Syrian Kurds capture two British Daesh militants — US officials

An image grab taken off a video on January 20, 2015, reportedly released by Daesh through Al-Furqan Media, allegedly shows Japanese hostages Kenji Goto (L) and Haruna Yukawa (R) at an undisclosed location. The Daesh group threatened to kill the two Japanese hostages unless Tokyo pays a $200 million ransom within 72 hours to compensate for non-military aid. (AFP)
Updated 09 February 2018
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Syrian Kurds capture two British Daesh militants — US officials

WASHINGTON, Feb 8 : Two British Daesh militants known for their role in the torture and killings of Western hostages were captured by Syrian Kurdish fighters, two US officials said on Thursday.
The men were the last of a group of four militants known as the “Beatles,” for their English accents, to remain at large.
The two, whose capture was first reported by the New York Times, were identified as Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh.
A separate US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) had captured the two in early January in eastern Syria. The official said US forces in the area had been given access to the militants.
A US-led coalition has pushed Daesh out of most of the territory it controlled in Iraq and Syria, but its leader, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, who proclaimed the self-styled caliphate in 2014, remains at large.
The US State Department sanctioned Kotey in January 2017, saying he was a guard for the “Beatles” and “likely engaged in the group’s executions and exceptionally cruel torture methods, including electronic shock and waterboarding.”
Kotey had also acted as a recruiter and was responsible for recruiting several British nationals to join the militant group, the State Department said.
In March 2017, the State Department sanctioned Elsheikh, saying he was “said to have earned a reputation for waterboarding, mock executions, and crucifixions while serving as an ISIS jailer.”
The most notorious of the four was Mohammed Emwazi, known as “Jihadi John,” an executioner of hostages made famous by Daesh videos of beheadings.
A US-British missile strike believed to have killed Emwazi, a British citizen of Arab origin, was months in preparation but came together at lightning speed in 2015 in the Syrian town of Raqqa, according to US officials.
Emwazi became the public face of Daesh and a symbol of its brutality after appearing in videos showing the murders of US journalists Steven Sotloff and James Foley, US aid worker Abdul-Rahman Kassig, British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning, Japanese journalist Kenji Goto and other hostages.


Saudi Arabia's KSRelief says blast kills 5 foreign demining experts in Yemen

Updated 21 min 51 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia's KSRelief says blast kills 5 foreign demining experts in Yemen

SANAA: A Saudi demining group says five of its international experts have been killed by an accidental explosion in Yemen while transporting mines and explosives to be destroyed.
The MASAM Demining Project said Monday that two South Africans, a Croatian, a Bosnian and a Kosovar were killed a day earlier while transporting the material in the central Marib province to a remote location where it could be safely detonated. It says a British national was wounded.
The project, part of the Saudi King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief), began last year and seeks to remove unexploded ordnance from Yemen.
MASAM says the experts “lost their lives while attempting to bring safety and security to the Yemeni people, and their service to mankind will not be forgotten.”


This comes as Yemeni security officials say UN envoy Martin Griffiths has arrived in the capital, Sanaa, on an unannounced visit to discuss the “complex situation” in and around the coastal city of Hodeidah, where Yemen’s warring parties agreed to a cease-fire last month and agreed on a prisoner exchange that has yet to take place.
Also under discussion from Monday will be disagreements between the Houthi militia, who hold Hodeidah, and Retired Dutch Maj. Gen. Patrick Cammaert, who is heading a UN mission charged with monitoring the cease-fire.
The conflict in Yemen began with the 2014 takeover of Sanaa by the Iranian-backed terrorist group. An Arab coalition allied with the internationally recognized government has been fighting the Houthis since 2015.
The officials spoke anonymously as they weren’t authorized to brief journalists.
Meanwhile, the coordination cell at the Advanced Operations Center in Hodeidah identified 688 violations committed by the Houthi militia since the cease-fire took effect on Dec. 18.
A cell report published by the Yemeni News Agency said that these violations committed by the Houthis led to the killing of 48 citizens and 362 others wounded, some with serious injuries.
A military source in the committee pointed out that the Houthi violations continue with various types of weapons, which target civilian houses, public places and army positions.
The source stressed that the militia continues to strengthen its defensive positions by planting mines and digging trenches and land passages at the entrances to the city and the main sites.
The source pointed out that the Iran-backed militia aims to provoke the forces of the Yemeni National Army and the Arab coalition through these increasing violations, in a clear intent to thwart the Stockholm cease-fire agreement.
The source called on the office of the UN envoy to take the necessary and serious measures to pressure the Houthi militia to immediately stop these violations and abide by the UN-led agreement on Hodeidah.