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By Sirwan Kajjo
As the Syrian government forces continue to advance on the Syrian province of Idlib, the last main rebel stronghold in the country, experts say the northwestern region may no longer serve as a shelter for the Islamic State (IS) fighters who have sought refuge there following their defeat elsewhere in the war-torn country.
Syrian troops, backed by Russia, for months have been trying to take control of parts of Idlib. Last week, Syrian regime forces recaptured the strategic town of Maaret al-Numan in Idlib, which had been under rebel control since 2012.
Idlib is home to nearly 3 million people, including many who have been displaced from other parts of Syria over the last eight years of war in the country.
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Relocated IS fighters
A recent report published by the U.N. Security Council said the Syrian province remains dominated by extremist groups affiliated with al-Qaida and the Islamic State terror groups. Idlib “also plays host to relocated ISIL fighters and dependents,” the U.N. report added, using another acronym for IS.
Following the military defeat of the terror group in eastern Syria in March 2019, many IS militants and their families moved to Idlib, fleeing from U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Experts say that IS, also known as ISIS, would inevitably face the same fate as many rebel and Islamist factions based in Idlib.
“If the Syrian regime retakes Idlib province, the ISIS members who have taken refuge in the Islamist-dominated enclave will be killed or flee into Turkey,” said Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma.
“The Alawite leadership of Syria regards ISIS as a lethal enemy because ISIS regards Alawites in the same category as Yazidis — unbelievers whose women can be taken as slaves and whose men should be killed or converted,” Landis told VOA.
Alawites are a sect of Islam that is largely based in Syria. They make up about 10% of the country’s population. Alawites are the backbone of the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is an Alawite himself.
In addition to Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the largest Islamist group in Idlib, which previously was al-Qaida’s branch in Syria, other extremist factions are active in the northwestern province.
Huras al-Din is one of several al-Qaida-linked groups that have maintained a significant presence in parts of Idlib. Other Turkey-backed rebel groups also have a foothold in the province. Western intelligence agencies believe that thousands of foreign fighters affiliated with different radical groups are active in Idlib. Some experts believe that the ever-changing military dynamics in Idlib could determine the presence of IS militants in the Syrian province.
IS “fighters that relocated to Idlib are in a precarious position because few local Syrian rebel groups trust them,” said Nicholas Heras, a Middle East expert at the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) in Washington. “The ISIS presence in Idlib is facilitated by the group’s access to large sums of money, which for all intents and purposes allows it to bribe local Syrian rebel groups to abide by its presence,” he told VOA.
Heras added that many IS fighters who relocated to Idlib are also Syrian nationals from the western parts of the country who have family networks there that facilitate their presence.
In October 2019, U.S. Special Forces carried out an operation in Idlib that killed the leader of the group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The former IS leader reportedly had been hiding in Idlib for months after moving between towns across eastern Syria as his so-called caliphate was crumbling.
The fact that “Baghdadi got to Idlib shows there was an active smuggling route from their former areas to Idlib,” said Seth Frantzman, director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis. He said IS members who have fled to Idlib in the last two years have largely remained inactive there. They were “part of the collapse of the ‘caliphate,’ sometimes seeking to find a way to get to Turkey or Idlib from Raqqa and then Baghuz as ISIS strongholds fell,” Frantzman told VOA.
Not the center of gravity
Analyst Heras of ISW says at this point Idlib doesn’t hold any strategic importance for IS as the terror group seeks to reorganize itself following the death of Baghdadi and the appointment of its new leader, Abu Ibrahim al-Qurashi.
“Idlib is not ISIS’s center of gravity in Syria; that remains the Badiya [region] of the central desert region and in Deir al-Zour,” he said. “The future of ISIS will not be Idlib, which is slowly and surely falling to Assad, it is the eastern parts of Syria that border Iraq and where ISIS has the most robust local networks of support,” Heras noted, adding that IS “can sustain an insurgency for years in eastern Syria.”
Analyst Frantzman believes that any takeover of Idlib by Syrian government forces could breathe new life into IS in other parts of the country.
“If it weakens the HTS and other Syrian extremist groups, then it might make ISIS appear to be the sole extremist group still active in marginal areas,” he added. (VOA/KB)
(Islamic State of Iran and Syria, ISIS in Syria, largest Islamic group, Middle East, Islamic Extremism, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi)
Cinema and movie making is constantly changing, and the result is in front of us we've come a long way from silent black and white short movies to high definition, colour, 5-D movies. It has evolved for the last 108 years and continues to grow. India's first auteur-filmmaker Dhundiraj Govind Phalke popularly known as Dadasahen Phalke directed and produced India's first feature film Raja Harishchandra which was a hundred per cent made by the Indian crew. The movie was released in Bombay's (Mumbai) Coronation Theatre on the 3rd of May 1913 under the label of being India's first home production, full-length film.
Raja Harishchandra was the first to be 'acted, directed and produced by an all-Indian team. Phalke's inspiration to make a "Swadeshi" movie comes from when he viewed the silent movie, "The Life of Christ" in 1911. He wrote in Navayug, November 1917 that While the Life of Christ was rolling fast before my physical eyes, I was mentally visualizing the gods, Shri Krishna, Shri Ramachandra, their Gokul and Ayodhya… He wanted to feel the connection with the movies but that connection failed to form as the context of the movie was foreign.
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Phalke went to London the very next year to learn about filmmaking techniques. He even imported the hardware required for filmmaking to India from England, France, Germany, and the United States of America. Upon his return to India, he founded Phalke Films Company. Phalke published classified in various newspapers for the cast and crew to apply, what's unique about the film was that even the female roles were played by male actors this happened as no women were available for the role.
Phalke was a one-man crew for the production, he was in charge of writing script, direction, production design, make-up, film editing along with film processing. The filming of the whole movie took six months and 27 days.
The female roles were played by male actors in the movieWikimedia Commons
As the name itself suggests the film closely follows the story of Satyavadi Raja Harishchandra from the Vedas who is known to be the epitome of truth as maharishi Vishvamitra makes him go through numerous torturous tests to prove himself.
The story goes as Raja (King) Harishchandra was teaching his son, Rohitashva how to shoot with a bow and arrow as Queen Taramati watches over her son and husband. Later the people of the Kingdom request the king to go on a hunting expedition as the animals have been creating havoc. While on the hunt, Harishchandra hears the cries of some women. Upon following the voice Harishchnadra discovers the sage Vishwamitra was performing a yajna to get help from Triguna Shakti (three powers) against their will. After witnessing the sight Harishchandra revolts and interrupts the sage, which infuriates the egoistic sage. To calm his wrath Harishchandra offers to sacrifice his kingdom to the sage. He informs his queen of the events and the family is exiled from the kingdom by Vishvamitra. The sage asks the poor king for Dakshina within the time period of 48 days. While in exile Rohitashva meets his demise, the king asks his wife to visit Dom king in the hope of free cremation only to face more difficulties on the path Vishvamitra frames her for the murder of the prince of Kashi. Taramati faces trial, pleads guilty and is ordered to be beheaded by Harishchandra. With a torn heart but as he could not turn away from his duty, the king raises his sword to behead his wife, Lord Shiva appears, and it is revealed that all the difficulties they have been going throw were the tests laid down by Vishvamitra to test the integrity of the king, Harishchandra gets back his kingdom, his son is brought back to life and the movie ends.
A legacy of the century
Only a handful of "firsts/indigenous" movies made in India have survived the century. Raja Harishchandra being one of them still holds the same meaning and inspiration for its audience as it did a century ago. Film historian Firoze Rangoonwalla describes the film's impact on the public as "a wide impression and appealed to a large audience in different places" and its box office success provided "the seal of acceptance and laid the foundation of the film industry" in the country.
The debate over whether Raja Harishchandra is truly the first full-length Indian feature film has been argued over for decades. Some film historians claim that Shree Pundalik by Dadasaheb Torne was released in the same theatre a year before Raja Harishchandra was the maiden Indian Film. However, other historians differ they argue that Shree Pundalik is a simple cinematographic recording filmed by a British cameraman on a single fixed camera, and later processed in London. On the other hand, Raja Harishchandra was completely made in India, from cameraman to final editing of the movie. Thus, it has recognition from the government of India as the first Indian feature film.
Keywords: Filmmaking, India's first feature film, Raja Harishchandra, Dadasaheb Phalke, filmmakers in India
As fall nesting is upon us, opt for tasteful wallpapers if you're looking to dramatically overhaul your interiors. Besides being more durable and cost-effective in the long run, wallpapers can add texture and dimension to a space, transforming an ordinary room into something special. Take your pick from muted backdrops to geometric prints from a splash of vibrant hues to intricate patterns.
Artisan Furnishings curates a few trends to dress your walls up for the season:
If yours is a minimalistic home with clean simple designs and home accessories, covering your wall with a muted color and simple floral motifs will work like a charm. An interplay of the yesteryear's cottage core vibe with a contemporary design aesthetic, your walls will play muse to the season of new beginnings.
An interplay of the yesteryear's cottage core vibe with a contemporary design aesthetic, your walls will play muse to the season of new beginnings. | Photo by Unsplash
Cover Me in Sunshine
Vibrant hues of sunshine orange and yellow with intricately lined patterns in white bring out a certain allure and warmth to your home along with adding a statement to your wall. Paint your home in this subdued backdrop to give it a fresh makeover.
Vibrant hues of sunshine orange and yellow with intricately lined patterns in white bring out a certain allure and warmth to your home. | IANSlife
Go Rustic with Earthy Tones
Invoking the aura of the charming English countryside, the rustic trend blends the neutral backdrops and an earthy colour palette of beige, brown, and blue. Infusing a sense of tradition and craftsmanship, these wallpapers are designed with ingenuity and love for our diverse roots.
The rustic trend blends the neutral backdrops and an earthy color palette of beige, brown, and blue. I Photo by Unsplash
Bold Hues on Muted Backdrops
Give your home a festive spirit and feel with wallpapers created on a simple color palette of cream with gold accents. Reminiscent of palaces and their vintage and regal vibe, this wall-covering trend goes perfectly for every kind of space.
Floral motifs and structural designs create a bespoke line of wall arts to bring out the essence of fall in your home. | IANSlife
A melange of Pattern and Prints
Uniquely designed patterns on a plethora of backdrops colored white, cream, beige, and bold hues of violet, this trend is perfect for all seasons. Floral motifs and structural designs create a bespoke line of wall arts to bring out the essence of fall in your home. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Wall trends, Minimalistic Decor, Floral motifs, and structural designs, home accessories, Contemporary design aesthetic.