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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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Britain ends combat role in Afghanistan, last US Marines hand over base

Afghan war endingBritish troops ended their combat operations in Afghanistan on Sunday as they and U.S. Marines handed over two huge adjacent bases to the Afghan military, 13 years after a U.S.-led invasion launched the long and costly war against the Taliban.

Their departure leaves Afghanistan and its newly installed president, Ashraf Ghani, to deal almost unaided with an emboldened Taliban insurgency after the last foreign combat troops withdraw by year-end.

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US launches 22 air strikes on Isis strongholds in Iraq

US airstrikes on ISISA day after the Department of Defense announced the first US death in the campaign against Islamic State (Isis) militants in Iraq, Central Command said 22 air strikes had been carried out in the country on Friday and Saturday.

Marine lance corporal Sean P Neal, one of 1,600 troops supporting Iraqi forces against Isis, died in Baghdad of a “non-combat” injury, the US said late on Friday. The Marines said Neal’s death was under investigation.

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T.V. trucks sign of waste in Afghanistan

Waste in afghanistanIn yet another sign of wasted U.S. money in Afghanistan, $3.6 million T.V trucks sit unused in Kabul after a delay of two years.

The State Department contract is only the latest example of a project that has come under fire by the U.S. special inspector general who watchdogs the rebuilding of Afghanistan.

The three trucks were supposed to be used for covering live sporting events, such as soccer, cricket and Buzkashi, which according to Wikipedia is a sport in which “horse-mounted players attempt to drag a goat carcass toward a goal.”

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In Iraq, Blackwater verdict provides no relief from bitterness

Blackwater murdersLike most Iraqis, Ali Abbas Mahmoud didn’t know when he awoke Thursday that a jury in Washington had found four former Blackwater security guards guilty the previous day in one of the most infamous episodes of the U.S.-led occupation. That’s because the verdicts weren’t widely reported by the Iraqi media.

“They killed my elder brother and his son, but can this conviction bring them back?” asked Mahmoud, who learned about the outcome of the 10-week trial from an American journalist only hours before speaking to McClatchy.

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