US-led coalition destroys Syrian mosque used as Daesh command center

Smoke billows after bombings in the Deir Ezzor province, near Hajin, eastern Syria, on December 15, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 16 December 2018
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US-led coalition destroys Syrian mosque used as Daesh command center

  • Daesh lost nearly all the territory it once held in Syria last year in separate offensives by the US-backed SDF on the one hand, and the Russian-backed Syrian army on the other

WASHINGTON: The US-led coalition in Syria destroyed on Saturday a mosque in the town of Hajjin which had been used as a Daesh command and control center, the US military said.
Hajjin is the last big town that the Daesh holds in its remaining enclave east of the Euphrates River. The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, spearheaded by the Kurdish militia, have battled to eliminate the militants there for several months.
The US coalition said that 16 heavily armed Daesh fighters were using the mosque as a base to attack. “This strike killed these terrorists who presented an imminent threat, and eliminated another deadly Daesh operational capability from the battlefield,” the US military said in a statement.
Lilwa Al-Abdallah, spokeswoman for the offensive in eastern Deir Ezzor province, said on Friday that the coalition would soon re-take Hajjin.
Daesh lost nearly all the territory it once held in Syria last year in separate offensives by the US-backed SDF on the one hand, and the Russian-backed Syrian army on the other.


Egypt militant returned from Libya back on trial: media

Updated 31 min 42 sec ago
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Egypt militant returned from Libya back on trial: media

  • Hisham Al-Ashmawy’s retrial was being held in a military court
  • He is ‘accused of carrying out terror operations against the army, police forces and civilians’

CAIRO: An Egyptian militant captured in Libya and returned to Cairo was put on trial again Tuesday over five terror attacks, including one for which he has already received a death sentence in absentia, according to local media.
Hisham Al-Ashmawy — one of the country’s most-wanted militants — “is accused of carrying out terror operations against the army, police forces and civilians” killing 54 people in total, news website Ahram reported.
His retrial was being held in a military court, the site said.
He was sentenced to death in 2017 in absentia by an Egyptian military court over his involvement in attacking and killing soldiers at a checkpoint near the porous border with Libya.
Authorities have also linked Ashmawy with high-profile attacks including a 2013 assassination attempt on then-interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim and the 2015 killing of a top public prosecutor.
The militant was flown back to Cairo in May, after being handed over by Libyan National Army chief Khalifa Haftar whose forces captured him in 2018 in the eastern city of Derna.
Haftar, who is leading a military offensive against the UN-recognized government in Tripoli, seized the city of Derna last summer. His forces are backed in particular by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.
A former officer with Egypt’s special forces, Ashmawy was dismissed in 2012 over concerns about his religious views.
He joined the Sinai-based Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis but broke with the group after it pledged allegiance to the Daesh group in November 2014.
Known by his nom de guerre “Abu Omar Al-MuHajjir,” Ashmawy announced the formation of an Al-Qaeda-aligned militant group Al-Mourabitoun in Libya in July 2015.
He is also accused of being behind attacks in Egypt’s Western Desert region.