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Pilgrims descend on Makkah for ‘smart Hajj’
MAKKAH: Two million Muslims gather in Saudi Arabia this week for the Hajj as the annual pilgrimage becomes increasingly hi-tech with apps to help the faithful navigate Islam’s holiest sites. This year the Hajj comes with the kingdom witnessing an unprecedented pace of change, finally ending a ban on women driving while remaining firm in the face of any dissent. One of the five pillars of the world’s fastest-growing religion,
 
 
28 killed as Iraqi forces hit Daesh targets in Syria
IRBIL: Iraqi security officials say Iraq’s air force carried out two air strikes targeting Daesh group inside Syria, killing at least 28 Daesh militants. They say one of the two air strikes by F-16s targeted a meeting of would-be suicide bombers who intended to strike in Iraq during next week’s Eid Al Adha holiday. About 20 militants were killed in that air strike, while eight died in the second one. Both targets were inside
   
Yazidi ‘ex-sex slave’ trapped both in Iraq and in German exile
LALISH: A young Yazidi woman who fled to Germany but returned home to northern Iraq says she cannot escape her Daesh group captor who held her as a sex slave for three months. Ashwaq Haji, 19, says she ran into the man in a German supermarket in February. Traumatised by the encounter, she returned to Iraq the following month. Like many other Yazidis, she was kidnapped by Daesh when the militants seized swathes of Iraq in the
 
 
Al Qaeda’s master bomb maker may be dead: UN report
United Nations: The Al Qaeda’s master bomb maker who was responsible for planning to blow up an airliner over Detroit on Christmas Day may have been killed, according to a UN report. The UN report said that Ibrahim Al Asiri, long regarded as one of the most dangerous terrorist operatives in circulation, may have been killed in Yemen last year, CNN reported. “Since mid-2017, the organisation has suffered losses of leadership and
   
One dead as Tunisia forces arrest refugees
Tunis: A migrant died early on Friday as Tunisian security forces clashed with a group of Tunisians and Africans embarking on a clandestine sea crossing to Italy, a security official said. The police intervened to stop a boat that had been launched off the coast of the central city of Sfax at around 2:30 am (0130 GMT), said Tunisia’s National Guard spokesman Houssemeddine Jebabli. He said passengers on the vessel had thrown
 
 
Saudi pledges $100m to stabilise Syria
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Friday announced a $100 million contribution to a US-backed campaign to “stabilise” northeastern Syria, once a bastion of the radical Daesh group. The 88 million euro contribution is the biggest single cash injection yet for reconstruction efforts in areas formerly controlled by the militants. The group declared a “caliphate” after seizing swathes of Iraq and Syria in 2014, but has since been ousted from
   
Bolton to discuss arms treaties with Patrushev
WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton will discuss arms control treaties and Iran’s role in Syria in talks with Russian counterpart Nikolai Patrushev in Geneva next week, an administration official said on Thursday. The meeting is a follow-up to Trump’s controversial summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki in July. Trump held a one-on-one meeting with Putin during that
 
 
Germany, Greece reach deal on migrants
BERLIN: Germany has reached an agreement with Greece to send back migrants to the Mediterranean country if they have already applied for asylum there, a German Interior Ministry spokeswoman said on Friday. Last week Germany and Spain sealed a similar deal on returning migrants. Both deals come after a dispute between Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives and their Bavarian allies over returning migrants that nearly split them
   
US secretary of state names special envoy for Iran
WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday named senior policy adviser Brian Hook as special representative for Iran. The move came as the administration prepared to increase economic pressure on Iran by restoring sanctions to force Tehran to end its nuclear weapons programme and support for militant groups in the Middle East. Hook will lead a newly established Iran Action Group to co-ordinate the State
 
 
Netanyahu questioned again over alleged graft
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went through a new round of questioning on Friday over one of several graft cases that have threatened to topple him, media reports said. Investigators arrived at the premier’s Jerusalem residence in the morning to interview him over allegations of corruption involving local telecoms giant Bezeq and its largest shareholder, Shaul Elovitch, according to Israeli media
   
S.Sudan’s child soldiers hope for life after war
Pibor: By the time Baba John escaped the tribal militia he had joined as an 11-year-old, he had long stopped counting the number of people he had killed. “I shot people. We all did,” said Baba John. “I received a gun and was told how to shoot and point the gun. I don’t remember how many I shot but there were many.” A murderous time for Baba John began with a life-or-death decision when a South Sudanese armed group, known as the
 
 
German cabinet likely to ease immigration laws
BERLIN: The German cabinet will soon decide on a proposal to make it easier for skilled workers from outside the European Union to move to Germany to take a job, a paper seen by Reuters shows, as Germany seeks to alleviate chronic labour shortages. Such plans could be sensitive in a country where anti-immigration sentiment has helped drive support for the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party and a row over asylum policy
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