New Age Islam
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Islamic World News ( 29 Feb 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

World Sufi Forum to Spread Islamic Message of Peace, PM Modi to Attend Event in Delhi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: An Acehnese woman is whipped in front of the public at Rukoh Village, Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Photo: EPA

 

ISIS 'Executes 8 Dutch Members for Trying To Desert'

Young Couple Caught Spending Time Alone, Caned in Indonesia’s Staunchly Islamic Aceh

India

World Sufi Forum to Spread Islamic Message of Peace, PM Modi to Attend Event in Delhi

SC Seeks Govt's Views on Petition Challenging Triple Talaq & Polygamy Practices

Pak registers case to probe Pathankot attack, Kiren Rijiju tells Lok Sabha

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Europe

ISIS 'Executes 8 Dutch Members for Trying To Desert'

Russia Says Turkish Incursion in Syria Will Deal ‘Irreparable Blow’ To Ceasefire

Britain may send troops to Tunisia to help stop ISIS crossing Libyan border

Russian warplanes sit idle on Syria base during ceasefire

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Southeast Asia

Young Couple Caught Spending Time Alone, Caned in Indonesia’s Staunchly Islamic Aceh

Indonesia Does Well To Prevent Citizens from Fighting For IS: UK Ambassador

The sudden intensity of Indonesia's anti-gay onslaught

Indonesia plays down terror warning

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Arab World

Suicide Bombing At Iraqi Funeral Kills At Least 14

250 Militants Surrender to Syrian Authorities in Dara'a

Syria: Kurdish Fighters Retake Over 2,000 Square Meters of Hasaka Lands from ISIL

Kurdish Fighters to Give Firm Response to Turkish Possible Aggressions

Suicide bombing in Yemen port of Aden kills 4 – reports

Syrian Warplanes Destroy ISIL Military Convoy in Raqqa Province

Syrian Army, Allies Capture Main Supply Route Connecting Hama to Aleppo

Deir Ezzur: Syrian Army, Air Force Destroy ISIL Military Positions, Gathering Centers

Syria: Gov't Forces Preparing for Large-Scale Anti-Terrorism Operation in Idlib

Life in Raqqa: Insider reveals how ISIS installed its reign of terror

UN to aid deliveries in Syria as truce enters day three

Militants Face More Defeats in Clashes with Syrian Army in Homs

UAE jails Omani over WhatsApp insults the Gulf state

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Pakistan

12 Killed In Shawal Offensive against Militants

Qadri Punished For Taking Law into His Own Hands, Says CII Head

ANF official killed, tehsildar injured in Mohmand IED blast

Pak to get tough with banned outfit members

Sartaz Aziz: Pak-US strategic dialogue strengthened ties

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Africa

Muslim Leaders in CAR Unite to Support Social Cohesion

Muslim Enclave Forged in Apartheid Now Faces Gentrification

S. African Muslim lawyers seek to arrest Peres

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North America

Pentagon Ramps up Cyber War Against ISIL

US: Utah Police Shoot 17-Year-Old Muslim Boy For Holding A Broomstcik

Indiana Authorities Probe ‘Mysterious’ Slayings of Muslim-African Trio in Home

US, Allies Stage 24 Strikes against ISIS in Iraq, Syria

US issues warning for citizens travelling to Turkey’s Southeast

US asks Pakistan to reduce its nuclear arsenal

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South Asia

Taliban Not A Capable Force Despite Show Of Power: Russian Envoy

UK Supports Afghan-Led, Afghan-Owned Peace Talks

Three children killed, three wounded in Farah explosion

Nangarhar governor prevents suicide

Pakistan should not be blamed for the problems of Afghanistan: Sartaj Aziz

Karzai off to New Delhi for Raisina Dialogue 2016

Russia pledges continued support in equipping the Afghan forces

China pledges over $70 million to support the Afghan military

Rocket hits house in Baghlan leaving one killed, two wounded

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Mideast

Turkey Joins Military Drills in Saudi Arabia

Top Cleric Mehmet Görmez Attends Cabinet Meeting

US-Led Coalition Discussed Possible Syria Ground Incursion, Saudi Official Says

CHP report: People in Southeast alienated from state due to violence

Erdogan defends his remarks on Constitutional Court ruling

Turkish military welcomes acquittals in military espionage case

Iran Unveils Five New Defense Industry Products

Official: Slain Terrorists Planned Attack in Tehran

Erdogan says ceasefire does not cover whole of Syria

Turkish artillery hit ISIL positions in Syria on Sunday, official says

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/world-sufi-forum-to-spread-islamic-message-of-peace,-pm-modi-to-attend-event-in-delhi/d/106514

 

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World Sufi Forum to Spread Islamic Message of Peace, PM Modi to Attend Event in Delhi

By: Express Web Desk        

New Delhi Mar 1, 2016

In the backdrop of continued human rights violations by jihadist forces across the world, the All India Ulama and Mashaikh Board (AIUMB) will be organising the first World Sufi Forum in the capital from March 17th till 20th, 2016. The four-day event will involve discussions by leading global Sufi scholars, academicians, social workers on various important issues pertaining to Islam.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be speaking at the event, which will witness more than 200 international dignitaries from 20 countries.

The event is focused on finding constructive ways to spread the Islamic message of peace and tolerance as counterpoint to the ever rising global violent extremism. AIUMB, the event organiser, is India’s apex body for sufi shrines and for Muslim religious leaders such as Ulama, Imams and Muftis.

Hazrat Syed Muhammad Ashraf, founder-president, AIUMB said, “We believe it is high time for us to create a platform to seriously ponder over the radical interpretations of Islam by terror groups for political gains. The spread of terror and tyranny by jihadist forces in Syria and other parts of the world has damaged the image of Islam more than ever before. However we are of the belief that Indian Muslims can provide a real alternative to all the bloodshed being spilled across the world in the name of Islam by promoting their rich history of Sufism.”

“Sufism stands for Peace, Tolerance and Unconditional Love and we aim to promote these virtues of Islam through our World Sufi Forum event. Through World Sufi Forum we intend to make India the global centre for moderate ideology in Islam,” added Ashraf.

indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/world-sufi-forum-islam-peace-new-delhi/#sthash.IGGHcH2B.dpuf

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Isis 'executes 8 Dutch members for trying to desert'

The Isis leadership in Iraq ordered the arrest of all of the Dutch group's 75 members

When Isis leaders sent a delegate to solve the dispute, the Dutch cell's enraged members reportedly murdered the intermediary in vengeance

Isis has killed eight Dutch members after they allegedly tried to desert the jihadist group, Syrian activists said on Monday.

"Isis executed 8 Dutch fighters on Friday, 26 of Feb, after fights with Iraqi leaders in Raqqa and they arrested more Dutch fighters," Abu Mohammed, a member of the citizen journalist group Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently (RBSS), said on Twitter.

The group said tension between 75 Dutch jihadis, some of Moroccan origin, and Isis intelligence operatives from Iraq had reached a new high over the last month.

Three other Dutch jihadis were arrested by Iraqi Isis members, who accused them of wanting to flee.

One of the detainees was beaten to death during the interrogation, RBSS reports.

When Isis leaders sent a delegate to solve the dispute, the Dutch cell's enraged members reportedly murdered the intermediary in vengeance.

The Isis leadership in Iraq then ordered the arrest of all of the Dutch group's members, imprisoning them in Tabaqa and Maadan in Syria.

Eight have since been executed, RBSS reported.

At least 24 people, including a top Isis official in Mosul, were executed on various changes on Monday, the Kurdish media group Rudaw reported.

"On Monday ISIS executed 24 persons charged with refusing to fight for the group on the battlefields," Saeed Mamuzni, a Kurdistan Democratic Party (PDK) official in Mosul, told Rudaw.

He said Ahmed Abdulsalam al-Obeidi, the Isis finance minister in Mosul, was among the executed who were charged with treachery.

"Two hundred and thirteen other civilians were also detained by ISIS in Mosul," he added.

independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/isis-executes-8-dutch-members-who-tried-to-desert-a6904586.html

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Young Couple Caught Spending Time Alone, Caned in Indonesia’s Staunchly Islamic Aceh

01 March, 2016

Eighteen people were publicly caned on Tuesday for breaking Islamic law in Indonesia’s Aceh province, including a young unmarried couple who were caught spending time alone together.

A hooded man meted out lashings with a rattan cane on a stage next to the mosque in Banda Aceh, the capital of the western province, in front of a large, cheering crowd.

A 19-year-old woman and a 21-year-old man were caned eight times each after they were found spending time alone together, which is against the law for unmarried Muslim couples in the province.

Public caning happens on a regular basis in Aceh, the only province in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country to implement Islamic Sharia law, but is less common for women.

Six young men were also caned 40 times each after they were caught drinking alcohol, which violates Islamic law, at a birthday party in a hotel room in December.

Authorities did not disclose the offences committed by the rest of the group, who were all men.

Aceh began implementing sharia law after being granted special autonomy in 2001, an effort by the central government in Jakarta to quell a long-running separatist insurgency.

Islamic laws have been strengthened since the province struck a peace deal with the central government in 2005.

More than 90 per cent of Indonesians describe themselves as Muslim, but the vast majority practise a moderate form of the faith.

scmp.com/news/asia/southeast-asia/article/1919100/young-couple-caught-spending-time-alone-among-18-caned

 

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India

World Sufi Forum to Spread Islamic Message of Peace, PM Modi to Attend Event in Delhi

By: Express Web Desk        

New Delhi Mar 1, 2016

In the backdrop of continued human rights violations by jihadist forces across the world, the All India Ulama and Mashaikh Board (AIUMB) will be organising the first World Sufi Forum in the capital from March 17th till 20th, 2016. The four-day event will involve discussions by leading global Sufi scholars, academicians, social workers on various important issues pertaining to Islam.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be speaking at the event, which will witness more than 200 international dignitaries from 20 countries.

The event is focused on finding constructive ways to spread the Islamic message of peace and tolerance as counterpoint to the ever rising global violent extremism. AIUMB, the event organiser, is India’s apex body for sufi shrines and for Muslim religious leaders such as Ulama, Imams and Muftis.

Hazrat Syed Muhammad Ashraf, founder-president, AIUMB said, “We believe it is high time for us to create a platform to seriously ponder over the radical interpretations of Islam by terror groups for political gains. The spread of terror and tyranny by jihadist forces in Syria and other parts of the world has damaged the image of Islam more than ever before. However we are of the belief that Indian Muslims can provide a real alternative to all the bloodshed being spilled across the world in the name of Islam by promoting their rich history of Sufism.”

“Sufism stands for Peace, Tolerance and Unconditional Love and we aim to promote these virtues of Islam through our World Sufi Forum event. Through World Sufi Forum we intend to make India the global centre for moderate ideology in Islam,” added Ashraf.

indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/world-sufi-forum-islam-peace-new-delhi/#sthash.IGGHcH2B.dpuf

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SC seeks govt's views on petition challenging Triple Talaq & Polygamy practices

Mar 1, 2016

The Supreme Court has sought the central government's views on a petition challenging the Triple Talaq and Polygamy practices in Muslim religion. Admitting a plea filed by a Muslim woman Shayara Bano from Uttarakhand, a two- judge bench of apex court yesterday issued notices to Union ministries of Law, Minority Affairs, and Women and Child development, seeking their views on the matter by 28th March.

The petitioner was divorced by her husband by uttering the word 'talaq' three times. Besides challenging her divorce, the petitioner also challenged the Constitutionality of part of Muslim Personal Law Application Act, 1937 that seeks to validate practices of marrying multiple women, triple talaq and nikah halala.

Claiming these practices had no basis in Islam or Holy Quran, Shayara contended that their enactment continued to vex women despite clamour for reforms by several organisations, including the All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board and the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan.

newsonair.com/news.asp?cat=national&id=NN17725

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Pak registers case to probe Pathankot attack, Kiren Rijiju tells Lok Sabha

PTI | Mar 1, 2016

NEW DELHI: For the "first time", Pakistan has taken action on terror strikes in India by registering a case to investigate the role of its citizens involved in the Pathankot attack, based on evidence provided by India, Lok Sabha was informed today.

"Case has been registered (by Pakistan). This is for the first time Pakistan has taken action," Minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju said in reply to questions, adding that India had given evidence to Pakistan on the Pathankot terror strike.

He gave the reply amidst din created by AIADMK members seeking action against former home minister's son Karti Chidambaram in the alleged Aircel-Maxis scam.

   India has handed over all evidence collected in relation to Pathankot attack, to Pak: Kiren Rijiju (MoS,Home) in LS t.co/SSa9cxJKJP

   — ANI (@ANI_news) 1456812255000

In response to another question, the other minister of state in home ministry, Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary, said "based on intelligence inputs received prior to the attack, and the subsequent investigation into the Pathankot terrorist attack by the NIA, it has been disclosed that the terrorists belonged to the Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorist outfit based in Pakistan."

"There is also evidence on record that this terrorist attack was planned by JeM chief Maulana Masood Azhar and others," Chaudhary said in a written reply.

He said the Pakistan government had registered a case to investigate the "role of Pakistani elements involved in this terrorist attack."

Rijiju, while responding to a question, said border fencing at certain places is difficult due to terrain but BSF is keeping a strict watch to thrawt infiltration attempts.

The government said a multi-agency centre has been strengthened and re-organised to enable it to function on 24x7 basis for real time collation and sharing of intelligence with other security agencies and states which ensures seamless flow of information between the state and central agencies.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Pak-registers-case-to-probe-Pathankot-attack-Kiren-Rijiju-tells-Lok-Sabha/articleshow/51206876.cms

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Europe

Isis 'executes 8 Dutch members for trying to desert'

The Isis leadership in Iraq ordered the arrest of all of the Dutch group's 75 members

When Isis leaders sent a delegate to solve the dispute, the Dutch cell's enraged members reportedly murdered the intermediary in vengeance

Isis has killed eight Dutch members after they allegedly tried to desert the jihadist group, Syrian activists said on Monday.

"Isis executed 8 Dutch fighters on Friday, 26 of Feb, after fights with Iraqi leaders in Raqqa and they arrested more Dutch fighters," Abu Mohammed, a member of the citizen journalist group Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently (RBSS), said on Twitter.

The group said tension between 75 Dutch jihadis, some of Moroccan origin, and Isis intelligence operatives from Iraq had reached a new high over the last month.

Three other Dutch jihadis were arrested by Iraqi Isis members, who accused them of wanting to flee.

One of the detainees was beaten to death during the interrogation, RBSS reports.

When Isis leaders sent a delegate to solve the dispute, the Dutch cell's enraged members reportedly murdered the intermediary in vengeance.

The Isis leadership in Iraq then ordered the arrest of all of the Dutch group's members, imprisoning them in Tabaqa and Maadan in Syria.

Eight have since been executed, RBSS reported.

At least 24 people, including a top Isis official in Mosul, were executed on various changes on Monday, the Kurdish media group Rudaw reported.

"On Monday ISIS executed 24 persons charged with refusing to fight for the group on the battlefields," Saeed Mamuzni, a Kurdistan Democratic Party (PDK) official in Mosul, told Rudaw.

He said Ahmed Abdulsalam al-Obeidi, the Isis finance minister in Mosul, was among the executed who were charged with treachery.

"Two hundred and thirteen other civilians were also detained by ISIS in Mosul," he added.

independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/isis-executes-8-dutch-members-who-tried-to-desert-a6904586.html

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Russia says Turkish incursion in Syria will deal ‘irreparable blow’ to ceasefire

February 29, 2016

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Monday that a fragile truce in Syria was largely holding, with some incidents that he hoped would be contained, while Russia voiced concern about Turkey's military preparations along the Syrian border, stating that an armed intervention by Ankara would be an “irreparable blow” to the Syrian ceasefire plan.

"By and large the cessation of hostilities is holding, even though we have experienced some incidents," Ban told reporters in Geneva after talks with his envoy Staffan de Mistura and before a meeting of the International Syria Support Group.

"But the task force and all other members of this ISSG [International Syria Support Group] are now trying to make sure that this does not spread any further and this cessation of hostilities can continue," he said.

In the meantime, speaking at a press conference on Monday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said his country is concerned about a possible military intervention by Ankara into Syria.

"Unfortunately, our Turkish colleagues still have not abandoned the idea of cross-border strikes," Ryabkov said.

Russia and Turkey have been at odds since the Turkish military downed a Russian Su-24 bomber on Nov. 24, 2015 at the Syrian border over airspace violations. Turkey has been shelling Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) forces near Azaz in northern Syria for the last few weeks in order to prevent them establishing a Kurdish corridor in the region. Turkey says the PYD is an affiliate of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), while the US says it doesn't consider the PYD a terrorist organization. The PYD has emerged as one of the effective forces in the fight against the terrorist Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Ryabkov also said in the news conference that Syria could become a federal state if the model works there. Turkey is concerned by debates that propose the division of Syria due to the possibility of a Kurdish entity being established in the north of the country. Turkey fears that such a development might inspire separatist ambitions in its own Kurdish population in the Southeast.

Meanwhile, a Syrian opposition official said the cessation of hostilities deal that came into effect early on Saturday faced "complete nullification" because of attacks by the Syrian government that he said violated the agreement.

After France demanded information about attacks in breach of the cessation of hostilities, countries backing the Syria peace process met in Geneva on Monday.

Asaad al-Zoubi, head of the Saudi-backed opposition High Negotiations Committee's delegation to peace talks, said the truce had collapsed before it started, Al Arabiya al Hadath TV reported.

"We are not facing a violation of the truce ... we are facing a complete nullification," he said, and "we have alternatives to protect our people" if the international community cannot.

"I believe the international community has totally failed in all its experiments and must take real practical measures towards the regime," Zoubi said, without elaborating.

He added there were "no indicators" that the ground was being prepared for peace talks, which the United Nations has said it plans to reconvene on March 7.

Talks in Geneva in early February collapsed before they got off the ground, with rebels saying they could not negotiate while they were being bombed.

Since the cessation of hostilities came into effect, Syrian government and Russian warplanes have struck areas in several western provinces of Syria, according to monitors. A Syrian military source said on Saturday the army had not committed any violations.

Syrian state media said armed groups had fired dozens of mortar rounds in Latakia province on Sunday. Rebels in the area denied the reports.

The plan does not apply to ISIL and the al Qaeda affiliated group al-Nusra Front, which Moscow and Damascus have said they will continue to target. The opposition fears they will use this as a pretext to target other rebel groups.

The United Nations hopes the cessation of hostilities agreement, which is less binding than a formal ceasefire and was not directly signed by the Syrian warring sides, can precede a more formal ceasefire.

todayszaman.com/diplomacy_russia-says-turkish-incursion-in-syria-will-deal-irreparable-blow-to-ceasefire_413598.html

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Britain may send troops to Tunisia to help stop ISIS crossing Libyan border

Mar 1, 2016

Britain is to send troops to Tunisia to help prevent Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) militants from moving into the country from Libya, Reuters quoted the British defense minister as saying. “A training team of some 20 troops from the 4th Infantry Brigade is now moving to Tunisia to help to counter illegal cross-border movement from Libya,” Michael Fallon told Parliament Monday. Western states’ concern is growing that Islamic State is seeking to use Libya as a base to carry out attacks. Last June, 30 British holidaymakers were killed when an Islamist gunman attacked a beach at a hotel on Tunisia’s Mediterranean coast.

rt.com/news/line/

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Russian warplanes sit idle on Syria base during ceasefire

AP | Mar 1, 2016

HEMEIMEEM AIR BASE, Syria: Dozens of Russian warplanes sat idle Tuesday on the tarmac at this Russian air base in Syria on the fourth day of a cease-fire brokered by Moscow and Washington.

The apparent lull in action witnessed by the AP on a trip to the base, which was organized by the Russian defense and foreign ministries, contrasts with the hectic operation AP reporters saw here on a previous visit in January.

The ceasefire that began at midnight Friday has brought a notable reduction in hostilities for the first time in the five-year war that has killed more than 250,000 people, displaced half of Syria's population and flooded Europe with refugees.

But the truce has remained highly fragile with violations reported in many areas with the opposition and the Syrian government blaming each other.

The Islamic State group and al-Qaida's branch in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra, are excluded from the truce.

The Russian military said Monday that its warplanes struck al-Nusra targets north of Aleppo. It said that groups that have declared their adherence to the cease-fire are not being targeted.

During the five-month Russian air blitz that began on Sept.30, each jet flew several combat sorties on an average day, amounting to an impressive total of more than 6,000 missions

The Russian defense ministry said late Monday that the cease-fire was largely holding despite sporadic violations. Lt. Gen. Sergei Kuralenko, who heads the cease-fire coordination center at the Russian base in Syria, voiced satisfaction with what he described as a good level of coordination with his US counterparts in Amman, Jordan.

Russia and the US have agreed to exchange information about opposition groups abiding by the truce and jointly tackle any possible violations.

For President Vladimir Putin, the cease-fire deal offers a chance to capitalize on a successful air campaign that has helped Syrian President Bashar Assad's military reverse the tide of war and make significant gains near Aleppo and in several other areas.

The US-Russian-brokered truce agreement achieves Putin's key strategic goal of having Moscow appear as an equal partner of Washington in tackling the Syrian crisis.

The deal raises Russia's global clout, allows Putin to appear as a peacemaker and marks the first time Russia has engaged the US in a military-to-military dialogue since the start of the Ukrainian crisis two years ago.

By exchanging target information with the US, Moscow also hopes to deflect Washington's criticism that it was striking moderate opposition groups instead of its declared target, the Islamic State.

The truce comes at a time when Assad's military has cut most supply routes to Aleppo, Syria's largest city and its commercial capital before the war. that has been split into government- and opposition-controlled parts since 2012.

The Syrian army's successes around Aleppo and in other areas have strengthened Assad's hand ahead of planned peace talks in Geneva tentatively set for next week.

The negotiations broke down a few weeks ago before starting in earnest with the opposition demanding an end to the Russian airstrikes as a key condition to proceed.

The ceasefire's success is seen as essential for resuming peace efforts.

The Hemeimeem air base is located in the coastal province of Latakia, the heartland Assad's Alawite minority, at a safe distance from the front lines. Still, the base's personnel maintain the usual strict security routine, with soldiers armed with assault rifles deployed around its facilities and helicopter gunships buzzing the perimeter to spot any possible threats.

Massive S-400 air defense missiles towering over the middle of the field, a forceful message to Turkey whicht downed a Russian jet at the Syrian border in November.

Putin ordered the long-range S-400s, capable of striking aerial targets 250 miles (400 kilometers) away, deployed to the base in response. The Russian military has warned it will destroy any target that threatens its warplanes.

The ceasefire deal has reduced the threat of a possible showdown between Russia and Turkey. Ankara was upset by an offensive by Syrian Kurdish forces north of Aleppo and was mulling possible military action in Syria.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/Russian-warplanes-sit-idle-on-Syria-base-during-ceasefire/articleshow/51204731.cms

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Southeast Asia

Young Couple Caught Spending Time Alone, Caned in Indonesia’s Staunchly Islamic Aceh

01 March, 2016

Eighteen people were publicly caned on Tuesday for breaking Islamic law in Indonesia’s Aceh province, including a young unmarried couple who were caught spending time alone together.

A hooded man meted out lashings with a rattan cane on a stage next to the mosque in Banda Aceh, the capital of the western province, in front of a large, cheering crowd.

A 19-year-old woman and a 21-year-old man were caned eight times each after they were found spending time alone together, which is against the law for unmarried Muslim couples in the province.

Public caning happens on a regular basis in Aceh, the only province in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country to implement Islamic Sharia law, but is less common for women.

Six young men were also caned 40 times each after they were caught drinking alcohol, which violates Islamic law, at a birthday party in a hotel room in December.

Authorities did not disclose the offences committed by the rest of the group, who were all men.

Aceh began implementing sharia law after being granted special autonomy in 2001, an effort by the central government in Jakarta to quell a long-running separatist insurgency.

Islamic laws have been strengthened since the province struck a peace deal with the central government in 2005.

More than 90 per cent of Indonesians describe themselves as Muslim, but the vast majority practise a moderate form of the faith.

scmp.com/news/asia/southeast-asia/article/1919100/young-couple-caught-spending-time-alone-among-18-caned

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Indonesia does well to prevent citizens from fighting for IS: UK Ambassador

March 01 2016

UK Ambassador to Indonesia Moazzam Malik (center) poses alongside Edi Mancoro Islamic Boarding School students in Semarang, Central Java on Feb. 24. During the visit, he said that the British government had opened its door for students hoping to study in the UK. (Antara/Aditya Pradana Putra)

The British Ambassador to Indonesia has praised Indonesia for its effort to prevent citizens from being recruited as foreign fighters, recruited to fight for Islamic State (IS) groups in Syria and Iraq.

UK Ambassador to Indonesia Moazzam Malik said on Monday that there were currently about 500 British people who had left the UK in order to join the IS group, the same number as Indonesians who had departed for Syria.

While the Muslim population of the UK is less than three million people, 5 percent of the UK population, in Indonesia, the majority of the population is Muslim, Malik said.

"Compared to other countries in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and even in Europe, some things are going right in Indonesia and we all need to learn from that," Malik told journalists.

The reason behind the relatively small numbers leaving to Syria is thought to be driven by several factors, such as the strong role of Indonesian civil society organizations, the role of Indonesia's national ideology as well as the national motto, Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (unity in diversity),  he added.

The government's effort to create inclusiveness for a political community that stretches across 17,000 islands with 500 languages was also an example of good practice, Malik said.

However, he added, the Indonesian government had to remain vigilant in terms of the growing radical ideology and strengthen the role of Muslim organizations such as Muhammadiyah, Nahdaltul Ulama (NU), and other communities in order to push extremists to the fringe and out of the country.

"Indonesia has not won the fight, it needs to continue to win the fight," Malik said. (bbn)(+)

thejakartapost.com/news/2016/03/01/indonesia-does-well-prevent-citizens-fighting-is-uk-ambassador.html

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The sudden intensity of Indonesia's anti-gay onslaught

29 February 2016

Media captionIndonesia LGBT stories: "I am a target. I am beaten"

A few short weeks in Indonesia has seen a former communications minister make a call for the public to kill any gay people they find and the leading psychiatric body describe transgenderism as a mental disorder. BBC Indonesian's Rebecca Henschke and Ging Ginanjar went to find out about the insecurity of life on the receiving end of such threats and hostility.

The swiftness and intensity of the attacks against Indonesia's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community has taken its members by surprise.

A hair salon run by transgenders in Jakarta is one place to get a sense of what it has been like. For Anggun, 23, who works there, it was enough of a struggle to accept who she really was. She is trying to stay safe by not attracting attention to herself.

"We don't know why smart people are suddenly saying things like 'homosexuality is a virus that can spread'. Even uneducated people know that's not true," she says.

Not every transgender in Indonesia has the chance to lead a legitimate life and career. As it is many are forced into sex work and already face violence.

Homosexuality and gay sex are not illegal in Indonesia, and the world's largest Muslim country has a vibrant transgender culture and tradition, which broadly meets with tolerance from the Indonesian public.

But something has happened in recent weeks and it is difficult to identify why it has snowballed.

On the main street of Indonesian university town Yogyakarta last week 100 men could be found standing carrying signs that read "LGBT is a disease". Just a few hundred metres away a group of rights activists battled it out with the police: "Stop attacks on democracy and threats against minorities!"

It came after the minister of research, technology and higher education, Muhammad Nasir, heard some LGBT support groups were offering counselling services at one of Indonesia's leading universities and declared they were corrupting the country's youth. The conservative media and the country's active social media users joined in the attacks.

There followed a wave of critical statements from senior members of Indonesia's government.

One of the most extreme views came from Defence Minister, Ryamizard Ryacudu who described the movement for gay rights in Indonesia as a form of a modern warfare - an attempt by Western nations to undermine the country's sovereignty. Then former communications minister Tifatul Sembiring made a call on Twitter, where he has more than one million followers, for the public to kill any gay people that they find.

Even Indonesia's Vice-President Jusuf Kalla, called for funding to be cut to a United Nations programme that focuses on ending stigma, discrimination and violence towards LGBT people.

"What is most worrying is that they want to fight for equal marriage rights," he said.

Rights activists insist their requests are modest and they are not demanding matrimonial rights.

But then Indonesia's top psychiatric association issued their statement: "We need to promote, prevent, cure and rehabilitate LGBT people". It did little to assuage fears.

Gay rights activist, Hartoyo, who runs the support group Our Voice, says the community is on high alert.

"I am scared that there will be violence against us. There is a history of violence against minorities in Indonesia that were fuelled by similar kinds of statements. We need the government to protect us and the president needs to say you can't talk to us like this."

The anti-LGBT campaign also succeeded in shutting down the world's first and only Islamic school for transgender women, opened in 2008 as a safe place for transgender people to learn about their Islamic faith and pray together.

Many gay people are able to live comfortably and without prejudice particularly in the capital Jakarta, as long as they don't draw attention to their sexuality.

And across Indonesia the picture is complex. The Bugis tribe in Sulawesi, for example, recognises five genders, including bissu- someone who is neither a man nor a woman.

Leading human rights lawyer, Todung Mulya Lubis, argues that the community is protected under the country's secular constitution but is concerned that elements of conservative Islam are becoming increasingly vocal in Indonesia's pluralistic society.

"What upsets me," adds Lubis, "is that the president hasn't stepped into the debate".

The LGBT community in Indonesia openly campaigned for Joko Widodo hoping that his presidency would bring in a new era of greater tolerance.

While the president hasn't made any direct statements, his close aide, Luhut Panjitan, coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs, has.

Speaking in parliament recently, he said: "[LGBT] might not be 'normal' in terms of the general rules and religion but you can't just dismiss them like that," he said.

"We have to remember that all of us also could have a relative or an offspring that is LGBT. They are part of our communities and citizens of our country and they too have to be protected."

Many observers remain sceptical that such statements will be able to stem the rising tide of officially-endorsed intolerance.

bbc.com/news/world-asia-35657114

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Indonesia plays down terror warning

1 March 2016

The Indonesian government has hosed down warnings that the country is at risk of attack.

The Indonesian government has hosed down Australian warnings that terrorists may be in the 'advanced' stages of preparing further attacks, with the chief security minister saying they don't see that potential right now.

The Department of Foreign Affairs last week updated its advice to Australians, saying that while the overall level of advice has not changed, Australians should exercise a high degree of caution in Indonesia, including Bali.

Indonesian National Police told AAP that nothing had changed, and while they were alert they were not alarmed.

That message was reiterated again on Monday during a visit to Banten - the province west of Jakarta and the home of the Australian embassy bomber Rois, also known as Iwan Darmawan.

Minister Luhut Panjaitan said co-ordination between intelligence bodies in Indonesia had been working well and there was no strong indication at this stage that an attack was imminent.

'We can assure you that we are monitoring activities. We don't see at least today, that there is evidence that they're going to launch a fresh attack on a target in Indonesia.' 'We don't see the potential for the attack very soon ... we are still very alert,' he told reporters.

This is in contrast to December of last year when Luhut warned that intelligence was pointing to the possibility of an attack.

A month later on January 14 Jakarta did become the centre of an assault, with a series of bombings and shootings that killed eight people, including the four attackers.

Luhut said on Monday that Rois, whose September 2004 attack on the Australian embassy in Jakarta killed nine people and injured more than 150 others, may have been involved in planning the recent assault in the capital.

Both Rois and radical cleric Abu Bakar Bashir are among a number of terrorists who have been placed into isolation within the notorious island prison Nusakambangan in Central Java following reports that a number of the Jakarta assailants visited them before the attack.

skynews.com.au/news/world/asiapacific/2016/03/01/indonesia-plays-down-terror-warning.html

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Arab World

Suicide bombing at Iraqi funeral kills at least 14

PTI | Feb 29, 2016

BAGHDAD: Iraqi officials say a suicide bombing at a funeral north of Baghdad has killed at least 14 people and wounded 45.

Local security officials say a senior local leader of Asaib Ahl al-Haq, a powerful Shiite militia, was killed in the attack in Muqdadiyah, about 90 kilometres north of the capital.

Security there is largely maintained by state-sanctioned Shiite militias known as the Popular Mobilization Forces.

Hospital officials confirmed the toll. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to brief the press.

A bombing at a Baghdad market on Sunday by the Islamic State group killed 73 people.

In January, an IS bombing at a cafe frequented by militiamen in Muqdadiyah triggered a wave of revenge attacks on Sunni mosques and civilians.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/Suicide-bombing-at-Iraqi-funeral-kills-at-least-14/articleshow/51198606.cms

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250 Militants Surrender to Syrian Authorities in Dara'a

1 Mar, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Around 250 militants in the Southern province of Dara'a laid down their arms on Monday and turned themselves in to the Syrian officials as the pro-government forces keep on advancing across the country.

The militants formerly fighting in the Southern battlefields of the country surrendered to the Syrian government as the forces loyal to the Syrian President Bashar Assad continue gaining ground across the country.

The 250 surrendered militants are mostly from al-Sanamein region, including 130 from the village of Kefr Shams.

Earlier this month, at least 59 militants in two provinces of Damascus and Idlib turned themselves in to the Syrian authorities.

Also, 27 Takfiri militants laid down arms and turned themselves in to the Syrian army in Homs, Hama and Idlib provinces in February.

Reports said also in late December that some 157 wanted militants turned themselves in to the Syrian authorities.

Some 117 wanted persons from Homs surrendered to be pardoned.

Meanwhile, 40 wanted persons from the provinces of Damascus and Hama also turned themselves in to the authorities.

Early in January, 86 wanted persons from Damascus province and Aleppo also gave up fight.

City officials also announced on December 22 that at least 15 militants laid down arms and surrendered to the competent authorities in Aleppo after the army and the country's popular forces' victories across the province.

Until last year, most surrendering cases happened in Homs and Damascus provinces, but now a growing number of militants lay down arms across the country. As the army scores more wins across Syria more militants lay down arms to save their lives.

Some 116 Takfiri militants turned themselves in to the Syrian army in Homs province on December 20.

On December 12, some 20 wanted Takfiri terrorists in Hama province gave up fight and turned themselves in to the authorities to enjoy the general amnesty issued by President Bashar Al-Assad that has been in place for the last several years.

Some 200 wanted militants from Zabadani region and Madaya in Damascus province also surrendered earlier in December.

"The Syrian government has vowed to pardon all those who lay down arms voluntarily and it has remained loyal to its pledge so far, and this has encouraged us to give up fight, specially considering that the government troops, National Defense Forces (NDF) and Hezbollah who also enjoy the air backup of the Syrian and Russian air forces has gained momentum in its battlefield victories," one of those who surrendered in Damascus on December 5 said.

President Bashar Assad’s government freed 270 militants within the framework of the country's reconciliation plan on December 11.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941210001088

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Syria: Kurdish Fighters Retake over 2,000 Square Meters of Hasaka Lands from ISIL

1 Mar, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Media sources announced that the Kurdish fighters have thus far pushed the ISIL terrorists back from 2,400 square meters of the territories of the Northeastern province of Hasaka.

The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) alongside the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have driven the ISIL militants from 2,400 square meters of lands in the Southern part of the province and imposed full control over 315 villages and farms in the region, the Lebanese al-Akhbar said.

Al-Azavi, al-Ziyanat and Adleh have been among the newly-liberated villages in the Southern side of al-Shaddadi, the Arab paper furhe added.

A report said on Monday that the SDF killed at least 37 ISIL fighters during tough battles with the terrorists in a village in the Southern regions of Hasaka province.

The mainly Kurdish group, that has recently bonded with Syrian government in fight against terrorists, managed to inflict casualties on ISIL during the fierce clashes flared on Monday in the village of Adleh Tahtani South of Hasaka province.

In a separate development in Hasaka, the SDF forces pushed their way further into ISIL-held areas, imposing heavy casualties on enemy forces in fierce clashes with militants in Ayouneh village near the Abdulaziz Mount in Hasaka province, sources on the ground said.

The YPG Kurds have recently bonded with the Damascus government. The Syrian army sent several arms cargoes to the YPG troops in the Northeastern province of Hasaka and trained the first group of Kurdish volunteer forces in the provincial capital city of Hasaka last week.

The SDF that is comprised of mainly Kurdish fighters as well as a few hundred Syrian Arab dissident forces have received trainings from the US and have been provided with scanty US-coalition air support in their battles in Raqqa province in Northeastern Syria; but in Northern and Northwestern battlefronts, they have been operating alongside the YPG and received the Russian air backup in their Aleppo wars that started with the conquest of Tishrin Dam on the Euphrates early in February.

Assisted by the Syrian army - that has along with popular forces and Hezbollah conquered almost all militant-held regions in Eastern, Southern, Western and Northwestern Aleppo province - and Russian air support, the Kurdish forces fighting against the terrorists in North-Northeast Aleppo province have been making striking advances against the Al-Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham and ISIL terrorists in February.

Earlier this month, YPG and SDF fighters prevailed over the terrorists in the highly strategic city of Tal Rifat in Northern Aleppo and captured the city.

The YPG, who enjoyed the Russian air backup, prevailed the terrorists' positions from the Western direction and shook hand with the Kurdish units of the SDF who entered the town from the North.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941210000881

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‘We will participate’: Saudi military admits US coalition mulling ground invasion in Syria

1 Mar, 2016

Saudi Arabia has acknowledged that the US-led anti-ISIS coalition has held a “political” discussion about a potential ground troop deployment in Syria. Riyadh’s statements have been criticized by Damascus as destructive and a threat to regional security.

Russian anti-terror op in Syria, Syria unrest

In an interview with Reuters, an aide to Saudi Arabia's defense minister, Brigadier General Ahmed Asseri, confirmed that defense ministers from the anti-Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) coalition debated placing ground troops on the ground in Syria during a ministerial meeting in Brussels last month.

“It was discussed two weeks ago in Brussels,” Asseri said, clarifying that the discussions took place on the “political” level only without going into details of a potential “military mission.”

The general stressed that if the decision is made, Saudis would be more than willing to contribute troops – a move that Syria strongly warned against on a number of occasions. Asseri also acknowledged that Riyadh has been working on the military implementation of a possible Syria invasion.

“Once this is organized, and decided how many troops and how they will go and where they will go, we will participate in that,” he said.

“We need to discuss at the military level very extensively with the military experts to make sure that we have a plan.”

The Saudi general stressed that for the time being, the Kingdom’s air force is ready to strike Islamic State targets from Turkey’s Incirlik air base, where four Saudi fighter jets were deployed last month.

Washington also confirmed Saudi Arabia’s’ willingness to strike targets in Syria, with State Department spokesman John Kirby saying that the US would welcome the Kingdom's participation.

“But there’s a lot that needs to be discussed in terms of what they would do, what their makeup would be, how they would need to be supported by the coalition going forward. So there's a lot of homework that needs to be done,” Kirby said.

Saudi Arabia’s push for ground incursion into Syria comes at a time when Moscow warned that Turkey is strengthening its military positions on the border with Syria at a time when US and Russia are doing their best to cement a fragile ceasefire in the country.

On Monday, an official source at the Syrian Foreign and Expatriates Ministry told Syria’s official SANA news agency that Saudi Arabia is playing a “destructive role” in the peace process while “threatening security and stability” of the world.

The statement came in reply to Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir comments that he made on Sunday, accusing Syrian troops of violating the ceasefire brokered by Russia and the US, and reiterating the Kingdom’s position that Bashar Assad has no place in the future of Syria.

The Syrian official stressed that Al-Jubeir’s statements violate UN Security Council resolution 2268 that endorses the ceasefire. The resolution specifically demands that all parties to the agreement use their influence to ensure that parties to the Syrian conflict fulfill their commitments and create the conditions for a durable ceasefire.

In this regards, the source told SANA that Damascus requests that the UN Secretary-General form a committee to examine the possibility of “crimes that were committed and are still being committed by the Saudi regime and in the Arab world.”

Meanwhile, a US defense official told Reuters that Washington will continue to support forces on the ground in Syria that fight against Islamic State terrorists.

“We will continue to provide equipment packages to vetted leaders and their units so that over time they can make a concerted push into territory still controlled,” the official said. “As a matter of policy, we won't comment or speculate on potential future operations.”

rt.com/news/334048-saudi-syria-ground-invasion/

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Kurdish Fighters to Give Firm Response to Turkish Possible Aggressions

1 Mar, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- A senior political expert warned that Syria's Kurdish forces are ready to give crushing response to Turkey's aggressive moves.

"After creating a security zone near Raqqa, the Kurdish units in cooperation with Syrian army and its allies are ready to give a crushing response to Turkey's aggressive moves," Issa al-Zaher told FNA on Monday.

Al-Zaher, meantime, pointed to the several instances of violation of ceasefire by the militant groups, and said, "Some terrorist groups have violated the ceasefire in many regions because they are administered by Saudi Arabia and Turkey."

The Kurdish fighter have made considerable advances and military gains in Syria's Northern provinces.

On Sunday, the ISIL terrorist group confirmed that it has pulled its fighters back from a key town in the Northern part of Raqqa province at the border with Turkey under the heavy attacks of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) alongside the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

The Kurdish fighters have significantly advance against the ISIL militants in the town of Tal Abyadh and have pushed the terrorists back form the town.

The YPG and SDF fighters are now engaged in fortifying their positions inside and outside of the town.

The ISIL suffered a heavy death toll in the attacks.

Reports said on Saturday that the YPG) alongside the SDF had engaged in heavy fighting with the ISIL terrorists in the Northern part of Raqqa province.

The Kurdish forces stormed the ISIL positions near the town of Tal Abyadh and inflicted major losses on the terrorists.

On Wednesday, the Kurdish fighters, after almost six day of intense battle against al-Nusra Front, the Free Syrian Army (FSA), Harakat Nouriddeen al-Zinki and Al-Shamiyah Front, imposed full control over the Bani Zeid Youth Housing Complex in Aleppo city.

The SDF that is comprised of mainly Kurdish fighters as well as a few hundred Syrian Arab dissident forces have received trainings from the US and have been provided with scanty US-coalition air support in their battles in Raqqa province in Northeastern Syria; but in Northern and Northwestern battlefronts, they have been operating alongside the YPG and received the Russian air backup in their Aleppo wars that started with the conquest of Tishrin Dam on the Euphrates early in February.

Assisted by the Syrian army - that has along with popular forces and Hezbollah conquered almost all militant-held regions in Eastern, Southern, Western and Northwestern Aleppo province - and Russian air support, the Kurdish forces fighting against the terrorists in North-Northeast Aleppo province have been making striking advances against the al-Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham and ISIL terrorists in February.

Earlier this month, the YPG and SDF fighters prevailed over the terrorists in the highly strategic city of Tal Rifat in Northern Aleppo and captured the city.

The YPG, who enjoyed the Russian air backup, prevailed the terrorists' positions from the Western direction and shook hand with the Kurdish units of the SDF who entered the town from the North.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941210000908

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Suicide bombing in Yemen port of Aden kills 4 – reports

1st March, 2016

A suicide car bombing killed four people Monday when it hit a gathering of loyalist forces in Aden, the southern Yemen city serving as a government base, AFP reported. Five others were wounded in the attack in the residential Sheikh Othman district, according to a security official. The bomber reportedly rammed his explosives-laden vehicle into an area where security forces and pro-government militiamen had assembled. President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi has declared Aden as Yemen’s temporary capital while Sanaa remains in the hands of the Houthi rebels.

rt.com/news/line/

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Syrian Warplanes Destroy ISIL Military Convoy in Raqqa Province

1 Mar, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian air force raided and destroyed a military convoy of the ISIL terrorist group that was moving towards Ein Issa town in Raqqa province.

The ISIL military convoy was targeted and destroyed by the Syrian fighter jets in Raqqa province.

All militants in the military vehicles were killed in the Syrian air force attacks.

In a relevant development on Sunday, the ISIL terrorist group confirmed that it has pulled its militants back from a key town in the Northern part of Raqqa province at the border with Turkey under the heavy attacks of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) alongside the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

The Kurdish fighters had significantly advanced against the ISIL militants in the town of Tal Abyadh and had pushed the terrorists back from the town.

The YPG and SDF fighters are now engaged in fortifying their positions inside and outside of the town.

The ISIL suffered a heavy death toll in the attacks.

Reports said on Saturday that the YPG) alongside the SDF have engaged in heavy fighting with the ISIL terrorists in the Northern part of Raqqa province.

The Kurdish forces stormed the ISIL positions near the town of Tal Abyadh and inflicted major losses on the terrorists.

On Wednesday, the Kurdish fighters, after almost six day of intense battle against al-Nusra Front, the Free Syrian Army (FSA), Harakat Nouriddeen al-Zinki and Al-Shamiyah Front, imposed full control over the Bani Zeid Youth Housing Complex in Aleppo city.

The SDF that is comprised of mainly Kurdish fighters as well as a few hundred Syrian Arab dissident forces have received trainings from the US and have been provided with scanty US-coalition air support in their battles in Raqqa province in Northeastern Syria; but in Northern and Northwestern battlefronts, they have been operating alongside the YPG and received the Russian air backup in their Aleppo wars that started with the conquest of Tishrin Dam on the Euphrates early in February.

Assisted by the Syrian army - that has along with popular forces and Hezbollah conquered almost all militant-held regions in Eastern, Southern, Western and Northwestern Aleppo province - and Russian air support, the Kurdish forces fighting against the terrorists in North-Northeast Aleppo province have been making striking advances against the al-Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham and ISIL terrorists in February.

Earlier this month, the YPG and SDF fighters prevailed over the terrorists in the highly strategic city of Tal Rifat in Northern Aleppo and captured the city.

The YPG, who enjoyed the Russian air backup, prevailed the terrorists' positions from the Western direction and shook hand with the Kurdish units of the SDF who entered the town from the North.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941210001150

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Syrian Army, Allies Capture Main Supply Route Connecting Hama to Aleppo

1 Mar, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Army announced minutes ago that its troops alongside their popular allies imposed full control over the main supply line of the government forces from Hama to Aleppo in a several-hour battle against the ISIL terrorists.

"The Syrian government forces pushed the ISIL militants back from their last positions along the strategic road connecting Ithriya in Hama province to Khanaser in Aleppo province," the army said.

"The ISIL left behind scores of the dead or wounded members and fled the battlefield to find a safer shelter," the army added.

"The engineering units of the army have launched to defuse roadside bombs planted by the terrorists to reopen the road as soon as possible," the army went on to say.

Earlier reports said that at least 14 militants were killed and scores more were wounded in the Syrian Army troops' heavy offensive against the ISIL terrorists in the Southeastern parts of Aleppo province.

The Syrian army and its popular allies continued to hunt the members of the ISIL terrorist group in the Southern side of the town of Khanaser, which claimed the lives of many militants and inflicted major damage on their military hardware. 

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941210000634

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Deir Ezzur: Syrian Army, Air Force Destroy ISIL Military Positions, Gathering Centers

1 Mar, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian army and air force heavily pounded and destroyed the military positions and gathering centers of the ISIL terrorists in Deir Ezzur province.

The Takfiri terrorists' military positions were razed down by the army units in al-Hamidiya, al-Haviqa, al-Aza and al-Sana'a districts in Deir Ezzur city.

The Syrian air force also annihilated the ISIL's military positions and gathering centers in al-Jafra village in the Eastern part of Deir Ezzur province, killing score of militants and destroying their machinegun-equipped military vehicles.

Meantime, other army units destroyed the gathering centers of the ISIL terrorists in Bu Kamal town, killing scores of terrorists in al-Ketf and Mosmekar regions.

Also, the ISIL's gathering centers, a satellite communication station and a fuel reservoir were destroyed in Sfaira al-Fouqani village.

On Sunday, the Syrian government forces detected and destroyed a tunnel used by the ISIL militants in the Eastern part of Deir Ezzur city.

"The Syrian army troops and the National Defense Forces (NDF) seized a supply tunnel of the ISIL in the Old Airport District after fierce clashes with the terrorist group," military sources said on Sunday.

The Syrian warplanes carried out several combat flights over the ISIL gathering centers in different parts of the Eastern province of Deir Ezzur and targeted them heavily leaving several terrorist commanders dead.

The Syrian army's aircraft tracked and targeted a hideout of the ISIL leaders in the villages of al-Sfaira al-Fouqani in the Northwestern part of the city of Deir Ezzur, which ended in the killing of several leaders of the group.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941210001102

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Syria: Gov't Forces Preparing for Large-Scale Anti-Terrorism Operation in Idlib

1 Mar, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Military sources in the Northwestern battlefield of the country underlined the Syrian Army and its allies' full preparedness and their plan for carrying out a large-scale operation in the Southern part of Idlib province in near future.

The Syrian army and their allies, who imposed full control over the village of Ein al-Beidha at the border of Lattakia province and Idlib, have deployed their forces only 15 km from the strategic city of Jisr al-Shughour’s southwestern side.

In the meantime, Jabal al-Akrad (Kurds Mountain) has been flooded with soldiers from the Syrian army, testifying the government forces' firm will to push towards North in Idlib territories.

These soldiers are preparing for what is likely to become the Syrian army’s epic return to Jisr al-Shughour after losing the city just 9 months ago.

Reports said earlier today that the Russian warplanes, in a fresh round of anti-terrorism combat flights, targeted the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front's positions in the Southern part of Idlib province and inflicted a heavy death toll on the terrorists.

The Russian fighter jets stuck Nusra centers near the strategic town of Jisr al-Shughour, which ended in the killing or wounding of several terrorists and destroyed their military equipment, vehicles and weapons.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941210000678

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Life in Raqqa: Insider reveals how ISIS installed its reign of terror

Samuel Osborne | The Independent | Feb 29, 2016

LONDON: An activist living in Raqqa has described how ISISinstalled its brutal reign of terror when it established its capital in the Syrian city.

Keeping a diary of his life under ISIS, the activist - from a group called Al-Sharqiya 24 - told the BBC's Today programme how the group moved quickly to assert its dominance when it took over the city in January 2014.

His story is read by an actor to protect his identity.

"It's Friday, this is the day we used to gather in the streets and have long chats. But not anymore. Anyone gathering in public without permission now risks being accused of plotting against Daesh.

"I'm crossing a crowd in a public square, I don't want to join them because they may have been told to watch a beheading - but thank god it's only a lashing this time.

"The offender is one of theirs. His offence, I'm told, was carrying out a homosexual act."

He describes how ISISmoved quickly to assert its authority when it took over the city, with one militant telling him off for smoking and asking another man why his wife was not wearing the veil.

Loud speakers in the streets announced public executions.

"I heard loud speakers in the streets saying some people were about to be executed.

"A group of blindfolded young men stood in handcuffs. In front of them a masked man began reading.

"Hassan, fighting with regime forces, his punishment: beheading. Reza was a media activist, accused of speaking to foreign parties, his punishment: beheading.

"A man with a sword carried out the punishment."

Cursing as he left the scene of the executions, the activist was grabbed by the group's religious police and taken to their headquarters.

There, he was sentenced to 40 lashes for cursing out loud.

Last month, ISISmilitants reportedly forcibly removed televisions from civilian homes in an attempt to crackdown on "corrupt" foreign news.

In addition to attempting to stop the flow of information into Raqqa, ISIShas also surrounded it with road blocks and searches anyone arriving or leaving, killing and arresting those attempting to flee.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/Life-in-Raqqa-Insider-reveals-how-ISIS-installed-its-reign-of-terror/articleshow/51194581.cms

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UN to aid deliveries in Syria as truce enters day three

AFP | Feb 29, 2016

DAMASCUS: The United Nations prepared to deliver aid to thousands of besieged civilians in Syria on Monday as a fragile ceasefire entered its third day largely intact despite accusations of violations.

UN humanitarian coordinator Yacoub El Hillo said the world body hoped to take advantage of the first major truce in five years of conflict to distribute supplies to an extra 154,000 people living in besieged areas over the next five days.

A successful truce would also create a more favourable backdrop for peace talks that collapsed in acrimony in early February as a Russia-backed regime offensive in northern Syria caused tens of thousands to flee.

UN envoy Staffan de Mistura aims to relaunch the talks on March 7 if the ceasefire lasts and more aid is delivered.

The main opposition grouping on Sunday described the ceasefire as "positive" but lodged a formal complaint with the United Nations and foreign governments about breaches.

"We have violations here and there, but in general it is a lot better than before and people are comfortable," said Salem al-Meslet, spokesperson for the Saudi-backed High Negotiations Committee.

Meslet said the opposition would like to see the truce "last forever" and that it was the "responsibility of the United States to stop any violations".

An HNC letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon accused the Syrian regime and its allies of committing "24 violations with artillery shelling and five ground operations in twenty-six areas held by the moderate opposition".

It said the breaches had killed 29 people and wounded dozens.

The HNC has said it did not receive any maps of areas included in the ceasefire or documents explaining the monitoring mechanism.

Syria's Al-Watan newspaper, which is close to the government, said on Sunday that those maps were still being "kept secret".

The ceasefire does not apply to territory held by the Islamic State group and Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front.

The jihadists of IS last week cut the government's sole supply route to territory it holds in and around second city Aleppo.

After several days of deadly clashes, the army succeeded in reopening it on Monday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

At least 26 pro-government fighters and 14 IS jihadists were killed in the fighting around the town of Khanasser, the Britain-based monitoring group

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/UN-to-aid-deliveries-in-Syria-as-truce-enters-day-three/articleshow/51193078.cms

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Militants Face More Defeats in Clashes with Syrian Army in Homs

1 Mar, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The ISIL militants left behind scores of the dead and wounded members and fled more positions in the Northern and Eastern parts of Homs province under the heavy offensives of the Syrian Army and the National Defense Forces.

The Syrian government forces continued to hit the ISIL lines of defense in Jazal region and forced the militant group to pull forces back from the battlefield.

The Syrian army and allies further imposed full control over eight more hills in Jazal region.

The ISIL suffered a heavy death toll and its military hardware sustained major damage in the attacks.

Reports said on Saturday that the Syrian army troops alongside popular forces continued to inflict more defeats on the militants of al-Nusra Front in the Northern and Northeastern parts of Homs province.

The army soldier and the National Defense Forces hit the Nusra position hard near the village of Deir Foul in the Western side of al-Rastan, leaving several terrorists dead or wounded.

In the meantime, Nusra strongholds in Tal al-Qatari and Wadi al-Jihash near Talbiseh came under heavy attacks of the Syrian army, which ended in destruction of the terrorists' military vehicles.

Wadi al-Midhan in the Eastern side of the village of Ezeddin was the scene of heavy fighting between the Syrian army and allies with the militants of the al-Qaeda-Affiliated Nusra.

The Nusra site in Wadi al-Midhan sustained major damage in the army attacks.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941210000958

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UAE jails Omani over WhatsApp insults the Gulf state

March 1st, 2016

ABU DHABI: The supreme court in the United Arab Emirates on Monday jailed an Omani man for three years for “mocking” the Gulf state on WhatsApp messenger, local media reported.

Saleh Mohammed Saleh al-Owaissi, 29, was convicted of “distributing information aimed at mocking and harming the reputation of the state”, Al-Ittihad newspaper reported on its website.

He had distributed an audio recording “in which he accused the state and its martyrs in Yemen of cowardness and treachery,” the report said, citing the verdict. Owaissi was also fined 50,000 dirhams ($13,625).

It was unclear with whom he shared the message on the popular mobile telephone application, or how many people it reached.

The UAE is a key member of the Saudi-led coalition fighting Iran-backed Shia rebels in Yemen in support of internationally recognised President Abed-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

dawn.com/news/1242683/uae-jails-omani-over-whatsapp-insults

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Pakistan

12 killed in Shawal offensive against militants

March 1st, 2016

PESHAWAR: Security forces claimed to have killed 12 militants in Shawal area of North Waziristan on Monday as they advanced to capture strategic points in the valley abutting the Afghan border.

The claims could not be verified through independent sources.

Officials said that ground troops were advancing into the militants’ strongholds and had captured Kund Ghar and Jung Top so far.

The offensive was launched last week after Army chief Gen Raheel Sharif ordered troops to eliminate the hideouts.

A military officer, four soldiers and around 50 militants have been killed in the last phase of the operation.

dawn.com/news/1242742/12-killed-in-shawal-offensive-against-militants

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Qadri punished for taking law into his own hands, says CII head

March 1st, 2016

SHIKARPUR: Council of Islamic Ideology chairman Maulana Mohammad Khan Sherani said on Monday that Mumtaz Qadri’s act — though driven by religious sentiments — was illegal because he had taken the law into his own hands and he faced punishment because “no one is above the law”.

Speaking to journalists here, Maulana Sherani said there was no need to legislate a law for women’s protection when they already had all rights secured in all respects under Sharia laws according to the Quran and Sunnah.

He said that he could not comment on the women’s protection bill passed by the Punjab Assembly because he had not yet read it, but at the same time he termed it a violation of Islamic laws and said it could not be accepted.

He opposed all the bills being passed by assemblies without recommendations of the council. The CII was a constitutional body, therefore, every bill should be brought to parliament in the light of its recommendations, he said.

But the present government avoided doing so in violation of the provisions of the Constitution while the government of General Ziaul Haq followed the council’s recommendations, he said.

He said that every citizen was bound to respect the country’s Constitution and anyone who tried to violate it was liable to be punished as a traitor.

dawn.com/news/1242720/qadri-punished-for-taking-law-into-his-own-hands-says-cii-head

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ANF official killed, tehsildar injured in Mohmand IED blast

Mar 1, 2016

PESHAWAR: An Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) official was killed and three others, including a political tehsildar, sustained injures when an improvised explosive device (IED) went off in Ambar tehsil of Mohmand Agency on Tuesday, official sources said.

According to political administration officials, tehsildar Faramosh Khan was on an anti-poppy drive in Ambar tehsil area along with an ANF constable and two campaigners when an IED device planted on the roadside exploded.

As a result of the explosion, the ANF constable was killed and tehsildar Faramosh and his two campaigners were injured.

The injured were shifted to Ghalanai District Headquarters hospital for treatment.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast.

Mohmand is one of Pakistan’s seven tribal agencies near the Afghan border where the military has been battling Al-Qaeda and Taliban-linked militants for over a decade.

dawn.com/news/1242855/anf-official-killed-tehsildar-injured-in-mohmand-ied-blast

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Pak to get tough with banned outfit members

Mar 1, 2016

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will clamp down on members of banned outfits, under observation militants and human traffickers by cancelling their travel documents, blocking ID cards, stop issuing mobile SIMs and withdrawing facilities like bank accounts.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said "While every effort would continue towards safeguarding the rights of the citizens, we will not falter in fulfilling our commitment towards ensuring security of the motherland and to check the elements bringing bad name to the country in one way or the other."

The decisions were taken in a meeting chaired by Khan on Monday. He said that security situation had improved but still government needs to consolidate and build on security gains.

The meeting also discussed other measures being taken against the members of proscribed organisations, human traffickers and proclaimed offenders. Security of media houses, schools, commercial centres and steps taken for community policing also came under discussion. Licences of all those security companies which will not provide their particulars to the administration will be cancelled.

The interior minister reviewed various arrangements put in place to meet any emergent law and order situation and to effectively intercept criminals.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/Pak-to-get-tough-with-banned-outfit-members/articleshow/51206301.cms

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Sartaz Aziz: Pak-US strategic dialogue strengthened ties

IANS | Mar 1, 2016

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Prime Minister's Adviser on Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz said the strategic dialogue with the US has further strengthened bilateral relations, the medi reported on Tuesday.

Aziz made the comments along with US Secretary of State John Kerry after the sixth round of ministerial level Pakistan-US strategic dialogue in Washington on Monday, The Nation daily reported.

Pakistan, US to hold strategic dialogue on Monday amid F-16 row

At the start of the talks, Pakistan said that a contentious sale of F-16 fighter jets would strengthen the South Asian nation's ability to mount counter-terrorist operations and promote regional stability.

The US government this month approved the sale of the aircraft, radar and electronic warfare equipment to Pakistan in a deal worth nearly $700 million. However, the sale has been criticised by India and also by some US lawmakers.

Aziz said he appreciated the US leadership's public assessment that Pakistan uses F-16s effectively against terrorists.

Kerry did not mention the F-16s sale in his remarks on Monday, but he commended Pakistan's counter-terrorism operations, including in North Waziristan, a tribal area from where militants have often launched cross-border attacks into Afghanistan.

The last Pak-US strategic dialogue was held in Islamabad in January 2015.

The dialogue process started in 2010, but it was interrupted in 2011 when a US midnight raid in Abbottabad killed Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. The process resumed in 2014.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/Sartaz-Aziz-Pak-US-strategic-dialogue-strengthened-ties/articleshow/51204711.cms

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Africa

Muslim Leaders in CAR Unite to Support Social Cohesion

Mar 1, 2016

Meeting in Vienna, Austria, at the International Dialogue Centre (KAICIID) from 25-27 February, leaders from the Muslim community in the Central African Republic unanimously agreed to work together on a range of common issues, including supporting the return of all refugees, from any religious background, who have been displaced by the recent conflict in the country.

Over 40 religious leaders, representatives from Muslim women and youth communities and civil society met in a facilitated dialogue to explore how the Muslim community in the Central African Republic, , which has been challenged by internal divisions in the past, could cohesively address the problems facing Muslims in the aftermath of the civil conflict that devastated the country.

The meeting was also attended by a number of international observers, including noted scholar Sheikh Bin Bayyah, U.S Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom David Saperstein, Ufuk Gokcen, OIC Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, New York.

To express support from CAR's Christian communities and the government, the Archbishop of Bangui, Dieudonne Nzapalainga, Reverend Nicolas Guerekoyame-Gbangou, and the Minister of National Reconciliation and Political Dialogue H.E. Lydie Florence N'Douba actively participated as observers.

KAICIID Secretary General, Faisal Bin Muaammar, congratulated the participants for their courage and openness in dialogue: "We must agree that we take from this terrible crisis an opportunity to rebuild this nation as the citizens wish to see it. The Central African Republic prior to the crisis was a model for positive interreligious coexistence: you have a chance to rebuild that model, to rebuild a nation where every citizen has an equal share in the rights and responsibilities of citizenship."

The Secretary General noted that the Centre has a long-standing commitment to supporting social cohesion in the Central African Republic through its programmes in the country to strengthen the Interreligious Platform, as well as the dialogues the Centre has organized and hosted since 2014, and will continue to host in the future.

Shaykh Abdallah bin Bayyah, the President of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies, urged greater unity among Muslim peacemakers, "Peace is the path to justice and revenge must be replaced with honest discussions, questions, and dialogue. All Muslim and Christian groups should have tolerance. All must agree on a goal, and this goal should be peace. The Christian and Muslim groups should have groups from within their communities that represent them and are able to speak on their behalf to advocate for peace".

Ambassador David Saperstein said that he was honored to participate in this noteworthy conference, and expressed his confidence that it would help rebuild diversity and unity in communities in CAR. Ambassador Saperstein encouraged the particiants, saying, "Today, in my opinion, we begin the process of discussing one of the most important questions about CAR's development: what will be the role of the Muslim community and how can we facilitate a return to the harmony and brotherhood that existed in the past, and which has been broken by recent violence, and reinvigorate the social cohesion so vital to CAR's future."

Before the civil war erupted in March 2013, the Muslim population of the capital, Bangui numbered 122,000, most of whom have fled. More than one million people have been displaced since the conflict began. More than 6,000 people were killed in sectarian clashes between Muslims and Christians in the country.

As the country undertakes a process of reconciliation and transition to democratic governance, the Muslim community is seeking a cohesive approach to the challenges of re-integration, and of building a role for Muslims in the secular state. The Christian-Muslim dialogue process, which is underway, also depends on a cohesive Muslim platform for success.

The participants at the meeting agreed that the Muslim community faces a number of challenges. Returning refugees should be re-integrated into society, and enjoy access to housing, education and work. Women's and youth inclusion in the peacebuilding process is far from complete. Lack of educational and economic opportunities for youth, increases growth in crime, as well as drug addiction and trafficking. Extremists could exploit youth's marginalization to increase recruitment.

The participants were concerned by systemic state discrimination of Muslims, and highlighted the citizenship law's implentation to deny Muslims full citizenship. They also expressed concern that Muslims are often denied access to jobs on the basis of their religion.

The participants agreed to form a follow-up committee to implement the outcomes of this meeting, which were formulated in an action plan.

The dialogue, co-organized by the International Dialogue Centre (KAICIID), with the Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers, the Organization for Islamic Cooperation and the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies, was aimed at helping participants identify needs like capacity-building for Imams, women and youth, and devise concrete ways to meet these needs.

The meeting forms part of the Dialogue Centre's ongoing programme in the Central African Republic. In addition to the intra-Muslim dialogue and capacity building process, the Centre is also training Christian and Muslim religious leaders in dialogue.

About the International Dialogue Centre (KAICIID)

The International Dialogue Centre (KAICIID) is an intergovernmental organization that promotes dialogue to build peace in conflict areas. It does this by enhancing understanding and cooperation between people of different cultures and followers of different religions. The Centre was founded by Austria, Saudi Arabia and Spain. The Holy See is the Founding Observer. Its Board of Directors comprises prominent representatives from five major world religions (Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism). The Board designs and supervises the Centre's programs.

allafrica.com/stories/201602292357.html

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Muslim Enclave Forged in Apartheid Now Faces Gentrification

FEB. 29, 2016

The Bo-Kaap district was traditionally home to descendants of slaves from other African nations, India, Indonesia and Malaysia. Credit Joao Silva/The New York Times

CAPE TOWN — In the days when everyone in the neighborhood celebrated Muslim holidays, Mogamat Khan Salie would take almost two hours to walk the three blocks from the mosque to his home.

He lingered at every house along the way, exchanging greetings, inquiring about relatives and accepting well-wishes and good food, as he sauntered through the narrow, cobblestone streets of the Bo-Kaap, a neighborhood that, in a quirk of South Africa‘s apartheid history, was preserved as an ethnic enclave in this otherwise white city.

“Now, it takes me 15 minutes to get to my house,” Mr. Salie, 59, said. “At the end of the day, there are no more Muslim people staying in our area. Our culture, our heritage, is going down the drain.”

Most of the residents of the Bo-Kaap are still Muslim South Africans, descendants of slaves brought here from other African nations, India, Indonesia and Malaysia who became known over the centuries as Cape Malays, or Cape Muslims.

Mr. Salie’s words reflect profound fears here that their culture and identity, often overlooked in a country defined by the cleavages between black and white South Africans, will eventually disappear because of the neighborhood’s transformation.

The Bo-Kaap — home to the first mosque in South Africa and considered the birthplace of Islam in this part of Africa — was designated a Cape Malay neighborhood during the apartheid era. Strict laws against the mixing of races resulted in the preservation of the Bo-Kaap and its culture.

Like the rest of the country, the Bo-Kaap, which means Top Cape, has been changing since the end of apartheid in 1994. White South Africans and foreigners, attracted to its location in central Cape Town — an urban lifestyle tinged with exoticism, brightly colored Cape Dutch houses, dramatic views of Table Mountain and comparatively cheaper real estate — have recently been buying up property.

Some longtime residents have sold willingly and moved to the suburbs for larger homes with pools and garages. Others, unable to pay the rising property taxes, have left under unhappy circumstances.

The Bo-Kaap’s post-apartheid transformation follows a familiar pattern of gentrification in this city. After an initial period of decay, Cape Town’s urban core has been revived as a center for business and tourism.

Cape Town is the only major city in South Africa to have successfully managed the transition from the apartheid era, said Nico Kotze, an urban geographer at the University of Johannesburg who has studied the city, including the Bo-Kaap, for the past two decades. By contrast, Johannesburg and other cities have never recovered from the flight of white South Africans and the emergence of new suburban centers.

Still, Cape Town’s success has led to the displacement of its lower-income residents.

“A lot of places are changing in Cape Town and losing their character, with extremely wealthy people coming into Cape Town from abroad and buying properties,” Mr. Kotze said.

Perhaps nowhere are the changes as striking as in the Bo-Kaap.

Ziyaad Davids, 26, grew up in the Bo-Kaap and lives in a bright orange house with his parents. The family moved away for a while, renting out the house while living in a suburb. But the Davidses returned to the Bo-Kaap because they found themselves alienated in the suburb, even though it was a predominantly Cape Malay area.

Muslim men after Friday Prayer at the Auwal Mosque, South Africa’s first, which was established in the Bo-Kaap in the late 18th century. Credit Joao Silva/The New York Times

“We’d come outside and see the neighbor, and he looks at you,” Mr. Davids said. “He looks past you.”

In the Bo-Kaap, he added, the neighborhood was an extension of one’s home, a place where people conversed and felt no shame in asking a neighbor for some coffee if caught short.

Most newcomers were respectful of the Bo-Kaap’s Cape Malay identity, he said. But some were not: They drank in public or complained about the calls to prayer. Others, he said, would pose in front of the mosques in revealing clothes.

Anne Gonschorek, a German journalist, has lived in the Bo-Kaap for 18 months. She and three other tenants share a purple house owned by a European woman. Ms. Gonschorek, who pays $330 a month in rent, was drawn to the neighborhood’s “exotic feel.”

“Otherwise, Cape Town is very European, very westernized, definitely not Africa as you would imagine it,” she said.

Even so, she found that at least one custom made her uneasy. She said that people tend to gather on sidewalks, often milling around random doorsteps. Returning home late at night, Ms. Gonschorek encountered young men sitting on her doorstep.

The Bo-Kaap Mosque, which was funded by Saudi Arabia. Credit Joao Silva/The New York Times

“Can you please not sit right at my entrance?” Ms. Gonschorek recalled asking. “And then they will say, ‘This is our Bo-Kaap.’ ”

The Auwal Mosque, South Africa’s first, was established in the Bo-Kaap in the late 18th century. Islam was introduced to South Africa from Indonesia at a time when the Dutch controlled both countries.

As a result, slaves brought here by the Dutch from different continents began practicing Islam according to Indonesian traditions. They also adopted Indonesian expressions in their daily lives and developed a cuisine with Southeast Asian influences, said Suleman Essop Dangor, a scholar on Islam in South Africa.

In the 1960s, as the apartheid government segregated the country’s population by race, it transformed cities into exclusive zones for white South Africans. Nonwhites were evicted from all of Cape Town’s neighborhoods — except the Bo-Kaap.

The neighborhood had been saved, Mr. Kotze said, because of an unusual champion: I. D. du Plessis, a government official who wrote about Cape Malay culture. Mr. du Plessis, who was white and died in 1981, had pressed for years for the preservation of the Bo-Kaap as a Cape Malay quarter, a move that was in keeping with the apartheid government’s policy of creating separate spaces for each racial or ethnic group.

So segregated was the Bo-Kaap that Fuad Moos, 25, remembers seeing only Cape Malay residents while growing up.

“White people could never walk around this site, just like that,” he said, pointing to a group of white tourists walking up the neighborhood’s main street.

Today, outsiders own about 15 percent of the 1,100 residences in the Bo-Kaap, said Osman Shaboodien, the chairman of the Bo-Kaap Civic Association. His group is working to retain the neighborhood’s original identity by helping longtime residents take in lodgers so that they can pay the rising property taxes and by encouraging the sale of houses to other locals.

But change was coming from many directions, not only gentrification, Mr. Shaboodien said.

In the past two decades, Muslim leaders in the Bo-Kaap and elsewhere in the country have developed growing ties with Saudi Arabia, which has offered scholarships and other assistance to spread its version of Islam throughout the world. In the Bo-Kaap’s mosques, practices rooted in Southeast Asia have given way to a version of Islam from the Middle East.

Longstanding traditions among the Muslims here — like visits to famous burial sites and a ceremony involving the striking of swords and daggers — are frowned upon by those who have studied in Saudi Arabia.

Yusuf Larney, 61, the owner of a Cape Malay restaurant called Bo-Kaap Kombuis, said that apartheid had kept the community tighter, but had also stunted its growth. The freedom of post-apartheid South Africa, he said, had opened up the world to residents even as it ushered a new world into the neighborhood.

“You cannot prevent people from outside this community — if they want to buy here — you can’t prevent that, because then you want to start another apartheid,” Mr. Larney said. “It’s tit for tat.”

nytimes.com/2016/03/01/world/africa/bo-kaap-cape-town-muslim-gentrification.html?_r=0

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S. African Muslim lawyers seek to arrest Peres

Mar 1, 2016

Various outlets quoted that “The Media Review Network (MRN) is pleased to announce that urgent steps are underway to secure the arrest of a senior Israeli war criminal, Shimon Peres.”

Former President Shimon Peres talks to the press after meeting with US President Barack Obama in the Oval Office of the White House during his presidency last June. (photo credit:REUTERS)

The Muslim Lawyers Association have lodged documents to arrest former president Shimon Peres, who is due in South Africa next week.

Various outlets quoted that “The Media Review Network (MRN) is pleased to announce that urgent steps are underway to secure the arrest of a senior Israeli war criminal, Shimon Peres.”

Peres will travel to South Africa to fund-raise for the Israel United Appeal and the United Communal Fund.

A group of professional lawyers, the Muslim Lawyers Association (MLA), have lodged documents with the National Prosecution Authority, requesting its intervention, the MRN statement said.

“We at the MRN, are deeply perturbed that Peres, known for various human rights violations and unspeakable war crimes such as the Kana massacre [shelling of a UN compound in Lebanon in 1996], has been invited to South Africa.

“The MRN fully supports the position taken by the MLA.”

The statement continues that “Peres has been an enigmatic politician all his life. He has never won an election. In a democracy, a politician is expected to be elected and reelected. He never was. Even his position as president of the Zionist state was by default. When the incumbent, Moshe Katzav, uncovered as a women molester and had to resign, was Peres elected by a contrite Knesset. This was his definitive humiliation.

“And now this man, whom almost everybody loved to hate, is coming to South Africa.

“The MRN is hopeful that the request to have Peres arrested and charged will be successful. We pledge our full support for this initiative and call on all relevant authorities to give expression to South Africa’s obligations under the provisions of the Rome Statute.”

Most talkbacks to the report ridicule the idea.

Comments include: “Pathetic fools,” “Nothing is quite as nauseating as Islamic groups lecturing the rest of humanity about human rights,” “But Hamas was welcomed here. Explain that.”

There are several Twitter responses, however, that support the move.

The Council of Muslim Theologians whose motto is “Educating, Enlightening, Serving” published a black banner with red blood-stained hands and a white heading urging “Stop Israeli Terrorism.”

Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry and ambassador to South Africa have been in contact with all the relevant authorities in Pretoria to ensure this BDS provocation will not hinder Peres, Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon told The Jerusalem Post.

A spokeswoman for Peres declined to comment saying that until there was actually need to do so, there was no point in doing so.

In June, 2013, the Muslim Lawyers Association called for the arrest and prosecution for war crimes of US President Barack Obama. The request submitted to the public prosecutor covered more than 600 pages.

jpost.com/International/S-African-Muslim-lawyers-seek-to-arrest-Peres-445908

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North America

Pentagon ramps up cyberwar against ISIL

February 29, 2016

The Pentagon stepped up its cyberwar on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, disrupting the terror group's ability to communicate and command its forces, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said Monday.

Carter declined to detail the tactics, which are secret, but he spoke publicly about the initiative to illustrate progress he said the Pentagon is making against the Islamic State in both countries.

“We are accelerating this just as we’re accelerating everything else,” Carter told reporters at a Pentagon news conference.

The Pentagon has spent billions of dollars and set up a separate Cyber Command to boost its cyber warfare capabilities, which range from defending the Pentagon’s own communications network to being able to attack and disrupt an enemy’s computer network.

“We can’t allow them to freely command and control forces,” Carter said.

Carter and Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said cyber warfare tactics against the Islamic State, also known as ISIL or ISIS, have helped disrupt the militant group's communications networks.

“We’re trying to both physically and virtually isolate ISIL,” Dunford said.

Unlike al-Qaeda, which operated primarily as a terrorist network, the Islamic State is trying to govern large swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria. It still occupies Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city.

Like any government, the Islamic State has had to establish a bureaucracy to manage its territory, which requires computer and communications networks. Those networks are also vulnerable to cyberattacks by the U.S.-led coalition.

The Pentagon is seeking $6.7 billion to fund cyber warfare next year, a significant increase in spending at a time the Defense Department is attempting curb spending in other areas.

“We’ve sunk a lot of money into developing capabilities,” said Martin Libicki, an analyst at RAND Corp.

Carter has also established links with Silicon Valley executives so the Pentagon can stay current with fast-paced technological developments.

The Islamic State has been aggressive in its use of cyberspace, using social media to recruit or inspire attacks against Western targets.

Carter, in a visit last month to Cyber Command at Fort Meade, Md., encouraged the command to intensify the fight against the Islamic State, Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said afterward.

usatoday.com/story/news/world/2016/02/29/pentagon-ramps-up-cyberwar-against-isil/81117662/

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US: Utah Police Shoot 17-year-old Muslim Boy for Holding a Broomstcik

29 February 2016

Rabat – Abdi Mohamed, a 17-year-old Muslim boy from Kenya, was hospitalized Saturday night after two Utah police officers shot him in the chest and stomach near a homeless shelter.

The shooting happened at 8:15 p.m. when police saw him arguing with a man while holding a broomstick, Fox 13, a local news source reported. After Abdi refused to drop the broomstick upon request, the officers proceeded to shoot him three times in the upper half of his body.

Mohammed was one of two suspects in an alleged assault, according to a statement released by the Salt Lake City police department (SLCPD) on Sunday.

“On Saturday, February 27, at approximately 8:00 p.m., officers witnessed two males with metal objects attacking a male victim,” the statement reads. “Officers confronted the two suspects and ordered them to drop the weapons. One of the males complied and dropped the weapon, the other continued to advance on the victim and was shot by officers.”

In the aftermath of the shooting, 100 officers were dispatched in order to contain crowds who “shouted and threw objects at the police” as a response to the officers’ actions, Fox reported.

Selam Mohammed, a friend of the victim who was accompanying him at the time, said the police gave him only one chance to surrender the broom before they began shooting.

‘The police said ‘drop it’ once, then they shot him four times,’ Mohammed told Fox. “’We were trying to break it up before the police even came, but the police ran in on foot and pulled their guns out already… not even trying to tase him or anything.”

“There is no doubt what happened is a tragedy for all involved and for our entire city,” the Mayor of Salt Lake City, Jackie Biskupski, said in a statement. Biskupski added that she recognizes that this is the third “significant use of force” incident for the city’s police department in the past month.

The incident and footage from the two officers’ body cameras are being investigated by the Unified Police Department of Greater Salt Lake. The results of the investigation will be forwarded to the District Attorney’s office for “a final determination on the shooting,” according to the statement by the police.

The two officers involved in the shooting are currently on administrative leave, a SLCPD officer told The Guardian.

moroccoworldnews.com/2016/02/180925/us-uttah-police-shoot-17-year-old-muslim-boy-for-holding-a-broomstcik/

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Indiana authorities probe ‘mysterious’ slayings of Muslim-African trio in home

Feb 29, 2016

FORT WAYNE, INDIANA – Authorities in Indiana are seeking information after two men and a teenager who were part of a heavily Muslim-African community were found shot to death last week inside a Fort Wayne home.

The bodies of 23-year-old Mohamedtaha Omar, 20-year-old Adam Kamel Mekki and 17-year-old Muhannad Adam Tairab were found Wednesday evening by officers responding to a “problem unknown” dispatch. Each was shot multiple times, Police Chief Garry Hamilton told WANE-TV, and the Allen County Coroner’s Office says the deaths have been ruled homicides.

The families of the three were from Central Africa and belonged to a community that is heavily Muslim, Hamilton and Fort Wayne Safety Director Rusty York told the (Fort Wayne) Journal-Gazette, though neither knew whether the three were religious.

York says authorities don’t have any reason to believe the killings were a hate crime.

Vox Media published a story Saturday that called the killings “mysterious,” prompting people on social media to question why it did not receive wider news coverage. The killings came the same week as mass shootings in Kalamazoo, Michigan; Hesston, Kansas; and near Belfair, Washington.

The residence where the bodies were found was known as a party house for teens and young adults of African descent, York told WPTA-TV.

A day of remembrance started at the Islamic Center of Fort Wayne on Saturday for Omar and Tairab, who immigrated to the U.S. in the last decade, WANE-TV reported.

“We all came here to find peace and security … we’re from war zones,” Abdelaziz Hassab, a relative of the two, told the television station. He also said Omar and Tairab “always have been diligent to help their familiar and look for a better future.”

The families of Omar and Tairab will meet with police Tuesday to hear about the ongoing investigation.

japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/02/29/world/crime-legal-world/indiana-authorities-probe-mysterious-slayings-muslim-african-trio-home/

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US issues warning for citizens traveling to Turkey’s Southeast

February 29, 2016

The United States has reiterated a warning for its citizens traveling in the Southeastern Turkey due to recent terrorist attacks and increased threats.

The State Department urged US citizens on Monday to exercise caution when traveling throughout the country. The previous travel warning for Turkey was issued on Feb. 4.

The US said recent terrorist attacks from international and indigenous groups have targeted popular tourist sites, US government buildings, police, and other local authorities throughout Turkey. It added that the threat of kidnapping remains a concern, especially in the southeast of the country. It also recalled incidents of cross-border shelling from Syria into Turkey.

A deadly suicide bombing in southern town of Suruç ended two and half years of truce between the army and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), unleashing an armed confrontation that has left hundreds of dead on both sides. Frequent suicide bombing attacks targeted civilians, including in capital Ankara and Istanbul. Turkish government said over the weekend that more than a dozen suicide bombing attacks were prevented. Militants linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) within Turkey also pose danger to civilians.

The State Department asked US citizens to avoid travel to southeastern Turkey -- particularly near the Syrian border -- stay away from large crowds, including at popular tourist destinations. It also asked to stay away from political gatherings and rallies, most of which were violently dispersed particularly in the Kurdish-populated areas.

The statement also upheld previous travel restrictions for US government employees to southeastern Turkey. The US government workers are not allowed to travel to Hatay, Kilis, Gaziantep, Sanliurfa, Sirnak, Diyarbakir, Van, Siirt, Mus, Mardin, Batman, Bingöl, Tunceli, Hakkari, Bitlis, and Elazig provinces.

todayszaman.com/latest-news_us-issues-warning-for-citizens-traveling-to-turkeys-southeast_413651.html

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US, allies stage 24 strikes against ISIS in Iraq, Syria

Mar 1, 2016

The US and its allies conducted 24 strikes against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in Iraq and Syria on Sunday, Reuters reported. Twelve strikes in five Syrian cities destroyed 10 buildings, four fighting positions and a fuel tanker, the Combined Joint Task Force said on Monday. The same number of strikes in seven Iraqi cities hit a rocket fire position and destroyed staging areas as well as a tunnel system, according to the military.

rt.com/news/line/

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US asks Pakistan to reduce its nuclear arsenal

PTI | Mar 1, 2016

WASHINGTON: The US has pressed Pakistan to reduce its growing nuclear arsenal but Islamabad has refused to accept any curbs on it saying America must show "greater understanding" of its security concerns in South Asia.

Citing the example of the US and Russia which are working to further reduce their nuclear arsenals, secretary of state John Kerry asked Pakistan to understand this reality and review its nuclear policy.

The nuclear issue was discussed during security talks held here on Monday as part of the US-Pakistan strategic dialogue.

"I think, it is important for Pakistan to really process that reality and put that front and centre in its policy," Kerry said in an apparent reference to the reports that Pakistan has the fastest growing stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world.

His remarks come ahead of this month's Nuclear Security Summit to be hosted here by President Barack Obama that would be attended by Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

"We look forward to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's participation in the nuclear security summit next month," Kerry said, adding "non-proliferation" and "nuclear safety" is of obvious concern to both countries.

"I expect that we continue to discuss the obligation of being a responsible state with nuclear weapons in the coming year," he said.

"As you know United States of America once had 50,000 (nuclear) warheads pointing at another country/entity the Soviet Union. Soviet Union had 50,000 pointing at us. It took two Presidents (Mikhail) Gorbachev and (Ronald) Reagan to decide that this did not make sense," Kerry said.

"We have moved in a completely opposite direction. And today, Russia and the United States are operating under a treaty that has about 1500 or so nuclear warheads and we are seeking to reduce that," said the top American diplomat.

On the other hand, Aziz sought nuclear mainstreaming of Pakistan.

"Our engagement on non-proliferation and strategic stability will continue and Pakistan hopes to see greater US understanding of Pakistan's security concerns and its desire to contribute actively as a mainstream nuclear power," he said.

Pakistan has said that it will not accept any unilateral curbs on its nuclear programme and that any reduction should apply to India as well and the US should also consider its concerns on the growing weapons disparity.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/US-asks-Pakistan-to-reduce-its-nuclear-arsenal/articleshow/51209764.cms

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South Asia

Taliban not a capable force despite show of power: Russian envoy

By Khaama Press - Tue Mar 01 2016

The Russian special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Zamir Kabulov has said Taliban is not a capable force despite show of power.

During a meeting with President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, Kabulov said that the government of Afghanistan is the only address for peace talks, insisting that Taliban has no option other than this address.

Kabulov further added that findings show Taliban group is facing various internal issues and are divided in different groups.

The remarks by Kabulov comes as the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG), comprised of Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and United States, is busy to revive direct peace talks between the Afghan government and Taliban group.

The first round of direct talks is expected to take place in the first week of March with Pakistan already offering to host the meeting.

Meanwhile, Kabulov expressed concerns regarding the presence of the loyalists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group in the region.

He said the Russian leadership, including President Vladimir Putin hails the Afghan government’s campaign to suppress the terror group in the country, specifically in eastern Afghanistan.

Kabulov also added that a delegation of the Russian officials will soon meet with the Ministry of Finance of Afghanistan to seek ways for joint economic cooperation between the two countries.

He said the Russian housing companies will continue to seek ways for better joint cooperation to invest in housing sector as per the earlier agreements reached with the Ministry of Urban Development of Afghanistan.

khaama.com/taliban-not-a-capable-force-despite-show-of-power-russian-envoy-0213

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UK supports Afghan-led, Afghan-owned peace talks

By Khaama Press - Tue Mar 01 2016

The United Kingdom has announced backing the ongoing peace efforts for bringing Taliban to the negotiation table with the government.

In a meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs the Director General, Political, of British Foreign and Commonwealth Office said that his country overwhelmingly supports Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace talks.

Simon Lawrance Gass also pointed out to Salahuddin Rabbani during Monday’s meeting the importance of Brussels and Warsaw conferences and assured that Britain as a strategic friend of Afghanistan is committed to support and cooperate with Afghanistan and will actively participate in these conferences.

Meanwhile, Rabbani briefed Gass about the preparation for Brussels and Warsaw Conferences and underlined that the Afghan government beside encouraging new global commitments for continued assistance to Afghanistan until 2020, provides reports on the achievements of previous bilateral commitments to the international community.

khaama.com/uk-supports-afghan-led-afghan-owned-peace-talks-4608

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Three children killed, three wounded in Farah explosion

By Khaama Press - Tue Mar 01 2016

Three children have lost lives and as many wounded in a bomb explosion in the capital of western Farah province.

A police spokesperson said the children were collecting hay in Kurji area of Farah city when the planted Improvised Explosive Device (IED) went off on them on Monday afternoon.

Iqbal Bahid added that three kids died on the spot while three others sustained injuries.

According to the police spokesperson the bomb was planted by Taliban militants but the group has not yet commented on the report.

Farah is among the relatively volatile provinces in western Afghanistan where anti-government armed militants are actively operating in a number of its districts and often carry out insurgency activities.

khaama.com/three-children-killed-as-many-wounded-in-farah-explosion-4608

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Nangarhar governor prevents suicide

By Zabihullah Moosakhail - Tue Mar 01 2016

Saleem Khan Kundoz, governor of eastern Nangarhar province has prevented a citizen from giving up his life due to serious illness in his family and economic problems.

Farouq Didar decided to commit suicide after he failed to get money for the treatment of his wife and three children.

But Jwand Welfare Society informed Kundozi about the issue who then prevented the suicide.

Kundozi gave the family $2,000 for the treatment.

Naweed Shinwari, a representative of Jwand Welfare Society thanked the governor for his assistance and said that Didar would be able to spend the money on urgent needs but he still needs support since his family members are facing severe illness.

Shinwari urged traders and public servants to step forward and assist to save the lives of Didar’s wife and three daughters.

khaama.com/120-taliban-lay-down-guns-in-faryab-4708

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Pakistan should not be blamed for the problems of Afghanistan: Sartaj Aziz

By Khaama Press - Tue Mar 01 2016

Pakistan’s National Security Adviser Sartaj Aziz has said Pakistan should not be blamed for the problems of Afghanistan despite the Afghan officials long been criticizing the country for supporting the anti-government armed groups fighting the Afghan government.

At the start of talks in the United States, Aziz said “We are blamed (for) pursuing a duplicitous policy.”

“Regrettably there is a tendency to blame Pakistan, in (a) somewhat simplistic fashion for most of the difficulties and challenges that engage Afghanistan,” Aziz quoted in a report by Reuters said.

The remarks by Aziz comes as the U.S. lawmakers have expressed concern about a possible sale of F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan because of its impact on relations with India and Pakistan’s policies in Afghanistan.

The lawmakers have also expressed concerns regarding Pakistan’s ties with the notorious Haqqani terrorist network which is accused of staging numerous cross-border attacks from their base in North Waziristan, including the 19-hour siege at the US Embassy in Kabul in September 2011.

The network is allied with al-Qaida and the Afghan Taliban and cooperates with other terrorist organizations in the region and was designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization on September 7, 2012 by the US Department of State.

khaama.com/pakistan-should-not-be-blamed-for-the-problems-of-afghanistan-sartaj-aziz-0212

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Karzai off to New Delhi for Raisina Dialogue 2016

By Zabihullah Moosakhail - Tue Mar 01 2016

The former president of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai left Kabul for New Delhi this morning to attend the Raisina Dialogue 2016.

Karzai is accompanied by Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta who has served as the National Security Advisor and Minister of Foreign Affairs during his government.

The former president was invited to the conference by Observer Research Foundation (ORF), an Indian think tank, which is the organizing partner of the Raisina Dialogue 2016 with India’s Ministry of External Affairs.

Besides Afghan delegation over 400 personalities from 40 countries and organizations have been invited to the March 1-3 event.

The Raisina Dialogue 2016

Envisioned as India’s flagship conference of geopolitics and geoeconomics, the Raisina Dialogue 2016 is designed to explore prospects and opportunities for Asian integration as well as Asia’s integration with the larger world.

It is predicated on India’s vital role in the Indian Ocean Region and how India along with its partners can build a stable regional and world order. The 2016 conclave will focus on Asia’s physical, economic, digital connectivity and fostering common global spaces with an emphasis on Asia.

The two-day annual conference is a multistakeholder, cross-sectoral meeting involving policy and decision-makers, including but not limited to Foreign, Defence and Finance Ministers of different countries, high-level government officials and policy practitioners, leading personalities from business and industry, and members of the strategic community, media and academia.

khaama.com/karzai-off-to-new-delhi-4010

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Russia pledges continued support in equipping the Afghan forces

By Khaama Press - Tue Mar 01 2016

Russia has pledged continued support in equipping and training of the Afghan national security forces, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Monday.

The renewed commitment by Moscow comes days after the Afghan security forces received 10,000 Ak-47 assault rifles and ammunition as part of Russia’s contribution to support the Afghan troops in fight against terrorism.

“A large batch of Russian small arms and ammunition for the needs of the Afghan Interior Ministry has been delivered to Afghanistan gratis through the Russian Interior Ministry,” according to a statement by Russia’s Foreign Ministry.

The statement further added “In view of this, the Afghan authorities have expressed gratitude to the Russian leadership.”

“We reaffirm our readiness to continue cooperation with Afghanistan in fighting against terrorism and the drug threat both on the bilateral basis and in cooperation with foreign partners and international organizations,” the statement added.

“We will continue to render assistance to Kabul in establishing and equipping the combat-capable national security forces, in training the personnel for the Afghan law enforcement agencies, including on the basis of specialized Russian universities and colleges.” the statement said.

The Afghan government has stepped up efforts to reach out to the regional countries in a bid to attract support to the Afghan national security forces.

Meanwhile, Russia is looking to step in to support the Afghan government and security forces amid concerns that the terror groups, particularly the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) loyalists, are trying to establish safe havens in the country, a move that could endanger the Central Asian countries.

khaama.com/russia-pledges-continued-support-in-equipping-the-afghan-forces-0214

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China pledges over $70 million to support the Afghan military

By Khaama Press - Tue Mar 01 2016

China has pledged more than $70 million to support the military sector of Afghanistan, the Office of the President – ARG Palace said.

The latest commitment by Beijing to support the Afghanistan military followed during a visit to Afghanistan by Chief of China’s People’s Liberation Army Mr. Fang Fenghui.

A statement by ARG Palace said President Ghani met with the delegation of the Chinese officials led by General Fenghui on Monday evening.

The statement further added Gen. Fenghui briefed President Ghani regarding the plans, views and programs of the China’s President regarding Afghanistan and the region.

Gen. Fenghui quoted in the statement by ARG Palace said “The people of China remembers and appreciates your efforts while serving with the World Bank and implementation of irrigation projects in various parts of China.”

He also hailed Afghanistan’s efforts and steps taken by the Afghan government for expanding ties with the world, maintaining peace and fight against terrorism, pledging Beijing’s cooperation in this regard.

He pledged more than $70 million in fresh military aid to Afghanistan, saying the latest aid will follow besides Beijing’s ongoing cooperation in development and economic sector.

Gen. Fenghui also added that China will call a regional summit to implement the proposal by President Ghani during Shanghai conference for fight against terrorism.

Reiterating China’s commitment to fight terrorism in the region, Gen. Fenghui said Afghanistan is located in a strategic location and acts as an important economic belt, which is continuously threatened by the terror groups.

He recommended a joint fight against the menace of terrorism as per the frame work of Quadrilateral group comprising of Afghanistan, Tajikistan, China and Pakistan, with information sharing to be the central part of the group.

Gen. Fenghui said China remains committed to support Afghanistan with the available resources and facilities, hailing the Afghan forces who are currently busy in suppressing the international terrorism.

Meanwhile, President Ghani said terrorism remains a threat not only for Afghanistan but also threatens regional countries, including China.

He said the Afghan forces will continue to their fight against terrorism, saying the terrorists are receiving training outside the country and are deployed to Afghanistan.

khaama.com/china-pledges-over-70-million-to-support-the-afghan-military-0216

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Rocket hits house in Baghlan leaving one killed, two wounded

By Khaama Press - Tue Mar 01 2016

A rocket has landed on a house in Pul-i-Khumri, the capital city of northern Baghlan province, leaving one person killed and two others wounded.

Local officials believe militants might have aimed the rocket to hit government compounds but it landed on a house in the area.

The police headquarters and governor house are located close to the site.

Those wounded are children of the one killed in the incident.

Baghlan police spokesperson said the rocket was fired from Dand-e-Ghori area where a crackdown has been launched against Taliban.

Taliban have not yet commented on the report.

khaama.com/rocket-hits-house-in-baghlan-leaving-one-killed-two-wounded-4609

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Mideast

Turkey joins military drills in Saudi Arabia

February 29, 2016

The Turkish armed forces have taken part in a large military exercise led by Saudi Arabia, Turkey's CNN Türk television reported on Monday.

Military units from 20 countries joined the first region-wide military drills in Saudi Arabia, revealing a new, assertive and robust approach from Riyadh.

Under the leadership of King Salman, Saudi Arabia has not shied away from risky military entanglements in the region, most notably with its southern neighbor Yemen against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels. It also backs opposition forces in Syria, thus engaging in proxy wars with its regional foe Iran in more than one theater.

To observers, Saudi Arabia's new foreign policy has mostly been driven by its fear of an Iran that has revived its relations with the international community, especially since the Islamic Republic reached a landmark nuclear accord with Western powers.

Saudi Arabia recently formed a 34-nation Islamic military alliance against radical terrorist groups, including the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), but excluded Iran and its allies from the union.

Turkey and Saudi Arabia have cultivated closer ties, partly due to shared interests in the region and a common desire to see the removal of the Bashar al-Assad regime from Syria. The growing partnership took on a new form when Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar accompanied Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on his visit to Riyadh in late January to meet the Saudi king.

During Davutoglu's visit, Akar met with his counterparts, and the Turkish and Saudi militaries agreed to hold joint exercises for the first time.

todayszaman.com/diplomacy_turkey-joins-military-drills-in-saudi-arabia_413643.html

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Top cleric Mehmet Görmez attends Cabinet meeting

February 29, 2016

Religious Affairs Directorate President Mehmet Görmez has participated in a Cabinet meeting presided over by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, a Turkish daily reported.

According to a report on the Hürriyet daily's website, Görmez made a presentation at the Cabinet meeting being held at Çankaya Palace -- the prime minister's residence -- on Monday.

todayszaman.com/national_report-top-cleric-mehmet-gormez-attends-cabinet-meeting_413641.html

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US-led coalition discussed possible Syria ground incursion, Saudi official says

February 29, 2016

Defense ministers from the US-led coalition against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) discussed the possibility of a Syrian ground incursion two weeks ago in Brussels, but have not made a decision, an aide to Saudi Arabia's defense minister told Reuters on Monday.

"It was discussed two weeks ago in Brussels," Brigadier General Ahmed Asseri said in a telephone interview from Riyadh. "It was discussed at the political level but it wasn't discussed as a military mission," he said.

"Once this is organized, and decided how many troops and how they will go and where they will go, we will participate in that," he said. "We need to discuss at the military level very extensively with the military experts to make sure that we have a plan."

Asseri also said the Kingdom was now ready to strike Islamic State from Turkey's southern Incirlik air base, where four Saudi fighter jets have arrived last week. The jets haven't yet participated in any attacks, he added.

The US State Department said the Saudis had previously talked about the possibility of introducing ground forces in Syria to fight Islamic State, but there were many issues that needed to be discussed about a potential incursion.

Deploying ground forces would be a major escalation for the 66-member US-led coalition against ISIL, which has so far relied mainly on air strikes and arming and equipping moderate Syrian opposition groups.

State Department spokesman John Kirby said at a news briefing in Washington that the Saudis had talked about "the potential of an introduction of some sort of ground force element in Syria" and that the United States would welcome such a contribution in the fight against ISIL.

"But there's a lot that needs to be discussed in terms of what they would do, what their makeup would be, how they would need to be supported by the coalition going forward. So there's a lot of homework that needs to be done," Kirby said.

A US defense official said supporting indigenous anti-ISIL forces on the ground was a key component of the US strategy against the group.

"We will continue to provide equipment packages to vetted leaders and their units so that over time they can make a concerted push into territory still controlled" by ISIL, the official said.

"As a matter of policy, we won't comment or speculate on potential future operations," the official added.

todayszaman.com/latest-news_us-led-coalition-discussed-possible-syria-ground-incursion-saudi-official-says_413650.html

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CHP report: People in Southeast alienated from state due to violence

February 29, 2016

The continuing clashes between the security forces and terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in Turkey's Southeast have violated the basic rights of locals and alienated them from the state, the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) has claimed in a report it announced on Monday.

CHP deputies Ali Özcan, Mehmet Göker, Vecdi Gündogdu and Ünal Demirtas along with CHP Deputy Chairman Levent Gök spoke to the heads of civil society institutions, government bodies and locals during a visit to the southeastern provinces of Diyarbakir and Mardin on Feb. 9-10 and discussed a report they had prepared about the social and economic condition of locals in the region.

According to the report, local people's basic rights such as the rights to life, travel, education, health services, communication, a fair trial, residential privacy and family life are violated by the curfews that have been imposed on the region. Locals are angry with both the PKK and the security forces, the report warned, adding that the distrust of locals towards state institutions may deepen if the curfews and clashes between the PKK and the security forces continue.

Violence in the Kurdish-majority Southeast has escalated sharply since a cease-fire between the PKK and Turkish security forces came to an end in July 2015, with the PKK stepping up attacks on security forces in the region. Since the end of the settlement process launched in 2012 to solve the country's decades-old Kurdish problem, curfews have been imposed in 17 southeastern districts and nearly 200,000 residents have been forced to leave their homes.

More than 2,000 teachers have been sent from Sirnak province to their hometowns since December last year after curfews were declared in the districts of Silopi, Cizre and Idil. More than 100,000 students were unable to receive report cards at the end of the semester in January because education services have stopped due to the absence of teachers.

Local demand that peace should come to the area before the government implements its proposed economic reforms for the development of the region, CHP report said. “In particular, transforming state medical centers and schools into checkpoints for the security forces has caused huge resentment among people in the region,” according to the report. It also said that the disruption of education and health services has damaged trust in the government.

The report noted that historical buildings such as the Pasa Turkish Bath, the Kursunlu Mosque, the St. Giragos Armenian Church, the Çardakli Turkish Bath, the Four-legged Minaret and the Chaldean Church in Diyarbakir's Sur district, which are on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's (UNESCO) World Heritage List, have been seriously damaged in clashes. It also said that a detailed restoration of these buildings could take at least five years in order to return Sur to its earlier appearance.

According to the report, 80 percent of buildings in Sur are totally destroyed and the other 20 percent are seriously damaged and not suitable for residence. In addition, business in the region has been strongly affected because of the curfews. The total export revenue in Diyarbakir dropped to $11.8 million in January 2016 down from $15,1 million in the same period in 2015. Mardin's total export revenue dropped in the same period to $52.5 million from $63.4 million.

The unemployment rate, which averages 9.9 percent across Turkey according to recent reports by the Turkish Statistics Institute (TurkStat), stands at 17.4 percent in Diyarbakir and 24 percent in Mardin.

According to the report, the occupancy rate of hotels in Mardin, which has a capacity of 5,600 beds, dropped to 10 percent after the declaration of curfews in the region. More than 20 hotels in Diyarbakir including five-star hotels have been closed and more than 700 people previously working in them are now unemployed, the report said.

todayszaman.com/national_chp-report-people-in-southeast-alienated-from-state-due-to-violence_413646.html

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Erdogan defends his remarks on Constitutional Court ruling

February 29, 2016

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters on Monday that debates over his comments that he will not obey or respect a decision by the Constitutional Court which ruled for the release of two jailed journalists from the Cumhuriyet daily on Feb. 26 prove that he was right.

Speaking at a press conference on Sunday in Istanbul before his departure for his official tour via his private plane to four West African countries, Erdogan said he does not obey or respect the decision by the top court, which ruled that the imprisonment of Cumhuriyet Editor-in-Chief Can Dündar and the newspaper's Ankara representative Erdem Gül for a report on alleged illegal arms transfers to Syria amounted to a violation of their rights.

Both Dündar and Gül were freed by an Istanbul court in the early hours of Feb. 26 after 92 days in jail following the top court's ruling.

"The Constitutional Court may have reached such a verdict. I would only remain silent. I am not in a position to accept it," Erdogan told reporters before departing for a visit to African countries. "I do not obey it nor do I respect it."

When journalists accompanying him on his plane reminded Erdogan that his comments led to strong criticism on social media and in the Turkish media, he said, “This shows my comments were right.”

Dündar responded to Erdogan's remarks during an event in Istanbul on Sunday evening. He said: “The president commented on our release and he said he does not recognize the ruling. It was as follows: We were put in prison on Nov. 26 [2015]. Two guards took us to our ward. The guard who locked the door asked me, ‘Brother, how long do you think this situation will continue? I responded, ‘You should not have fallen into the hands of fascism'.”

todayszaman.com/national_erdogan-defends-his-remarks-on-constitutional-court-ruling_413571.html

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Turkish military welcomes acquittals in military espionage case

February 29, 2016

The Turkish military welcomed a decision by an Izmir court to acquit all suspects but one in a military espionage case, according to a statement released on the General Staff's website on Monday.

The Izmir 5th High Criminal court last Friday ruled for the acquittal of 356 suspects and dismissed the charges against one person in a case which accused a total of 357 suspects, 49 of them regular soldiers, of being members of a spy ring that allegedly obtained classified military information to sell to third parties via sex workers. One of the suspects named Alaattin Parmaksiz died during the trial and his case was dismissed.

The prosecutor of the case argued that the digital evidence against the suspects was forged.

“As the Turkish Armed Forces, we preserved our faith that these prosecutions would end fairly within the boundaries of the right to a fair trial and respecting the rule of law, and with the decision for the acquittal [of the suspects], the righteousness of our faith and expectations are seen once again,” the statement read.

todayszaman.com/national_turkish-military-welcomes-acquittals-in-military-espionage-case_413615.html

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Iran Unveils Five New Defense Industry Products

Mar 1, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan on Monday unveiled 4 products of the defense industry and inaugurated the production line of a key medicine that fights the effects of chemical elements.

The new achievements include 'Pars Kam' detector system that tracks chemical substances dangerous to health, a new system that can detect explosives and drugs, anti-strike and explosion-proof polymer coatings, a new generation of NBC protective clothes based on Travagzin membranes, as well as the production line of Obidoxime chloride medicine that fixes the effects of chemical substances on the body.

Speaking to reporters, Dehqan said the defense ministry will continue to design, invent and produce modern equipment and products for protection of its armed forces.

Earlier this month, the defense ministry had also unveiled 7 national geographic projects.

The projects included a remote defense lab - national spectral sensing, first unmanned smart hydrography Fajr 1 (Dawn 1), coastal development of Makran, production line of digital marine maps, digital geomorphology maps, magnetic marine measuring systems, climate database, and geographic data production line using drone images.

Minister Dehqan said, "The Fajr 1 hydrography is a remote control system, able to transmit data and image, GPS, measure depths, advance multibeam systems, and side scan sonar and radar data."

On the applications of digital maps of geomorphology system, he said they can be used in scientific and research projects, as well as in geography, environment, construction, development, agriculture, defense logistics, civil defense, and military affairs.

According to Dehqan, the database on climate will be used for military and defense purposes, including in tarmacs, military drills, and troop deployments.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941210000475

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Official: Slain Terrorists Planned Attack in Tehran

Mar 1, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The terrorists who were killed on Sunday after crossing Iran's Western borders were planning to strike the capital city after the Friday elections, a provincial authority said Monday.

"The security and military forces disbanded a terror cell in the Soumar and Naft Shahr region yesterday morning," Director of Kermanshah  Governor-General Office for Security and Law Enforcement Affairs Nosratollah Moradi told reporters.

He said the terrorists were armed with bombs, suicide and explosive vests, grenades, pistols and some US dollars.

"They were planning to carry out terrorist attacks in Tehran," Moradi added.

His remarks came after Deputy Interior Minister for Security and Law Enforcement Affairs Hossein Zolfaqari said security forces disbanded a terrorist cell in Western Iran.

"This morning two terrorists crossed the Western borders (in Soumar region). They were killed by border guards and security forces on the spot," Zolfaqari told reporters in Tehran Sunday night.

He said several other terror plots were also foiled before and during the elections on Friday.

Also on Sunday, Commander of the Army's Western Zone Base General Manouchehr Kazzemi said security forces killed the two terrorists and confiscated their weapons, ammunitions and suicide belts.

Earlier on Sunday Intelligence Minister Seyed Mahmoud Alavi had also announced that security forces disbanded two terror cells plotting terrorist attacks ahead of the February 26 vote.

"We identified a Takfiri terrorist on the Southeastern borders on February 8, some 18 days before the vote. He had explosive devices and tools and was planning to strike on Friday," Alavi said at a press conference in Tehran.

According to him, the suspect had a magnetic bomb that could be attached to a car and detonated remotely.

"Also, on the days leading to the elections, intelligence officers were informed of terrorists' intentions to enter the country through the Western borders," Alavi noted.

"We identified a four-member terror cell last Wednesday who had tools for suicide bombings, including 6 suicide vests, electronic detonators, explosive powder, and explosive wicks," he added.

Stressing that the intelligence ministry spares no efforts to increase security in the country, Alavi said, "The intelligence ministry doesn’t allow terrorist streams to use the blind spots and distort national security and calm."

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941210001177

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Erdogan says ceasefire does not cover whole of Syria

February 29, 2016

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that the Syrian ceasefire declared last week covered only one third of the country and he hoped it would be expanded to encompass all of it.

Attacks are still going on in parts of the country, Erdogan, who is on an official visit to West Africa, told a joint news conference in Abidjan with his Ivorian counterpart. The news conference was broadcast live in Turkey.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Monday the pause in the fighting was largely holding, despite some incidents that he hoped would be contained.

todayszaman.com/diplomacy_erdogan-says-ceasefire-does-not-cover-whole-of-syria_413632.html

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Turkish artillery hit ISIL positions in Syria on Sunday, official says

February 29, 2016

Turkish artillery hit as many as 10 Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) targets inside Syria on Sunday, a military official said on Monday.

Up to 50 rounds were fired between 2 and 3 p.m. (1200-1300 GMT), the official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity. The Turkish broadcaster NTV said the targets were to the north of Aleppo.

Militants from the Islamist group had launched an assault on Sunday on the Kurdish-controlled town of Tal Abyad on Syria's border with Turkey.

Warplanes belonging to an international US-led coalition responded with 10 air strikes to try to repel them, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported. It said at least 45 ISIL militants and 20 Kurdish militia fighters had been killed.

While a US- and Russian-sponsored "cessation of hostilities" came into effect in Syria over the weekend, the Syrian government, Russia and the US-led coalition reserve the right to continue attacks against ISIL or the al Qaeda affiliate the Nusra Front.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that the ceasefire covered only one third of Syria, but that he hoped it would be expanded to the whole country.

The countries sponsoring the Syria peace process met in Geneva on Monday amid complaints that the cessation of hostilities was unravelling, with France demanding information about reports of attacks on rebel positions.

todayszaman.com/diplomacy_turkish-artillery-hit-isil-positions-in-syria-on-sunday-official-says_413636.html

 

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