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Saudi Arabia forms 34 countries alliance to fight terrorism

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New Delhi: Saudi Arabia declared on Tuesday that it formed an Islamic military alliance with 34 countries to counter terrorism. This alliance will hold joint operations from the Kingdom’s capital Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia’s press agency stated that alliance has been formed because there is a need to fight the terrorism with all means and all collaborations to eliminate it.

Press statement further added that Islam forbids corruption and destruction in the world and terrorism violates human life and dignity, especially the right to life and the right to security.

This alliance has members like Pakistan, Egypt, Turkey, Libya and Yemen etcetera. African nations like Nigeria are also part of the alliance. 

However, the regional rival Shiite Iran is not the member of this coalition.

Saudi defense Minister Mohammed Bin Salam said that this group will not be limited to fight against Islamic terrorist outfits only. He added that a joint operation center will be based in Riyadh and from there the military operations to fight terrorism will be conducted.

Most of the gulf countries are part of this alliance except Oman. Turkey is the only country that is also a part of Nato. Iran and troubled Syria are the biggest missing names therein.

Saudi Arabia already is part of the operations against Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen. This group also marks the start of an initiative taken by the Islamic countries against terrorism.

ISIS is a huge power in the middle east and this group sooner or later will turn against it. Saudi Arabia not only took the leadership role in the formation of this alliance, but also it will be leading the joint operation held by the alliance.

(Inputs from agencies)

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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)