BAGHOUZ: Kurdish-led forces pronounced the death of the Islamic State group’s nearly five-year-old “caliphate” Saturday after flushing out diehard militants from their very last bastion in eastern Syria.
Fighters of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces raised their yellow flag in Baghouz, the remote riverside village where diehard militants of a variety of nationalities made a desperate, dramatic last stand.
The SDF’s victory capped a six-month operation in which it took heavy casualties and will go down as a symbolic date in a war that changed the face of the region and spurred a spate of global terror attacks.
“Syrian Democratic Forces declare total elimination of so-called caliphate and 100 percent territorial defeat of ISIS,” spokesman Mustefa Bali said in a statement, using another acronym for IS.
In Al-Omar, an oil field used as the main SDF staging base for the final phase of the assault, fighters in their best fatigues laid down their weapons and broke into song and dance.
The state proclaimed in mid-2014 by fugitive IS supremo Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi started collapsing in 2017 when parallel offensives in Iraq and Syria wrested back its main hubs Mosul and Raqa.
The nearly five years of fighting against the most brutal militant group in modern history left thousand-year-old cities in ruins and populations homeless.
Syria’s air defenses intercept Israeli attack in Daraa
DAMASCUS: Syria’s air defenses intercepted Israeli missile attack before day break on Wednesday in the southern province of Daraa, state news agency SANA reported.
The air defenses were triggered by a missile attack over the town of Harra in Daraa, said the report.
The attack caused damages, said SANA, adding that the Israelis launched an electronic warfare after the attack to jam the Syrian radar system.
Israel has repeatedly attacked Syria on several pretexts such as attacking sites belong to Iran-backed fighters or responding to stray mortars fired from Syria.
Earlier in June, the Syrian air defenses intercepted Israeli missiles southwest of the capital Damascus.
Hajj ritual training begins
ISLAMABAD: The Hajj ritual training of the successful pilgrims of second hajj balloting has begun in their respective Haji camps, said Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony’s social media message.
The comprehensive training programs would continue till their departing to Hajj. The focus of the training would enable first timers to perform the Hajj rituals in accordance with the teachings of the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him). The training would be imparted with the help of modules, charts, maps, sketches, lectures, and television.
The training also covers how to wear `Ahram’ and observe the sanctity of the holy places besides performing rituals at Madina and manners of offering prayers at Masjid- e- Nabvi and `Salam’ at `Roza e Rasool (Peace Be Upon Him).”
The flight schedule of government scheme pilgrims would be announced on June 19. The ministry has directed 7,309 successful pilgrims of second balloting to deposit their dues, passports in their respective banks by 14th June besides ensuring biometric verification by the same date.
The Ministry has made mandatory the availability of at least one-year valid machine-readable passport with each Hajj applicant. Intending Hajj applicants must arrange a machine-readable passport having validity up to 1st March 2019 to avoid any inconvenience. The vaccination of the pilgrims would be conducted 10 days prior to their scheduled flights. While first Hajj flight would depart from 4th July.
This year as many as 200,000 Pakistanis would perform Hajj including 117,000 through Government Scheme and 83,000 through the private scheme.
Pvt Hujjaj to report Etimad Centre for biometric verification
ISLAMABAD: The intending pilgrims of private hajj scheme have been asked to contact their nearest Etimad Visa Service Centers for biometric verification of their fingerprints.
According to a social media message of the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony and Hajj Group Organisers Association of Pakistan (HOAP), the biometric verification of the fingerprints of the intending pilgrims has been made mandatory by the Saudi government.
The Hajj Group Organisers (HGOs) have started receiving confirmation messages of uploading of the forms/particulars of their client pilgrims on the official website of the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony and they should approach their nearest Etimad Centre for verification by showing the confirmation messages of the ministry.
The intending pilgrims will have to bring original bank receipt, Computerised National Identity Cards (CNIC) and passport with them for the verification.
The biometric verification of intending pilgrims was being conducted at 26 Visa Service Centres of Etimad, in Faisalabad, Multan, Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore. Peshawar, Quetta, Sukkar, Sialkot and Rahim Yar Khan.
The intending pilgrims below six years of age and over 80 years of age were exempted from biometric verification.
Hujjaj will not be allowed to leave for Saudi Arabia sans biometric verification.
The pilgrims who have not yet received the confirmation messages have been asked to contact their respective HGO.
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