On December 29, activists shared footage showing a French Airbus H225M military helicopter flying over Syria’s northeastern region.
The helicopter was spotted near the town of al-Shheell in the southeastern countryside of Deir Ezzor. At the time, Syrian Democratic Forces units in the town were placed on high alert, possibly in preparation for a joint counter-terrorism operation with the US-led coalition. France is a key member of the coalition.
At least 18 H225M helicopters are in service with both the French Air Force and Army, which are apparently still active in northeastern Syria.
The H225M is a long-range tactical transport military helicopter capable of undertaking various mission roles including combat search and rescue, aeromedical transport, logistic support and shipboard maritime operations.
The French military had several posts in northeastern Syria, mainly in northeastern Aleppo and northern Raqqa. However, in October of 2019 a Turkish-led invasion of the region forced French and American troops to leave these areas. The Russian Military Police and the Syrian Arab Army took over.
Earlier this year, a French H225M helicopter was spotted while transporting special forces personnel or intelligence officers from Iraq to northeastern Syria.
On November 24, Amaq, ISIS’ official news agency, released photos from a recent attack by the terrorist group’s wing in Western Africa, the Islamic State – West Africa Province (ISWAP).
The attack, which took place on December 26, targeted a base of the Nigerian Armed Forces (NAF) in the town of Boni Yadi in the northeastern Nigerian province of Yobe.
In the course of the attack, ISWAP terrorists stormed the base after killing at least ten personnel of the NAF and wounding several others. The terrorist used heavy weapons, including a truck-mounted Italian-made OTO Melara Mod 56 105 mm pack howitzer.
The terrorists set the entire base on fire before retreating. They also burned three armored vehicles, including a Swiss-made Mowag Piranha I 6×6, which were left behind by Nigerian troops.
ISWAP cells stepped up their operations in northeastern Nigeria, mainly in the provinces of Borno and Yobe, in the second half of 2021.
Nigerian government forces have been operating nonstop against ISWAP. However, very little have been achieved, so far. The terrorist group continues to spread its radical ideology in the northeastern region with much success.
Government forces in Indian-administered Kashmir have killed six suspected rebels in two incidents overnight, police said, rounding off another bloody year in the disputed territory.
“Six militants, including two Pakistan nationals, have been killed in two separate encounters with the security forces in Anantnag and Kulgam districts of Kashmir,” the region’s police chief, Vijay Kumar, said on Thursday.
Police say with intensified military operations against the rebels, the number of local fighters has dropped to fewer than 100 for the first time in a decade.
Kumar, the police chief, told the Economic Times newspaper this week that some 70 percent of the youth who joined rebel ranks this year “were either killed or arrested”.
Most of those arrested are being held under harsh anti-terror legislation, called the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
The law allows people to be held for six months – often rolled over – without being charged and bail is virtually impossible.
One of those in custody since November is Khurram Parvez, programme coordinator for respected rights group, the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS).
On December 1, the UN Human Rights Office criticised the arrest and said that the UAPA “raises serious concerns relating to the right of presumption of innocence along with other due process and fair trial rights”.
The Indian government said the statement “betrays a complete lack of understanding on the part of the OHCHR of the security challenges faced by India from cross-border terrorism”.
Earlier this year, the disputed region witnessed a wave of civilian killings, with rebels seemingly targeting non-Kashmiris, including migrant workers, and members of the minority Hindu and Sikh communities in the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley.
Indian forces in the heavily militarised region – numbering an estimated 500,000 – responded with a widespread crackdown.
India has long accused Pakistan of stoking the rebellion in Indian-administered Kashmir. Islamabad denies the charge, saying it only provides diplomatic and moral backing for the self-determination of the Kashmiri people.
The two nuclear powers have fought two of their three wars over the region and came close to another in 2016.