Baghdad: At least 24 people were killed and 29 wounded on Saturday in bomb attacks and clashes with Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq’s western province of Anbar, media reported. In one attack, a suicide bomber detonated his explosive-laden military vehicle near the security forces and allied militias, known as Hashd Shaabi, in east of the IS-held city of Fallujah leaving six security members dead and nine wounded, the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity. Meanwhile, troops fought fierce battles with IS militants in Huseiba al-Sharqiyah area in east of Ramadi killing five militants and destroying one of their vehicles, the source said.
Four policemen were killed and nine wounded in clashes with IS militants in Falahat area, just west of Fallujah, the source said without giving further details. Moreover, a policeman was killed and five wounded in an IS mortar barrage on a police station in Habbaniyah area, some 80 km west of Baghdad, the source added. Separately, three border guard officers and five guards were killed and six wounded when two roadside bombs went off near a convoy of army vehicles at Trebil border crossing with Jordan which is located in a remote area of Anbar province’s desert area, the source said, adding that the blasts also destroyed two military vehicles.
Damascus, March 1, 2017: The Syrian Army captured the historic citadel of the country’s ancient oasis city of Palmyra on Wednesday, after battles with the Islamic State, a military source told Xinhua.
The Syrian Army and allied fighters captured the Palmyra citadel west of the city, as well as the Qatari Castle southwest of Palmyra amid a collapse in the ranks of the IS militants, the source said on condition of anonymity.
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The IS fighters are fleeing toward the residential part of the city, he added.
The army unleashed a counter offensive 47 days ago to retake Palmyra, after the IS militants captured it for the second time last December.
The source said the city could entirely fall back to the army soon.
The IS thinks the city important as it connects areas under the terror group’s control in the eastern province of Deir al-Zour with areas under its control in the eastern countryside of the central province of Homs.
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Palmyra contains monumental ruins of a great city that was one of the most important cultural centres of the ancient world.
Syria has many prehistoric, Greek, Byzantine and Islamic heritages. Before the crisis, Syria had attracted many multinational archaeological missions coming for new clues on historical facts on the development of civilisations. (IANS)
Sept 21, 2016: Local leaders in Pakistan and Afghanistan say they are seeing a resurgence and regrouping of Islamic State fighters in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region.
Afghan forces, aided by U.S. bombers, reportedly intensified attacks on remote mountainous IS positions Tuesday. More than two dozen IS fighters were killed in air raids in the Achin and Kot districts, according to a spokesperson for the provincial governor and the Afghan defense ministry.
Afghan and U.S. coalition forces recently cleared many areas of IS militants in a number of districts in eastern Nangarhar province. But IS has recaptured several remote villages in Achin and Kot, which border Pakistan, tribal leaders told VOA.
“The government has not built any check posts in remote areas that lie far from the district center, and people in those areas live under IS control,” Malek Kamin, a tribal elder in Achin, told VOA.
Malek Kateb, a Kot district tribal elder, said the areas that once were cleared of IS militants have come back under IS’s control after Afghan troops pulled back from the remote region. He added that around 250 IS fighters are present in the area. According to the tribal elders, IS militants are oppressing the local residents and limiting their movements.
Provincial officials say they are bulking up Afghan Local police forces to work under the ministry of interior to provide more enforcement and protect remote areas where IS is regenerating. Afghan Local Police, with around 30,000 members across the country, mostly protect remote villages.
Efforts in Pakistan
The regrouping of IS in the border region is accompanied by a threatening IS presence in neighbouring Pakistan where, despite the government’s previous denials, military officials say IS is attempting to establish a foothold.
IS claimed responsibility over the weekend for the assassination of three Pakistan military personnel in the northwestern city of Peshawar. The attack occurred days after the Pakistani military announced it had “forestalled” IS’s attempts to infiltrate Pakistan.
IS “tried to make an ingress and they failed, and they have been apprehended so far,” Lieutenant General Asim Bajwa, a spokesman for the Pakistani army, told reporters.
He added that security forces have arrested more than 300 , including Syrians, in recent weeks. IS was plotting attacks on government, diplomatic and other civilian facilities, including media houses, according to Bajwa.
The threat of IS in Pakistan follows reports and remarks by state officials earlier this year that the group had been attempting to expand in the country. The director general of Pakistan’s Intelligence Bureau, Aftab Sultan, earlier this year warned lawmakers that IS was an emerging problem in the country and that hundreds of fighters linked to local banned religious groups had left for Syria to join IS ranks there.
According to media reports, many of the IS members in Afghanistan belong to the Orakzai tribe in Pakistan, whose militants maintain a presence on both sides of the Durand Line between the two countries.
Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard this week announced the arrest of two Pakistani nationals with IS, who the Guard said were planning to conduct terror activities.
Near the Pakistan border in Afghanistan, IS militants have been active in parts of Nangarhar province since last year and have launched multiple attacks against government forces and local villages. Afghan and U.S. forces have conducted cleanup operations against IS in Nangarhar and surrounding areas.
Nangarhar’s governor, Salim Khan Kunduzi, vowed to stand by local residents against IS militants.
“We promise them [local residents] that, God willing, we would not abandon them. We would protect the areas through local uprising forces and Afghan local police,” the governor said to Afghan media. (VOA)
The IS is outlawed in many countries and operates primarily in Syria and Iraq but is known to have expanded its activities to Afghanistan, challenging government forces, along with other militant groups, including Taliban. (IANS)