said.

(Reporting by Estelle Shirbon; Editing by Stephen Powell)

reuters.com/article/us-britain-security-islamic-state-idUSKBN14L0ZC?rpc=401&

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The Sunday Times Prints Correction For ‘Enclaves Of Islam’ Story

 01/01/2017

The Sunday Times has issued an apology after it was revealed a story it ran claiming “enclaves of Islam see UK as 75% Muslim” was based on a survey on one school and its perception of the country’s Asian population.

The original story, published on 4 December and also covered by The Sun, Daily Express and the Mail on Sunday, cited a report by government integration tsar Dame Louise Casey that had not yet been published.

It claimed thousands of Muslims in the UK were so cut off from mainstream society that they over-estimated the country’s Islamic population by a factor of 10.

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 Miqdaad Versi @miqdaad

Apology by @thetimes for Gilligan et al's bogus falsely claim that "Enclaves of Islam see UK as 75% Muslim" after my complaint #CaseyReview

5:06 PM - 1 Jan 2017

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The article was pounced upon by far-right groups including the English Defence League and Britain First.

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 Tommy Robinson @TRobinsonNewEra

Isolated British Muslims are so cut off that they see the UK as 75 per cent Islamic | dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3998166/Isolated-British-Muslims-cut-rest-society-UK-75-cent-Islamic-shock-report-reveals.html …

3:22 PM - 4 Dec 2016

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 Britain First @BritainFirst

Islamisation: Some Muslims so isolated in UK they believe country is 75% Islamic, ... - christianfightback.com/islamisation-some-muslims-so-isolated-in-uk-they-believe-country-is-75-islamic-says-shock-report/ …

9:31 PM - 5 Dec 2016

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 englishdefenceleague @EDLofficialpage

Enclaves of Islam in Britain see UK as 75% Muslim thetimes.co.uk/article/enclaves-of-islam-see-uk-as-75-muslim-77qdr67tl …

In the Louise Casey report they tried to delay, censor and bury

2:15 PM - 4 Dec 2016

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The correction in the Sunday Times points out the results were based on one school who were asked about Asians, not Muslims.

The full correction reads:

We reported in ‘Enclaves of Islam see UK as 75% Muslim’ that the Casey review of integration would say that some segregated Muslims believe Britain is 75% Islamic.

This was incorrect.

In fact the review, published after our report, cited a survey of pupils in a largely Asian school who thought 50-90% of the population of Britain were Asian.

We apologise for the error.

The Mail Online and Express retracted their articles and published similar corrections earlier in the month.

The Sun added a clarification to their coverage.

They come after a complaint made to IPSO by the Secretary General of The Muslim Council of Britain, Miqdaad Versi.

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 Miqdaad Versi @miqdaad

Express fully retracts its bogus article spreading hate about British Muslims after my latest complaintexpress.co.uk/news/uk/739614/muslims-isolated-uk-britain-islamic-dame-louise-casey-review …

10:33 PM - 22 Dec 2016

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 Miqdaad Versi @miqdaad

Mail on Sunday retract bogus headline after my complaint, admitting reference to Muslims was completely unjustifieddailymail.co.uk/news/article-3998166/Isolated-British-Muslims-cut-rest-society-UK-75-cent-Islamic-shock-report-reveals.html …

2:22 PM - 11 Dec 2016

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dailymail.co.uk/money/smallbusiness/article-4078632/Modesty-brings-Muslim-fashion-website-success.html?ITO=1490&ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490

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Russia, Iran agree to work closely

January 1st, 2017

MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani agreed in a telephone conversation on Saturday to continue their close coordination in trying to end the Syria crisis, the Kremlin said in a statement.

The two leaders agreed on the importance of a new ceasefire agreement in Syria brokered by Russia and Turkey and plans for peace talks in the Kazakh capital Astana, the Kremlin said.

Russia and Iran are strong supporters of President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian conflict.

dawn.com/news/1305725/putin-rouhani-agree-to-work-closely

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North America

Donald Trump needles enemies in New Year's message

January 1, 2017

He sends love to those who 'fought me and lost so badly'.

"Happy New Year to all, including to my many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly they just don't know what to do," the president-elect tweeted early Saturday.

"Love!" The Hill notes that Trump has long made a habit of using dates like New Year, Thanksgiving, and even 9/11 to send messages to those he calls "haters and losers."

Politico reports that Trump will welcome 2017 at a $525-a-head party at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. A Trump spokesman says guests at the sold-out event will include Sylvester Stallone and Quincy Jones.

en.abna24.com/service/america//archive/2017/01/01/801996/story.html

 

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