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Islamic State attempting to gain foothold in Pak occupied Kashmir

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ISIS is trying to infiltrate Pak Occupied Kashmir
ISIS is trying to infiltrate Pak Occupied Kashmir

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Jammu: The Islamic State (IS) terrorist group is attempting to gain a foothold in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) even as the terror infrastructure across the border was intact, a senior army officer said on Friday.

“Whatever inputs we have…Islamic State is definitely trying to gain a foothold in the area (PoK),” the General Officer Commanding (GoC), 16 Corps, Lt. General K.H. Singh, said on the sidelines of ‘Jhangar Day’ at Noushera in Rajouri district of Jammu and Kashmir.

The GoC also said that the terror infrastructure on the other side of border was intact and around 200 to 225 militants stationed at 36 launchpads across the Pir Panjal range were waiting to cross over to the Indian side.

“The terror infrastructure across the border is intact and training camps are still active,” Lt. General K.H. Singh said.

The comment comes days after a masked youth waved a flag of the international terror group during a rally organized by separatist group Ummati Islami to commemorate the death anniversary of separatist leader Qazi Nisar Ahmad in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district.

‘Jhangar Day’ is observed to commemorate the sacrifice of Brigadier Mohammad Usman, who was martyred during the 1947-48 operation in the Noushera sector.

Brigadier Usman played a pivotal role as commander of 50 Parachute Brigade, during the recapture of Jhangar and the battle of Nowshera, which earned him the titles of ‘Hero of Jhangar’ and ‘Saviour of Nowshera’.

He was posthumously awarded the Maha Vir Chakra. A memorial has been built at the very place in Jhangar where Brigadier Mohd Usman sacrificed his life during the Indo-Pak War of 1947-48. (IANS)

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US Backed Fighters Say, ‘They Have Taken Position in Islamic State Enclave in Syria’

The enclave resembles an encampment, filled with stationary vehicles and rough shelters with blankets or tarpaulins that could be seen flapping in the wind during a lull in fighting as people walked among them

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Fire is seen during fighting in the Islamic State's final enclave, in the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria March 17, 2019. VOA

U.S.-backed fighters said they had taken positions in Islamic State’s last enclave in eastern Syria and air strikes pounded the tiny patch of land beside the Euphrates River early on Monday, a Reuters journalist said.

Smoke rose over the tiny enclave as warplanes and artillery bombarded it. Another witness said the jihadists had earlier mounted a counter attack.

“Several positions captured and an ammunition storage has been blown up,” said Mustafa Bali, a spokesman for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) militia, on Twitter late on Sunday.

The enclave resembles an encampment, filled with stationary vehicles and rough shelters with blankets or tarpaulins that could be seen flapping in the wind during a lull in fighting as people walked among them.

Backed by air power and special forces from a U.S.-led coalition, the SDF has pushed Islamic State from almost the entire northeastern corner of Syria, defeating it in Raqqa in 2017 and driving it to its last enclave at Baghouz last year.

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The Islamic State group’s last pocket of territory in Baghouz, Syria, as seen from a distance on Sunday, March 17, 2019. VOA

But while its defeat at Baghouz will end its control of populated land in the third of Syria and Iraq that it captured in 2014, the group will remain a threat, regional and Western officials say.

The SDF has waged a staggered assault on the enclave, pausing for long periods over recent weeks to allow surrendering fighters, their families and other civilians to pour out.

Since Jan. 9, more than 60,000 people have left the enclave, about half of them surrendering Islamic State supporters including some 5,000 fighters, the SDF said on Sunday.

People leaving the area have spoken of harsh conditions inside, under coalition bombardment and with supplies of food so scarce some resorted to eating grass.

Last month, the SDF said it had found a mass grave in an area it captured.

Still, many of those who left Baghouz have vowed their allegiance to the jihadist group, which last week put out a propaganda film from inside the enclave calling on its supporters to keep faith.

Suicide attacks on Friday targeted families of Islamic State fighters attempting to leave the enclave and surrender, killing six people, the SDF said.

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Late on Sunday, the Kurdish Ronahi TV station aired footage showing a renewed assault on the enclave, with fires seen to be raging inside and tracer fire and rockets zooming into the tiny area.

The SDF and the coalition say the Islamic State fighters inside Baghouz are among the group’s most hardened foreign fighters, though Western countries believe its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has left the area. (VOA)