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Showing posts from February 15, 2013

Al-Qaeda plan for northern Mali revealed in document

LONDON: A document left behind in the bombed remains of an Al-Qaeda training headquarters in the Malian city of Timbuktu gives a rare insight into the organisation's thinking, a British newspaper reported Thursday.

The Daily Telegraph said it had found the Arabic-language document outside a building bombed by French forces who drove the Islamists from the ancient city.

The newspaper said the document was the first page of minutes from the 33rd meeting of the Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) leadership, held on March 18, 2012.

The AQIM chiefs discussed a plan to capitalise on the gains made in northern Mali by the Islamist rebel group Ansar Dine and Tuareg minority rebels. It was suggested that AQIM pushed aside the groups and took control.

At the time of the meeting, those groups had just captured a string of towns in the Sahara Desert on Mali's northern border with Algeria.

Abou Moussab Abdel Wadoud -- a 42-year-old Algerian dubbed the "prince" of AQIM, who helped …

Afghan army trains women for special forces

KABUL, Afghanistan: The Afghan army is training female special forces to take part in night raids against insurgents, breaking new ground in an ultraconservative society and filling a vacuum left by departing international forces.

"If men can carry out this duty why not women?" asks Lena Abdali, a 23-year-old Afghan soldier who was one of the first women to join one of the special units in 2011.

Night raids have long been a divisive issue between Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who doesn't want foreign troops entering Afghan homes, and the U.S.-led coalition that says the raids are essential to capturing Taliban commanders.

Many Afghans, however, have complained that the house raids are culturally offensive. Having male troops search Afghan females is taboo. So is touching a family's Quran, the Muslim holy book, or entering a home without being invited. Another focus of anger has been the disregard for privacy and Afghan culture because women and children are usually hom…

U.K. flies Ghana troops, kit to Mali

LONDON: Britain’s military has flown troops and heavy equipment from Ghana to Mali to support the international intervention in the West African nation, the British Defense Ministry said Thursday.

A C-17 aircraft is carrying more than 120 members of a Ghanaian engineering company with vehicles and equipment to Bamako, where they will build accommodation and assist with projects like road building as part of the African-led support mission to Mali, the ministry said.

The Ghanaian request for a C-17 was made earlier this week, it said, with the first C-17 flights taking off Monday night and continuing through the week.

The Ghanaian engineering company will “be there as long as it takes to solve the problem,” according to Col. M’Bawine Atintande, public relations director for the Ghana Armed Forces.

Meanwhile, a British newspaper reported that a document left behind in the bombed remains of an Al-Qaeda training headquarters in the Malian city of Timbuktu gives a rare insight into the organiz…

Lebanese PM dismisses Syria rebel arrest warrants: source

BEIRUT: Prime Minister Najib Mikati has dismissed an announcement from the Free Syrian Army of arrest warrants against him and two of his relatives should they enter Syria, a source close to the head of the Lebanese Cabinet said Thursday.

“These [threats] aren’t even worth a response because they come within the framework of well-known media and political campaigns,” the source told The Daily Star.

The Free Syrian Army said Wednesday it had issued arrest warrants against Mikati and two of his relatives over what it claimed was a Lebanese government decision allowing Syrian tanker trucks to fill up with fuel in Lebanon.

“The Revolutionary Justice [Council] issued this morning [Wednesday] arrest warrants against Prime Minister Najib Mikati, his brother Taha, and his nephew,” Free Syrian Army spokesman Louai Meqdad told the local television channel MTV late Wednesday.

He said the move came after a “dangerous” Lebanese Cabinet decision allowing Syrian President Bashar Assad “to dispatch tanke…

Seven killed in spate of Iraq attacks

BAGHDAD: Attacks mostly targeting Iraqi security forces north of Baghdad killed seven people on Thursday, security and medical officials said, the latest in an uptick in nationwide violence.

Near the main northern city of Mosul, gunmen killed two brothers -- a policeman and a soldier -- inside their home, according to officials. The soldier was a bodyguard for Iraqi parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi.

Also close to Mosul, a roadside bomb targeting a police patrol killed two policemen and wounded one other.

Even as unrest has declined nationwide from its peak in 2006 and 2007, Mosul and surrounding Nineveh province remain one of the most violent regions of the country on a per capita basis, according to the Iraq Body Count watchdog.

And just north of Baghdad, separate shootings and bombings in Balad and Dujail left three people dead, including two anti-Qaeda militiamen, and seven people wounded.

No organisation immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks, but Sunni militants includi…

100 soldiers, scores of civilians killed by al-Qaida fighters attack in northern Syria

DAMASCUS, Feb. 14 (Xinhua) -- Intense clashes between the Syrian army and the al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front, using booby- trapped cars in the fights, have left at least 100 army personnel and scores of civilians killed, activists said Thursday.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that al-Nusra fighters have almost taken control over the city of Shadidi in Hasaka after three days of intense clashes, during which the al-Qaida likeminded group used car bombs in their attacks.

A total of 100 army personnel and scores of civilians, who were employees at a Syrian oil company, were killed after the al-Nusra fighters stormed the company, it said, adding that some 30 members of al-Nusra were killed as well.

The Observatory also reported intense clashes in several hotspots across the country.

In the southern province of Daraa, violent clashes have been ongoing between the government forces and rebel fighters inside the al-Sahwa military battalion center, the Observatory said…

Syrian rebels shoot down military warplanes

Opposition fighters seize control of oil field in Hasaka province as fighting intensifies in northwestern province

Syrian rebels have shot down two military warplanes over the northwestern province of Idlib, a monitoring group has said.

Both jets were hit with fire from heavy machineguns while the air force was carrying out a series of raids in the area, much of which is under the control of the rebels, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Thursday.

The opposition fighters trying to oust President Bashar al-Assad also captured the town of Shadadah, near the Jbeysa oil field in hotly contested Hasaka province, according to Rami Abdul-Rahman, head of the Britain-based activist group.

The oil field is in an energy-rich area along Syria's border with Iraq.

Abdul-Rahman said the rebels captured about 70 percent of the oil field but there was still sporadic gunfire in the area.

Meanwhile, Iranian authorities said on Thursday that gunmen had shot dead an Iranian Revolutionary Guards…

US strike kills 10 civilians as Obama touts end of Afghan occupation

By Bill Van Auken

February 14, 2013 "
WSWS" -- A US airstrike in eastern Afghanistan Wednesday killed 10 civilians, including five children. The deadly attack came just hours after the State of the Union speech in which President Barack Obama falsely claimed that the more than decade-long US war and occupation in Afghanistan “will be over” by the end of next year.
Afghanistan’s Pajhwok Afghan News agency (PAN) reported that the civilian victims of the strike included five children, four women and one man. The overnight raid targeted two houses in the village of Chawgam in the Shigal district of Kunar province. Four other civilians were wounded. The civilian victims, referred to by the US military as “collateral damage,” far outnumbered the three Taliban fighters said to have been killed in the bombing. PAN reported that provincial council chief Haji Mia Hassan Adil denounced the raid. “Such military actions were widening the gap between the people and the government,” it quoted …