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Wednesday, Jan 28th

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Isis fighters capture second Syrian gas field in a week

Isis captures gas fieldIslamic State (Isis) fighters in Syria claim they have taken control of a gas field in the central province of Homs, the second it has seized in a week after battles with government forces.

The hardline Sunni Islamist group posted 18 photos on social media showing the Islamic State flag raised in the Jahar gas field as well as captured vehicles and weaponry, according to the Site jihadi website monitoring service.

Reuters could not independently confirm the events due to security restrictions.

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In setback, Islamic State, Nusra combine to rout US-backed forces in Syria

Isis in syriaAl Qaida-backed militants Saturday stormed the base of the most prominent civilian commander in the U.S.-backed Syrian rebel force, forcing him and his fighters to flee into hiding in the Jebal al Zawiya mountains of northern Syria.

Jamal Maarouf, a contractor in private life, became internationally known for leading the successful offensive in January that forced the Islamic State from most of two northern provinces. His ouster from his own village was an enormous setback for him, the rebel forces and his international backers.

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How the West buys ‘conflict antiquities’ from Iraq and Syria (and funds terror)

US buys antiquities from ISIS“Many antique collectors unwillingly support terrorists like Islamic State, ” Michel van Rijn, one of the most successful smugglers of antique artifacts in the past century, told German broadcaster Das Erste this month.

And smuggling is booming in Iraq and Syria right now. In Iraq, 4,500 archaeological sites, some of them UNESCO World Heritage sites, are reportedly controlled by Islamic State and are exposed to looting. Iraqi intelligence claim that Islamic State alone has collected as much as $36 million from the sales of artifacts, some of them thousands of years old.

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US-led strikes hit IS-held oil sites in Syria

US atrikes syria oil fieldU.S.-led airstrikes targeted Syrian oil installations held by the militant Islamic State group overnight and early Thursday, killing nearly 20 people as the militants released dozens of detainees in their de facto capital, fearing further raids, activists said.

The latest strikes came on the third day of a U.S.-led air campaign aimed at rolling back the Islamic State group in Syria, and appeared to be aimed at one of the militants' main revenue streams. The U.S. has been conducting air raids against the group in neighboring Iraq for more than a month.

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Blackwater on trial over killing of 14 Iraqi civilians in 2007

Blackwater trialAfter years of delays, four former guards from the security firm Blackwater Worldwide are facing trial in the killings of 14 Iraqi civilians and the wounding of 18 others in bloodshed that inflamed anti-American sentiment around the globe.

Whether the shootings were self-defense or an unprovoked attack, the carnage of 16 September 2007 was seen by critics of the George W Bush administration as an illustration of a war gone horribly wrong.

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The Toll Of 5 Years Of Drone Strikes: 2,400 Dead

Drone deathsThe U.S. drone program under President Barack Obama reached its fifth anniversary on Thursday having tallied up an estimated death toll of at least 2,400 people.

As the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, a U.K.-based non-profit, details on its website, five years ago the CIA conducted the first drone strikes of the Obama presidency. Although there were reports of suspected "militants" killed, at least 14 civilians also died that day.

After those initial mistakes, TBIJ notes, Obama rapidly ramped up the drone program in Pakistan and increased its use in Yemen and Somalia, two countries where al Qaeda affiliates expanded their presence during Obama's presidency.

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Welcome to Penny Lane: CIA secret Gitmo camp for recruiting double agents

penny lane - ciaIn the early stages of the ‘War on Terror,’ CIA agents at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility turned detainees into double agents, helping the US to track and kill terrorists, according to US officials.

For some Gitmo detainees, held prisoner on a US military base in the middle of shark-infested waters, the promise of freedom in return for helping the CIA root out terrorists back home may have proven too much of a temptation.

In addition to winning their freedom, co-conspirators were granted safety guarantees for their families, and millions of dollars from the agency's secret war chest, sources told AP.

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