Turkish police rescue 57 refugees ‘in chains’

A Police officer stands guard in Ankara, Turkey in this file photo. (AFP)
Updated 29 November 2017
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Turkish police rescue 57 refugees ‘in chains’

ISTANBUL: Turkish police rescued 57 Pakistani migrants who had been chained up in an Istanbul basement by people smugglers trying to extort money, local media reported Tuesday.
The smugglers told the migrants that they would take them to Europe for $10,000, with the money to be paid after they arrived, according to Hurriyet daily.
Some of those found on Monday had been tortured, the newspaper added.
Police also detained three smugglers of Pakistani origin on suspicion of misleading the migrants during the raid on the European side of the city.
The migrants had reportedly hoped to reach Europe via Greece or Italy, giving a code to the smugglers to access the money upon reaching Europe, Hurriyet said.
However, the people-smuggling gang mainly made up of Pakistanis demanded the $10,000 upfront and told the migrants chained in Istanbul to call their families to tell them they had reached Europe already and to transfer the money, the daily said.
Hundreds of thousands of migrants including Syrians, Iraqis, Pakistanis and Afghans have entered Europe in recent years.
At the height of the refugee crisis in 2015, over a million migrants arrived in Europe by sea, though the numbers have declined since a 2016 deal between Turkey and the EU.
 


Truckloads of civilians leave Daesh enclave in Syria

Updated 22 February 2019
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Truckloads of civilians leave Daesh enclave in Syria

  • The village is all that remains for Daesh in the Euphrates valley region that became its final populated stronghold in Iraq and Syria
  • The SDF has steadily driven the militants down the Euphrates after capturing their Syrian capital

NEAR BAGHOU: Trucks loaded with civilians left the last Daesh enclave in eastern Syria on Friday, as US-backed forces waited to inflict final defeat on the surrounded militants.
Reporters near the front line at Baghouz saw dozens of trucks driving out with civilians inside them, but it was not clear if more remained in the tiny pocket.
The village is all that remains for Daesh in the Euphrates valley region that became its final populated stronghold in Iraq and Syria after it lost the major cities of Mosul and Raqqa in 2017.
The SDF has steadily driven the militants down the Euphrates after capturing their Syrian capital, Raqqa, in 2017, but does not want to mount a final attack until all civilians are out.
The US-led coalition which supports the SDF has said Islamic State’s “most hardened fighters” remain holed up in Baghouz, close to the Iraqi frontier.
Mustafa Bali, head of the SDF’s media office, earlier told Reuters that more than 3,000 civilians were estimated to still be inside Baghouz and there would be an attempt to evacuate them on Friday.
“If we succeed in evacuating all the civilians, at any moment we will take the decision to storm Baghouz or force the terrorists to surrender,” he said.
Though the fall of Baghouz marks a milestone in the campaign against Islamic State and the wider conflict in Syria, the militant group is still seen as a major security threat.
It has steadily turned to guerrilla warfare and still holds territory in a remote, sparsely populated area west of the Euphrates River — a part of Syria otherwise controlled by the Syrian government and its Russian and Iranian allies.
The United States will leave “a small peacekeeping group” of 200 American troops in Syria for a period of time after a US pullout, the White House said on Thursday, as President Donald Trump pulled back from a complete withdrawal.
Trump in December ordered a withdrawal of the 2,000 troops, saying they had defeated Daesh militants in Syria.

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