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Iraqi forces capture iconic Mosul mosque



Great Mosque of al-Nuri

Baghdad, June 29: Iraqi forces battling the Islamic State (IS) terror group in Mosul on Thursday said they had captured the iconic Great Mosque of al-Nuri where, in 2014, the IS leader declared the so-called caliphate.

Joint Operations Commander Abdel Amir Jarallah issued a statement claiming that Iraqi counter-terror forces had liberated the al-Nuri mosque and the surrounding Serjkhana neighbourhood, reports Efe news.

Shortly after the terror group’s rise to power in the northern Iraqi city, IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi used the mosque to deliver a speech in which he proclaimed the establishment of the group’s Caliphate.

The group last week toppled the Hadba minaret adjoining the mosque, causing extensive damage to the surrounding compound.

The mosque was one of the great monuments in Islam after the grand mosques of Mecca and Medina, al-Aqsa in Jerusalem and the Umayyad mosque in Damascus, rivalling others such as the Amr ibn al-‘As mosque in Egypt and other more modern structures.

Baghdadi has left the fighting in Mosul to local commanders and is believed to be hiding in the border area between Iraq and Syria, according to US and Iraqi military sources.

Mosul is the final urban stronghold of the IS in Iraq.



Afghanistan: 15 killed, 50 wounded in car bomb explosion in Lashkargah City

At least 15 killed and 50 were wounded in car bomb explosion in Afghanistan’s Lashkargah City.



Car Bomb

15 killed, 50 wounded in car bomb explosion in Lashkargah City, provincial governor’s spokesman Omar Zwak says. The explosion took place in front of a stadium.

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Trump names ex-ambassador John Bolton as new National Security Adviser



Washington, March 23: US President Donald Trump has named former ambassador and Fox News analyst John Bolton as his new National Security Adviser replacing Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, media reports said.

The President announced the news in a tweet on Thursday, saying that Bolton would take the job starting April 9, making him Trump’s third National Security Adviser in the first 14 months of his presidency, reports The Washington Post.

“I (am) pleased to announce that, effective 4/9/18, @AmbJohnBolton will be my new National Security Advisor. I am very thankful for the service of General H.R. McMaster who has done an outstanding job and will always remain my friend. There will be an official contact handover on 4/19,” he tweeted.

Bolton’s appointment does not require Senate confirmation.

Following Trum’s tweet, McMaster said in a statement released by the White House: “After 34 years of service to our nation, I am requesting retirement from the US Army effective this summer after which I will leave public service… I am thankful to President Donald Trump for the opportunity to serve him and our nation as National Security Adviser.”

Trump and Bolton have been discussing for weeks how he could replace McMaster, CNN quoted an informed source as saying.

Shortly after the news broke, Bolton said on Fox News that he was not expecting an announcement to be made Thursday afternoon.

According to the source, Trump and Bolton had met earlier on Thursday.

Bolton’s hard edged, hawkish views on issues like North Korea, Iraq and Syria make him a controversial pick especially ahead of a proposed meeting between Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un.

Bolton is a fierce North Korea hawk who, in his prolific writings and television commentary, has said that pre-emptive war would likely be the only way to stop North Korea from obtaining the capability to attack the US with a nuclear missile, reports The Washington Post.

Bolton had touted “the legal case for striking North Korea first” in an editorial in the Wall Street Journal.

However, Bolton, who had dismissed negotiations with North Korea as a waste of time, moderated his views slightly after Trump announced he would sit down with Kim, suggesting that the encounter between the two leaders would be short and largely devoid of traditional diplomacy.

Regarding Iran, Bolton told Fox News in January that Trump should dump the nuclear deal, re-impose economic sanctions on Tehran and work toward an overthrow of the government there.

Bolton had previously served in the George W. Bush administration in a key arms-control job.


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Court orders arrest of former S.Korean President



President Lee Myung-bak
Former South Korean President Lee Myung-bak (L, Front) is seen out of his house in Seoul, South Korea, on March 22, 2018. He was taken into custody Thursday night as a Seoul court accepted state prosecutors' request to arrest him over a series of corruption allegations.

Seoul, March 23: A South Korean court on Thursday issued a warrant to arrest former South Korean President Lee Myung-bak over a series of corruption charges.

The Seoul Central District Court decided to put Lee, who served his five-year presidential term through early 2013, under custody as he denied almost all of alleged wrongdoings, reports Xinhua.

The denial raised a possibility for destroying evidence and several of Lee’s offences were justifiable, the court was quoted as saying.

Lee posted a message in his social media account after the arrest decision, saying he was responsible for everything though he tried his best during his presidency.

Lee was summoned last week for questioning and the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office requested a warrant on Monday to arrest him for multiple charges, including bribery, embezzlement, tax evasion and slush fund creation.

The former president refused to present himself in the court to be arraigned, saying he already clarified his position while being grilled by prosecutors.

The court made the detention decision by examining documentary evidences and testimonies provided by prosecutors.

Lee had awaited the court’s decision at home in central Seoul. Investigators would soon take him to a detention centre in southern Seoul.

Lee’s arrest came about a year after former President Park Geun-hye, Lee’s successor, was detained last March after her impeachment over an influence-peddling scandal involving her longtime friend Choi Soon-sil.

Prosecutors demanded 30 years in jail for Park, who was detained for her dismissal of all charges levied against her.

A Seoul court will hand down a ruling on the country’s first-ever impeached president next month.


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