Hasakeh: The US-led coalition in Syria has begun withdrawing its troops, a spokesman said today, less than a month after US President Donald Trump made his shock announcement.
The force which has battled the Islamic State group since 2014 started scaling down but it remained unclear how long the drawdown process would last.
“CJTF-OIR has begun the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria,” spokesman Colonel Sean Ryan told AFP in a statement, referring to the US-led anti-militant force.
“Out of concern for operational security, we will not discuss specific timelines, locations or troops movements,” he said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that the coalition had started scaling down its presence at Rmeilan airfield in the Hasakeh province in northeastern Syria.
“On Thursday, some American forces withdrew from the Rmeilan military base,” Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the Britain-based monitoring organization, said.
He put the number of US forces who left at 150 and added that around 10 armored vehicles and some heavy equipment were also removed from Rmeilan.
“This is the first such pullout of American forces since the US president’s announcement” of military withdrawal from Syria last month, he said.
The US-led coalition has several other bases across northeastern Syria, as well as in neighboring Iraq, where Trump has said his forces would remain.
A US defense official in Washington had earlier confirmed to AFP that equipment was being removed from Syria.
The US-led coalition, which also includes countries such as France and Britain, was formed in mid-2014 to counter the expansion of the Islamic State group after it proclaimed its self-styled “caliphate”.
Trump claimed last month that the jihadists had been defeated and that US troops could, therefore, come home.
Fighter jets and special forces have played a key role in efforts to claw back the territory lost to IS.
A Kurdish-led group, the Syrian Democratic Forces, is currently flushing out the very last pockets of land controlled by the militants in the Euphrates River Valley.
The beginning of the drawdown coincided with a visit to the Middle East by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who insisted in Cairo Thursday that the withdrawal would go ahead despite widespread criticism.
On the same day, however, Pompeo stated in a speech that “when America retreats, chaos often follows.”
Earlier this week, US National Security Adviser John Bolton laid out conditions for the pullout, including the defeat of the IS in Syria and guarantees for the safety of Washington’s Kurdish allies in the campaign, who have been threatened with an imminent offensive by Turkey.
Bolton’s comments were widely seen as backtracking on Trump’s announcement, including by Turkey which described them as “unacceptable”.
The battle against die-hard jihadists in remote areas along the Iraqi-Syrian border and the hunt for IS supremo Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the world’s most wanted man, could last indefinitely, however.
Govt to focus on militancy hit areas in KP
PESHAWAR: Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Mahmood Khan has said his government was going all-out to focus on the reconstruction and rehabilitation of militancy and terrorism hit areas throughout the province.
We would install a complete structure of public sector institutions, governance and delivery. He directed for the provision of resources to timely complete the Fast Track projects for the benefit of people. We have already evolved a just and uniform developmental strategy to give relief to the poor segment of the society and mitigate their sufferings, he added.
He was presiding over a high-level meeting at Chief Minister Secretariat Peshawar on Sunday, said a handout.
He also met a delegation and also interacted with provincial Ministers. The meeting was also attended by Provincial Ministers Ishtiaq Urmar, Taimur Saleem Jhagra, Shaukat Yousafzai, Akbar Ayub Khan, Dr. Amjad Ali, advisor to cm and spokesmen Ajmal Khan Wazir The meeting reviewed the overall resource allocation with a focus on completing the fast track projects both ongoing and new.
The meeting informed about the logical way out for the re appropriation focusing more on the completion of fast track projects and more beneficial projects for the benefit of the people.
Normally the process of re appropriation is carried out in the third quarter of the fiscal year in order to give maximum time to the departments to complete their projects within the fiscal year averting the throw forward burden ,the briefing added.
The meeting was further informed that this time the holy month of Ramadan will fall in May – June, therefore, it necessitated more to carry out the re appropriation process within the third quarter.
The meeting also briefed the participants about the overall role of P&D in evaluating and keeping a watchful eye on the status the schemes.
Addressing at these occasions the Chief Minister said his government was focusing on the infrastructure development both big and small through a three dimensional approach that included short, mid and long term strategy.
This is necessary because certain areas were totally affected by militancy and subsequent operations and some areas were partially affected. He said that his government would ensure that the interest of the helpless people was secured adding that the criticism and propaganda of the opponents have no ground.
They have either political interest or they are tools for others promoting anti people agenda he added.
Mahmood Khan wants against anti people politics adding that it is totally unfortunate that the misrules of the corrupt politicians cracked the very fabric of society causing enormous loss to the people.
The Chief Minister said that the base of politics of the opponents have no relevance to the ground reality . The opponents have distorted worldview because they have their own political interest, he added.
He said his government would not allow emotional economic and political exploitation of the people. We have multiple challenges and we have a matching commitment to overcome them. We are going with a focus approach for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of militancy and terrorism hit areas and giving relief to the affectees, he added. We would follow our manifesto to work harder for the poor.
Mahmood Khan said that mega projects were launched for the benefit of the whole of the province and the whole of the province would be the end beneficiary of these mega projects.
Chief Minister said that he will turn a deaf ear to the anti people propaganda of the anti people politicians and their stooges because we cannot deviate from the public welfare, he added.
He said that the Caravan of justice, merit reconstruction and development would continue moving forward with speed adding that the past rulers had self centric politics but PTI promoted the culture of politics for the powerless people.
Pakistan warns against Islamophobia
UNITED NATIONS: The deadly terrorist attack on two mosques in New Zealand was “another grim reminder” of the Islamophobia sweeping the world, a senior Pakistani diplomat told delegates attending the UN Commission on the Status of Women – a global gathering of women activists at which Pakistan played an active role.
Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi, permanent representative of Pakistan to the UN, was speaking at a side-event on “Breaking Stereotypes: Muslim Women as agents of change”, one of the four organized by her that made an impact on what is also called the “women activists’ summit.”
The Pakistani envoy linked the attack to stereotyping, which she argued can be seriously consequential as it can lead to misperceptions, demonization and even violence.
“It’s a slippery slope when Muslims are stereotyped and mischaracterized, sometimes deliberately by those who also engage in hate speech,” Ambassador Lodhi said.
She distinguished between culture and religion in asserting that for Muslim women Islam is an enabling agent, not an impediment as is often presumed in Western narratives. The barriers are patriarchal social structures and an overall lack of education in societies.
The annual meeting of the Commission, which dates back to 1947, brought to the UN more than 9,000 representatives from civil society organizations. It will conclude on March 22.
Pakistan’s single person delegation was led by Khawar Mumtaz, who delivered her national statement on Friday.
The event on ‘Breaking Stereotypes’, a brainchild of Ambassador Lodhi, attracted a large audience with people prepared to stand throughout the hour and half event.
About her own professional journey as a Muslim woman, she said this involved facing obstacles, overcoming fears but always dreaming dreams. “My professional path”, Ambassador Lodhi said, “constantly entailed challenging, defying and overcoming stereotypes.”
“This almost becomes a lifetime occupational hazard for women, and not just in the Muslim world. “The important thing is never to allow this to distract or diminish us.
Women, she said, have two choices when confronted with attitudes shaped by stereotypes or when facing barriers: either seethe with resentment or press ahead vigorously to make a difference. Anger, she said, is not a strategy.
Other speakers from Indonesia, Turkey Qatar and Iran echoed the view that for Muslim women, faith was no barrier; indeed throughout Islamic history, women have played prominent public roles. A correct reading of religion showed that Islam was an enabling factor for women to pursue professional roles
A lively question-answer segment followed presentations by the panel of speakers. The session was ably moderated by Pakistani American Professor Ameena Zia.
Participating in the side-events were Parliamentarians who were here to attend the meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) hearings. They included Munazza Hassan, MNA, Ehsanullah Tiwana, Sassui Palijo and Shahla Raza.
Pakistan’s presence during CSW’s first week was also visible in the standees that were displayed across UN HQ depicting women who had made and changed history in Pakistan. The colorful standees included Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah, Benazir Bhutto, Asma Jahangir, Sharmeen Obaid, and Malala Yusufzai among others.
China’s National People’s Congress concludes annual session
BEIJING: The 13th National People’s Congress, China top legislature concluded its meeting of the second annual session at the Great Hall of the People here on Friday morning.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang and other leaders attended the closing meeting. The legislators adopted China’s first unified foreign investment law during the meeting. They adopted the draft resolutions on the government work report, and the work reports of the 13th NPC StandingCommittee, the Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate.
In addition, lawmakers also passed the draft resolutions on the reports of the national economic and social development plan as well as the central and local budgets. Thousands of national lawmakers and political advisers gathered in the capital for the 10-day annual “Two Sessions,” a key event on China’s political calendar.