Sunday February 17, 2019
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Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar bats for modernisation of armed forces

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

Feeling the need of making Indian armed forces mere technology oriented, the Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar today said that the government is committed to provide all support towards modernisation of the armed forces.

Addressing the Annual Unified Commanders’ Conference for Tri-Services Commanders in New Delhi, the minister said that there is a need to exercise financial prudence and optimise all available resources.

The defence minister told the top military brass that though the technology is important for modern warfare, it is ultimately the morale and motivation of our brave soldiers, sailors and Air Warriors which should be a major focus area for all the commanders.

Paying homage to all valiant Soldiers, Sailors and Air Warriors for their supreme sacrifice in honour of the nation,  Parrikar recommended the armed forces for their devotion to duty and the stellar role played by them in safeguarding the country’s unity and integrity.

Earlier, Chief of the Integrated Defence Staff to Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee (CISC) Air Marshal PP Reddy presented a report covering major achievements on key tri- services issues.

During the daylong conference, key security issues facing the nation and important strategic, operational, logistical, administrative aspects pertaining to Tri-Services were deliberated upon.

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‘Significant Progress’ Against Islamic State in Syria, Claims U.S. Defense Chief

The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces said Sunday they had recaptured 41 positions held by Islamic State militants in eastern Syria.

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Acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan, left, arrives in Kabul, Afghanistan, Feb. 11, 2019, to consult with Army Gen. Scott Miller, right, commander of U.S. and coalition forces, and senior Afghan government leaders. VOA

Acting U.S. Defense chief Pat Shanahan said Monday the Islamic State group remains a “global presence,” as U.S.-backed fighters work to clear the last enclave the militants hold in eastern Syria.

Shanahan told reporters traveling with him on a trip to Afghanistan that when it comes to the degree of Islamic State’s capabilities, that varies from “residual pockets to sleeper cells.”

“But in the context of military operations, I think the characterization of progress within Syria has been that they have been decimated and that we’re making significant progress” in the Middle Euphrates River Valley, Shanahan said.

Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sought to reassure allies the United States would not abandon efforts to destroy Islamic State when it withdraw its troops from Syria. Shanahan said Monday he plans to discuss the situation this week with NATO allies, including support and security operations that he says are important when shifting away from a significant military operation.

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“There are heavy clashes at the moment. We have launched an assault and the fighters are advancing,” an SDF field commander told AFP Sunday. Pixabay

The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces said Sunday they had recaptured 41 positions held by Islamic State militants in eastern Syria.

Mustafa Bali, an SDF spokesman, tweeted that SDF forces had destroyed fortifications in the Village of Baghuz, but that heavy fighting continued.

“#SDF have advanced on northern and western axis into Baghuz since 19:00 yesterday evening, capturing 41 positions of ISIS and destroying fortifications. IS counterattack was foiled at 4 am this morning. Heavy fighting is going on inside the last village at the moment,” he wrote.

“There are heavy clashes at the moment. We have launched an assault and the fighters are advancing,” an SDF field commander told AFP Sunday.

The SDF, backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, is fighting IS in a 4-square-kilometer area that includes Baghuz and is near the Iraqi border.

SDF officials and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimated there were about 3,000 battle-hardened IS jihadists, mostly foreigners, in the region. The observatory also estimated that several hundred civilians remained in the area as well.

More than 23,000 Syrian civilians and foreign nationals fled eastern Syria this past week as the SDF, which includes Kurdish YPG militia fighters, prepared to move on IS in Deir el-Zour governorate, according to local officials and activists.

The displaced residents, mostly women and children, have been placed in the Kurdish al-Hol camp in al-Hasakah governorate, in northeast Syria.

The administrator of the camp, Nabil Hassan, told VOA that many of the women and children from the new wave of displacement this week were foreign nationals and family members of IS.

Also Read: New Zealand to Ban Smoking in Cars with Children

SDF began an operation in September to rid Deir el-Zour of IS militants. The U.S.-backed fighters’ advance has been slowed by fierce fighting from the IS militants.

The civil war that has engulfed Syria began with Arab Spring protests in 2011. The United Nations estimates more than 400,000 Syrians have died since fighting began in 2011. More than 6 million Syrians have been displaced internally and about 5 million have sought refuge outside the country, with Turkey hosting nearly 3.5 million of them, according to the United Nations. (VOA)