Fewer than 3,000 Daesh fighters left in Iraq, Syria: coalition

Tanks and humvees of the Iraqi forces supported by the Hashed Al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization units) advance through Anbar province, 20 kilometers east of the city of Rawah in the western desert bordering Syria, on Nov. 25, 2017, in a bid to flush out remaining Daesh fighters in the Al-Jazeera region. (AFP/Ahmad Al-Rubaye)
Updated 06 December 2017

Fewer than 3,000 Daesh fighters left in Iraq, Syria: coalition

BAGHDAD: There are fewer than 3,000 Daesh group fighters clinging on in the remnants of its self-styled caliphate in Iraq and Syria, the US-led coalition battling the jihadists said Tuesday.
Daesh is currently fighting for survival in the handful of sparsely populated pockets of territory it still holds, a far cry from the vast swathes of ground it captured in 2014.
“Current estimates are that there are less than 3000 Daesh fighters left — they still remain a threat, but we will continue to support our partner forces to defeat them,” coalition spokesman Ryan Dillon wrote on Twitter.
Iraqi government troops backed up by air strikes from the US-led coalition are pressing an offensive to wipe out the jihadists’ last foothold in the desert.
In Syria Daesh have faced separate onslaughts by forces backed by Russia and the US in Deir Ezzor province and now control just a tiny sliver of the region along the Euphrates river.
The US has already begun winding down its forces deployed to fight Daesh, with the coalition saying at the end of November that more than 400 Marines who helped in the recapture of Syrian city Raqqa were being withdrawn.


Jordan criticizes Israel over Al-Aqsa Mosque changes

Updated 40 min 57 sec ago

Jordan criticizes Israel over Al-Aqsa Mosque changes

  • Palestinians welcomed the Jordanian position but expressed concerns over a decline of support for Amman’s custodianship of the holy places at Al-Aqsa

AMMAN: Jordan has stepped up its diplomatic pressure on Israel, demanding that they do not change the status quo at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Zaid Lozi, director-general of Jordan’s Foreign Ministry, summoned Israeli Ambassador to Jordan Amir Weissbrod to protest Israel’s actions in Jerusalem.

According to Petra News, Lozi told the envoy that recent remarks by Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Ardan over changing the status quo at Al-Aqsa Mosque are unacceptable. Lozi added that the mosque is a place of worship for Muslims only.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi addressed a group of EU ambassadors in Amman and “stressed the urgency of effective international steps against Israel’s violations of Holy Sites in occupied Jerusalem.”

Safadi told Arab News that the situation in Jerusalem is challenging and must be addressed. He said that he will present a detailed report on Jordan’s position to Parliament on Monday.

The ministry denounced the Israeli authorities’ closure of the mosque’s gates and demanded that Israel respects its obligations in accordance with international humanitarian law.

HIGHLIGHT

• Muslims insist that all 144,000 square meters of the UNESCO World Heritage Site are a single unit that has belonged to them for 11 centuries.

Hatem Abdel Qader, a member of the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, told Arab News that Israeli authorities had been attempting to enforce major changes at the mosque.

“Security forces barged into the mosque yesterday. They went to the Bab Al-Rahmeh Mosque where they confiscated carpets and the closet where shoes are kept.”

Jordan’s diplomatic statements follow comments by Ardan, who said that Israel is disappointed with the current state of affairs at Al-Aqsa Mosque.

According to Israeli officials, the mosque area is sovereign Israeli territory, despite it being administered by Jordan. Muslims insist that all 144,000 square meters of the UNESCO World Heritage Site are a single unit that has belonged to them for 11 centuries.

Qader said that Palestinians welcomed the Jordanian position but expressed concerns over a decline of support for Amman’s custodianship of the holy places at Al-Aqsa.

“There appears to have been a gradual deterioration of Arab and Islamic support to Jordan. It surprises me that Muslims have been quiet, perhaps they see an advantage if Jordan’s role is diminished? If true, this would be dangerous.”

Qader, a former minister in the Palestinian government and a current member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, told Arab News that Jordan’s position “guarantees continuation of the status quo.”