Iraqi militia threatens ISIS supply route to Syria

A woman carrying a handicapped child uses the opportunity to flee during a lull in the fighting as the Iraqi Special Forces 2nd division engage ISIS terrorists while pushing into the Aden neighborhood in Mosul on Wednesday. (AFP)
Updated 17 November 2016
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Iraqi militia threatens ISIS supply route to Syria

BAGHDAD/BASHIQA: Iraqi militias said on Wednesday they had driven ISIS terrorists from an air base west of Mosul, a victory which would threaten its supply route from Syria to its last major stronghold in Iraq.

“The airport of Tal Afar has been liberated,” Yusif Al-Kallabi, a spokesman for Popular Mobilization, a coalition of mainly Iranian-backed militias, told Iraqi state TV.
The capture of the base, if confirmed, could be a significant development in the campaign to recapture Mosul, ISIS’ de facto capital since its forces swept through Iraq in 2014 and set up a self-declared caliphate in a swathe of Syria and northern Iraq.
Tal Afar lies about 60 km west of Mosul on the main road to Syria. Its seizure could also alarm Turkey, which is wary of Iraqi involvement in the civil war in Syria.
“Tal Afar will be the starting block for the liberation of all the area...to the Syrian border and beyond the Syria border,” said Hadi Al-Amiri, head of Badr Organization, Popular Mobilization’s largest component, in a video clip.
While the Shiite coalition is fighting ISIS west of Mosul, regular army and police units are trying to advance from the other sides, backed by Kurdish Peshmerga fighters deployed in the north and the east.
Iraqi counter-terrorism forces breached ISIS defenses in east Mosul two weeks ago but have faced resistance from the militants, who have fought back with suicide car bombs, snipers and waves of counter-attacks.
The campaign that began on Oct. 17 with air and ground support from a US-led coalition is the biggest military operation in Iraq in more than a decade of turmoil unleashed by the 2003 invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.
Popular Mobilization, known locally by its Arabic name Hashid Shaabi, has said it plans to use Tal Afar base to take the battle against ISIS into Syria, fighting on the side of President Bashar Assad, an ally of Iran. Although it officially reports to Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi, it is mainly trained and equipped by Iran.
Popular Mobilization’s advance toward Tal Afar, which had a mixed population of mainly Shiite and Sunni Turkmen before ISIS captured it in 2014, has raised the prospect of sectarian strife and alarmed neighboring Turkey.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said last month that Turkey was reinforcing its troops on the border with Iraq and would respond if the militias “cause terror” in Tal Afar.
Iraq’s Abadi has sought to calm fears that the operation to recapture Tal Afar would ignite sectarian tension or escalate problems with Turkey, saying the attacking force that would enter the town will reflect its religious and ethnic make-up.


Dead body business attracts medics, drug dealers in Egypt

Egyptian Christians stand outside St. Markos Church in Minya, south of Cairo, Egypt, in this Jan. 6, 2015 file photo. (AP)
Updated 23 July 2019
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Dead body business attracts medics, drug dealers in Egypt

  • Some of the gravediggers remove tissues and grease from the bones by boiling them to remove their odor before selling them to students

CAIRO: The Egyptian Orthodox Church has issued a statement condemning the theft of the body of the Patriarch Gerges, son of priest Ibrahim Al-Basit, from his family’s burial place in the Minya governorate.
Last Saturday, the cemetery was opened and Al-Basit’s body was stolen. The crime of stealing the bodies of the dead has recently spread across Egypt, especially while the sanctity of the body remains preserved. It is also common for the remains to be collected two years after the burial.
Last October, a gang was arrested after stealing bodies from their graves. An investigation has revealed that the main defendant sold the bodies to medical students for practical learning.
Some of the gravediggers remove tissues and grease from the bones by boiling them to remove their odor before selling them to students.
The investigation found that the defendant had put a price on various limbs. The leg and the arm were priced at 3,000 Egyptian pounds ($180), the skull cost 5,000 pounds and the whole body was worth 20,000 pounds.
Ashraf Farahat, a legal expert and lawyer, said that Egyptian law demands up to five years of imprisonment and a fine of 100-500 pounds for criminals who violate the sanctity of graves.
Yasser Sayed Ahmed, a legal expert and lawyer, said he knew of many cases where cemetery guards and assistants help people access graves for superstitious reasons in exchange for large sums of money.
The majority of these cases are happening with the help of the guards of the tombs. They exhume graves at night to extract the bodies and separate the organs to sell bones and skulls. They often sell them to drug dealers by grinding and mixing some materials for sale at high prices.