Iraq moving to retake town from Islamic State

Updated 24 February 2015

Iraq moving to retake town from Islamic State

CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait: Iraqi forces appear set to drive Islamic State militants out of the town of Al-Baghdadi, securing an area near a key air base where US Marines are training local forces, a top US commander said on Monday.
Lt. Gen. James Terry, the senior US commander of US-led coalition efforts in Iraq and Syria, played down the militants’ seizure of large parts of the town earlier this month, saying that the area had long been contested.
Speaking to reporters before an unusual war strategy meeting with top US military and diplomatic leaders in Kuwait, Terry portrayed Islamic State as being on the back foot after they swept through northern Iraq last summer.
“My assessment is (Islamic State) is halted, on the defensive, and really forced-exposed themselves in order to achieve gains,” Terry told reporters in Kuwait.
The Iraqi army’s 7th Division, including one of its commando units, were joining with tribal forces to retake Al-Baghdadi, which is about 85 km northwest of Ramadi in Anbar province, Terry said.
“Baghdadi itself isn’t that big,” said Terry, the commander of Operation Inherent Resolve. “I’m pretty confident that the Iraqis will retake this. I think they’ve got the right forces out there to do it.”
Terry estimated that more than 800 Iraqi forces were participating and said the US-led coalition was advising from nearby Ain Al-Asad air base and had carried out airstrikes in support of the Iraqis, although the timing of those was unclear.
Sabah Karhut, head of Anbar Provincial Council, said Iraqi security forces had recaptured Al-Baghdadi police station and had reached the town center. He said there was heavy fighting on Monday and that 20 Islamic State militants were killed.
New US Defense Secretary Ash Carter hosted Terry and other top US commanders and diplomats at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait, seeking to make his own assessment of a war strategy that he inherited when he was sworn into office six days ago.
“This is ‘Team America’ in this region and I wanted to get us together,” Carter told the group of more than two dozen US officials, including Obama’s envoy to the coalition, retired General John Allen.
Carter stressed that Islamic State was a threat that extended beyond Iraq and Syria, and required both political and military efforts to resolve.
There has been a fierce debate in the United States about US strategy, which Obama’s Republican critics say is far too limited militarily to succeed.
There is also increasing concern about Islamic State’s spread, with Libya emerging as a battleground for militants loyal to the group.


COVID-19 infection rates among UAE citizens increased by 30%

Updated 6 min 23 sec ago

COVID-19 infection rates among UAE citizens increased by 30%

  • The total number of recorded cases in the UAE is 61,845 and 354 deaths
  • Meanwhile, the UAE celebrated reaching 5000 vaccinated volunteers in its phase III trials of an inactivated vaccine

DUBAI: The UAE’s Minister of Health and Prevention announced a 30 percent rise in new COVID-19 cases among citizens on Thursday and warned of the dangers of gatherings that do not follow measures.

The minister called for those in the UAE to exercise caution and care in order to curb the spread of the deadly virus.

The official spokesman for the UAE Government, Omar Al-Hammadi, said that the total number of recorded cases in the UAE is 61,845 and 354 deaths, while the current number of patients receiving treatment has reached 5,752.

Meanwhile, the UAE celebrated reaching 5000 vaccinated volunteers in its phase III trials of an inactivated vaccine for COVID-19, state news agency WAM reported.

The trials began in Abu Dhabi last month after China’s Sinopharm CNBG, the world’s sixth-largest vaccine manufacturer, developed an inactivated vaccine that successfully completed phase I and II of testing.

Phase I and Phase II trials, which were conducted in China, resulted in 100 percent of the volunteers generating antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, after two doses in 28 days.

Over 80 nationalities in the UAE have volunteered to participate in the trails, according to WAM.

“This milestone marks a significant achievement for the ongoing clinical trials and is testament to the global commitment to humanity of everyone who calls the UAE home,” Chairperson of the National COVID-19 Clinical Management Committee, Nawal Ahmed Alkaabi, said.

"We reached the 5000 vaccinations faster than anticipated and believe that our trials of the inactivated vaccine are moving faster than comparable trials processes anywhere in the world,” he added.

Alkaabi said that the UAE aims to vaccinate 15,000 volunteers.

The thousands of volunteers who have been vaccinated come from a diverse background and are of all ages between 18 and 60.