Syria force braces for new outflux from last Daesh village

Syria force braces for new outflux from last Daesh village
Women and children evacuated from the Daesh holdout of Baghouz arrive at a screening area held by the Syrian Democratic Forces. (AFP)
Updated 07 March 2019

Syria force braces for new outflux from last Daesh village

Syria force braces for new outflux from last Daesh village
  • A fierce assault on the besieged enclave in eastern Syria has sparked an exodus of dust-covered children and veiled women
  • Daesh remains a potent force in both Syria and Iraq, where it carries out deadly attacks

NEAR BAGHOUZ, Syria: US-backed Syrian forces prepared for another outpouring of civilians and suspected militants Thursday from the remnants of the Daesh group’s “caliphate,” which is teetering on the brink of total collapse.
A fierce assault on the besieged enclave in eastern Syria has sparked an exodus of dust-covered children, veiled women dragging suitcases and disheveled, wounded men from the village of Baghouz.
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces are waiting for more survivors to trickle out before dealing what they hope will be a final blow to militants holed-up in a makeshift camp along the banks of the Euphrates.
The SDF was not actively advancing Thursday, out of concern for remaining civilians, but its fighters entered the settlement two days earlier and control a chunk of it, an SDF source said.
Remaining families have been pushed toward the far end of the camp near the river, he said.
More than 7,000 people have exited the enclave over the past three days, mostly women and children.
The operation to smash the last pocket of the “caliphate” that Daesh leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi proclaimed in 2014 had resumed on Friday after a long humanitarian pause.
The deluge of fire unleashed by SDF artillery and coalition air strikes at the weekend appears to have taken a toll on the diehard militants and relatives still inside.
Many emerged on Wednesday wounded and using crutches.
One bearded man gripped the handle of a half-full blood bag attached to his body, as he trudged across a field to reach an SDF screening point.
Around him, a solemn procession of bearded men led by armed guards filed slowly toward US-led coalition troops for processing.
Around a tenth of the nearly 58,000 people who have fled the last Daesh bastion since December were militants trying to slip back into civilian life, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor.
They have emerged into the spotlight of the international media for the first time.
Daesh fighters had previously managed to secure passage out of their former strongholds before US-backed forces recaptured the territory.
Remaining militants, however, are now surrounded on all sides, with Syrian government forces and their allies on the west bank of the Euphrates blocking any escape across the river and Iraqi government forces preventing any move downstream.
A senior SDF officer said 400 militants were captured on Tuesday night as they attempted to slip out of Baghouz in an escape he said was organized by a network that had planned to smuggle them to remote hideouts.
While suspected militants are transferred to Kurdish-run detention centers, their relatives are trucked to camps for the displaced further north.
An AFP correspondent on Thursday saw more than 10 truckloads of people leaving an SDF screening point en route to the camps, a day after hundreds steamed out of Baghouz.
Around 4,000 people arrived from Baghouz to the Al-Hol camp on Wednesday, pushing the camp’s population to over 60,000, according to the International Rescue Committee.
Many are wounded or in poor physical shape after living for weeks without much food and hiding from bombs in underground shelters.
“Many of the arrivals are in a very weak condition or have life-changing injuries” Misty Buswell of the IRC said.
“Particularly vulnerable are the many heavily pregnant women as well as mothers with newborns.”
The battle against Daesh is now the main front of the Syrian war, which has claimed more than 360,000 lives since 2011.
The capture of Baghouz would mark the end of Daesh territorial control in the region and deal a death blow to the “caliphate” proclaimed in 2014, which once covered huge swathes of Syria and Iraq.
At its peak more than four years ago, the proto-state created by Daesh was the size of the United Kingdom and administered millions of people.
It effectively collapsed in 2017 when Daesh lost most of its major cities in both countries.
The loss of Baghouz, which the SDF says is only days away, would carry mostly symbolic value.
The group remains a potent force in both Syria and Iraq, where it carries out deadly attacks.
In Syria, it maintains a presence in the vast Badiya desert and has claimed attacks in SDF-held territory.


8-year-old girl born under Daesh control to return to US

Aminah Mohamad, 8, pictured during an interview with ICSVE in northeast Syria on July 31. (Credit: icsve.org)
Aminah Mohamad, 8, pictured during an interview with ICSVE in northeast Syria on July 31. (Credit: icsve.org)
Updated 21 min 19 sec ago

8-year-old girl born under Daesh control to return to US

Aminah Mohamad, 8, pictured during an interview with ICSVE in northeast Syria on July 31. (Credit: icsve.org)
  • Aminah Mohammed’s mother and father were killed while members of terror group
  • Rescued from Syrian camp with help from US diplomat and Canadian former Daesh member

LONDON: An American-born girl who grew up under the control of Daesh is set to be returned to the US from a Syrian detention camp, a former diplomat has said.

Aminah Mohamad, 8, who was born in Chattanooga in Tennessee, was rescued from the camp thanks to information provided to Peter Galbraith, US ambassador to Croatia from 1993 to 1998, by a Canadian woman who has since left and denounced Daesh.

Mohamad’s mother, Ariel Bradley, reportedly fled the US to join the terrorist group in 2014 after converting to Islam from Christianity and marrying the girl’s father, Yasin Mohammed, in 2011.

Bradley and her second child, also born under Daesh control in Al-Bab, were reportedly killed in an airstrike by the US-led anti-Daesh coalition in 2018. The girl’s father was also killed, making her an orphan.

She was then left in the custody of one of her stepfather’s other wives, a Somali woman who remained a staunch supporter of Daesh, before her rescue began.

Galbraith and the Canadian woman, speaking to news outlet BuzzFeed, detailed their 18-month operation to secure the girl’s release from the camp, which included hiding her identity from Kurdish camp guards or anyone who might reveal her American nationality.

“Children in the camps have the worst start to life,” the woman, who chose to remain anonymous out of fear for her safety, said.

“They are already traumatized by losing one or more parents and growing up around violence, poverty, and misery. They deal with constant danger, lack of food, lack of education, and their lives are simply going to waste,” she told BuzzFeed.

Mohammed, who was removed from the camp on July 17, is now in a secure location in northeast Syria and has been interviewed by the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism about her life under Daesh. She is undergoing DNA testing to certify her US citizenship.

“The United States has repatriated 12 adult US citizens and 16 US citizen minors from Syria and Iraq,” the US State Department told BuzzFeed News.

“Of the adults, the Department of Justice has charged 10 with federal criminal charges. We have no comment on specific numbers of US citizens remaining in facilities in northeast Syria.”

Galbraith, who has spent decades as a key figure in US dealings with the Kurdish people, also helped secure the release of the Canadian woman who is now waiting in Iraq to return to Canada.


Report of incident under way off UAE coast — UKMTO

Report of incident under way off UAE coast — UKMTO
Updated 6 min 51 sec ago

Report of incident under way off UAE coast — UKMTO

Report of incident under way off UAE coast — UKMTO
  • The Golden Brilliant said it was unable to maneuver due to exceptional circumstances
  • The UKMTO warning notice advised vessels to exercise extreme caution in the area

DUBAI: A non-piracy incident is under way off the coast of the United Arab Emirates’ Fujairah, the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) reported on Tuesday.
The UKMTO warning notice, based on a third party source, advised vessels to exercise extreme caution in the area, around 61 nautical miles east of the emirate of Fujairah.
UKTMO provided no details regarding the vessel or vessels involved.
However on Tuesday afternoon a Singapore-flagged chemical tanker in roughly the same position off Fujairah named Golden Brilliant updated its AIS tracking status to “Not Under Command,” according to Refinitiv ship tracking data.
This status indicates a ship is unable to maneuver due to exceptional circumstances.

Last week an attack on an Israeli-managed tanker off the coast of Oman killed two crew members and was blamed on Iran by the United States, Israel and Britain. 
Iran denied involvement in that suspected drone attack and said on Monday it would respond promptly to any threat against its security.
The United States and Britain said on Sunday they would work with their allies to respond to last week’s attack on the Mercer Street, a Liberian-flagged, Japanese-owned petroleum product tanker managed by Israeli-owned Zodiac Maritime.
Iran and Israel have exchanged accusations of carrying out attacks on each other’s vessels in recent months.
Tensions have increased in Gulf waters and between Iran and Israel since 2018, when then US President Donald Trump ditched Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with six world powers and reimposed sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy.


Israeli-linked tanker attacked off Oman arrives at UAE anchorage

Israeli-linked tanker attacked off Oman arrives at UAE anchorage
Updated 03 August 2021

Israeli-linked tanker attacked off Oman arrives at UAE anchorage

Israeli-linked tanker attacked off Oman arrives at UAE anchorage
  • Low visibility due to high humidity made it difficult to see the damage to the vessel in its mooring

FUJAIRAH: An Israeli-linked vessel that was attacked off Oman last week anchored off the UAE emirate of Fujairah Tuesday amid accusations Iran was behind the attack in which two crew members were killed.
Low visibility due to high humidity made it difficult to see the damage to the vessel in its mooring in the Gulf of Oman off the eastern coast of the United Arab Emirates, an AFP correspondent reported.
Tracking service MarineTraffic said the Liberian-flagged vessel reached its mooring at 2:47 am (2247 GMT Monday).
The UAE, which normalized ties with Israel last year, has not officially commented on the tanker incident.
Both the United States and Israel have said their intelligence assessments of Thursday’s incident concluded that an Iranian drone attacked the ship, managed by prominent Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer, as it sailed off Oman.
Tehran denied the accusation and warned against “adventurism.”
A British security guard and a Romanian crew member were killed in what analysts said bore all the hallmarks of the “shadow war” between Iran and Israel, which has included attacks on shipping in waters around the Gulf.
Washington on Monday promised to lead a “collective response” against Tehran, with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken calling the MV Mercer Street incident “a direct threat to freedom of navigation and commerce.”
Britain summoned the Iranian ambassador and demanded that vessels navigate freely in the oil-rich region.
Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh, meanwhile, said that Israel “must stop such baseless accusations” and called on the US and Britain to provide evidence to support their claims.
Iran “will not hesitate to protect its security and national interests, and will immediately and decisively respond to any possible adventurism,” Khatibzadeh said.


UAE lifts ban on transit flights from India, Pakistan, other countries

UAE lifts ban on transit flights from India, Pakistan, other countries
Updated 03 August 2021

UAE lifts ban on transit flights from India, Pakistan, other countries

UAE lifts ban on transit flights from India, Pakistan, other countries
  • Transit passengers traveling from countries where flights had been suspended must present negative PCR tests taken 72 hours prior to departure

DUBAI: The United Arab Emirates will lift a ban on transit passenger traffic from India, Pakistan, Nigeria and other countries from Aug. 5, the National Emergency and Crisis Management Authority (NCEMA) said on Tuesday.
The UAE, a major international travel hub, has banned passengers from many South Asian and African countries for several months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
NCEMA said on Twitter that passengers traveling from countries where flights had been suspended would be able to transit through its airports from Thursday as long as they present negative PCR tests taken 72 hours prior to departure.
Final destination approval would also have to be provided, the authority said, adding that UAE departure airports would arrange separate lounges for transiting passengers.
The transit ban had also included Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Uganda.
NCEMA said that a ban on entry to the UAE for passengers from these countries would also be lifted for those with valid residencies and who are certified by Emirati authorities as fully vaccinated.
However, they would need to apply for online entry permits prior to traveling and would need to present a negative PCR test taken 48 hours prior to departure.
Those working in the medical, educational or government sectors in the Gulf Arab state as well as those studying or completing medical treatment in the UAE would be exempt from the vaccination requirement as would humanitarian cases.


Bahrain, Abu Dhabi vow to protect maritime trade

Bahrain, Abu Dhabi vow to protect maritime trade
Updated 03 August 2021

Bahrain, Abu Dhabi vow to protect maritime trade

Bahrain, Abu Dhabi vow to protect maritime trade
  • In a statement released by Bahrain’s state media, both men drew upon their countries’ “brotherly ties”

DUBAI: Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa said Tuesday that coordination with Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyanis ongoing to protect international navigation from any threats. 

In a statement released by Bahrain’s state media, both men drew upon their countries’ “brotherly ties” during the meeting and vowed to “continue coordinating a joint strategic vision to establish security and stability.”

“Protect international maritime traffic from any threats that negatively affect the course of global trade,” is of the utmost importance, the statement said.