Daesh fighters move to Syria’s Idlib, clash with factions — sources

A phoo taken on February 9, 2018 in the countryside of Idlib, where Syrian government forces are conducting a major offensive. (AFP)
Updated 10 February 2018
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Daesh fighters move to Syria’s Idlib, clash with factions — sources

BEIRUT: Daesh fighters clashed with Syrian insurgents in the northwestern province of Idlib on Friday, a monitoring group and a rebel commander said, accusing pro-government forces of opening a corridor for the extremists to reach the region.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said government forces had allowed Daesh fighters to leave a besieged pocket of territory at the intersection of Aleppo, Idlib and Hama provinces, and then go to southern Idlib.
A military news outlet run by Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which is fighting on the Syrian government side, reported gains for the army and its allies against Daesh in that pocket, but made no mention of the militants being allowed to leave.
A commander in the alliance fighting alongside Syria’s army said the Daesh militants left the enclave. “The pocket is finished. A crossing was opened till they exited, and then it was closed,” the commander said.
The Syrian military could not be reached for comment.
“The regime started the operation against this pocket seven days ago, suddenly they were able to take 80 villages and towns after giving them a corridor,” said Rami Abdulrahman, director of the Observatory, a Britain-based war monitoring group.
Hasan Hajj Ali, commander of the Free Idlib Army rebel group, confirmed the report. Ali said his fighters were taking part in clashes against some 200 Islamic State fighters who had arrived in southern Idlib early on Friday.
“This morning at dawn we were surprised by the joint treachery by the regime and Daesh,” he told Reuters. Clashes were under way in the village of Lweibdeh, he said. “They have six armored vehicles with them.”
A source in the Ahrar Al-Sham faction said Daesh fighters had pushed into south Idlib from government territory.
“The rebel factions are repelling Daesh attempts to advance,” the source said. “The regime’s militias opened a gap helping the besieged Daesh forces pass.”
Idlib is the largest chunk of Syrian territory held by insuirgent factions opposed to President Bashar Assad’s government. Extremist factions including Al-Qaeda’s former affiliate in the Syrian war dominate the province.


Iran warned over failure to implement anti-terror financing measures

Updated 19 October 2018
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Iran warned over failure to implement anti-terror financing measures

  • The Financial Action Task Force said it was disappointed that Tehran had acted on only nine out of 10 of its guidelines despite pledges to make the grade

PARIS: The international group that monitors money laundering worldwide said on Friday Iran had until February to complete reforms that would bring it into line with global norms or face consequences.
The Paris-based Financial Action Task Force said after a meeting of its members that it was disappointed that Tehran had acted on only nine out of 10 of its guidelines despite pledges to make the grade.
“We expect Iran to move swiftly to implement the commitments that it undertook at a high level so long ago,” said Marshall Billingslea, the US assistant Treasury Secretary for terrorist financing, after chairing an FATF meeting.
“In line with that, we expect that it will have adopted all of these measures by February. If by February 2019 Iran has not yet done so, then we will take further steps,” he said.
In the meantime, the FATF said it had decided to continue suspending counter-measures, which can go as far as limiting or even banning transactions with a country.
Iran’s parliament approved some new measures against funding terrorism earlier this month under pressure to adopt international standards. But FATF said that it could only consider fully enacted legislation.
Members of FATF had already given Tehran until this month to bring its laws against money-laundering and funding of terrorism up to its guidelines.
Otherwise, Iran risked being returned to a blacklist of non-compliant countries that makes foreign investors and banks reluctant to deal with it.
Britain, France and Germany are trying to keep some financial channels open to Iran after the US pulled out of a 2015 nuclear deal in May and re-imposed sanctions.
Analysts say that inclusion on the FATF’s blacklist could effectively make that all but impossible.