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Islamic State executes civilians southwest of Kirkuk

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Islamic State fighters have killed several civilians over collaboration with security troops, southwest of Kirkuk, a security source in the province. “The so-called head of the legislative court in al-Hawija district (55 KM southwest of Kirkuk) ordered hanging some civilians, who were detained by the militants few days ago over spying for the troops”, an anonymous source told BasNews on Thursday without giving details on the number of the victims. “The execution took place today at one of IS camps near Hawija”, the source said, adding that the bodies of the victims were not handed to their relatives. Hawija is a strategic town which has fallen into the hands of IS since mid-2014. Iraqi authorities postponed an operation to liberate the town last year, instead they moved onto central Mosul. The Iraqi government is expected to launch an offensive to retake IS-occupied areas in Kirkuk once it is done with eradicating IS from Mosul, the group’s biggest bastion in Iraq.

Refugees from western Mosul exceed 76.000 since operations start

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Refugees have been received at government camps since the start of offensives to recapture western Mosul from Islamic State have exceeded 76.000, according to the Iraqi government. The United Nations and Iraqi refugee bodies have warned that battles in western Mosul could displace at least 250.000 out of 750.000 estimated to be trapped under IS control in western Mosul. Upon the launch of operations to recapture eastern Mosul last October, the United Nations predicted 1.5 million refugees.

 

After rise of army operations, ‘Sinai Province’ follows hit and run strategy

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As part of the ongoing sweeping operations conducted by the second field army in different parts of North Sinai following the massive exodus of Coptic families from Al-Arish city, Sunday’s operations resulted in the death of four militants. However, the city of Al-Arish, which occupied the news headlines during the last week, is still witnessing the presence of militants who are believed to be members of the IS affiliated group of ‘Sinai Province.’ On Sunday the militants opened a checkpoint in central Al-Arish, where they stopped many pedestrians and checked their IDs. They created such checkpoint to prove their presence in the city; however, once police forces arrived, they fled the scenes. Also, the checkpoint was aiming to target Coptic residents, as the militants were checking the pedestrians’ IDs, he added.

Syrian fighters cut main road linking Is-held areas

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U.S.-backed Syrian fighters on Monday cut the main road between the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, which is controlled by the Islamic State group, and the eastern city of Deir el-Zour, which is partially held by IS, as they press into the extremists’ territory in Syria. But despite the fresh blockade on the Raqqa-Deir el-Zour road, IS still controls large swaths of ground south of Raqqa. SDF spokesman Talal Sillo told The Associated Press that “our forces have cut the main supply line between Raqqa and Deir el-Zour.” He added that it is still too early to impose a siege on Raqqa because the extremists still control areas west and south of the city.

 

9 IS “Sinai Province” militants killed and 16 other injured

Armed forces affiliated to the third field army, which operate between south and central Sinai, foiled on Friday morning an attack launched by militants believed to be from the Islamic State-affiliated (IS) group “Sinai Province”, killing nine attackers and injuring 16.The IS-affiliated group is believed to be currently adapting a new war strategy that is based on targeting forces all across the Sinai Peninsula (not only in the North).

Iraqi government security forces started second phase of operations to clear eastern Mosul from IS militants

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Iraqi government security forces declared the start of a second phase of operations to clear the eastern section of Mosul from Islamic State militants. The militants were trying to pass from the western region to the east using al-Nasr district Bridge, according to Federal Police commander, Lt. Gen. Raed Shaker Jawdat, who said that artillery forces bombed an IS gathering and killed five militants.The resumption of operations comes after almost a week of recess dictated by inclement weather and the need for resupply and military reinforcements.

Suspected French IS member arrested

A French national has been captured at an Islamic State (IS) training camp and he is held at Benghazi’s Grenada military prison. A video of him was broadcast yesterday by French TV channel M6 but it did not state where he was arrested nor they  revealed his name. We know he was of Algerian origin and from the east of France. Questioned by a French reporter, the man said he had been a second-hand car salesman and that he was gone to Libya planning to move on to Syria and join the Nusra Front, the jihadist organisation previously part of Al-Qaeda. He had not intended to join IS. He refused to send a message to his family on the basis that French intelligence will know who he is soon.

Indonesia considering new anti-terrorism legislation. Fears of repercussions on the human-rights

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 After the attacks that hit Jakarta last week, concluded with the death of four civilians and four attackers, Indonesian President Joko Widodo asked yesterday the review of anti-terrorism laws in force in the archipelago.

The proposed amendment would clearly go in the direction of a tightening of security controls, and allows security forces to immediately arrest any person suspected of planning terrorist attacks. The police fear that Indonesian jihadists engaged in Middle – East and North Africa may return home to prepare new attacks.

The proposal has generated concerns because many feel that a new more restrictive anti-terrorism law could lead to an excessive increase of the controls and be used as a tool of repression in a country that has already suffered from the weakness of its rule of law.

The new legislation would also allow the police to detain suspects for more than a week (current limit), without charge, and would make illegal any military activity with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. According to local authorities estimates, some 500 Indonesians have already left to fight as foreign fighters alongside jihadists of Daesh. 100 of these have already returned without having gained ,however, in most cases, combat experience.

The reform advocated by President Widodo should be approved quickly enough, given the cross support expressed by the majority of political forces represented in Parliament. Only some opposition parties have expressed their fears for a change that could result in suppression of dissent and freedom of expression. Along the same lines were, concerns were expressed by human rights organizations and radical Islamic groups.

It is feared that, in the wake of the attacks, the country can take a step back on the path of democracy, giving the police powers similar to those exercised during the 32 years of bloody dictatorship of General Suharto, when hundreds of thousands of dissidents accused of communism were persecuted and brutally murdered by militia supported by the regime.

Luca Marchesini
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