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Shelling by Syrian Government kills 6 Kindergarten Children near Damascus

Harasta, one of the key rebel-held areas near Damascus, is adjacent to the international road connecting Damascus with central and northern Syria.

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(Representational Image ) In this image made from video and posted online from Validated UGC, a Civil Defense worker carries a child after airstrikes hit Aleppo, Syria, April 28, 2016. VOA

Damascus, November 7, 2016: At least six children were killed on Sunday when shells fired by Syrian government forces slammed into a kindergarten school building in a rebel-held suburb near the capital Damascus, authorities said.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the shells slammed into the kindergarten while the children were reportedly playing in the school yard in the rebel-held suburb of Harasta, Xinhua news agency reported.

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Harasta, one of the key rebel-held areas near Damascus, is adjacent to the international road connecting Damascus with central and northern Syria.

The rebels in Harasta have repeatedly fired sniper shots at passenger buses on the international highway, prompting the government to assign a sub-road for passengers to avoid passing the area. (IANS)

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Syrian Militia: End Is Near for Islamic State in Raqqa

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Syria ISIS
Smoke rises near the stadium where the Islamic State militants are holed up after an airstrike by coalition forces at the frontline, in Raqqa, Syria. voa

Islamic State is on the verge of defeat in Syria’s Raqqa and the city may finally be cleared of the jihadists Saturday or Sunday, the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia told Reuters Saturday.

The U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State said around 100 of the jihadist group’s fighters had surrendered in Raqqa in the last 24 hours and had been “removed from the city,” but it still expected difficult fighting “in the days ahead.”

It did not say how the fighters had been removed or where the fighters had been taken.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said remaining Islamic State fighters were being transported out of Raqqa by bus under a deal between Islamic State, the U.S.-led coalition and the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is dominated by the YPG. There was no immediate comment on that report from the coalition or the SDF.

Fighting since June

Civilians who escaped from Islamic State
Civilians who escaped from Islamic State militants rest at a mosque in Raqqa, Syria. voa

The SDF, backed by coalition airstrikes and special forces, has been battling since June to oust Islamic State from Raqqa city, formerly its de facto capital in Syria and a base of operations where it planned attacks against the West.

The final defeat of Islamic State at Raqqa will be a major milestone in efforts to roll back the group’s self-declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq, where earlier this year the group was driven from the city of Mosul.

“The battles are continuing in Raqqa city. Daesh (Islamic State) is on the verge of being finished. Today or tomorrow the city may be liberated,” YPG spokesman Nouri Mahmoud told Reuters by telephone.

In emailed comments to Reuters, coalition spokesman Ryan Dillon said about 100 Islamic State fighters had surrendered in Raqqa in the last 24 hours and were “removed from the city,” without giving further details.

“We still expect difficult fighting in the days ahead and will not set a time for when we think (Islamic State) will be completely defeated in Raqqa,” he said, adding that around 85 percent of Raqqa had been liberated as of Oct. 13.

Some civilians escape

Around 1,500 civilians had been able to safely make it to SDF lines within the last week, he added.

Omar Alloush, a member of a civilian council set up to run Raqqa, told Reuters late Friday that efforts were under way to secure the release of civilians and “a possible way to expel terrorist elements from Raqqa province,” without giving further details.

An activist group that reports on Raqqa, Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently, said on its Facebook page Saturday that dozens of buses had entered Raqqa city overnight, having traveled from the northern Raqqa countryside.

The Observatory said Syrian Islamic State fighters and their families had left the city, and buses had arrived to evacuate remaining foreign fighters and their families. It did not say where they would be taken.

During the more than six-year Syrian war, the arrival of buses in a conflict zone has often signaled an evacuation of combatants and civilians.

The campaign against Islamic State in Syria is now focused on its last major foothold in the country, the eastern province of Deir el-Zour, which neighbors Iraq.
Islamic State is facing separate offensives in Deir el-Zour by the SDF on one hand, and Syrian government forces supported by Iranian-backed militia and Russian airstrikes on the other. (VOA)

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WHO Releases New Guidelines to Fight Global Childhood Obesity

India ranks second in the number of obese children in the world with China taking the first spot

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OBESITY
Obesity exposes an individual to multiple health problems. VOA

New Delhi, October 12, 2017:  In 2016, an Official data in had revealed that over 41 million children below the age of 5 were affected by obesity. Without due attention and efficient treatment, they are likely to remain obese throughout their lives, with an increased risk of developing a host of diseases and physical and psychological consequences like anxiety, low self-esteem, depression, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and even premature death.

In view of an escalating number of people constantly coming under the ambush of obesity, and with childhood obesity becoming a cause of worry globally, the World Health Organization (WHO) released new guidelines on October 4, emphasizing the growing importance of healthcare experts and professionals, underlining their positive role in helping kids and teenagers fight the global menace.

What is Obesity?

Obesity is defined as ‘excess adipose tissue’. In other words, it is a body-weight disorder involving excessive body fat that exposes an individual to multiple health problems.  In case a person’s body-weight is nearly 20 per cent higher than it should be, he is considered obese.

obesity
Excessive body fat that exposes an individual to multiple health problems. Pixabay

There are different ways to calculate excess adipose tissue, the most common one being the Body Mass Index.

Index :

Overweight – BMI greater than or equal to 25

Obesity – BMI greater than or equal to 30

Global Data

According to data obtained by WHO, one half of all overweight children or obese children lived in Asia, and one-quarter of the total obese children lived in Africa.

According to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine in June, India ranks second in the number of obese children in the world with China taking the first spot.

The global menace continues to rise rapidly in low and middle-income countries.

Also Read: Obesity leads to 13 types of Cancer, including that of Pancreas and Esophagus: Study

WHO Guidelines

The new report released by WHO on October 4 is titled ‘Assessing and Managing Children at Primary Healthcare Facilities to Prevent Overweight and Obesity in the Context of the Double Burden of Malnutrition’.

The report provides guidelines and updates for the Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI). The guidelines attempt to confine the spread of childhood obesity from expanding further, and prescribe undertaking proper assessment of dietary habits along with weight and height measurements. It also recommends dieting and proper counseling by healthcare experts.

Recommendations by WHO

  • WHO has recommended that primary healthcare facilities should be made available to all children below the age of 5 years and infants. These should include measurement of both weight and height of the children to determine their weight-for height and nutritional status as previously defined by WHO child growth standards.
  • For children and infants identified as overweight, healthcare experts should provide counseling to parents and caregivers on nutrition and physical activity, which includes creating awareness about healthy practices like exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months and continuing the practice until 2 years or more.
  • WHO also prescribes that an appropriate management plan should be devised to counter the menace in obese children. This can be developed by a trained health worker at primary healthcare facilities, or local hospitals.

Healthy Eating Tips to Fight Obesity

Here are a few healthy eating tips that will not only help you maintain a healthy weight but will also prove be be beneficial for your metabolism, physical strength and general well-being,

  • Refrain from unnecessary indulgences or random snacking and encourage healthy snacking choices like popcorns, yogurt, fruits, etc.
  • Reduce your sugar intake to less than 10 per cent of the total calories for an individual with normal weight.

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Obese and binge eating junk food? Red Flag! Pixabay

  • Consume a gracious serving of seasonal vegetables and fruits everyday that are rich in soluble and insoluble fibres, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
  • Make healthy food selections- include whole grain products, avoid excessive use of oil and salt and refrain from processed or packaged food.
  • A balanced diet must be complimented with regular exercise to counter unnecessary weight gain

– prepared by Soha Kala of NewsGram. Twitter @SohaKala

 

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

IS remains a potent organization, despite its continued losses in United States and Europe

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This image taken from a militant website July 5, 2014, purports to show the leader of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. (VOA)

Washington, September 30, 2017 : U.S. intelligence officials examining the latest audio statement claiming to be from Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi say, so far, they have no reason to doubt its authenticity.

However, there are questions as to whether the message from the leader of the collapsing, self-declared caliphate will cause IS operatives to spring into action. Some analysts see Baghdadi’s continued call to arms as almost a shot in the dark, aimed at rekindling interest despite the terror group’s fading fortunes in Syria and Iraq.

The still-early U.S. intelligence assessment comes just a day after the Islamic State’s al-Furqan media wing issued the 46-minute audio recording featuring Baghdadi, in which he calls on followers to “fan the flames of war on your enemies, take it to them and besiege them in every corner.”

“Continue your jihad and your blessed operations and do not let the crusaders rest in their homes and enjoy life and stability while your brethren are being shelled and killed,” he says.

islamic state
A U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces fighter takes cover behind a wall on a street where they fight against Islamic State militants, on the front line on the western side of Raqqa, Syria (VOA)

Despite such threats, U.S. officials say the release of the latest audio message is not changing Washington’s approach.

“We are aware of the tape,” a National Security Council spokesman said Friday. “But whether it’s al-Baghdadi or any member of ISIS, the Trump administration’s policy is destroying ISIS in Iraq, Syria and around the globe.” ISIS is an acronym for Islamic State.

Still, intelligence and counterterror officials, both in the United States and in Europe, warn that IS remains a potent organization, despite its continued losses on the ground.

“We do not think battlefield losses alone will be sufficient to degrade its terrorism capabilities,” the head of the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center, Nick Rasmussen, warned in written testimony to U.S. lawmakers earlier this week, calling IS’s reach on social media “unprecedented.”

And while Western counterterror officials say the expected wave of returning IS foreign fighters has yet to materialize, the experience and skill sets of the operatives who have made it back home are ample reasons to worry.

But some caution the new Baghdadi audio message may have more to do with the terror group’s long-term strategy than its desire to carry out attacks in the near term.

“The broadcast boosts morale by contextualizing the hardships facing the group as their losses accumulate by reminding Islamic State militants and their supporters that day-to-day actions are part of a broader struggle, and metrics of progress shouldn’t be assessed in a vacuum,” according to Jade Parker, a senior research associate at the Terror Asymmetrics Project (TAPSTRI).

ALSO READ  intelligence officials , Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, al-Furqan, war, enemies, threats, US officials, raqqa, National Security Council, isis, Iraq, Syria, U.S. National Counterterrorism Center, Nick Rasmussen, terrorism, Terror Asymmetrics Project ,

Parker also believes that while it is “extremely unlikely” the latest Baghdadi audio will spark or accelerate any IS plots, it might prevent fraying within the organization’s ranks.

“Baghdadi’s silence during the final days of IS’s battle for Mosul was a sore point for many IS fighters and supporters who felt confused and abandoned by their leader,” she added. “This statement was likely released in part to avoid that sentiment with respect to the fight to retain ground in Raqqa.” (VOA)