Iraqi forces clear Taramiyah farmland of Daesh militants

A men drives his scooter in front of damaged buildings in the old city of Mosul in northern Iraq , on July 22, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 24 July 2019

Iraqi forces clear Taramiyah farmland of Daesh militants

  • The anti-terror operation along the Syrian border has continued for two weeks

TARAMIYAH: Iraqi security forces are sweeping villages and farmland north of Baghdad as part of an operation aimed at clearing remaining militants belonging to Daesh from around the country’s capital.

A military helicopter flew over army units in the area as troops on the ground searched for weapon caches and bombs on farmland in Taramiyah on Tuesday. The area is about 50 km north of Baghdad.
The dragnet is part of the operation dubbed “Will to Victory,” which started two weeks ago along the border with Syria and was extended last week to areas north of Baghdad and in the Diyala, Salahuddin and Anbar provinces.
Although Iraq declared victory against Daesh in July 2017, the extremists continue to carry out attacks around the country.

Mass grave
Separately, Iraq on Tuesday began exhuming the remains of dozens of victims, including children, likely killed during former ruler Saddam Hussein’s campaign against the country’s Kurds, a forensics official told AFP.
The mass grave was uncovered in Tal Al-Sheikhiya, about 300 km south of Baghdad, said Zaid Al-Youssef, the head of Baghdad’s Medico-Legal Directorate which is tasked with identifying the remains.

SPEEDREAD

• The anti-Daesh operation extended last week to areas north of Baghdad and in the Diyala, Salahuddin and Anbar provinces.

• Mass grave containing more than 70 bodies uncovered in Tal Al-Sheikhiya, about 300 km south of Baghdad.

“More than 70 bodies including women and children, ranging from newborns to 10 years old” have so far been exhumed, Youssef said.
Those remains were recovered from the surface layer of the site, he said, but “there could be a second deeper layer” with additional bodies.
“The evidence collected indicates they were summarily executed in 1988,” said Youssef, which coincides with Saddam’s brutal “Anfal” campaign against Iraq’s Kurds.
The operation took place between 1987 and 1988 and saw nearly 180,000 Kurds killed and more than 3,000 villages destroyed.
“The female victims were blindfolded and killed by gunshots to the head, but also have traces on various parts of their bodies of bullets that were fired randomly,” Youssef said.
The grave lies in the southern province of Mutahanna, also home to the notorious Nigrat Salman prison camp.
Many Kurds and political opponents of the previous regime were held there, and survivors shared tales of humiliation, rape and detention of minors as part of Saddam’s 2006 trial.
Iraq has been hit by wave after wave of conflict in recent decades, culminating in the fight against Daesh which ended in late 2017.
Those years of conflict left grave sites all across the country where the remains of thousands of victims from Iraq’s diverse ethnic and religious communities have been uncovered.
Daesh alone left behind an estimated 200 mass graves that could hold up to 12,000 bodies, the UN has said.
Authorities are testing remains from the most recent conflict as well as wars dating back three decades in an effort to identify the fates of missing Iraqis.
According to Iraqi authorities, Saddam’s regime forcefully disappeared more than 1 million people in the 1980s and 1990s, and many of their families are still trying to find out what happened to them.


Israeli envoys will travel to Sudan for normalization deal, Netanyahu says

Updated 49 min 49 sec ago

Israeli envoys will travel to Sudan for normalization deal, Netanyahu says

  • The agreement was brokered with the help of the United States and announced on Friday
  • It made Sudan the third Arab government to set aside hostilities with Israel in the last two months

JERUSALEM: An Israeli delegation will travel to Sudan in coming days after the two countries agreed to take steps to normalize ties, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday.
The agreement, brokered with the help of the United States and announced on Friday, made Sudan the third Arab government to set aside hostilities with Israel in the last two months.
“An Israeli delegation will leave to Sudan in the coming days to complete the agreement,” Netanyahu said at a news conference.
It was unclear, however, how long it will take for an accord to be completed. The military and civilian leaders of Sudan’s transitional government have been divided over how fast and how far to go in establishing ties with Israel.
The Sudanese premier wants approval from a yet-to-be formed parliament to proceed with a broader, formal normalization, and that may not be a quick process given the sensitivities and civilian-military differences. It is unclear when the assembly will be created.
US President Donald Trump’s decision this week to remove Sudan from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism paved the way for the accord, marking a foreign policy achievement for the Republican president as he seeks re-election on Nov. 3, trailing in opinion polls behind Democratic rival Joe Biden.
Trump sealed the Israel-Sudan agreement in a phone call with Netanyahu and Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and Transitional Council Head Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, in which he said: “Do you think ‘Sleepy Joe’ could have made this deal?“
Netanyahu, reliant on bipartisan support for Israel in Washington, responded haltingly: “Well, Mr. President, one thing I can tell you, is ... we appreciate the help for peace from anyone in America.”
Asked at Saturday’s news conference whether he was embarrassed by Trump’s question, Netanyahu said: “It is very difficult to embarrass me,” and stressed he was grateful to Trump for his policy toward Israel. “I hope this policy will continue. I don’t want to make any prophecies about the election results.”

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