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IS getting stronger in Iraq again: Report

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London, The presence of the Islamic State (IS) terror group in Iraq was a sophisticated insurgency, awith growing a indication that the militants were re-grouping two years after losing the last of its territory in the country, a media report said.

Kurdish intelligence officials estimate that IS is 10,000 strong in Iraq with between 4,000 and 5,000 fighters, and a similar number of sleeper cells and sympathisers, the BBC said in the reported.

According to Lahur Talabany, a top Kurdish counter-terrorism official, the militants were now more skilled and more dangerous than Al Qaeda.They have better techniques, better tactics and a lot more money at their disposal,” he told the BBC on Sunday.

“They are able to buy vehicles, weapons, food supplies and equipment. Technologically they’re more savvy. It’s more difficult to flush them out. So, they are like Al Qaeda on steroids.”

At his base in Sulaimaniya, nestled in the hills of the Kurdistan region of Northern Iraq, Talabany painted a picture of an organisation that has spent the past 12 months rebuilding from the ruins of the Caliphate.

“We see the activities are increasing now, and we think the rebuilding phase is over,” said Talabany, who heads the Zanyari Agency, one of two intelligence agencies in Iraqi Kurdistan.

A different kind of IS has emerged, he said, which no longer wants to control any territory to avoid being a target. Instead, the extremists have gone underground, in Iraq’s Hamrin Mountains.

“This is the hub for IS right now,” said Talabany, adding: “It’s a long range of mountains, and very difficult for the Iraqi army to control. There are a lot of hide-outs and caves.”

The militants were also benefiting from strained relations between Baghdad and the Kurdistan regional government, following a Kurdish independence referendum in 2017, the BBC said in its report.

“In the delta between the Great Zab and Tigris rivers we can say they (IS militants) are permanently there,” an Army General told the BBC.

“There is too much activity from IS in the area close to the Tigris. Day by day we can see the movement of IS, and the activities.”

Brigadier General William Seely, the top US military commander on the ground in Iraq, told the BBC that the IS was trying to reconstitute itself but faces a different response from Iraqi and Kurdish security forces this time around.

World

China warned against ”clear, serious” violation of treaty with UK

The Foreign Office said: “There are 349,881 holders of BN(O) passports and the government estimates there are around 2.9m BN(O)s currently in Hong Kong. The scheme is for eligible BN(O) status holders and their immediate family dependants.”

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Boris Johnson

London, July 2 : UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said China’s imposition of a new security law in Hong Kong constituted a clear and serious breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration signed in 1984 and aimed at smoothing the transition when the territory was handed back to Beijing in 1997.

The UK believes that Beijing’s move violates HongKong’s autonomy, threatens the freedoms and rights protected by the joint declaration, and is in direct conflict with the territory”s Basic Law, its mini-constitution.

Addressing the media on Wednesday, Johnson said: “We have made clear that if China continued down this path, we would introduce a new route to those with British National (Overseas) status to enter the UK granting them limited leave to remain with the ability to live and work in the UK and thereafter to apply for citizenship, and that is precisely what we will do now.”

Describing the Chinese move as “a grave and deeply disturbing step”, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab promised that UK would honour its commitment to the people of Hong Kong.

“We will grant BN(O)s five years” limited leave to remain, with the right to work or study. After these five years, they will be able to apply for settled status.

“After further 12 months with settled status, they will be able to apply for citizenship. This is a special, bespoke, set of arrangements developed for the unique circumstances we face,” Raab told MPs.

Raab did not set out any plan to sanction China or individual Chinese officials through new legislation due to be introduced by the Foreign Office this month.

He also said he was hopeful that other countries in south-east Asia would also offer asylum to Hong Kong citizens wanting to leave.

“China has broken its promise to the people of Hong Kong under its own laws. China has breached its international obligations to the UK under the joint declaration.”

Hong Kong’s autonomy, which now faces threat from Beijing’s imposition of a new security laws, was guaranteed under the “one country, two systems” agreement of the 1984 joint declaration signed by the then Chinese premier, Zhao Ziyang, and British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher.

The Foreign Office said: “There are 349,881 holders of BN(O) passports and the government estimates there are around 2.9m BN(O)s currently in Hong Kong. The scheme is for eligible BN(O) status holders and their immediate family dependants.”

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Disaster

96 killed in Myanmar jade mine landslide

Deadly landslides are frequent in Kachin state, known as land of jade, especially in Hpakant mining region.

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Myanmar jade mine landslide

Yangon, July 2 : At least 96 people were killed and many others were reported missing on Thursday after a jade mine collapsed due to a landslide in Myanmar’s Kachin state, authorities said.

Caused by the monsoon rains, the landslide occurred at the jade mining site in Sate Mu village tract of Hpakant township at 8a.m., Xinhua news agency quoted a statement from the Fire Services Department as saying.

Hundreds of miners were feared buried as the landslide took place during their work hours, but the exact number of casualties are yet to be known and rescue works are being carried out, a township police official told Xinhua.

Deadly landslides are frequent in Kachin state, known as land of jade, especially in Hpakant mining region.

A major landslide occurred in the region in November 2015, leaving at least 116 people dead.

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Global COVID-19 cases top 10.6mn: Johns Hopkins University

The US accounted for the world”s highest number of infections and fatalities with 2,685,806 and 128,061, respectively, according to the CSSE.

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RUSSIA CORONAVIRUS

Washington, July 2 : The overall number of global COVID-19 cases has increased to over 10.6 million, while the deaths have soared to more than 515,000, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

As of Thursday morning, the total number of cases increased to 10,667,217, while the fatalities stood at to 515,542, the University”s Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed in its latest update.

The US accounted for the world”s highest number of infections and fatalities with 2,685,806 and 128,061, respectively, according to the CSSE.

Brazil came in the second place with 1,448,753 infections and 60,632 deaths.

In terms of cases, Russia ranks third (653,479), and is followed by India (585,493), the UK (314,992), Peru (288,477), Chile (282,043), Spain (249,659), Italy (240,760), Mexico (231,770), Iran (230,211), Pakistan (213,470), France (202,981), Turkey (201,098), Germany (195,893), Saudi Arabia (194,225), South Africa (159,333), Bangladesh (149,258) and Canada (106,288), the CSSE figures showed.

The other countries with over 10,000 deaths are the UK (43,991), Italy (34,788), France (29,864), Mexico (28,510), Spain (28,364), India (17,400) and Iran (10,958).

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