India says 39 workers abducted in Iraq in 2015 dead

An Iraqi boy stands at the entrance of a destroyed building in the old city of Mosul on March 14, 2018, eight months after the Iraqi government forces retook the city from the control of Daesh. (AFP/Ahmad Al-Rubaye)
Updated 21 March 2018
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India says 39 workers abducted in Iraq in 2015 dead

NEW DELHI: Iraqi authorities have found the bodies of 39 Indian workers who were abducted by militants from the Mosul area three years ago, India’s foreign minister said Tuesday.
The abducted workers, mostly from northern India, had been employed by a construction company near Mosul when militants overran the Iraqi city and seized wide swaths of territory. Relatives said they received phone calls from some of the workers five days after Mosul was captured in 2015 saying they needed help.
Around 10,000 Indians worked and lived in Iraq at that time
Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj told lawmakers in Parliament on Tuesday that the bodies were recently found buried in a mound of earth near Badush, a village northwest of Mosul that Iraqi forces had taken back from the Daesh group last July.
Search operations led to a mound in Badush where local residents said bodies had been buried by the Daesh group, Swaraj said.
Iraqi authorities used radar to establish that the mound was a mass grave, she said, and exhumed the bodies. Indian authorities then sent DNA samples of relatives of the missing workers.
Swaraj said Iraqi authorities informed the Indian government on Monday that DNA tests confirmed that 38 of them were the kidnapped workers. The DNA test for the remaining body has yet to be fully confirmed.


Russia says no decision made yet on delivery of S-300 missiles to Syria

Updated 19 min 52 sec ago
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Russia says no decision made yet on delivery of S-300 missiles to Syria

  • Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says no decision has been made on missiles
  • Advanced S-300 missile systems were rumored to be delivered to ally Bashar Assad

Moscow: Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday that Russia had not yet decided whether it would deliver advanced S-300 missile systems to Syria, but would not make a secret of the matter if it took such a decision, the TASS news agency reported.
Russia’s daily Kommersant newspaper, citing unnamed military sources, reported earlier on Monday that Russia might start supplying the anti-aircraft missile systems to Syria in the near future. The Kremlin declined to comment.
Lavrov said on Friday that Western military strikes on Syria this month had removed any moral obligation Russia had to withhold the missile systems from its ally Syrian President Bashar Assad.
“We’ll have to wait to see what specific decisions the Russian leadership and representatives of Syria will take,” TASS cited Lavrov as saying on Monday during a visit to Beijing.
“There is probably no secret about this and it can all be announced (if a decision is taken),” added Lavrov.
Kommersant said on Monday that experts believed that Israel would react negatively to any decision to supply the missiles and might bomb the area where they would be deployed.
A Russian diplomat who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity said Israel has asked Moscow not to supply the Syrian military with the S-300s. An Israeli government spokesman declined comment.