Terror group ISIS has reportedly been defeated and driven out from the Syrian border town of Kobane following a near four-months-long battle, a monitoring group has said. Kurdish forces backed by other rebel groups have not allowed the city to the fall, with the offenses causing the deaths of at least 1,313 fighters, mostly from ISIS.
"IS organization raised its first banner at the outskirts of ayn al-Arab 'Kobane' in Oct. 6, 2014," the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on Monday.
"The shelling and clashes between YPG, backed by rebel battalions and other fighters from several brigades, and IS militants resulted in death of 1,313 fighters; 979 fighters from IS organization, including 38 fighters blew themselves up using booby-trapped vehicles and explosive belts, 324 fighters from YPG and 12 fighters from the rebel battalions." more >>
A video purports to show the killing of one of the two Japanese hostages by ISIS in Syria after Tokyo failed to pay a ransom, even as the terror group now demands the release of an Iraqi woman jailed in Jordan for her role in a 2005 bombing in exchange for the other Japanese captive.
A three-minute video, reported by the SITE Intel Group that tracks the online activity of terrorists, showed a picture of 47-year-old Kenji Goto holding an image of the alleged beheaded body of 42-year-old Haruna Yukawa, and an audio message by Goto demanding a prisoner exchange to save his own life.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe strongly condemned the alleged assassination. "Such an act of terrorism is outrageous and impermissible, which causes me nothing but strong indignation," he said, according to Reuters. "Again, I strongly demand that Mr. Kenji Goto not be harmed and be immediately released. The government of Japan will, in its entirety, do its utmost in order to have him released." more >>
As the deadline given by the ISIS terror group for a ransom of $200 million passed, Japan pledged on Saturday not to give up on efforts to save the lives of two Japanese hostages "until the very end." The mother of one of the hostages pleaded for her son's release.
The fate of 47-year-old Kenji Goto, a freelance journalist, and supposedly his 42-year-old friend, Haruna Yukawa, remained unknown Saturday, the day after the ISIS deadline passed.
"We will not give up until the very end to rescue the two so we can go home together," The Associated Press quoted Yasuhide Nakayama, a deputy foreign minister sent to Amman, Jordan, as saying. more >>
The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al Saud at 90 years of age early Friday is being mourned by thousands of gatherers in Riyadh. U.S. President Barack Obama praised the leader for his "enduring contribution" in the search for peace, though Saudi Arabia remains a country with one of the worst religious freedom records in the world.
"We will, with God's will and power, adhere to the straight path this country followed since its establishment by King Abdulaziz and his sons after him, and will not deviate at all from it, since our constitution is the book of Allah (Quran) and the teachings of prophet Mohammed," said his brother, 79-year-old Salman bin Abdulaziz, who has been appointed as successor to the throne.
CNN noted that Abdullah had been suffering for weeks from pneumonia, though the royal court has not yet released an exact cause for his death. Funeral services for the king are to be held later on Friday at Riyadh's Imam Turki Bin Abdullah Grand Mosque. more >>
Saudi Arabia and the Islamic State terrorist group have a nearly identical justice system in their interpretation of Shariah law and the use of capital punishment, according to a Middle Eastern news site.
Known as Middle East Eye, the news site posted a chart on Twitter Tuesday noting the similarities between the legal code of the Saudi Kingdom and ISIS.
King Abdullah II of Jordan has praised Pope Francis' much-debated remarks about the limits to free speech, and insisted that religious beliefs must not be offended.
"King Abdullah made explicit reference to the words expressed by the pope on the fact that freedom of expression is a right, and in some cases even a duty, but at the same time it has limits, and cannot offend the religious beliefs of others. The monarch defined these considerations positive," said Archbishop Maroun Lahham, patriarchal vicar for Jordan of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, as reported by Fides News Agency on Thursday.
Pope Francis said last week that freedom of speech must be protected, but there should be limits when it comes to causing offense to religions. more >>