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Only regret has been the failure to bring back the 39 abducted Indians: Sushma Swaraj

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Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj (Photo: IANS)
Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj (Photo: IANS)

New Delhi: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said on Sunday that her “only regret” in her year in office has been the failure so far to bring back the 39 abducted Indians from Iraq, which she hoped to do soon.

“My only regret is that while we have evacuated thousands of our nationals from Iraq, Ukraine, Yemen, Libya, but the 39 Indians remain in Iraq. I feel my wait will end very soon and we will be successful in bringing them back,” she said at a press conference.

To a question on the fate of the 39 Indians labourers who were abducted by the Islamic State militants a year ago in Mosul, Sushma Swaraj said she has been told by “eight sources” that the men are still alive.

“I have eight sources who say they are alive.. not oral messages but ‘likhit sandesh’ (written messages),” she said, adding that she has shared them with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and her ministerial colleagues Arun Jaitley and Harsimrat Kaur Badal.

She also discounted the version of one of the men who escaped, Harjit Masih, who has claimed that the men were shot dead.

Sushma Swaraj said she treats the search for the men not just as a responsibility but a mission. She said she has spoken to the Middle East countries on the issue more than once.

“I will continue the search and not believe in what that person has said,” she said, referring to Masih.

Giving a break-up of the Indians evacuated from different countries, Sushma Swaraj said that the government had brought back 1,000 students from Ukraine when the crisis unfolded, 7,000 Indians from Iraq when the Islamic State began running over swathes of the country and 4,500 Indians as well as foreign nationals from Yemen earlier this year.

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The Son Of The Islamic State leader al-Baghdadi Dies: IS

Al-Baghdadi's fate is still unknown

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This image from video posted in July purports to show Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi delivering a sermon in Iraq, July 5, 2014. Islamic State media has announced the death of the leader's son.
This image from video posted in July purports to show Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi delivering a sermon in Iraq, July 5, 2014. Islamic State media has announced the death of the leader's son. VOA

The son of the Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has died in a suicide attack mission in the city of Homs in western Syria, according to the IS media al-Nashir News.

Posting the photograph of a young boy, purportedly Hudhayfah al-Badri, al-Baghdadi’s son, the outlet said he lost his life in an operation against the Russian forces deployed in Homs and the Syrian government forces, referred to as Nusayriyyah by IS.

“Hudhayfah al-Badri (may Allah accept him), the son of the Caliph (may Allah safeguard him), was killed in an inghimasi [suicide] operation against the Nusayriyyah and the Russians at the thermal power station in Homs Willayah,” the news outlet reported.

Inghimasi refers to suicide operations in which a fighter, clad with explosive belt and armed with regular weapons, attacks an enemy position before detonating himself to inflict as much damage on the enemy as possible.

The U.S. military said it has seen the reports of al-Badri’s death but declined any confirmation.

“It would be inappropriate for us to comment on an attack on forces outside the Coalition. We have nothing more to provide,” U.S. Central Command told VOA.

An Iraqi national, al-Baghdadi, whose real name is Ibrahim Awad al-Badri, announced the Islamic State caliphate in the city of Mosul in June 2014 and made himself its caliph. The leader has since become the world’s most wanted man, with a $25 million bounty on his head.

Islamic Terrorism in NYC
Bicycles and debris lay on a bike path after a motorist drove onto the path near the World Trade Center memorial, striking and killing several people, Oct. 31, 2017, in New York. VOA

Al-Baghdadi’s fate is still unknown, with various reports claiming his death and injury several times, including a claim by the Russian Defense Ministry that he might have been hit by a Russian airstrike in 2017.

Those claims have been rejected by U.S. officials and the whereabouts of the elusive leader remain unknown.

Al-Baghdadi’s infamous role in IS has put a spotlight on his family. In March 2014, al-Baghdadi’s wife, Sujidah al-Dulaimi, was released, along with her two sons and daughter, in exchange for 13 nuns taken captive by al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front militants.

Also read: Will the Latest Message From Islamic State Leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Provoke New Attacks in the West?

It was reported that only the girl was al-Baghdadi’s daughter. The two boys belonged to a man his wife had married before meeting al-Baghdadi. (IANS)