By the time rescuers finally arrived no one was left alive. For almost a week desperate neighbours had scraped through the rubble, searching for as many as 150 people who lay buried after three homes in a west Mosul suburb were destroyed by coalition airstrikes.
The full picture of the carnage continued to emerge on Friday, when at least 20 bodies were recovered. Dozens more are thought to remain buried in what could turn out to be the single most deadly incident for civilians in the war against Islamic State (Isis).
Rescuers at the scene in the suburb of Mosul Jadida said they had driven the 250 miles from Baghdad but had not been able to enter the area until Wednesday, five days after airstrikes hit the houses where local residents had been sheltering from fierce fighting between Iraqi forces and Isis.
Neighbours said at least 80 bodies had been recovered from one house alone, where people had been encouraged by local elders to take shelter. Rescuers were continuing to dig through the ruins, and the remains of two other houses nearby, which had also been pulverised in attacks that were described as “relentless and horrifying”.
The US military said it was launching an investigation. Cololnel Joseph Scrocca, from the US-led command in Baghdad, said “the coalition has opened a formal civilian casualty credibility assessment on this allegation” from Mosul.
The destruction took place in a district that was last week a frontline in the battle for Mosul. Locals said militants had positioned a sniper on the roof of the home that had sheltered the largest number of people. It has raised fresh questions about rules of engagement in the war against the terror group, after two recent US airstrikes in Syria resulted in at least 90 casualties, nearly all of them thought to be civilian.
Was Westminster terrorist guided by a mastermind? Killer’s phone was STILL connected to another on Whatsapp when he died raising fears he was taking instructions
- Khalid Masood murdered four and injured at least 29 in Westminster attack
- Jihadist Masood, 52, drove 4×4 into pedestrians along Westminster Bridge
- MailOnline revealed that Massod was on Whatsapp minutes before the attack
- Police are now focusing their investigation on the killer’s online communications
- However WhatsApp messages are visible only to the person who has sent them and the individuals that were meant to receive
The Westminster attacker’s online communications have now become the core of the investigation around the terror raid with security forces keen to ascertain if he was receiving instructions from a jihadist master moments before he unleashed carnage.
Khalid Massod was on WhatsApp at 2.37pm on Wednesday, approximately two minutes before ploughing into people on Westminster Bridge and four minutes before he was shot dead by armed officers outside the Palaces of Westminster, the MailOnline exclusively revealed yesterday.
Now, Masood’s messages with others on the encrypted messaging service have prompted police to up their search for jihadist associates of the killer.
Saudi embassy confirms UK attacker had been in Saudi Arabia
A Saudi Embassy statement released late Friday said that Khalid Masood taught English in Saudi Arabia from November 2005 to November 2006 and again from April 2008 to April 2009.
The embassy said that he had a work visa. It said he returned for six days in March 2015 on a trip booked through an approved travel agent.
The Saudi Embassy said that he wasn’t tracked by the country’s security services and didn’t have a criminal record there.
Before taking the name Masood, he was known as Adrian Elms. He was known for having a violent temper in England and had been convicted at least twice for violent crimes.
Masood drove his rented SUV across the crowded Westminster Bridge on Wednesday, striking pedestrians. Then he jumped out and attacked police officer Keith Palmer, who was guarding Parliament, fatally stabbing him before being shot dead by police.
In all, he killed four people and left more than two dozen hospitalized, including some with what have been described as catastrophic injuries. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack.
Thousands attended the funeral of a top Hamas terrorist in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, as leaders of the terror group continued to blame Israel for his killing and threatened retribution.
Mazen Faqha, a Hamas official freed as part of the 2011 deal to release captive IDF soldier Gilad Shalit and deported to Gaza, was assassinated on Friday evening by unknown gunme.
A Hamas official quoted by Army Radio said Israel was “trying to force a new model of a clandestine war on Hamas, as it has failed in the open war model.” He said Hamas would know how to respond to such tactics.
Khalil al-Haya, Hamas’s deputy chief in the Gaza Strip, said at the funeral that Israel “will bear responsibility for the killing.” On Friday al-Haya said that only the Jewish state would have had something to gain from the death.
PARIS — French anti-terrorism judges have charged two men suspected of involvement in supplying a weapon to the gunman killed at Paris’s Orly airport after attacking soldiers, a judicial source said Saturday.
The suspects, aged 30 and 43, were charged Friday for “association with terrorist criminals” over the March 18 attack and are being held in custody, the source said.
The younger one was also charged with arms possession related to a terror plot. They are both from the Paris area and lived close to the assailant, Ziyed Ben Belgacem, according to a preliminary investigation.
Ben Belgacem, 39, was under the influence of drugs and alcohol when he attacked the capital’s second busiest airport, according to judicial sources.
Ben Belgacem, born in France to Tunisian parents, grabbed a soldier on patrol at Orly’s southern terminal and put a gun to her head and seized her rifle, saying he wanted to “die for Allah.”
His father insisted his son — who had spent time in prison for armed robbery and drug-dealing — was not an extremist.
Flynn, Turkish officials talked about removal of Erdogan foe from US, former CIA boss says
Retired Army Lt. Mike Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, met last summer with top Turkish officials to discuss removing the cleric Turkey blamed for last year’s failed coup and delivering him to Ankara, a former Central Intelligence Agency director told The Wall Street Journal.
James Woolsey said the meeting occurred in September inside the Essex House hotel in New York. Woolsey told the paper that he arrived in the middle of the conversation, but said the basic idea was a “covert step in the dead of night to whisk this guy away.” The group as reportedly refering to Fethullah Gulen.
Woolsey told the paper he found the conversation startling and possibly illegal. But he did not say anything because there were no specifics. Woolsey said he notified Vice President Biden through a mutual friend.
People briefed on the meeting told The Journal that the ideas were raised hypothetically. Woolsey, who served under President Clinton, told The Journal that the conversation “seemed to be naïve.”
Putin meets French far-right candidate Marine Le Pen at Kremlin
- French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has sought closer ties with Russia
- Vladimir Putin spokesman: Russia isn’t trying to influence upcoming French election
(CNN)Russian President Vladimir Putin stressed the “great importance” of ties between his country and France as he met French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen at the Kremlin on Friday, Russian state-run news agency Tass reported.
Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters that Russia was not seeking to influence the upcoming French election but had the right to communicate with French politicians.
Russia had no intention of “interfering in anyone’s internal business or electoral processes,” Peskov said.
Curtis Scaparrotti, the top US general in Europe, said on Thursday that he had witnessed Russia’s influence grow in many regions, including in Afghanistan.
In a statement to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Scaparrotti, who is NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander, said Moscow was “perhaps” supplying the Taliban in fighting against US and NATO forces in Afghanistan.
Iranian forces trained their weapons on the US flotilla, which was made up of five ships and included the huge aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush.
The push toward the Tishrin Dam came three days after U.S. aircraft ferried Syrian Kurdish fighters and allies behind IS lines to spearhead a major ground assault on the IS-held town of Tabqa where the dam is located. Tabqa is west of the city of Raqqa.
IS has been pounded in Syria in recent months with attacks against the extremists from three fronts, the U.S.-backed fighters, Turkish troops and their allies near the border with Turkey, and government forces in the northern province of Aleppo.
The government-controlled Syrian Central Military Media said government forces captured late Friday the town of Deir Hafer, the last IS stronghold in Aleppo province, after troops stormed the town under the cover of Russian airstrikes.
Influential religious leader Muqtada al-Sadr has told thousands of supporters in Iraq’s capital, Baghdad, that he will boycott upcoming elections unless the country’s electoral law is changed.
Supporters of the Shia cleric have repeatedly rallied for changes to the law and the country’s electoral committee, which is dominated by affiliates of powerful political parties.
Iraq is set to hold holding provincial elections later this year, and parliamentary elections in 2018.
Sadr, a vocal critic of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, did not specify the specific changes he wants to take place, but the current law has been criticised as being biased towards large political parties over smaller ones.
Central Congo militia decapitates 40 police officers in ambush
Militia fighters in central Democratic Republic of Congo decapitated about 40 police officers in an ambush, local officials said on Saturday, the deadliest attack on security forces since an insurrection in the region began last August.
The Kamuina Nsapu militants attacked the police on Friday as they drove from Tshikapa to Kananga. The militia members stole arms and vehicles, Francois Kalamba, speaker of the Kasai provincial assembly, told Reuters.
Turkey threatens again to take actions regarding Cyprus’ natural gas
Turkey has condemned Cyprus’ research for natural gas in the island’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), in a statement from the Foreign Ministry.
“These contacts clearly demonstrate yet again how the Greek Cypriot Administration disregards, in its unilateral pursuit of hydrocarbon-related activities, the inalienable rights on natural resources of the Turkish Cypriot people, the co-owners of the Island,” the statement reads, about meetings President Nicos Anastasiades had with natural gas companies in the US on March 22.
Ankara has also condemned the fact contracts were signed in the Republic of Cyprus for exploration of the EEZ, and that the Greek Cypriot side “is still not able to grasp the win-win-based potential for economic cooperation that can ensue on the Island and in the Eastern Mediterranean from a comprehensive settlement, towards which the Turkish Cypriot side and turkey have been expending intensive efforts.”
Cyber Firm Rewrites Part of Disputed Russian Hacking Report
In December, CrowdStrike said it found evidence that Russians hacked into a Ukrainian artillery app, contributing to heavy losses of howitzers in Ukraine’s war with pro-Russian separatists.
VOA reported Tuesday that the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), which publishes an annual reference estimating the strength of world armed forces, disavowed the CrowdStrike report and said it had never been contacted by the company.
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense also has stated that the combat losses and hacking never happened.
CrowdStrike was first to link hacks of Democratic Party computers to Russian actors last year, but some cybersecurity experts have questioned its evidence. The company has come under fire from some Republicans who say charges of Kremlin meddling in the election are overblown.
After CrowdStrike released its Ukraine report, company co-founder Dmitri Alperovitch claimed it provided added evidence of Russian election interference. In both hacks, he said, the company found malware used by “Fancy Bear,” a group with ties to Russian intelligence agencies.