Philippines hopes extremist group ‘neutralized’ after de facto leader killed

A church attack by suspected suicide bombers in January killed 22 people and wounded more than 100. (File/AFP)
Updated 16 March 2019
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Philippines hopes extremist group ‘neutralized’ after de facto leader killed

  • Dawla Islamiya is an alliance of pro-Daesh fighters, foreign and Filipino, drawn from armed groups in the volatile Mindanao region
  • The death of Abu Dar would mean Dawla Islamiya had been “neutralized”

MANILA: The Philippine military believes it may have “neutralized” the remnants of an alliance of pro-Daesh extremists, after the suspected death of the group’s de facto leader during clashes last week.
Forensic tests were being carried out to determine if one of four rebels killed on Thursday was Abu Dar, who security forces believe has led Dawla Islamiya, an alliance of pro-Daesh fighters, foreign and Filipino, drawn from armed groups in the volatile Mindanao region.
Four soldiers were also killed during the fighting in Lanao del Sur province, which Daesh claimed responsibility for on the mobile messaging service Telegram.
Regional army commander, Col. Romeo Brawner, told ABS-CBN News that the death of Abu Dar would mean Dawla Islamiya had been “neutralized.”
Dawla Islamiya in 2017 occupied southern Marawi City for five months before its core leaders were reported killed by the military in air strikes and street battles, among them Isnilon Hapilon, Islamic State’s anointed “emir” in Southeast Asia. Abu Dar was seen in seized video footage sitting beside Hapilon.
If confirmed, his death would represent rare progress at a time of heightened alert across the predominantly Muslim areas of Mindanao, where a church attack by suspected suicide bombers in January killed 22 people and wounded more than 100, just days after a local referendum on autonomy returned an overwhelming “yes” vote.
Daesh claimed responsibility for the church bombings, which the government believes were carried out by its supporters from another Mindanao group, Abu Sayyaf, which has a long history of criminal and extremist activity.


Canada extends Iraq, Ukraine military training missions

Updated 12 min 15 sec ago
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Canada extends Iraq, Ukraine military training missions

  • Chrystia Freeland: "Ukraine can continue to count on Canada's unwavering support"
  • In Iraq, Canada will keep 250 special forces troops training Iraqi security forces

OTTAWA: Canada's defense and foreign ministers jointly announced Monday the extensions of military training missions in Iraq and Ukraine.
Both had been slated to wrap up at the end of March, but security concerns persist.
In Iraq, Canada will keep 250 special forces troops advising and training Iraqi security forces, plus several attack helicopters, as part of the US-led coalition against the Islamic State mission until the end of March 2021.
The number of troops deployed could ramp up to 850, if needed, and they will also help neighboring Jordan and Lebanon build their respective security capabilities, said officials.
Complementing those efforts, Canada last November assumed command of a new NATO mission. It has been contributing air power, medical support and help in training Iraqi forces since 2014.
"We have made significant and lasting progress, but we recognize that more work is needed. Now we must ensure that Daesh can never rebuild and threaten the safety of Iraq," Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan told a press conference, using an Arabic acronym for IS.
In Ukraine, some 200 Canadian troops will continue to provide arms, military engineering, logistics, military policing, and medical training until the end of March 2022.
Since 2015, Canada has so far trained nearly 11,000 Ukrainian soldiers.
Canada will also host a third Ukraine reform conference in Toronto on July 2-4.
"Ukraine can continue to count on Canada's unwavering support," Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said.
"It's very important to send a strong message to Ukraine, to the people of Ukraine, and to the international community that the invasion of Crimea and the annexation of Crimea are a grave breach of international law," she added.