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This is what the end of the so-called IS caliphate looks like | World News

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US-backed Syrian fighters say a “large number” of Islamic State militants and their families are surrendering a day after intense fighting in the only area the extremists still hold in eastern Syria. Sky News Middle East correspondent Alex Rossi watched as they retreated:

They escape in their hundreds, each one of them struggling to clamber up a ridge on the edge of Baghouz.

They are broken, hungry and disconsolate.

This is what the end of Islamic State’s so-called caliphate looks like.

The thin shapes, their clothes ragged, carry what they can.

Some are so exhausted they struggle to walk.

Others, who are severely injured, are scooped into blankets and carried up the hill overlooking a makeshift tented city they called home just hours ago.

The young appear shell-shocked. A young girl just stops. She’s completely dazed.

For weeks they have existed under heavy bombardment in trenches and tunnels.

Some of the children emerge alone – their parents presumed to be dead.

And as this mass of people clamber up to safety it is the very young you notice most.

A boy is carried up the ridge by relatives.

He appears listless, with a primitive chest drain used to relieve internal bleeding swinging below him.

The fanatics that survived have had weeks to surrender but instead they chose to sacrifice their children to the brutality of war.

Some hardcore militants have continued to battle rather than leave
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Some hardcore militants have continued to battle rather than leave

Most of the men we see are wounded – and almost certainly fighters – their limbs badly bandaged.

We ask a group how many are left inside?

“Lots” comes back the answer.

For five years IS has spread fear across these lands but now it is in its final days.

But even in the organisation’s death-throes it is still resisting the inevitable.

The retreat followed a day of heavy bombing
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The retreat followed a day of heavy bombing

The fractured skyline of Baghouz still thunders with the sound of war.

But so far the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and coalition jets have not been able to deliver the decisive blow.

Daesh (Islamic State) has just a tiny piece of land in this nowhere place and they are encircled yet they refuse to give up.



Thousands of people have left Baghouz, Syria







Desperate IS families flee Baghouz

For days Kurdish and Arab Forces, supported by coalition air power, have battered Baghouz but have been unable to declare victory.

But SDF fighters know this battle is over in all but name. A group of fighters huddled in the back of a pick-up truck are joyous. We ask them whether Daesh are finished.

“It’s over,” they yell back. “They are finished.”

In the days to come more IS fighters will surely be forced to give up and join those who’ve already surrendered.

For an organisation that used to project power through video propaganda, its militants now look weak and some can barely stand.

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Chimps spotted cracking open tortoises’ shells and eating reptiles for first time | World News

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Chimpanzees have been spotted cracking tortoise shells against tree trucks and then eating the animals.

Scientists say this behaviour shows the apes’ impressive mental abilities.

It is thought to be the first time chimps have been seen preying on the reptiles in this way.

After smashing their shells, they scooped out the meat and shared it with other chimps.

The behaviour was spotted in the Rekambo chimpanzee community in Loango National Park in Gabon between July 2016 and May 2018.

One reason they do this could be that the region also has an abundance of hard-shelled fruit, like that from the strychnos tree, which also needs to be hit against trees to open.

This has led some enterprising chimpanzees to try the same on tortoises, said Tobias Deschner, one of the researchers.

“They see this is a hard-shelled object with some interesting thing inside and they need to crack it open,” said Mr Deschner, a primate researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.

“If they can do that with the fruit and have the same problem with a hard-shelled animal with something inside that they want to get access to, then they can say ‘OK, why not do it in exactly the same way?'”

A “distinct smashing technique” was used, researchers from the University of Osnabruck and Max Planck Institute said.

They saw 10 animals, mainly male, hunting hinge-back tortoises on 38 occasions, 34 of which were successful.

They said: “Similar to nut cracking in chimpanzees – a percussive technology which is only mastered at the age of approximately nine to 10 years – the acquisition of a successful tortoise smashing technique may rely on a certain amount of strength.

“In addition, it may also involve a relatively long period of time to learn, practice and refine.”

It amounted to “further support for their exceptionally large and flexible cognitive tool kits”, the scientists said.

In two cases in which adolescent chimpanzees were trying to smash open a tortoise, the authors said they were unsuccessful.

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Healthy dog put down because owner wanted to be buried together | US News

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A healthy dog was put down because her owner requested she be buried with her in her will.

Emma, a Shih Tzu mix, was euthanized two weeks after arriving at a shelter in Chesterfield County, Virginia on 8 March.

Her owner had died and her will stipulated she be buried with her dog.

Staff at the shelter where Emma was staying were in contact with the executors of the will in the hope of convincing them to sign over the animal so they could have her adopted.

Carrie Jones, the manager of the animal services, said: “We did suggest they could sign the dog over on numerous occasions, because it’s a dog we could easily find a home for and re-home.”

According to WWBT in Richmond, Virginia, the dog was taken to a vet, euthanized and the ashes were placed in an urn and returned to the woman’s estate.

The process is legal in Virginia, by a law which came into force in 2014. But cemeteries have to allocate a separate part of the land for pets, and they can’t be in the same niche as humans.

Other states allow pets to be buried with owners.

The shelter offered to have the dog adopted
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The shelter offered to have the dog adopted

Speaking to AP, vet Dr Kenny Lucas said his clinic would not do it, but admitted it was an “emotional decision”.

Larry Spiaggi, president of the Virginia Funeral Directors Association, said it was abhorrent.

He told WWBT: “It’s not legal to put a dog’s cremated remains – or any animal – in a casket and bury them.”

The state is considering legislation to address the problem.

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UN tells Britain to end ‘colonial administration’ of Chagos Islands | World News

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Britain should end its “colonial administration” of the Chagos Islands and return them to Mauritius within six months, the UN has demanded.

The 193-member world body approved a resolution supporting a finding by the International Court of Justice that the Indian Ocean island chain be given back to Mauritius.

The General Assembly resolution, like the court’s ruling, is not legally binding but it does carry weight as it came from the UN’s highest court, and the vote – 116-6 with 56 abstentions – reflects world opinion.

The court said in its opinion Britain had unlawfully carved up Mauritius, which the Chagos Archipelago was a part of, in 1965 when Mauritius was a British colony.

It said: “The United Kingdom is under an obligation to bring to an end its administration of the Chagos Archipelago as rapidly as possible.”

DATE IMPORTED:22 October, 2008A demonstrator demanding her return to the Chagos Islands in the Diego Garcia archipelago shouts during a protest outside the Houses of Parliament in London October 22, 2008. Britain's highest court ruled in favour of the British government on Wednesday, blocking the return of hundreds of Chagos Island people to their homes in the south Indian Ocean after nearly 40 years of exile. The decision by the House of Lords ends a years-long battle to secure the Chagos Islan
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Many Chagossians resettled in the UK and have fought in British courts to return to the islands

Britain evicted about 2,000 people from the Chagos Archipelago in the 1960s and 1970s so the US military could build its air base on Diego Garcia.

Many resettled in the UK and have fought in British courts to return to the islands.

Britain’s UN ambassador, Karen Pierce, told the assembly: “British Indian Ocean Territory has been under continuous British sovereignty since 1814. Mauritius has never held sovereignty over it and we do not recognise their claim.”

She added that the government stands by the 1965 agreement with the Mauritian Council of Ministers to detach the British Indian Ocean Territory in exchange for fishing rights and other benefits and a commitment “to cede the territory when it is no longer needed for defence purposes”.

Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth told the assembly his country “is extremely disappointed” in the position of the British government.

Mr Jugnauth said the 1965 agreement on the Chagos Archipelago “was carried out under duress” and labelled the forcible eviction of islanders as “a very dark episode of human history akin to a crime against humanity”.

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