Kurdish-led forces seized the Isil's main hub of Hajin Friday, a milestone in a massive and costly US-backed operation to eradicate the jihadists from eastern Syria.
Russia and China on Thursday abstained from an annual United Nations Security Council vote to extend approval for cross-border humanitarian aid deliveries in Syria because Moscow said the four-year-old authorization was "divorced from reality." The remaining 13 council members voted in favor of the resolution drafted by Sweden and Kuwait. It renewed action first taken by the council in 2014 to allow aid deliveries into then rebel-held areas at four border crossings from Turkey, Iraq and Jordan, even though Syria warned against the measure. "The fact that the stabilizing trends are strengthening in Syria is undeniable ... Despite remaining problems there are positive steps in improving the humanitarian situation," Nebenzia said.
It’s a level of pastoral care few universities can boast of providing. A chemistry professor at Lund University dispatched a team of elite mercenaries into an Islamic State warzone to free one of her doctoral students and his family. Charlotta Turner, Professor in Analytical Chemistry, received a text message from her student Firas Jumaah in 2014 telling her to to assume he would not finish his thesis if he had not returned within a week. He and his Yazidi family were, he told her, hiding out in a disused bleach factory, hearing the sounds of gunshots as Islamic State (Isil) warriors roamed the town outside. “I had no hope then at all,” Jumaah told Lund’s University Magazine LUM. “I was desperate. I just wanted to tell my supervisor what was happening. I had no idea that a professor would be able to do anything for us.” But Turner was in no mind to let Jumaah’s research project go unfinished. Firas Jumaah was rescued along with his wife and two daughters “What was happening was completely unacceptable,” she said. “I became so angry that IS could barge themselves into our world, endanger my doctoral student and disturb the research.” She contacted her superiors to find out if anything could be done. “It was a question of basic humanity. My boss gave me the green light and said ‘just do it’,” she said. She contacted the university’s then security chief Per Gustafson. “It was almost as if he’d been waiting for this kind of mission,” she said. “Per Gustafson said that we had deal with a transport and security company which was valid all over the whole world.” Over a few days of intense activity, Gustafson hired a security company which then arranged a rescue operation. Just a few days later two Toyota Land Cruisers bearing four heavily-armed mercenaries roared into the area where Jumaah was hiding. They then drove him him away to Erbil airport together with his wife and two small children. Isil composite “I have never felt so privileged, so VIP,” Jumaah said. “But at the same time I felt like a coward because I left my mother and sisters behind me.” Jumaah and his family follow the Yazidi religion, which has been declared a form of devil worship by Islamic State, and he had flown in from Sweden after his wife had rung him to say that ISIL warriors had entered the neighbouring village. “My wife was in a total panic, everyone was shocked at how Islamic State was behaving. I took the first plane there to be with them. What sort of life would I have had if anything had happened to them when I wasn’t there?” he said. Luckily the rest of the family all survived Isil occupation, while Jumaah, back in Sweden, completed his PHD and now works for a local pharmaceutical company. “It was a unique event. As far as I know no other university has taken part in anything like it,” Gustafson said.
Even as the last pockets of resistance in eastern Syria hold their ground, the Islamic State group is shapeshifting into a new, but no less dangerous, underground form, experts warn. Also known as ISIS, or the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the group had long been ready to cede the territory it once held in its self-styled "caliphate," and has already begun the switch to a more clandestine role, closer to its roots. "ISIS anticipated its battlefield defeat and the loss of the caliphate and prepared accordingly," said Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism expert at Georgetown University in Washington.
Twenty one prisoners, most of them members of Islamic State jailed on terrorism charges, broke out of a prison in northern Iraq but 15 of them have been recaptured, Kurdish security officials said on Thursday. The fortified jail of Sosa is located near the Iraqi Kurdish city of Sulaimaniya and include mainly militants of the hardline Islamist group who were captured during the fight against Islamic State which started in 2014. Kurdish security officials launched manhunt operations after the break-out late on Wednesday and 15 of the 21 were recaptured, two security officials said.
Russia's top diplomat says the make-up of a committee meant to draft a new constitution for Syria is nearly complete, with almost all members agreed on. The announcement comes after Syria's warring sides and mediators last month failed to agree on the formation of the committee, which is seen as key to ending Syria's seven-year civil war. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told Russian news agencies on Friday the list of the committee members "is almost ready" and that he expects the committee to convene early next year. Agreement has already been reached on a 50-member government delegation and a delegation equal in size from the opposition that would be part of the committee. At issue is
The Arab Parliament urged the Arab League on Friday to reinstate Syria's membership, which was suspended seven years ago, Egypt's state news agency said. The Arab Parliament's call is a sign that the Arab League may move to reinstate Syria after it was suspended in November 2011 in response to the Syrian government's violent attacks on protests. For Syria to be reinstated, the Arab League must reach a consensus, though some Arab countries may express reservations but nevertheless allow the move.
BEIRUT (AP) — Even though Syria's civil war is winding down, 2 million of the country's children are still out of schools and it will likely take years and a lot of funding to help overcome the scars of the seven-year conflict, the head of the U.N. children's agency said Thursday.
Pakistan's restive Baluchistan province has been hit by a number of attacks on security personnel but the number of large scale incidents has decreased significantly since 2016. The province's information minister Zahoor Ahmed Buledi told Reuters that six members of the Frontier Corps paramilitary force in charge of security in the region were killed in "heavy" firing along a mountainous stretch of road in the Kech district. Islamist militants linked to the Taliban, al Qaeda and Islamic State have been operating in the province, which borders Iran as well as Afghanistan.
Since the early years of the Syrian civil war, Israel's most threatening combatant has been busier on a different front. The Lebanese militant Hezbollah group, which last fought a war with Israel in 2006, has invested heavily since 2013 in helping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad prevail against groups that rebelled against him. Israeli officials have warned that a day would come when Hezbollah's fighters would again turn their focus to the Jewish state, this time having gained significant combat experience and better weaponry. Israel's discovery of tunnels it says Hezbollah militants dug to infiltrate it from Lebanon has raised concerns that the time is approaching. 1. How has Hezbollah fared
Rohini Hensman's Indefensible: The ISO discovers its muse—the CIA Part 1 By Alex Lantier 14 December 2018 The following article is the first part of a four-part review of Indefensible: Democracy, Counterrevolution, and the Rhetoric of Anti-Imperialism. Rohini Hensman's book Indefensible, issued by the International Socialist Organization's (ISO) Haymarket Books publishing house, is a full-throated endorsement of imperialist war. Trotting out the tired lies of the US and European media, that the Syrian war is a “democratic revolution,” it comes down in favor of virtually every war or overseas operation launched by the Democratic Party since the Stalinist dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Things are changing in Syria. The Syrian government has won the war. Refugees are beginning to return. The creation of a constitutional committee will bring peace to Syria. Syria is safe. Some of these statements are true, some are exaggerated, and others may never become real. What all these statements have in common is the desire for a signal that the war is over, that the world can finally move on from the devastating and brutal violence that has marked the lives of millions of Syrians for the past eight years. Although active hostilities have decreased, very little progress has been made on the underlying causes of the conflict, many of which lie in massive and systematic human rights abuses.
On Tuesday evening, a brazen terror attack occurred in the French city of Strasbourg, claiming three lives and injuring a dozen, six of whom are said to be in critical condition. The suspect was known to police as an Islamic extremist and has been identified as 29-year-old Cherif Chekatt. The suspected shooter evaded capture from a police dragnet and is still on the run, prompting fears of a follow-up attack. The suspect was shot and injured by soldiers guarding the Christmas market in Strasbourg, but escaped in a hijacked taxi. Cherif Chekatt is said to be on a watch-list of around 26,000 people, of whom 10,000are believed to have been radicalized. He had previously served prison sentences in
BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — Suspected jihadists on motorcycles have killed at least 42 people during a series of attacks on Tuareg nomadic camps in Mali, local leaders said Thursday. Moussa Ag Acharatoumane, a Tuareg self-defense official, said the attacks took place Tuesday and Wednesday in the sprawling West African nation's eastern Menaka region. The victims, who included children as young as eight, were members of his group known as MSA, which has been fighting militants with ties to the Islamic State group who are active in the region. This week's violence risks setting off a new cycle of intercommunal clashes in the Menaka region, where 100 civilians have already been killed this year. In September,
The "Of Fathers and Sons" documentarian couldn’t let his true feelings show even when one of his subjects shot a man on-camera while he was interviewing him.