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Operations against IS in Afghanistan to intensify, US general says

BRUSSELS: The United States intends to step up military operations against Islamic State militants in eastern Afghanistan during a temporary ceasefire between the Afghan government and the Taliban, the top US general in Afghanistan said on Friday. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Thursday announced the first unconditional ceasefire with the Taliban, coinciding with the end of the Muslim fasting month. But that excludes other militant groups such as Islamic State. The group has developed a stronghold in Nangarhar, on…

Three dead in France in IS-claimed shooting spree

TREBES: At least three people were killed Friday when a man claiming allegiance to the Islamic State group went on a shooting spree and held people hostage in a supermarket in southwest France before being shot dead by police. "Our country has suffered a terrorist attack," President Emmanuel Macron said in a televised address. Five people were also shot and injured, two of them in a critical condition, a source close to the investigation said. A police officer who took the place of a female hostage is "fighting for…

Guantanamo ‘prepared’ for new inmates: US admiral

WASHINGTON: A top US military official said Thursday the prison at Guantanamo Bay is "prepared" to take new detainees, but has not yet received the order to do so. President Donald Trump last month signed an executive order reversing his predecessor Barack Obama's ultimately fruitless 2009 directive to shutter the much-maligned US prison center. "We have 41 detainees who are there right now. We are prepared to receive more should they be directed to us," Admiral Kurt Tidd, who oversees the military's Southern Command…

Defeated militarily in 2017, IS remains a global threat

PARIS: The year 2017 saw significant destruction to the Islamic State (IS), which lost almost all of its self-proclaimed "Caliphate" in Iraq and Syria, but experts warn the group is adapting and continues to be a threat. Within hours of the start of the year, an Uzbek who described himself as a "Caliphate Soldier" opened fire at a nightclub in Istanbul in Turkey, murdering 39 New Year's Eve revellers. Through directly arming jihadists or by luring them with online propaganda, IS has committed or inspired dozens of…

Iran’s supreme leader hails end of IS ‘tumour’

TEHRAN: Iran's supreme leader has praised his country's contribution to the fight against the Islamic State group, saying it had helped destroy a "tumour" created by the United States and its allies. In an address broadcast on national television, he told a gathering of Basiji militia fighters in Tehran that they had "managed to repel and destroy" IS. "Successive plots fomented in the region by America, the Zionists, Arab reactionary forces and others have all been thwarted by the force of the Islamic Republic,"…

Was IS claim for Las Vegas attack ‘fake news’?

LAS VEGAS: Claims of responsibility for terror attacks by the Islamic State group were once seen as credible, but in the wake of the Las Vegas atrocity, experts stress that the retreating militants are increasingly spreading fake news. Via its propaganda news agency Amaq, IS has twice said that the Las Vegas shooter, a 64-year-old retired accountant, was a "soldier" of the group. On Monday, it put out a second statement claiming serial gambler Stephen Paddock had recently converted to Islam and was known by the nom de…

Russian general killed fighting IS in east Syria

DEIR EZZOR: A Russian general was killed while battling Islamic State group militants near the eastern Syrian city of Deir Ezzor, Moscow's defence ministry said Sunday. "Division general Valeri Assapov was killed when a shell exploded during shelling by IS fighters," the ministry was quoted as saying by local media, adding that the officer was serving as an advisor to Syrian government troops. The ministry said Assapov would be posthumously decorated for his service. Read More: Russian strikes kill 45 Syrian rebels:…

Jordan, Iraq reopen only border crossing

AMMAN: Jordan and Iraq on Wednesday reopened their only border crossing, saying security had been restored three years after the Islamic State group seized control of frontier areas. In a joint statement, the two countries' governments said the crossing, called Turaibil in Iraq and Al-Karameh in Jordan, was reopened after it was "secured... against attacks by criminal gangs". The border crossing is part of a crucial route linking the Iraqi and Jordanian capitals, and its reopening comes after Iraqi forces managed to…

IS destroys 840-year-old al-Nuri mosque in Mosul

MOSUL: The Islamic State group destroyed Mosul’s al-Nuri mosque and its iconic leaning minaret known as al-Hadba when fighters detonated explosives inside the structures on Wednesday night, Iraq’s Ministry of Defense said. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said the destruction of the sites was "an official declaration of defeat" from the militants in the eight-month-old battle for Mosul. AFP adds: "Our forces were advancing toward their targets deep in the Old City and when they got to within 50 metres (yards) of…