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Iraqi forces close to free Two IS-held towns in south of Mosul

A US-led international coalition has been conducting air raids against the IS targets in both Iraq and Syria

Military in Mosul. Image source Wikimedia commons

Iraqi security forces on Thursday, July 14, were preparing to free two towns from the Islamic State (IS) militants in the south of the IS stronghold in Mosul, while a senior IS leader and two of his aides were killed in an airstrike by the US-led coalition aircraft in south of Mosul, security sources said.

The troops took control of the areas of Dawajin and Mahha in the west of the IS-held town of Shirqat after the withdrawal of the IS militants, bringing the troops to new positions close to the edges of Shirqat, which located some 280 km north of Baghdad, the source told Xinhua on condition on condition of anonymity.

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The security forces and allied paramilitary units, known as Hashd Shaabi, are preparing to wage an operation to liberate Shirqat soon, the source said, adding that the town is the last IS stronghold in the north of Iraq’s northern central province of Salahudin.

ISIS insurgents. Image source Wikimedia Commons
ISIS insurgents. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Meanwhile, the security forces fought the IS militants and drove them out of an abandoned residential district belonging to Qayyara airbase, just east of the militant-seized town of Qayyara, some 50 km south of Mosul, leaving at least 18 IS militants killed, along with destroying two car bombs and a vehicle carrying heavy machine gun, the source said.

The battle in the district brought the troops to new positions closer to the outskirts of Qayyara, and they are now ready to carry out an operation to drive out IS militants from the town, the source added.

The advance toward both towns of Shirqat and Qayyara are part of a major offensive aimed at liberating the last major IS stronghold in Mosul, some 400 km north of Baghdad.

Separately, a security source in Salahudin province told Xinhua that Muwafaq Hawijah, leader of the IS group in the town of Shirqat was killed with his two aides when the international aircraft carried out an air strike on their car near the village of al-Mrear outside the town of Shirqat.

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“The bodies of the IS leader and his aides were evacuated Shirqat hospital,” the source said, citing intelligence report.

In addition, a roadside bomb went off near a vehicle carrying Shakir Amerli, leader of a Shiite paramilitary Hashd Shaabi paramilitary unit, near the town of Tuz-Khurmato, some 90 km east of Salahudin provincial capital city of Tikrit, killing him and one of his guards and wounding two more guards, the source added.

Iraq’s security situation has drastically deteriorated since June 2014, when bloody clashes broke out between Iraqi security forces and IS militants.

The IS took control of the country’s northern city of Mosul and later seized territories in Nineveh and other predominantly Sunni provinces.

A US-led international coalition has been conducting air raids against the IS targets in both Iraq and Syria.

Many blame the current chronic instability, cycle of violence, and the emergence of extremist groups, such as the IS, on the U.S. that invaded and occupied Iraq in March 2003 under the pretext of seeking to destroy weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the country.

The war led to the ouster and eventual execution of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, but no WMD was found. (IANS)


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Facebook, Twitter Urged to Do More to Police Hate on Sites

Twitter to soon release Snapchat like feature. VOA
Twitter starts the initiative #BloodMatters. VOA

Tech giants Facebook, Twitter and Google are taking steps to police terrorists and hate groups on their sites, but more work needs to be done, the Simon Wiesenthal Center said Tuesday.

The organization released its annual digital terrorism and hate report card and gave a B-plus to Facebook, a B-minus to Twitter and a C-plus to Google.

Facebook spokeswoman Christine Chen said the company had no comment on the report. Representatives for Google and Twitter did not immediately return emails seeking comment.

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Facebook one of the most popular apps in US. Pixabay
Facebook one of the most popular apps in US. Pixabay

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the Wiesenthal Center’s associate dean, said Facebook in particular built “a recognition that bad folks might try to use their platform” as its business model. “There is plenty of material they haven’t dealt with to our satisfaction, but overall, especially in terms of hate, there’s zero tolerance,” Cooper said at a New York City news conference.

Rick Eaton, a senior researcher at the Wiesenthal Center, said hateful and violent posts on Instagram, which is part of Facebook, are quickly removed, but not before they can be widely shared.

He pointed to Instagram posts threatening terror attacks at the upcoming World Cup in Moscow. Another post promoted suicide attacks with the message, “You only die once. Why not make it martyrdom.”

Cooper said Twitter used to merit an F rating before it started cracking down on Islamic State tweets in 2016. He said the move came after testimony before a congressional committee revealed that “ISIS was delivering 200,000 tweets a day.”

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This photo shows Facebook launched on an iPhone, in North Andover, Mass., June 19, 2017. VOA

Cooper and Eaton said that as the big tech companies have gotten more aggressive in shutting down accounts that promote terrorism, racism and anti-Semitism, promoters of terrorism and hate have migrated to other sites such as, a Facebook lookalike that’s based in Russia.

There also are “alt-tech” sites like GoyFundMe, an alternative to GoFundMe, and BitChute, an alternative to Google-owned YouTube, Cooper said.

“If there’s an existing company that will give them a platform without looking too much at the content, they’ll use it,” he said. “But if not, they are attracted to those platforms that have basically no rules.”

The Los Angeles-based Wiesenthal Center is dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism, hate, and terrorism. (VOA)