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Philippine city under siege after attack claimed by Islamic State

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Housands of civilians fled fighting in the Philippines on Wednesday as troops tried to fend off Islamist militants who took over large parts of Marawi city, taking hostages, seizing and torching buildings and setting free scores of prisoners. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the rampage via its Amaq news agency. The attacks came as President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law on Mindanao, the Muslim-majority island where Marawi city is located. The violence flared in Marawi on Tuesday afternoon after a botched raid by security forces on a hideout of the Maute, a militant group that has pledged allegiance to Islamic State. Fighters quickly dispersed, torching buildings and taking over bridges, a hospital, two jails, a church and a college. Duterte said he heard reports they may have beheaded a police chief.


Iraq’s Shiite militias squeeze Islamic State toward Syria border

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Iraq’s Shi’ite paramilitaries launched an offensive on Friday to drive Islamic State from a desert region near the border with Syria as security forces fought the militants in the city of Mosul. Spokesman Karim al-Nouri said the target of the operation was the Qairawan and Baaj areas about 100 km west of Mosul, where U.S.-backed Iraqi forces are advancing in their campaign to rout the militants from city. Seven months into the Mosul campaign, Islamic State has been driven from all but a handful of districts in the city’s western half including the Old City, where it is using hundreds of thousands of civilians as human shields. The paramilitaries have been kept on the sidelines of the battle for the city of Mosul itself, but have captured a vast, thinly populated area to the southwest, cutting Islamic State supply routes to Syria. Islamic State is losing territory in both  Iraq and Syria. The Iraqi military said in a statement its air force was supporting the operation by the paramilitary groups known collectively as Hashid Shaabi or Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF). Unlike regular Iraqi security forces, the PMF does not receive support from the U.S.-led coalition, which is wary of Iran’s influence over the most powerful factions within the body. Officially answerable to the government in Baghdad, the PMF were formed when Islamic State overran around one third of Iraq including Mosul nearly three years ago and Iraqi security forces disintegrated. Nouri said PMF control over the border would assist Syrian government forces when they push toward the Islamic State-held city of Raqqa. On Friday, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said their assault on Raqqa, the militants’ biggest urban stronghold, would begin soon and that they were awaiting weapons including armored vehicles from the U.S.-led coalition

SDF liberates two towns as march on Raqqa continues.

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Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) liberated two more towns during the ongoing offensive to liberate Raqqa, killing 49 Islamic State (ISIS) militants in the process. The U.S.-led coalition against ISIS supported the SDF with airstrikes in both towns. Clashes between the SDF and ISIS are ongoing in the town of Wadi al-Jalab. Fierce clashes between ISIS militants and SDF fighters on Wednesday  resulted in the SDF also securing the villages of al-Hatash, Om al-Tenak, Bir Jarbe, and Jarwa. The SDF announced on Thursday (April 13) the beginning of the fourth phase of the offensive to oust ISIS from the Syrian city of Raqqa and will concentrate on liberating northern Raqqa and Jalab Valley from the militant group.

Egypt: 13 alleged militants arrested in police raids in Beheira and Alexandria

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Investigations after bombs attacks of Palm Sunday continue in Egypt. According to a statement from the ministry, the arrested men were members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. The statement added that the 13 men had orders to plant bombs in several cities and to attack Copts, security personnel and state institutions, “in order to spread chaos”. Officials told that some tunnels had been found under their home, and a lot of stuff to create an explosive had been, also, found.

Iraqi forces and allied militias killed 15 Islamic State militants, campaign grinds on to recapture the city

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Iraqi government forces and allied militias recaptured on Monday a village in northwestern Mosul and killed 15 Islamic State militants as the security campaign grinds on to recapture the city. The Joint Operations Command said in a statement the forces recaptured the village of KherbatAtshana, close to a mountainous area recaptured a few days ago. Earlier on Monday, Iraqi troops recaptured the Josaq and Tayaran districts, and took over a bridge connecting western and eastern Mosul.

Army forces arrest 12 militants in Mount Helal inside central Sinai

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Army units affiliated with the third field army continued the sweeping operation it has launched against militants stationed in the area of Mount Helal. The security forces managed on Tuesday to arrest 12 militants, the army’s spokesperson said in a Facebook statement. The forces were furthermore able to seize a four wheel drive vehicle equipped with a machine gun. The vehicle also contained quantities of explosives, military clothing, and video materials related to militants, the statement explained. “The forces managed moreover to destroy another car bomb that was prepared to be used against army and police forces. The sweeping operation also resulted in the discovery of fuel storage points, three motorbikes, and the destruction of seven terrorist stationing points”, the statement read. The statement added that during the sweeping operation the forces burned 24 farms that grew the poppy plant, in addition to being able to arrest two wanted criminals who were trying to smuggle large amounts of money.

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.

The defeat in Sirte would damage Daesh

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After six months of heavy fighting, Libyan forces have advanced so deep into the strategic city of Sirte that they can pick out the Tunisian and Egyptian accents of their Daesh enemies as they trade insults over the frontline. Victory is imminent on this remote front of the war against Daesh, with the last few militants staging a last stand in a small area of just one square kilometre (0.4 square mile), US and Libyan officials say. But the battle has been long and hard, and holds lessons for US backed forces trying to force Daesh out of the much larger Iraqi city of Mosul more than 2,500 km (1,500 miles) away. “We faced unbelievable resistance. They won’t leave their posts even when houses are collapsing on them,” said Osama Issa, a 37-year-old businessman fighting with Libyan forces in Ghiza, the last neighbourhood of Sirte that Daesh holds. “They know they will die anyway so they fight well.” Defeat in Sirte will damage Daesh’s ability to show it is expanding globally and deprive it of a foothold outside Iraq and Syria. Losing it and Mosul in quick succession would dent its morale and possibly its ability to recruit followers.

The militants says attackers have bombed oil pipelines

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Nigerian militants and a local leader say attackers have bombed oil pipelines 100km apart, the fifth attack this month in response to a military campaign in Nigeria’s southern, petroleum-producing Niger Delta. Community leader Stephen Igwe says two other explosions blasted Italian company Agip’s Tebidaba-Brass pipeline. An Avengers statement warns of “continuous attacks” in retaliation for military raids. It questions the sincerity of government negotiations to address demands for justice and development in the oil-polluted region. Oil companies do not comment on attacks.

Another oil pipeline blown up by Nigerian militants

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Nigerian militants say they have blown up again an oil pipeline carrying crude for export from Shell’s Forcados terminal in the country’s south. It’s the third attack in eight days on the Trans Forcados pipeline network. Militants and community leaders want development and a bigger share of revenues from oil that has massively polluted the southern Niger Delta. The Niger Delta Avengers said the Tuesday night’s bombing is to reinforce warnings for oil companies to desist from repairing attacked installations.

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