Category Archives: Sports

Germany extends arms embargo on Saudi Arabia for another 6 months

BAGHDAD The German government said it would extend a six-month ban on arms exports to Saudi Arabia in a dispute over European arms exporters who have joint programs with German companies.

The ban was imposed after the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in a move that drew criticism from European allies for making billions of euros worth of military orders, including a deal worth 10 billion pounds ($ 13.27 billion) for the sale of 48 Eurofighter Typhoon fighters to Riyadh, in an agreement led by British company BAE Systems.

The freeze has stoked the chancellery of German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the Social Democrats, her coalition partners who want to win the applause of traditional skeptics who are skeptical of arms sales and worried about Saudi Arabia’s role in the war in Yemen.

“It is decided to extend the ban for another six months to September 30 … during this period, no new export applications will be accepted,” government Spokesman Stephan Zeibert said in an e-mailed statement on Thursday.

Source: National Iraqi News Agency

New attack by Saudi Arabia on America and Israel

BAGHDAD Saudi Arabia has confirmed that “the Israeli occupation and recognition of it as a support for terrorism.”

Saudi Arabia’s Permanent Representative to the UN Security Council, Abdullah al-Maalami, confirmed during a special session on the financing of terrorism that the occupation and recognition of the occupation is a support for terrorism, referring to the American recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Syrian Golan.

US President Donald Trump signed a declaration last Monday recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Syrian Golan Heights, occupied by Israel in 1967 and annexed in 1981.

The Syrian government responded to this recognition, saying it was a blatant attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria. Trump’s decision was the highest contempt for international legitimacy and a disgraceful insult to the international community. The United Nations is losing its status and credibility. Through the blatant American violation of its resolutions on the occupied Golan, in particular resolution 497 of 1981.

Saudi Arabia announced its rejection of and condemnation of the declaration issued by the US administration regarding the recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights. The kingdom has published on Twitter a statement of its position on the US decision backed by US President Donald Trump on Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

The Golan is a Syrian territory occupied by Israel since June 5, 1967, and refuses to withdraw from it despite UN Security Council Resolution 497 of 17 December 1981, which calls on Israel to cancel the annexation of the Syrian Golan Heights and to consider its laws, jurisdiction and administration there as null and void of effect.

Source: National Iraqi News Agency

Saairun Block Denies Reaching An Agreement Between The Political Blocs On The Names Of New Candidates For Remaining Ministries

BAGHDAD The Saairun parliamentary bloc denied reaching an agreement between the political blocs on the names of new candidates for the remaining ministries.

MP of the bloc, Talaat Karim, in a statement to (NINA), ruled out putting the subject of voting on the candidates for the remaining ministries (Defense – Interior – Justice – Education) during the next few sessions, due to the lack of consensus between the political blocs on the new names nominated for those ministries, “.

Karim called on Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi to provide new names of ministries away from political consensus, to end the file of vacant ministries and then go to new files, including the nomination of agents and heads of independent bodies currently administered by proxy.

Source: National Iraqi News Agency

Syrian Fighters Clear Explosives in Area Retaken from IS

BAGHUZ, SYRIA U.S.-backed Syrian fighters cleared explosives in the last area retaken from the Islamic State group on Sunday, a day after declaring military victory over the extremists and the end of their self-styled caliphate.

A spokesman for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, who goes by the nom de guerre Mervan The Brave, said Baghuz village where the militants made their final stand is “full of all kinds of explosives.” He said SDF forces were clearing the area and have detonated land mines and suicide belts left behind by the militants. A Syrian driver working with NBC News reporters was killed Saturday by an explosive device that went off in a house used as an SDF command post and a media center for journalists covering the fighting in Baghuz.

Noah Oppenheim, the president of NBC News, said in a statement that network employees escaped unharmed. He expressed “deepest sympathies” to the driver’s family and loved ones.

“We are still gathering information from today’s events, and are in touch with the driver’s family to support them however we can,” he said. It was not immediately clear what caused the explosion.

The victory announced in Baghuz on Saturday marks the end of a devastating five-year campaign by an array of forces to retake territories held by IS in Syria and Iraq. At its height, IS controlled a sprawling self-declared caliphate the size of Britain that was home to some 8 million people. The campaign against the group came at a staggering cost, with entire neighborhoods and towns destroyed across a swath of Syria and Iraq.

Unknown numbers of fighters and supporters are believed to have gone underground, and the group has continued to carry out insurgent attacks in areas that were liberated months or even years ago.

It’s not known whether the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is still alive or where he might be hiding.

“This is an historic moment, but we cannot be complacent,” tweeted Maj. Gen. Christopher Ghika, the deputy commander of the U.S.-led coalition against IS.

“Even without territory, Daesh will continue to pose a threat to the people of Iraq and Syria, as well as to the wider world. The coalition must remain firm in its determination to counter Daesh,” he said, referring to the extremist group by an Arabic acronym.

Thousands of people, including IS fighters and their family members, left Baghuz in recent weeks and were taken to detention centers and camps for the displaced elsewhere in eastern Syria. The militants were holding hostages and had detained civilians, whose fate remains unknown.

Separately, Syrian state media reported that nearly two dozen people have suffered from asphyxiation after shells were lobbed from rebel-held areas into government-administered villages in the country’s west. The state news agency quoted director of a local hospital in Hama province saying 21 people were hospitalized after inhaling gases in the attack on al-Rasif and al-Aziziyeh villages.

The pro-state Al-Ikhbariya TV interviewed survivors at the hospital who said a foul smell followed the launching of mortars into their villages.

The months-old truce, sponsored by Russia and Turkey, in Syria’s west has been tested, as fighting between government forces and al-Qaida-linked militants resumed. The government wants to regain control of a key highway that flanks the opposition-held area. Al-Qaida-linked militants have expanded their dominance in northwestern Syria, rooting out other armed opposition groups and undermining the truce.

Source: Voice of America

Islamic State Defeated, US-Backed Syrian Force Says

U.S.-backed forces raised their flag over the northeastern Syrian town of Baghuz and said the self-declared caliphate of the Islamic State terror group was finally dead.

The long-anticipated announcement Saturday by the Syrian Democratic Forces followed several waves of coalition airstrikes that repeatedly lit up the night sky.

The targets were several hundred hardened IS fighters who had been clinging to scraps of land along the Euphrates River and along a mountainous ridge on the outskirts of the town. And by the time the sun began to illuminate littered and broken landscape, their resistance had been broken.

The Bagoz [sic] village has been fully liberated, SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali announced on Twitter. Syrian Democratic Forces declare total elimination of so-called caliphate and %100 [sic] territorial defeat of ISIS.”

We congradulate [sic] the world with the elimination of the so called Khalifet [sic],” Bali added.

The announcement came almost 12 hours after a similar declaration by U.S. President Donald Trump, who told reporters travelling with him aboard Air Force One that IS had been 100 percent defeated following a briefing from Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan.

The territorial caliphate has been eliminated in Syria, added White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders.

But Trump’s announcement was quickly refuted by U.S. defense officials and the SDF.

Bali told VOA’s Kurdish Service Friday that even as the president was speaking, his forces were still engaged with IS fighters in Baghuz and that additional airstrikes were being carried out.

Until now, SDF officials have been wary of declaring victory over IS in Baghuz, pointing to numerous predications of the terror group’s ultimate demise over the past several months that all proved to be premature.

Coalition officials also warned IS was putting up a hard fight until the very end, while also resorting to what it described as gruesome tactics, including the use of children as human shields.

But the very last territory under IS control began to slip through the terror group’s grip for good late Thursday into early Friday, after the U.S.-led coalition launched a new wave of airstrikes targeting the remaining IS-held positions.

Observers on the ground said the bombardment convinced perhaps a few hundred more IS fighters to surrender, though the rest seemed intent on fighting to the death.

At its height in 2014, IS ruled over large swaths of Syria and Iraq, boasting dual capitals in Raqqa, Syria, and Mosul, Iraq.

Since then, the U.S.-led international coalition, along with partners on the ground, have rolled back the terror group’s hold.

But U.S. defense and intelligence officials have long warned that the collapse of the Islamic State’s caliphate will not be the end of the fight.

A senior U.S. defense official said recently that most of the group’s senior leadership, including self-declared caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, remain at large, commanding at minimum “tens of thousands” of fighters and supporters across Syria and Iraq.

And there are also concerns that IS, which has already been engaged in an active insurgency in parts of Syria and Iraq, has thousands more supporters and sympathizers � including upwards of 60,000 people who have surrendered since the SDF and coalition launched their final assault last month.

These folks are unrepentant, the official said. The seeds for a future caliphate or certainly a persistent clandestine insurgency exist in these large numbers of people who … are looking to reposition for future perpetuation of ISIS in some form or fashion.”

And even in the face of imminent defeat, IS’ true believers remain defiant.

Those who are bewildered and think that our caliphate is over … we will say that it’s remaining and expanding, a fighter from Baghuz, identifying himself as Abu al-Harith al-Ansari, said in a video released Thursday and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group.

The banner has been elevated, and the Ummah, whose sons are racing to martyrdom, does not know defeat, he said.

Source: Voice of America

Islamic State Driven From Last Village In Syria

U.S. President Donald Trump has hailed the recapture of the last Islamic State-held territory in Syria, but said the United States would remain vigilant until the extremist group “is finally defeated wherever it operates.”

We will continue to work with our partners and allies to totally crush radical Islamic terrorists, Trump said in a statement on March 23.

U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced on March 23 that they had liberated the village of Baghuz, the last area held by Islamic State (IS) in Syria, marking the end of a brutal self-styled caliphate, which the extremist group carved out in large parts of Iraq and Syria in 2014.

Earlier, Mustafa Bali, a spokesman for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), tweeted on March 23 that the eastern Syrian village of Baghuz was free, declaring victory over the extremists and the end of their self-declared caliphate.

SDF fighters paraded in memory of 11,000 comrades killed in years of fighting against IS. A band played the American national anthem.

The SDF has been battling to capture Baghuz at the Iraqi border for weeks.

Bali says the so-called caliphate, which once sprawled across much of Syria and neighboring Iraq, is gone, and pledged to continue the fight against remnants of the extremist group until they are completely eradicated.

‘Committed To Enduring Defeat’

Western officials, including U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, said the United States and coalition partners still had much to do despite the group’s territorial defeat in Syria.

“We still have work to do to make sure that radical Islamic terrorism doesn’t continue to grow,” Pompeo said.

U.S. acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan said the “work is far from complete” and added that the United States remains committed to Islamic State group’s “enduring defeat.”

We will continue our work with the Global Coalition to deny [IS] safe haven anywhere in the world, Shanahan said in a statement on March 23.

French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Theresa May welcomed the recapture of Baghuz as a major step. Both France and Britain back the SDF.

In a statement, May cautioned that the coalition must not lose sight of the threat IS still poses.

Syrian Ambassador to the UN Bashar Jaafari said on March 22 that it was the Syrian government backed by Russia and Iran that was genuinely battling IS, not the United States.

The fall of Baghuz marks the end of a nearly five-year campaign by multiple forces against the extremist group, which at one time controlled an area the size of Britain.

The Iraqi government declared victory against IS in 2017.

The group no longer controls any territory in Syria or Iraq, but continues to carry out attacks in both countries.

It also has affiliates in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.