Macron sees Daesh military defeat in Syria, Iraq within ‘weeks’

French President Emmanuel Macron said that Daesh in Syria and Iraq would be defeated militarily “in the coming weeks.”(AFP)
Updated 20 January 2018
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Macron sees Daesh military defeat in Syria, Iraq within ‘weeks’

TOULON: French President Emmanuel Macron said Friday that the Daesh organization in Syria and Iraq would be defeated militarily “in the coming weeks,” as he laid out plans for bolstering France’s defense capabilities.
“Today, thanks to the efforts of all the nations involved, the Daesh military organization in the Levant is almost completely defeated,” Macron said in a speech aboard a helicopter carrier in the southern port of Toulon.
“I’m confident that in the coming weeks we will achieve a military victory on the ground,” he said.
“I want us now to firmly commit with our partners to stabilization, reconstruction and aide to populations” after years of conflict, he said.
With many of its leaders dead and its fighters on the run, IS has now lost almost all the land it once controlled in Syria and Iraq.
France, which recently pulled out two of the 12 Rafale fighter jets it had been operating in the region, currently has about 1,200 personnel in the international coalition fighting the militants.
Macron said that although combat operations would continue, the country would “adapt” its contribution this year to developments, without providing details.
The French government has increased the 2018 defense budget by 1.8 billion euros, bringing it to 34.2 billion euros ($42 billion).
Macron reiterated his pledge to lift French defense spending to two percent of the country’s GDP by 2025, in line with the target agreed to by NATO members in 2014.
The increased spending will include a “renewal” of France’s nuclear arsenal during his five-year term, Macron said, calling nuclear deterrence “the keystone of our defense strategy for the past 50 years.”


Egyptian military court sentences journalist to 10 years

Updated 5 min 20 sec ago
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Egyptian military court sentences journalist to 10 years

CAIRO: An Egyptian military court has sentenced a freelance journalist who reported on the Sinai insurgency to 10 years in prison on terror-related charges.
The Cairo military court on Tuesday convicted Ismail Alexandrani of spreading false news and joining an outlawed group, without identifying it. The verdict can be appealed.
Alexandrani was detained in 2015 upon his return to Egypt after delivering a presentation on Sinai militancy in Berlin. He worked for several news outlets in Egypt.
Egypt has heavily restricted media access to the northern Sinai, where it has struggled to combat a Daesh-led insurgency that has carried out attacks across the country.
Egyptian authorities have jailed several journalists as part of a wide-ranging crackdown on dissent, and have passed vague laws criminalizing the dissemination of “false news.”