Senior Indonesian member of Daesh killed in Syria: police

The Daesh group flag. (File/AFP)
Updated 12 February 2019
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Senior Indonesian member of Daesh killed in Syria: police

  • Muhammad Saifuddin was killed by shrapnel from a tank shell in late January in eastern Deir ez-Zor province
  • US had placed Saifuddin on a special global counter-terrorism list last August

JAKARTA: An Indonesian militant who appeared on a Daesh propaganda video showing the execution of a hostage and was said to be close to the militant group’s leader was killed in Syria last month, an Indonesian police spokesman and his brother said.
Muhammad Saifuddin, who was known by various aliases, including Abu Walid, was killed by shrapnel from a tank shell in late January in eastern Deir ez-Zor province, national police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo said in a text message.
Prasetyo described him as an Daesh “executioner and soldier.”
Muinudinillah Basri, Saifuddin’s brother, said by telephone he had learned of his brother’s death after receiving a photo of his body.
He had not seen his brother since he left for Syria with his wife and children, he said.
The US government had placed Saifuddin, alongside two militants from Malaysia and the Philippines, on a special global counter-terrorism list last August.
According to the US Department of Treasury’s website, Saifuddin, also known as Mohammed Karim Yusop Faiz, had gone to Syria to join Daesh in 2014 and taken part in the execution of a prisoner in June 2016. He had previously been imprisoned in the Philippines for nine years on charges of illegal possession of explosives and weapons, it said.
Sofyan Tsauri, a former Indonesian militant, said Saifuddin was “an important figure” in Daesh who represented its Southeast Asian contingent and had been close to the group’s leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.
Last weekend, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) began an assault seeking to wipe out the last remnants of the militant group’s “caliphate” in the SDF’s area of operations in eastern and northern Syria. The enclave is close to the Iraqi border and comprises two villages. IS still retains territory in the part of Syria that is mostly under the control of the Russian- and Iranian-backed Syrian government.


Iraq offers to mediate in crisis between US and Iran

Updated 21 min 25 sec ago
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Iraq offers to mediate in crisis between US and Iran

  • ‘We are trying to help and to be mediators’
  • The crisis takes root in President Donald Trump’s withdrawal last year of the US from the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers

BAGHDAD: Iraq offered to mediate in the crisis between its two key allies, the United States and Iran, amid escalating Middle East tensions and as Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers steadily unravels.
Iraqi foreign minister, Mohammed Al-Hakim, made the offer Sunday during a joint news conference in Baghdad with visiting Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif.
“We are trying to help and to be mediators,” said Al-Hakim, adding that Baghdad “will work to reach a satisfactory solution” while stressing that Iraq stands against unilateral steps taken by Washington.
In recent weeks, tensions between Washington and Tehran soared over America deploying an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Arabian Gulf over a still-unexplained threat it perceives from Tehran.
The crisis takes root in President Donald Trump’s withdrawal last year of the US from the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers that capped Iran’s uranium enrichment activities in return to lifting sanctions. Washington subsequently re-imposed sanctions on Iran, sending its economy into freefall.
Trump has argued that the deal failed to sufficiently curb Iran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons or halt its support for militias throughout the Middle East that the US says destabilize the region, as well as address the issue of Tehran’s missiles, which can reach both US regional bases and Israel.
Zarif, who was been on a whirlwind diplomatic offensive to preserve the rest of the accord, insisted that Iran “did not violate the nuclear deal” and urged European nations to exert efforts to preserve the deal following the US pullout.
Speaking about the rising tensions with the US, Zarif said Iran will be able to “face the war, whether it is economic or military through steadfastness and its forces.” He also urged for a non-aggression agreement between Iran and Arab countries in the Gulf.
The mediation offer by Al-Hakim, Iraq’s foreign minister, echoed one made Saturday by Mohamad Al-Halbousi, the Iraqi parliament speaker. Al-Hakim also expressed concern for Iran’s spiraling economy.
“The sanctions against sisterly Iran are ineffective and we stand by its side,” Al-Hakim said.