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Syria war has killed more than 360 000: monitor

Syria war

BEIRUT: More than 360,000 people have been killed across war-ravaged Syria in seven years, a monitoring group said Thursday, in a new toll for the brutal conflict.

It came amid rising international concern that a looming Syrian government assault against rebels in the northwest province of Idlib would be a “bloodbath”.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it had recorded the deaths of 364,792 people, nearly a third of them civilians, since protests erupted in March 2011 against President Bashar al-Assad.

The toll represents an increase of about 13,000 people in the past six months, according to the Britain-based monitor, which uses a vast network of sources including fighters, officials and medical staff.

The war has killed 110,687 civilians, including more than 20,000 children and nearly 13,000 women.

More than 124,000 pro-government fighters have died, around half of them regime troops and the rest an assortment of Syrian and foreign militiamen loyal to Assad.

Among them are 1,665 from Lebanon”s Hezbollah movement.

The Observatory recorded the deaths of 64,000 hardline Islamists and militants, including from the Islamic State group and former Al-Qaeda affiliate factions.

Another 64,800 fighters from other forces, including rebels, soldiers who defected and Kurdish factions, were also killed since 2011. The Observatory said it had confirmed the deaths of another 250 people but could not specify their identities.

With help from his Russian and Iranian allies, Assad has recaptured nearly two-thirds of Syrian territory.

The lion”s share of the rest is the Kurdish-controlled northeast.

The largest chunk of rebel-held territory left comprises the province of Idlib and surrounding areas, where an estimated three million people live.’

Indian troops martyr eight Kashmiri youth

indian army in kashmir

Srinagar: In occupied Kashmir, Indian troops in their fresh acts of state terrorism, martyred eight youth in Sopore, Kupwara and Riasi areas of the valley on Thursday.

Of these martyred two were killed in Sopore, three in Kupwara and three in Jhajjar Kotli area of Reasi. All of them were shot dead during cordon and search operations by Indian troops.

Indian army pressed gunship helicopters into the service during the operation in Jhajjar Kotli.

The authorities imposed restrictions and suspended internet services, while educational institutions were closed in the name of precautionary measures.

Meanwhile, complete shutdown was observed on the second consecutive day, today, in Langate, Handwara and Zaengeer areas of North Kashmir against the killing of two youth by the troops, on Tuesday.

People of Sopore will go on strike, tomorrow, against the gruesome murder of Hurriyat activist, Hakeem-ur-Rehman and other killings at the hands of Indian forces.

Call for the strike has been given by the Joint Resistance Leadership.

The Kashmir Journalists Association held a protest rally at Lal Chowk in Srinagar to express solidarity with the illegally detained journalist, Aasif Sultan.

Indian police arrested Hurriyat leaders, Mukhtar Ahmad Waza and Shakeel Ahmed Bakhshi in Islamabad and Srinagar areas, today.

Pakistan committed to IP gas pipeline project, minister assures Iranian envoy

Pakistan and Iran gas oil project

ISLAMABAD: Islamabad is fully committed to implement Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project without any foreign pressure, said Federal Petroleum Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan on Wednesday.

He was speaking to Iranian Ambassador to Pakistan Mehdi Honardoost who called on the minister at his office in Islamabad.

The ambassador congratulated the federal minister on behalf of his Iranian counterpart on assumption of new responsibilities and invited him to visit Iran to work on cooperation in petroleum sector and IP gas pipeline. The minister accepted the invitation to accept Tehran.

The ambassador has drawn the attention of the minister on the exploration of possibilities in energy sector cooperation especially IP gas pipeline.

The ambassador has said that IP gas pipeline will be a game changer for the region, adding other countries are willing to cooperate in construction of the project.

Also the Iranian ambassador has offered cooperation in government to government deal in the area of import of petroleum products to curb the smuggling.

The minister has acknowledged the cooperation offered by Iran in areas of electricity supply to coastal areas.

The minister said both countries need more cooperation and investment in areas of energy and petroleum. The two also agreed to have a meeting of working group on IP gas pipeline before minister’s visit to Iran.

The minister has said unfortunately the project was delayed in the past due to international sanctions.

“IP gas project is a top priority for Pakistan more than any other gas pipeline project,” he added.

50 dead as Indian bus plunges into valley

50 dead as Indian bus plunges into valley

New Delhi: Fifty people died when a bus carrying Hindu pilgrims plunged into a valley in southern India on Tuesday, one of the deadliest accidents on the country”s notorious roads in recent years.

Road crashes in India claim the lives of more than 150,000 people each year.

Most accidents are blamed on poor roads, badly maintained vehicles and reckless driving.

The bus carrying 80 people was returning from the famous Hindu temple of Kondagattu Anjaneya Swamy in the hilly southern state of Telangana when it skidded off the road.

Broken glass, slippers and luggage lay scattered next to lifeless bodies that were lined up at the scene, as locals pulled out survivors from the mangled vehicle.

They then carried them uphill to get medical attention.

Some rescuers climbed onto the bus and others tried to reach the injured through the front portion which was completely smashed.

“More than half of those killed were women, and there were at least three children,” local official G. Narendhar told AFP.

Broadcaster NDTV quoted witnesses as saying the driver was speeding and lost control of the vehicle.

The Hindu daily said it careened off the road on a sharp corner.

“We have pulled out the bodies and we are taking them to the hospital for autopsy,” B. Rajesham, another official, told AFP.

An investigation has been ordered.

Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao expressed shock and announced 500,000 rupees ($7,000) each for the families of the deceased.

Tuesday is considered an auspicious day by Hindus, and there was a heavy rush of devotees to the temple.

On July 28 a bus carrying university workers plunged off a mountain road into a valley in western India, killing 33 people.

That vehicle was taking staff from the Dapoli Agriculture University to a popular hill station in the state of Maharashtra for a picnic.

The same month 48 people were killed and many others badly injured in the north of the country when an overcrowded bus hurtled into a gorge in the Himalayan foothills.