Remains of Indians killed by Daesh in Iraq to arrive home today

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India’s Minister of State for External Affairs Vijay Kumar Singh condemned terrorism and expressed his government’s stance in fighting it. (AP)
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Pradeep Singh Rajpurohit, India's Ambassador to Iraq, speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, March 20, 2018. (AP)
Updated 02 April 2018

Remains of Indians killed by Daesh in Iraq to arrive home today

BAGHDAD: The remains of 38 Indian construction workers captured and killed by Daesh in northern Iraq were handed over to Indian authorities in Baghdad and were flown home later Sunday.
Indian Ambassador Pradeep Singh Rajpurohit said the bodies had been taken to Baghdad International Airport and would be flown back on a military flight, arriving in India on Monday.
India’s Minister of State for External Affairs Vijay Kumar Singh saluted the remains at the airport as workers loaded the caskets on the aircraft.
Singh condemned terrorism and expressed his government’s stance in fighting it.
“We are against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations,” he told reporters, describing Daesh as “very cruel terrorist organization and our people have fallen to their bullets.”
Daesh abducted and killed the workers shortly after seizing the northern city of Mosul in the summer of 2014. Iraqi authorities discovered the remains in a mass grave last year after retaking Mosul, and positively identified the bodies last month.
The militants initially abducted 40 workers. One managed to escape, while the presumed remains of another have yet to be positively identified. Authorities are awaiting DNA samples from a first-degree relative.
The workers, most from northern India, had been employed by a construction company operating near Mosul. Around 10,000 Indians lived and worked in Iraq at the time. Daesh may have viewed the workers as polytheists deserving of death because of their Hindu or Sikh faith.
Daesh swept across northern and central Iraq in 2014, eventually seizing a third of the country. Iraqi forces backed by a US-led coalition eventually drove the militants from all the territory under their control in a grueling three-year campaign. The militants are still carrying out insurgent-style attacks.
Dozens of mass graves have been found in areas held by the extremist group, which boasted about massacring its enemies and posted videos and photos of many of the mass killings online. Iraq has only managed to excavate a few of the sites due to a lack of funding and specialized staff.


Trump: I am Israel’s best pal in the White House

Updated 24 min 59 sec ago

Trump: I am Israel’s best pal in the White House

  • Unlike his predecessors, Donald Trump says ‘I kept my promises’
  • The president also claimed there are some Jewish people in America who don’t love Israel enough

HOLLYWOOD, Florida: President Donald Trump said Saturday that Israel has never had a better friend in the White House than him because, unlike his predecessors, “I kept my promises.”
Trump energized an audience that numbered in the hundreds at the Israeli American Council National Summit in Florida by recounting his record on issues of importance to Jews, including an extensive riff on his promise to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and relocate the US Embassy there from Tel Aviv.
Trump said his predecessors only paid lip service to the issue.
“They never had any intention of doing it, in my opinion,” Trump said. “But unlike other presidents, I kept my promises.”
Trump also highlighted his decision to reverse more than a half-century of US policy in the Middle East by recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, the strategic highlands on the border with Syria.
Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Mideast war but its sovereignty over the territory had not been recognized by the international community.
In his speech, the president also claimed there are some Jewish people in America who don’t love Israel enough.
“We have to get the people of our country, of this country, to love Israel more, I have to tell you that. We have to do it. We have to get them to love Israel more,” Trump said, to some applause. “Because you have Jewish people that are great people — they don’t love Israel enough.”
Aaron Keyak, the former head of the National Jewish Democratic Council, denounced Trump’s remarks as anti-Semitic.
“Trump’s insistence on using anti-Semitic tropes when addressing Jewish audiences is dangerous and should concern every member of the Jewish community — even Jewish Republicans,” Keyak said.
Trump has been accused of trafficking in anti-Semitic stereotypes before, including in August, when he said American Jews who vote for Democrats show “either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.” A number of Jewish groups noted at the time that accusations of disloyalty have long been made against Jews.
The Israeli American Council is financially backed by one of Trump’s top supporters, the husband-and-wife duo of Miriam and Sheldon Adelson, a Las Vegas casino magnate.
Both Adelsons appeared on stage to introduce Trump, with Miriam Adelson asserting that Trump “has already gone down in the annals of Jewish history, and that is before he’s even completed his first term in office.”
The Adelsons donated $30 million to Trump’s campaign in the final months of the 2016 race. They followed up by donating $100 million to the Republican Party for the 2018 congressional elections.
Trump’s entourage at the event included Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, along with Republican Reps. Jim Jordan and Michael Waltz, whom he described as “two warriors” defending him against “oppression” in the impeachment inquiry.
Trump criticized Israel’s sworn enemy, Iran, saying he withdrew the US from the Iran nuclear deal with other world powers because Tehran must never be allowed to obtain a nuclear weapon
But Trump voiced support for Iranian citizens who have been protesting a decision by their government to withdraw fuel subsidies, which sent prices skyrocketing.
Trump said he believes thousands of Iranians have been killed in the protests and that thousands more have been arrested.
“America will always stand with the Iranian people in their righteous struggle for freedom,” he said.