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Modi in Russia: ‘World needs to fight terrorism unitedly’

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Moscow: Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India has succeeded in convincing the world that there was a need to unite against terrorism and the menace can be easily fought if all powers having faith in humanity come together.

Addressing the Friends of India event at the Expo Centre here on Thursday, Modi termed his visit to Russia as “very successful and fruitful”.

Modi said Russia had always stood as “power” beside India and this was a relationship of friendship.

“If one country stood by India through good times and bad, then it is Russia,” he said.

Modi spoke of India’s demographic dividend and his governments’ efforts to make it a manufacturing hub.

“Earlier, India was only seen as a market, but now it is seen as a manufacturing hub for the world.”

He said all agencies describe India as the fastest growing economy in the world with most promise.

He said India had been telling the world about the threats from terrorism for the past 30 years but it was not taken seriously.

“The world has accepted what India has been saying on terrorism: an enemy of humanity that needs to be countered through international cooperation,” he said.

Modi said he and Russian president Vladimir Putin had talked in detail about the future of Eurasia and how it can create more opportunities for growth.

“We have explored the infinite possibilities. Our friendship with Russia can create prosperity in the entire Eurasian region,” he said.

He said Indian students in Russia should encourage at least five Russian families to visit India.

Modi, whose speech was preceded by a cultural program, said a woman — Sati Kazanova, born to a Muslim family in Russia, a pop singer, had recited Vedic mantras.

He extended his wishes to people on Christmas. Modi also remembered former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee whose birthday falls on December 25.

Modi said he had been told that about 45,000 people took part in yoga programs held in Russia to mark the International Day of Yoga.(Photo: www.ibtimes.co.in)

 

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Thousands Displaced as SDF Targeting Civilians Advances on Last IS Territory in Syria

Bali said the second obstacle for the SDF forces is that IS has a number of hostages who had been arrested and detained by the militants.

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Syria
A U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighter stands atop a hill in the desert outside the village of Baghuz, Syria, Feb. 14, 2019. VOA

Islamic State (IS) fighters are targeting civilians who are trying to flee the last territory held by the terror group in eastern Syria, U.S.-backed forces told VOA on Thursday.

Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a U.S.-backed Kurdish-led alliance, said that IS militants hit a road used by civilians to escape violence as the battle to free the town of Baghuz in Syria’s Deir el-Zour province enters its sixth day.

“IS has blocked that road to prevent civilians from coming to the SDF,” SDF fighter Ali Ahmed said. “They have targeted civilians there, but we have responded to their attacks against civilians.”

Ahmed said that some families of IS fighters are among the fleeing civilians.

Located near the Iraqi border, Baghuz is the last stronghold held by IS extremists in Syria. With the help of the U.S.-led coalition, SDF fighters have pushed out IS from all territories it once held since 2014.

Fierce fighting between IS militants and the U.S.-backed fighters continues as the latter try to gain ground on Baghuz on several fronts.

“We have two main obstacles as we advance on Baghuz,” Mustafa Bali, an SDF spokesperson, told VOA. “The first one is that [IS] terrorists are holding on to a number of civilians to use them as a bargain chip for their exit.”

Bali said the second obstacle for the SDF forces is that IS has a number of hostages who had been arrested and detained by the militants.

IS controls about 5 square kilometers of territory inside the Syrian town, local military officials said.

“It seems that even the Americans are trying to rescue those civilians and hostages from IS,” Hasib said in a phone interview. VOA

Ivan Hasib, a Syrian reporter covering the battle, told VOA that he witnessed an unusual movement by U.S. military vehicles in the area.

“It seems that even the Americans are trying to rescue those civilians and hostages from IS,” Hasib said in a phone interview.

He said the remaining IS fighters in Baghuz are hoping to exchange hostages for a safe exit into the Iraqi desert.

Also Read: Islamic State Using Women, Children as Human Shields to Postpone Defeat

“There must be some sort of negotiations between IS and SDF about the hostages, because even [U.S.-led] coalition airstrikes have stopped since Tuesday night,” Hasib said, adding that SDF fighters were forced to pause their military operations on the northeastern front in Baghuz.

“We can’t start marching toward it from this side because of civilians. Many civilians are using this road to this side. So we’re here to protect them,” Mezlum Kobani, an SDF commander, told VOA.

According to SDF officials, more than 5,000 civilians have been rescued from IS in Baghuz. (VOA)