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Kurdish forces free nine villages from IS militants near Iraq’s Mosul

Iraqi security forces recaptured nine villages from the Islamic State militant group as part of a major offensive aimed at liberating the city of Mosul

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Baghdad, October 17, 2016: Iraqi security forces on Monday recaptured nine villages from the Islamic State militant group as part of a major offensive aimed at liberating the city of Mosul, the last major IS stronghold in Iraq, security sources said.

Kurdish Peshmerga forces began their advance after midnight from their positions in Khazer area, some 40 km east of Mosul, toward Nineveh’s provincial capital of Mosul, and managed to recapture the nine villages after the IS militants abandoned their positions, Xinhua quoted a a security source as saying.

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The Iraqi army, Peshmerga forces and allied paramilitary Sunni and Shia Hashd Shaabi units have been advancing gradually from four directions after Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the launch of the long-awaited offensive to free Mosul from the IS, the source said.

The joint forces, backed by the international and Iraqi air cover, continued their advance during the day to free many areas around Mosul, including the towns of Bashiqa and Himdaniyah, the source said.

Nawfal Hammadi al-Sultan, Governor of Nineveh province, appealed to the people of Mosul to stay inside their homes and cooperate with the security forces.

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Sultan demanded that the residents stay away from the IS headquarters and their positions to avoid civilian casualties.

In the early hours of the day, al-Abadi, who is also the commander-in-chief of the Iraqi forces, announced the beginning of a major offensive to retake the country’s second largest city from the extremist group.

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“I declare the launch of the operation of liberating Nineveh province. The time of victory has come, and the moment of the great victory is approaching,” Abadi said.

Abadi pledged to rebuild Mosul and other towns in Nineveh after they were destroyed by the IS, and vowed to bring stability.

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“Very soon, we will be with you to raise the flag of Iraq in the middle of Mosul, and in towns and villages as well,” Abadi said, calling on the people of Mosul to cooperate with security forces to defeat the IS.

Mosul, some 400 km north of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, has been under IS control since June 2014, when Iraqi government forces abandoned their weapons and fled, enabling the IS militants to take control of parts of the country’s northern and western regions. (IANS)

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Terror Has a New Name : Former al-Qaida Members Launch New Militant Group ‘Ansar al-Sharia Pakistan’

Inspired by Osama bin Laden, al-Qaida’s slain founder, the group has vowed to continue its struggle through “jihad” against “infidel and apostates”

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A Pakistani militant holds a rocket-propelled grenade in Shawal, in Pakistan's tribal region of Waziristan,

Karachi, September 11, 2017 : A new al-Qaida-inspired militant group, which has recently emerged in Pakistan’s southern port city of Karachi claims to act as a platform for militants who have grown disaffected with the Islamic State militant group (IS) in the country.

The group, Ansar al-Sharia Pakistan, was reportedly formed by two former al-Qaida members who had severed ties with the organization in early 2017. Since then, the group has been involved in several attacks in Karachi, according to Pakistani counterterrorism authorities.

“The Ansar al-Sharia group started killings in Karachi since the beginning of this year and claimed responsibility for killing an army officer on Faisal Highway [in Karachi],” Major General Mohammad Saeed, the head of Rangers paramilitary security force in Karachi, told local media. He added the group has been focusing attacks on “the police only.”

The group was allegedly created to operate as a platform for militants who have parted ways with IS in the country, it said in an online statement. It claimed to be active in several parts of the country.

“We give glad tidings to Muslim Ummah that a large number of Mujahideen from Karachi, Punjab and tribal areas are leaving ranks of IS and announce disassociation with [it],” the group said in an announcement through a Twitter account, adding that IS has “spread differences” and “secession instead of unity.”

The group has vowed to continue its struggle through “jihad” against “infidel and apostates.”

Though the newly-emerged group asserts no official affiliation with al-Qaida and other foreign militant organizations, the group said its ideology is inspired by Osama bin Laden, al-Qaida’s slain founder.

VOA was unable to independently verify the authenticity of the Twitter account.

According to the counterterrorism department of Karachi police, Ansar al-Sharia has a presence in areas between Sindh and Baluchistan provinces.

“Unfortunately, according to the names that have come up in the investigation, their kill team has three young men who have masters [degrees] in applied physics,” Maj. Gen. Saeed said.

Pakistani media reported the terror outfit also has female members. Police have reportedly arrested four women, including a doctor, suspected of membership in the group.

Pakistani authorities have vowed action to seize members of the group in the country, including in Karachi.

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A police officer has reportedly been arrested for links with an alleged Ansar-al-Sharia member in Karachi, Pakistani media reported.

Al-Qaida’s branch in South Asia, known as al-Qaida in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), has been active in the region. Several militant groups in Pakistan that had an ideological association with bin Laden’s al-Qaida, have pledged allegiance to AQIS.

Much of AQIS’s power is concentrated in Karachi and IS has also claimed presence in in Pakistan’s largest city. (VOA)