US takes aim at Yemeni Daesh for first time

(Reuters)
Updated 17 October 2017

US takes aim at Yemeni Daesh for first time

DUBAI: The United States said it launched its first attack on Daesh’s deadly Yemen branch on Monday with a series of nighttime airstrikes that residents said targeted two villages and killed several people.
Unmanned US drones launched around 12 missiles at militant positions in Yakla and Al-Abl in southern Al-Bayda province, according to local people living nearby, who declined to be named due to safety concerns.
They said the number of casualties caused by the attack was not immediately clear because locals were too afraid to approach the site as US aircraft hovered over the area for hours.
The Pentagon said in a statement that US forces had killed dozens of Daesh members in a strike on two camps where fighters trained in using machine guns and grenade launchers.
Residents disputed that account, saying the fighters targeted actually hailed from a powerful Al-Qaeda affiliate who deployed in the area to fight Iran-aligned Houthi militiamen as part of Yemen’s civil war, which began in 2015.
The complex conflict pits a kaleidoscope of tribes, military units and political factions against each other in chaotic rivalries that have allowed hard-line Sunni Muslim militant groups like Al-Qaeda and Islamic State to thrive.
The United States provides arms and logistical support to a Saudi-led military coalition that has launched almost daily air strikes against the Houthis to try to restore Yemen’s internationally recognized government.
Al Qaeda in Yemen, one of the fiercest branches of the global network, has plotted to down US airliners and claimed responsibility for the 2015 attacks on the office of Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris.
It has been targeted by US air strikes for a decade.
Daesh, which only launched its first bombing in Yemen as it careered toward civil war in March 2015, has claimed responsibility for a series of spectacular attacks on military and civilian targets which have killed hundreds of people. (http://reut.rs/2ghdNRx)
Yakla, one of the sites targeted in the strike, was the site of a US raid in January targeting suspected Al-Qaeda militants which local medics said killed 30 people including 10 women and children, and also left a Navy SEAL dead.


Facebook to apply state media labels on Russian, Chinese outlets

Updated 4 min 33 sec ago

Facebook to apply state media labels on Russian, Chinese outlets

  • Facebook will not label any US-based news organizations
  • Social media giant said even US government-run outlets have editorial independence
SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook will start labeling Russian, Chinese and other state-controlled media organizations, and later this summer will block any ads from such outlets that target US users, it said on Thursday.
The world’s biggest social network will apply the label to Russia’s Sputnik, Iran’s Press TV and China’s Xinhua News, according to a partial list Facebook provided. The company will apply the label to about 200 pages at the outset.
Facebook will not label any US-based news organizations, as it determined that even US government-run outlets have editorial independence, Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, said in an interview.
Facebook, which has acknowledged its failure to stop Russian use of its platforms to interfere in the 2016 US presidential election, has since stepped up its defenses and imposed greater transparency requirements for pages and ads on its platforms.
The company announced plans last year to create a state media label, but is introducing it amid criticism over its hands-off treatment of misleading and racially charged posts by US President Donald Trump.
The new measure comes just months ahead of the November US presidential election.
Under the move, Facebook will not use the label for media outlets affiliated with individual political figures or parties, which Gleicher said could push “boundaries that are very, very slippery.”
“What we want to do here is start with the most critical case,” he said.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters during a daily briefing in Beijing on Friday that social media companies should not selectively create obstacles for media agencies.
“We hope that the relevant social media platform can put aside the ideological bias and hold an open and accepting attitude toward each country’s media role,” he said.
Facebook is not the first company to take such action.
YouTube, owned by Alphabet Inc’s Google, in 2018 started identifying video channels that predominantly carry news items and are funded by governments. But critics charge YouTube has failed to label some state news outlets, allowing them to earn ad revenue from videos with misinformation and propaganda.
In a blog post, Facebook said its label would appear on pages globally, as well as on News Feed posts within the United States.
Facebook also said it would ban US-targeted ads from state-controlled entities “out of an abundance of caution” ahead of the November presidential election. Elsewhere, the ads will receive a label.