Wednesday 18 September 2019

Isil hostages freed by Syrian troops

Isil militants shot and killed two children during an operation to liberate a group of hostages from southern Syria that had been held by the terror group since July.

Syrian troops, led by Russian officers, liberated the 19 women and children held by Isil. The 19 women and children were among 30 people kidnapped in July when Isil ambushed residents in the town of Sweida and went on a killing spree that left at least 216 people dead.

The rare attacks in the province, populated mainly by Syria's minority Druze, came amid a government offensive elsewhere in the country's south.

The coordinated attacks across the province, which included several suicide bombings, devastated the community and shattered the calm of a region that had been largely spared from the worst of the violence of Syria's seven-year long civil war.

The Russian commander who led the attack said the hostages were kept in brutal conditions, keeping them in pits where they could barely sit or lie down, giving them no food for days and providing no medical care.

Russia is a key ally of Syrian president Bashar Assad and wields significant power in the war-torn country.

Breakaway regions in Ukraine set to vote

The two self-declared breakaway "republics" of eastern Ukraine are today set to hold elections - in defiance of the United Nations, but openly encouraged by Moscow.

The vote, which critics say contravenes peace agreements signed in Minsk early 2015, has been postponed several times.

After the assassination of erstwhile leader of the Donetsk separatist forces, Moscow says the region needs an election to fill a power gap - and not only in Donetsk but in neighbouring Luhansk too.

In Donetsk, the expected winner is Denis Pushilin, the former head of the revolutionary parliament the "People's Council" and also previously distinguished for his pre-war work as an officer of a fraudulent Ponzi scheme.

In Luhansk, the winner is expected to be Leonid Pasechnik, who has headed up the Luhansk separatists' security forces since 2014, during some of its most bloody months.

Asia Bibi still has not left Pakistan

A week after Pakistan's Supreme Court acquitted her of blasphemy, a Christian woman who had been on death row for eight years accused of blasphemy has still not been able to leave Pakistan.

Asia Bibi was freed from detention last Thursday, but her whereabouts are a closely guarded secret following demands by extremists that she be hanged in public.

Bibi remains with her family under heavy security after being transferred to the Pakistani capital from her detention facility in southern Punjab.

Muslide near Rio de Janeiro kills ten

Ten people were killed and 11 injured in a mudslide near Rio de Janeiro yesterday. The mudslide in the city of Niteroi was caused by heavy downpours.

People were killed and injured when a massive boulder rolled on top of six houses in the Boa Esperanca area.

The dead included a 3-year-old boy, two elderly women and a middle-aged man.

The death toll may rise. One resident told reporters that her 8-year-old granddaughter was buried underneath the rubble. She also said she managed to rescue her grandson who was taken to a hospital.

Row back after transgender models slur

Victoria's Secret chief marketing officer has apologised for comments he made about transgender models.

In an interview with Vogue magazine, Ed Razek had said the lingerie company's annual shows were "a fantasy" and should not include them.

Following a backlash on social media, Razek said his remarks were "insensitive". He added: "To be clear, we absolutely would cast a transgender model in our show.

"We've had transgender models come to castings... And like many others, they didn't make it."

Artists' group calls for rise of citizens

Artists and intellectuals across Europe are calling for the founding of a continent-wide republic to replace its many nation states.

Activists planned to proclaim a "European Republic" in dozens of cities at 4pm yesterday, almost exactly 100 years after the end of World War I.

The event is being organised by a group calling itself the European Balcony Project. Its supporters include political scientists, philosophers and writers such as Austrian literature Nobel prize laureate Elfriede Jelinek.

Their manifesto on their website declares that "the sovereignty of states is hereby replaced by the sovereignty of citizens".

12 die as 'biggest deluge' hits Jordan

The death toll from flash floods in Jordan rose to 12 yesterday. The ancient city of Petra was closed for cleanup after what local officials said was the biggest deluge in the area in decades.

Sunday Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News