Syria/Russia Regime Presses on in NW Syria

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Regime Presses on in Northwest Syria

Thursday, 29 August, 2019 – 11:15
FILE PHOTO: Road direction signs are pictured at the entrance to Khan Sheikhoun, Idlib, Syria August 24, 2019. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki/File Photo
Asharq Al-Awsat
Russian-backed regime forces seized a cluster of towns and villages in northwest Syria Thursday, as deadly air strikes hit the opposition-held bastion, a monitor said.

Seven civilians died in air strikes in the south of the bastion, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, a day after regime air strikes killed 12 others, including six children in a single town.

Bashar al-Assad’s forces have been chipping away at the southern edge of the stronghold for three weeks, after months of deadly bombardment.

Last week, the regime took control of the town of Khan Sheikhoun on a key highway that runs through Idlib province, linking Damascus to second city Aleppo.

Overnight, pro-regime fighters “managed to advance in the southern Idlib countryside”, according to the head of the Britain-based Observatory, Rami Abdel Rahman.

They took control of the towns of Al-Tamaanah and Al-Khuwayn, as well as nearby villages, east of Khan Sheikhoun, he said.

“The forces are trying to further extend their control in the area of Khan Sheikhoun before they advance north in the direction of the town of Maaret al-Noman,” he added.

Maaret al-Noman is the next stop northwards on the Damascus-Aleppo highway.

Regime air strikes killed 12 civilians — half of them children — in Maaret al-Noman on Wednesday.

Also on Wednesday, another four civilians, including one child, were killed in other parts of the bastion.

Afghanistan: Bomb kills 63 at wedding in Kabul

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Afghanistan: Bomb kills 63 at wedding in Kabul

The wedding hall after the blastImage copyright AFP
Image caption The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the attack

Burials are taking place in the Afghan capital, Kabul after a bomb exploded at a wedding hall killing 63 people and wounding more than 180.

The Islamic State (IS) group said it was behind for the attack.

The blast happened on Saturday during a wedding ceremony at around 22:40 local time (18.10 GMT).

President Ashraf Ghani has condemned the attack, describing it as “barbaric”. He blamed the Taliban for “providing a platform to terrorists.”

The Taliban has denied involvement and condemned the attack.

What happened?

An IS statement said that one of its fighters blew himself up at a “large gathering” while others “detonated a parked explosives-laden vehicle” when emergency services arrived.

The Afghan interior ministry confirmed the death toll hours later. Pictures on social media showed bodies strewn across the wedding hall amid overturned chairs and tables.

Afghan weddings often include hundreds of guests who gather in large halls where the men are usually segregated from the women and children.

The groom who gave his name as Mirwais told local TV: “My family, my bride are in shock, they cannot even speak. My bride keeps fainting.

“I lost my brother, I lost my friends, I lost my relatives. I will never see happiness in my life again.”

“I can’t go to the funerals, I feel very weak … I know that this won’t be the last suffering for Afghans, the suffering will continue,” he said.

A funeral is held in KabulImage copyright REUTERS
Image caption Burials are taking place in Kabul following the attack

The bride’s father told local media that 14 members of his family were killed in the attack.

Wedding guest Mohammad Farhag said he had been in the women’s section when he heard a huge explosion in the men’s area.

“Everyone ran outside shouting and crying,” he told AFP news agency.

“For about 20 minutes the hall was full of smoke. Almost everyone in the men’s section is either dead or wounded.”

Injured men receive treatment in hospitalImage copyright REUTERS
Image caption More than 180 people were injured in the bombing

A waiter at the hall, Sayed Agha Shah, said “everybody was running” after the blast.

“Several of our waiters were killed or wounded,” he added.

Media caption The floor of the wedding hall was covered in blood after the explosion

Writing on Twitter, president Ashraf Ghani said he had called a security meeting to “review and prevent such security lapses.”

Presentational white space

The explosion took place in the west of the city, mostly populated by Shia Muslims.

Sunni Muslim militants, including the Taliban and the Islamic State group, have repeatedly targeted Shia Hazara minorities in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

A Taliban spokesman said the group “strongly condemned” the attack.

“There is no justification for such deliberate and brutal killings and targeting of women and children,” Zabiullah Mujaheed said in a text message to the media.

What’s the background?

The latest blast comes just 10 days after a huge bomb outside a Kabul police station killed at least 14 people and injured nearly 150.

The Taliban said they carried out that attack.

On Friday a brother of Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhundzada was killed by a bomb planted in a mosque near the Pakistani city of Quetta.

No group has so far claimed that attack.

A source in Afghan intelligence told the BBC that Hibatullah Akhundzada had been due to attend prayers at the mosque and was probably the intended target.

Tensions in the country have been high even though the Taliban and the US, which has thousands of troops stationed in Afghanistan, are reportedly getting closer to announcing a peace deal.

A woman cries outside a hospital after the blastImage copyright EPA
Image caption Worried relatives gathered outside a hospital in Kabul on Saturday

How are Afghan peace talks progressing?

Taliban and US representatives have been holding peace talks in Qatar’s capital, Doha, and both sides have reported progress.

On Friday, US President Donald Trump tweeted that both sides were “looking to make a deal – if possible”.

The deal would include a phased US troop pullout in exchange for Taliban guarantees that Afghanistan will not be used by extremist groups to attack US targets.

The Taliban would also begin negotiations with an Afghan delegation on a framework for peace including an eventual ceasefire. The militants have been refusing to negotiate with the Afghan government until a timetable for the US withdrawal is agreed upon.

The Taliban now control more territory than at any point since they were forced from power in 2001.

Israel: ISIS fighter captured in Syria asks Netanyahu to bring him home

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Israeli Islamic State fighter captured in Syria asks Netanyahu to bring him home

Speaking Hebrew, Sayyaf Sharif Daoud requests PM’s intervention, noting that Jerusalem works to secure release of IDF soldiers held in captivity

Sayyaf Sharif Daoud, an Arab Israeli who traveled to Syria to join IS, speaks with Al Arabiya. (video screenshot)

Sayyaf Sharif Daoud, an Arab Israeli who traveled to Syria to join IS, speaks with Al Arabiya. (video screenshot)

An Israeli citizen captured in Syria while fighting with the Islamic State terror group asked to return home this week, telling news outlet Al Arabiya that he wants Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to repatriate him.

In an interview with the network broadcast Wednesday, Sayyaf Sharif Daoud beseeched the premier to work to bring him back, noting Israel’s policy of making deals to return soldiers captured by the country’s enemies.

“I am an Israeli citizen. I know you are the prime minister of a democratic state that does not differentiate between Jews and Arabs,” Daoud said at the end of his interview, switching from Arabic to Hebrew.

“Many countries removed their citizens from here. Everyone knows what you did for one Israeli soldier, your country is large and scary,” Daoud said, presumably referring to the deal made to return Gilad Shalit, who was held in Gaza for five years before being released in 2011 as part of a controversial deal with Hamas in which Israel freed over 1,000 Palestinian security prisoners.

“I request that you return me to Israel. It is very hard, this jail. It is very, very hard. This is my request and I know it is not hard for you to do. And by god I promise to not go back to how I used to be and to become a respectable person,” Daoud added.

In this undated file photo released online in the summer of 2014, terrorists of the Islamic State group hold up their weapons and wave its flags on their vehicles in a convoy on a road leading to Iraq, in Raqqa, Syria. (Militant photo via AP, File)

Captured in Deir Ezzor, the 30-year old Israeli citizen claimed that he had not participated in war crimes, serving instead as a nurse.

He told Al Arabiya that at one point IS had imprisoned him because he was Israeli.

“Any person I have any problems with, could go to the security forces and tell them that I’m Israeli. I would get imprisoned immediately,” he said.

“Imagine, after three years of being in the state, they imprison you and tell you ‘you’re Israeli,’” Daoud continued. “I used to feel ashamed of calling it [a state] that’s following the prophet’s steps. They wanted to record my voice speaking against Israel [but I did not] want to cause Israel or [my] family any trouble.”

“Many of us, not only me, were opposed to the slaughtering style. There are children, there are pregnant women,” he said, denying any role in the mass killings perpetrated by the terror group. “I founded a rescue team to help the injured from strikes. Whenever there was a strike, I’d be there.”

Asked if he had been armed, he replied “I carried a gun. Every person in the state, whether they’re a nurse, or working in the oil field, they need to carry a gun.”

Men suspected of being Islamic State fighters are searched by members of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) after leaving the Islamic State’s last holdout of Baghouz in Syria’s northern Deir Ezzor province, February 22, 2019. (Bulent Kilic/AFP)

In a previous interview with BBC Arabic that was translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), Daoud praised Israel, explaining why he chose to join Islamic State rather than any of the Palestinian terrorist organizations.

“I lived through the Second Intifada. I have seen war. I lived in the West Bank and in Israel. Israel has not done one percent of what Bashar Al-Assad has done,” he said, referring to Syria’s president. “There was fighting and all that, but Israel has not raped women or stripped them naked on TV, and it has not killed with such barbarity.”

Noting that his father had warned him against Hamas and Fatah, Daoud said that “Israel is a democratic state. I have not seen injustice there. We Arabs live together in Israel with the Jews. There is no injustice. We are treated just like the Jews.”

Daoud apologized to his parents, saying in Hebrew that he had “made a big mistake” and was sorry for the problems he had caused them.

“I know that my mother thinks of me every day and she is angry and that is very difficult for me because I always think of her.”

Foreign volunteers from around the world have served with Islamic State and many have requested to be allowed to return home. Australia recently moved to bar the return of Islamic State supporters who are demanding to be repatriated from crowded refugee camps in Syria.

In April, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri moved to strip an Israeli man of his citizenship for traveling to Syria to join Islamic State six years ago. Deri instructed ministry officials to take action in absentia against Abdallah Hajleh at the recommendation of the Shin Bet security service. The revocation must be approved by a special citizenship court. According to reports in Hebrew-language media, Hajleh has a citizenship in a second country.

The Shin Bet security service has in the past estimated that several dozen Israeli nationals had fought for IS in Iraq and Syria. Most were either killed in action or returned to Israel, where they were arrested.

READ MORE:

Iraqi Police: ISIS Attack Kills Seven Security Forces

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Iraqi Police: ISIS Attack Kills Seven Security Forces

Thursday, 1 August, 2019 – 09:45
Iraqi security forces gather at the site of a car bomb in New Baghdad, January 11, 2016. REUTERS/Ahmed Saad
Asharq Al-Awsat
At least seven members of Iraq’s security forces were killed and 16 wounded overnight in two separate attacks by ISIS, police said on Thursday.

Three members of the paramilitary Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) and two policemen were killed in an attack in the Sayed Gharib area north of Salahuddin province’s Dujail district, 50 km north of Baghdad, late on Wednesday, police said, Reuters reported.

Meanwhile, a mortar attack against Kurdish forces in Kola Jawi village of Sulaimaniya province’s Kalar district at midnight killed two members of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government’s Asayish internal security forces and wounded 14, an Asayish source said.

However, ISIS has not claimed responsibility for either attack.

According to Reuters, Iraq declared victory over ISIS, which once held large swathes of the country, in December 2017.

India: Lashkar, ISIS in plans with Pak army to target Indian assets in Afghanistan

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Lashkar, Islamic State in plans with Pak army to target Indian assets in Afghanistan

The move comes at a time when Pakistan is under intense pressure from the US and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to crack down on LeT and other groups such as Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).

INDIA Updated: Jul 23, 2019 08:55 IST

Shishir Gupta and Rezaul H Laskar
Shishir Gupta and Rezaul H Laskar
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Lashkar-e-Taiba,Afghanistan,Jaish-e-Mohammed
Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, LeT chief.(REUTERS FILE PHOTO)

The Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) is working closely with Islamic State in Afghanistan and has drawn up plans with the Pakistan Army to target Indian and US assets and interests in the war-torn country, people familiar with developments said on Monday.

During a recent meeting between LeT operatives and a team of Pakistan Army and the country’s spy agency Inter- Services Intelligence in Jaba area of Dangam district in Kunar province, the terror group was directed to attack Indian and US assets, the people, including intelligence officials and diplomats in New Delhi and Washington, said on condition of anonymity. LeT commanders were tasked to carry out different types of attacks, including with suicide bombers sent from Pakistan, they added. The move comes at a time when Pakistan is under intense pressure from the US and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to crack down on LeT and other groups such as Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM). LeT founder Hafiz Saeed was recently arrested on terror financing charges.

This also coincides with reports by the Pentagon and a UN panel about the presence of hundreds of LeT cadres in Afghanistan. The Pentagon report put the number of LeT operatives at 300, while the UN report said 500 fighters are active in Kunar and Nangarhar provinces alone.

“LeT’s presence in Afghanistan has been observed to be steadily on the rise. According to recent inputs, Hafiz Saeed’s son Talha Saeed is taking more interest in operational affairs in Afghanistan,” said an official who didn’t want to be named. The information on LeT activities has been shared with the US and Afghanistan.

Opinion | Time to end the charade around Hafiz Saeed

The reasons for LeT focusing on Afghanistan are strategic rather than ideological, including the creation of safe havens for its fighters and a belief the Taliban are in a commanding position, the people said. With its fighters easily crossing the porous border, LeT wants to take credit for an “Islamic victory” in Afghanistan and has been increasing its presence in Kunar, Nangarhar and Nuristan, they said.

The presence of LeT fighters has also been reported in Badakhshan, Laghman, Kabul, Ghazni, Wardak, Paktia, Paktika, Khost, Kandahar and Helmand provinces and it maintains good relations with IS, the people said. The IS has provided tacit support for LeT to increase its presence, they added. While the LeT has so far avoided carrying out direct attacks in Afghanistan, it coordinates with al-Qaeda and Taliban in attacks on foreign and Afghan forces. The UN panel had also reported the LeT was a key provider of fighters, weapons and finance for the Taliban and Haqqani Network.

Several madrassas in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar are supporting the LeT in Afghanistan, including Ganj Madrassa, which helps recruit cadres, Jamia Ashrafia, Hazrat Bilal Madrassa, Markaz Khyber, which is headed by local JuD leader Qari Nouman, Markaz Al-Madina.

The JeM, which has traditionally had strong ties with the Afghan Taliban, has also stepped up its operations in Afghanistan and its cadres are fighting under the leadership of the Taliban, the people said. These cadres include a significant number of battle-hardened JeM militants and suicide bombers from Pakistan’s Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provinces, they said.

The JeM leadership also conducts its own operations in Afghanistan that are directed from a base in Peshawar, the people said.

JeM has also set up another front in Quetta that is used for attacks in Afghanistan’s Ghazni provinces. JeM currently has its cadres in Nuristan, Kunar, Laghman, Khost, Ghazni, Geelan, Helmand and Nangarhar areas.

Also read | ‘Seen this drama 8 times’: India on 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed’s arrest in Pakistan

First Published: Jul 23, 2019 05:45 IST

U.S. citizen accused of becoming ISIS sniper and training fighters in Syria

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC NEWS)

 

U.S. citizen accused of becoming ISIS sniper and training fighters in Syria

Ruslan Maratovich Asainov is accused of trying to recruit someone he didn’t know was a confidential informant for the New York City Police Department.

Afghanistan: Several Killed, Scores Wounded in Blast Outside Kabul University

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Several Killed, Scores Wounded in Blast Outside Kabul University

Friday, 19 July, 2019 – 11:30
Workers clean the site of an explosion in Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, July 19, 2019. A powerful bomb exploded outside the gates of Kabul University in the Afghan capital on Friday, according to police and health officials. (AP Photo)
Asharq Al-Awsat
A deadly bomb exploded outside the Kabul University in the Afghan capital on Friday.

At least eight people were killed, while almost 33 were wounded, according to police and health officials, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

A number of the wounded are reported to be in critical condition.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, the latest to target Kabul. However, both the Taliban and ISIS often stage large-scale bombings in the city.

The early blast also set two vehicles ablaze although it wasn’t clear if the attack was carried out by a suicide bomber or a remotely detonated bomb, stated Kabul police spokesman Ferdous Faramarz.

The casualty tolls were released by the Health Ministry spokesman, Dr. Wahidullah Mayar over Twitter.

“All the wounded patients were evacuated to our hospitals and have been receiving the required treatment,” he tweeted.

According to AP, after initial reports of six dead, Mayer said two people died of their wounds and that the number of wounded rose to 33, following reports from hospitals around the city.

The university compound houses several hostels where many students stay over the summer, attending classes and working on research projects.

In a 2016 attack, 13 people were killed, mostly students, and more than 40 people were wounded when militants attacked the American University in Kabul. In that attack, a car bomb exploded outside the university gates, followed by a blistering, hours-long attack in which gunmen roamed through the compound shooting at students and teachers.

Russia Expresses Serious Concern over Decline in Number of Refugees Leaving Rukban

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Russia Expresses Serious Concern over Decline in Number of Refugees Leaving Rukban

Thursday, 11 July, 2019 – 11:30
Humanitarian aid is prepared to be delivered to Syria, in the town of Ramtha, Jordan, July 2, 2018. (File Photo: Reuters)
Moscow – Raed Jabr
Russia has renewed its accusation of the US hindering the exit of refugees from al-Rukban camp in southern Syria, and expressed serious concern about the humanitarian situation in the region.

The Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria issued a statement strongly criticizing Washington’s actions in the region, accusing it of turning a blind eye to militants in Rukban using civilians as “human shields”, a move that aggravates the humanitarian situation.

The Center also expressed “serious concern about a decline in the number of refugees leaving the Rukban camp, due to the desire of militants controlled by the United States to keep them as human shields.”

It explained that militants have constantly increased the financial cost of allowing people to move from al-Tanf zone to the Jleb checkpoint, which falls under the control of the Syrian government.

“We draw to the attention of the international community that further retention by the United States and its allies of Syrian territories, the Rukban and al-Hol refugee camps only delays the end of the conflict in Syria, aggravates the criminal situation, hampers the repatriation of Syrians,” the statement added.

Rukban is located within a 55-km so-called deconfliction zone established by the Pentagon with the aim of shielding the Tanf garrison from attacks.

Moscow has repeatedly called for removing the displaced from the camp and announced with the Syrian authorities the establishment of two crossings for refugee exit, but they failed to convince the displaced to go to areas under regime control.

Washington is ignoring the situation, said Chief of the Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria Major General Viktor Kupchishin, adding that refugees abstain from leaving the camp because of the fuel crisis in the region and the increase in crossing fees imposed by US-affiliated militants.

Washington, in turn, accuses the Russians of blocking access of UN humanitarian aid to the region.

As of June 10, 2019, 13,539 refugees have left the Rukban camp, including 2,842 men, 3,817 women and 6,880 children, according to Russian estimates.

On the other hand, a number of Russian military and security experts believe it is time for the Russian tankers to replace Iranian tankers to cover oil shortage to Syria.

Recently, Vladimir Mukhin wrote in Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper saying escalation by Washington and its allies against Damascus and Tehran by trapping oil tankers will have major repercussions if Moscow does not intervene quickly to settle this issue.

Mukhin viewed the seizure of an Iranian tanker by the British Royal Marines as a plan “carefully organized in Washington and London,” recalling a statement by White House national security adviser John Bolton in which he welcomed Britain’s seizure of the tanker loaded with Iranian oil bound for Syria.

The expert said Moscow is currently facing in Syria a new phase of war against the Syrian regime and Iranian leadership.

He added that aside from the blockade on transferring goods to Syria, the United States has unofficially imposed a ban on the purchase of oil produced in Syrian territories occupied by the US forces, which is an attempt to further stifle the Syrian economy.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported that last month, five underwater pipelines in Syrian coastal waters from Tartus to Banias were targeted, resulting in a huge oil spill.

The experts agreed that this was a “sabotage act” carried out by militants close to “one of the major military forces hostile to the Assad regime.”

The newspaper believes Moscow should deal with current developments because it reflects an attempt to intensify the pressure on Damascus and block Russian efforts to normalize the situation in Syria.

Should Trinidad and Tobago repatriate the families of ISIS recruits?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

(OPED: Just my opinion but here it is>Security protocols should be followed on all of the adults. If a woman joined of her own free will give them to the Syrian government for them to deal with. If a woman or a child were kidnapped then yes, allow them to come back home. But any child 12 or older who went willingly to be with ISIS then no, do not allow them back into your country unless it is somehow proven that they are not a future security risk. Any adult who went willingly should have their passports and visas terminated at once. They wanted to help bring hell on earth, let them live in that hell that they wanted for others to have to live in for themselves, turn them over to the Syrian government and the non-Islamic countries need to clear out of Syria as soon as it is possible to do so.)(oldpoet56)  

Should Trinidad and Tobago repatriate the families of ISIS recruits?

A screenshot from a YouTube video titled “Walk through Syria’s al-Hawl camp where thousands of Islamic State brides are held,” uploaded by ABC News (Australia), which shows the living conditions for the thousands of women and children inside the camp.

ISIS, the al-Qaeda offshoot that used to control large parts of Iraq and Syria using brutal, oppressive and violent tactics, lost control of these territories in January 2019. Since then, the families of many foreign ISIS militants have been left stateless.

Approximately 130 citizens from the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago have joined ISIS abroad —  the highest per capita source for recruits for the militant group in the Western hemisphere, catapulting Trinidad and Tobago into a debate over the repatriation of the dependents of ISIS recruits.

The exodus of fighters from the small Caribbean nation has declined since Syrian and American forces declared defeat over ISIS. Many of the militants, mostly men, have been arrested or killed, leaving behind wives and children. Their abandoned families now seek shelter and food in detention camps in Syria, most notably the al-Hol refugee camp in northeast Syria.

When Trinidad and Tobago’s parliament met on July 2, 2019, Senator Wade Mark asked whether or not the government plans to facilitate the return of the families of foreign nationals who joined ISIS. National Security Minister Stuart Young replied that he had not yet received confirmation as to whether or not there were Trinidad and Tobago nationals at the camp.

The group Con­cerned Mus­lims of Trinidad & Tobago (CMTT), which maintains there are at least 40 children and 16 women at the al-Hol camp with ties to Trinidad and Tobago, has asked the government to assist in the return of these nationals. However, Minister Young has made it clear that the country must go through security protocols before making any decisions on their return:

This al-Hol refugee camp houses persons who fled from ISIS war zones, and the first thing the government has to do is a verification exercise. The government has policies and procedures which we have implemented, including the use of Team Nightingale, which is a multi-agency task force comprising the Children’s Authority, Counter Trafficking Unit, counter-terrorism units, TTPS, TT Defence Force, Immigration, persons from Ministry of National Security and other agencies [and] our intelligence services.

Young could not say how long the process would take, but some members of the local Muslim community have voiced their concerns about the women and children, who are reportedly living in uninhabitable conditions at the camp. Describing the situation as a hu­man­i­tar­i­an cri­sis, Trinidadian Imam Sher­az Ali recently made a TV appearance in which he said that many of the women and children who went to Syria did so against their will.

In a March 2019 report, The New York Times said that the camp held 72,000 people. More recent investigations by France 24 say that the number has increased to 100,000 people, in the camps and surrounding areas. The al-Hol camp dwellers comprise people from all over the world, some of whom refuse to return home and others who are desperate to leave.

Only a few official reports indicate Trinidadian women and children in the camp — actual numbers are not known. In early 2019, however, a Trinidadian mother finally reunited with her two young sons after their father abducted them and took them to Syria. Human rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith organised the rescue mission and later criticised the Trinidad and Tobago government for its lack of support, even though a press release by the Ministry of National Security claimed a role in the rescue operation. Calling the release “insulting drivel”, Stafford Smith said that the government’s specialised team meant to deal with nationals in Syria was “utterly useless” and of no help to the mother in her search for her boys.

While many citizens were happy for the young boys’ return, others are a bit skeptical about the return of others — mainly adult women — from the camp.  Countries like France have made the decision to only repatriate children; adults would have to go through an investigation before any talk of a return:

CCN TV6@tv6tnt

Two boys, aged 11 & 7 who were kidnapped by their father (a deceased ISIS fighter) and taken to Syria, are due to return to their mother in Trinidad. Do you welcome their return?

83%Yes
17%No

Shari Paul 🧜🏾‍♀️@ShariKimmyDee

So we’re supposed to jeer at two young, possibly deeply traumatized children, because of their father’s actions? Are you serious?

See Shari Paul 🧜🏾‍♀️‘s other Tweets

Some members of the local Muslim community have kept up their appeals. Until official numbers can be determined and strategies put into place, the futures of any Trinbagonian women and children will remain in limbo.

Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher not guilty of murder in ISIS detainee’s death

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher not guilty of murder in ISIS detainee’s death

San Diego (CNN)Decorated Navy SEAL team leader Eddie Gallagher was found not guilty of premeditated murder in the death of an ISIS prisoner in Iraq.

While Gallagher was serving Mosul in 2017, Navy prosecutors said he killed a young ISIS fighter who was being treated by US medics, posed for photos next to his corpse and then pressured other SEALs not to report him. Fellow SEALs testified that he also shot at noncombatants.
Gallagher was found not guilty of all but one charge, posing for a photo with a human casualty. He faces a maximum sentence of four months, although he has already served 201 days.
Navy Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, left, and his wife, Andrea Gallagher arrive at military court Monday.

Sentencing begins Tuesday afternoon.
Gallagher’s defense portrayed him as an “old-school, hard-charging warrior” who was targeted by younger “millennial” SEALs who harbored “personal animosity” toward him.
The case took an unexpected turn when a key prosecution witness testified that he caused the prisoner’s death, not Gallagher.
Special Operator First Class Corey Scott, a SEAL medic, said that he saw Gallagher pull out his knife and stab the prisoner under his collar bone at least once.
On cross-examination, Scott told the defense that he never saw any blood after the stabbing. That’s when Scott claimed he caused the prisoner’s death by holding his thumb over his trachea tube until he suffocated.
Scott described the killing as an act of mercy because he was concerned the boy — a prisoner of the Iraqi forces — would be tortured by the Iraqis.
Scott did not admit to killing the prisoner in previous interviews with investigators and prosecutors. He testified that he was only doing so now because he was granted immunity, which means he cannot be prosecuted for his testimony.
An angry prosecutor called him a liar. He might now face a perjury charge.
In total, the chief special warfare operator was accused of seven criminal counts: premeditated murder, willfully discharging a firearm to endanger human life, posing for a photo with a casualty, retaliation against members of his platoon for reporting his alleged actions, obstruction of justice, and the attempted murders of two noncombatants, a man in June 2017 and a young girl the next month.
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