Security increased at Daesh prisons after leader’s death

In this April 3, 2018 file photo, prisoners play volleyball, in a Kurdish-run prison housing former members of the Daesh group, in Qamishli, north Syria. (AP)
Updated 28 October 2019

Security increased at Daesh prisons after leader’s death

  • Kurdish forces said they are continuing operations to hunt down Daesh leaders in Syria
  • Forces from the Kurdish-led internal security agency were “on high alert” after Al-Baghdadi’s death

BEIRUT: Syrian Kurdish forces said Monday they are increasing security at prisons and detention facilities holding tens of thousands of Daesh militants and supporters, including foreigners, following the death of the extremist group’s leader in a US military raid.
The heightened security also comes as Kurdish forces said they are continuing operations to hunt down Daesh leaders in Syria. Hours after the raid that killed Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi in northwestern Syria, another attack based on Kurdish intelligence killed one of his aides and possible successors, Kurdish forces said.
If confirmed, the death of Abu Hassan Al-MuHajjir would be another blow to Daesh. US officials had no immediate comment.
Forces from the Kurdish-led internal security agency were “on high alert” after Al-Baghdadi’s death in anticipation of possible riots or attacks on the prisons and camps for displaced people in northeastern Syria where Daesh members or supporters are located, an official with the agency said.
One of the camps is home to 70,000 people, most of them relatives of the extremists. More than 10,000 prisoners, including 2,000 foreigners, are held in detention facilities in northeastern Syria.
Fear of chaos already was running high over the fate of those detained after this month’s Turkish military invasion of northeastern Syria, which ushered in major troop changes in the area. Turkey moved troops into areas along the border, while Syrian border guards were deployed in others.
Kurdish officials had said they needed to divert fighters and logistics to the front line to ward off the Turkish offensive. A shaky cease-fire is in place and an agreement to redeploy Kurdish forces away from the borders.
Security forces have been able to secure the prisons, according to another official with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters.
News of Al-Baghdadi’s death had not yet been formally announced to those in the camps on Monday, but many of them have telephones and news has most likely reached them.
President Donald Trump announced Al-Baghdadi’s death in a nationally televised address from the White House on Sunday, saying he exploded his suicide vest while being pursued by US troops.
His death left Daesh without an obvious leader — a major setback for a terror organization that in March was forced by US and Kurdish forces out of the last portion of its self-declared “caliphate,” which once spanned parts of Iraq and Syria.
Later Sunday, Mazloum Abdi, the commander of the Syrian Kurdish-led forces, said his group’s intelligence cooperated with the US military to target Al-MuHajjir in a village near Jarablus in northwestern Syria. It was part of ongoing operations to hunt down Daesh leaders, Abdi said.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported Al-MuHajjir’s death, saying he was traveling in a convoy made up of an oil tanker and a sedan. The bodies of those killed were badly burned and it wasn’t immediately clear how Al-MuHajjir’s identity was confirmed.
The US raid that killed Al-Baghdadi, the shadowy leader of Daesh who presided over its global jihad and became one of the world’s most-wanted terrorists, took place just before midnight Saturday in Syria’s Idlib province.
It was a milestone in the fight against Daesh, which brutalized thousands of people in Syria and Iraq and sought to direct a global campaign from a self-declared “caliphate.” A military campaign by US and allied forces led to the recapture of the territory the group held, but its violent ideology has continued to inspire attacks.
Syrian Kurdish forces spokesman Mustafa Bali said his fighters believe Al-MuHajjir was in Jarablus to facilitate Al-Baghdadi’s travel to the area, which is administered by Turkey-backed fighters.
“More (IS figures) remain hiding in the area,” Bali said Sunday.
Little is known about Al-MuHajjir, who assumed the role of a spokesman after his predecessor was killed in a 2016 airstrike. Al-MuHajjir is a nom-de-guerre that indicates he is a foreigner, and he also was believed to be a possible successor to Al-Baghdadi.
Trump’s decision to pull back US troops from northeastern Syria raised a storm of bipartisan criticism in Washington, including statements that the move could help IS regain strength after its territorial losses. It also was viewed as an abandonment of the only US ally in Syria, the Kurdish-led forces, who fought Daesh for years with the US-led coalition.
Trump said the troop pullout “had nothing to do with this,” and said Kurdish forces were among the many sides cooperating in the Al-Baghdadi operation. Both Iraqi and Kurdish officials claimed a role, and the Turkish military also tweeted that prior to the operation, it exchanged information and coordinated with US military.


Dubai clarifies rules on wearing face masks in public

Updated 20 min 26 sec ago

Dubai clarifies rules on wearing face masks in public

  • The clarification comes as Dubai eases public mobility restrictions and allowing businesses to resume operation

DUBAI: Children under the age of the six, the disabled, and those who have respiratory problems are exempt from wearing face masks in public areas, Dubai’s Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management has clarified.

The new guidelines come as Dubai returns to normal life – easing public mobility restrictions and allowing businesses to resume operation.

People are allowed to temporarily remove their masks if they are driving alone or with family members, according to the new guideline, adding those who are eating or drinking, and engaging in exercise or medical treatments are also permitted to remove their masks.