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Inside Moroccan maternity ward where Malian mother gave birth to record breaking NINE babies

Inside Moroccan maternity ward where Malian mother gave birth to record breaking NINE babies

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A video from inside a Moroccan maternity unit has shown the incredible birth of a record-breaking nine babies to a Malian woman on Tuesday.

Doctors have revealed how they delivered the five girls and four boys, and have confirmed that all nine and the mother are currently ‘doing fine’. 

Halima Cisse, 25 and from Timbuktu in Mali, was first told that she was expecting a total of seven babies after medics missed two on her scans.

She spent two weeks in hospital in the Malian capital of Bamako before being flown to Morocco in March to give birth in a specialist hospital via cesarean section, around 30 weeks into her pregnancy.

Should all nine babies survive, the birth would break the current world record set by ‘Octomum’ Nadya Suleman in 2009, who gave birth to eight babies that survived.

The video, shared by the Ain Borja private clinic in Casablanca, shows how doctors and nurses worked to ensure that all nine babies were delivered safely and alive.

Scroll down for video 

Inside Moroccan maternity ward where Malian mother gave birth to record breaking NINE babies

Halima Cisse, 25, from Timbuktu, spent two weeks in hospital in the Malian capital of Bamako before being flown to Morocco in March to give birth in a specialist hospital via cesarean section. Pictured: Ms Cisse arrives in Morocco

Halima Cisse, 25, from Timbuktu in Mali, gave birth to nine babies via cesarean section at a hospital in Morocco on Tuesday – after doctors initially thought she was pregnant with seven. Pictured: A grab from the video showing the birth of the nine babies

Pictured: One of the nine babies rests in an incubator at the maternity ward of the private clinic of Ain Borja in Casablanca, Morocco, Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Pictured: One of the nine babies rests in an incubator at the maternity ward of the private clinic of Ain Borja in Casablanca, Morocco, Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Pictured: One of the nine babies is successfully removed from the mother's stomach during the delivery in Morocco on Tuesday

Pictured: One of the nine babies is successfully removed from the mother’s stomach during the delivery in Morocco on Tuesday

Pictured: A general view of the premature infant ward where are the nine babies at the maternity ward of the private clinic of Ain Borja in Casablanca, Morocco, Wednesday, May 5

Pictured: A general view of the premature infant ward where are the nine babies at the maternity ward of the private clinic of Ain Borja in Casablanca, Morocco, Wednesday, May 5

A heavily pregnant Ms Cisse is shown arriving in Morocco by plane, where she was pushed in a wheelchair across the tarmac. 

Afterwards, a doctor is then shown speaking to the camera explaining the procedure, and that the patient required a cesarean for the babies to be delivered.

The babies were born at around 30 weeks into Ms Cisse’s pregnancy, Doctor Yazid Mourad explains, adding that efforts were made to slow the delivery by another five weeks to give them a better chance of survival. 

‘She was going to have seven babies normally. [..] At 25 weeks, 6 months, she has been here for five weeks, we tried everything [..] so we managed to earn an extra five weeks with the suitable treatment and care,’ Dr Mourad says. 

‘Fortunately, or unfortunately [..] we found nine babies which were taken into the NICU. Most of the babies are intubated, some are on oxygen, […] but at first sight the babies are well.’

Dr Mourad says that he estimates a baby’s chance of survival increases to around 80 percent if they are born at around 30 weeks, and if they are given proper treatment. 

Pictured: Two of the nine babies delivered in Morocco on Tuesday. Should all nine babies survive, the birth would break the current world record set by 'Octomum' Nadya Suleman in 2009, who gave birth to eight babies that survived

Pictured: Two of the nine babies delivered in Morocco on Tuesday. Should all nine babies survive, the birth would break the current world record set by ‘Octomum’ Nadya Suleman in 2009, who gave birth to eight babies that survived

Pictured: A maternity nurse cleans one of the nine babies at the Ain Borja private clinic in Casablanca, Morocco, soon after it has been born and before it is put in an incubator

Pictured: A maternity nurse cleans one of the nine babies at the Ain Borja private clinic in Casablanca, Morocco, soon after it has been born and before it is put in an incubator

Pictured: Two healthcare workers are seen giving one of the nine babies oxygen shortly after they were born in Morocco

Pictured: Two healthcare workers are seen giving one of the nine babies oxygen shortly after they were born in Morocco

The babies were born sometime between 25 and 30 weeks into Ms Cisse's pregnancy, Doctor Yazid Mourad (pictured) explains, adding that efforts were made to slow the delivery by another five weeks

The babies were born sometime between 25 and 30 weeks into Ms Cisse’s pregnancy, Doctor Yazid Mourad (pictured) explains, adding that efforts were made to slow the delivery by another five weeks

‘I can’t imagine all nine would have survived at 25 weeks given they will naturally be smaller – which will be why they needed to buy some time,’ he adds.

From inside the operating theatre, the doctor is shown in the video preparing for the surgery, donning PPE as other healthcare workers frantically prepare around him.

The surgeon is then shown operating on Ms Cisse, successfully removing the tiny babies from her stomach and passing them to post-natal nurses in the room, who are shown cleaning and caring for them, before putting them into incubators.  

For some of the babies, healthcare workers are shown administering oxygen and intubating the babies. 

Mali's Health Ministry on May 5 2021 confirmed that a Malian woman had given birth to nine children at a hospital in Morocco

Mali’s Health Ministry on May 5 2021 confirmed that a Malian woman had given birth to nine children at a hospital in Morocco

A Moroccan nurse takes care of one of the nine babies protected in an incubator at the maternity ward of the private clinic of Ain Borja in Casablanca, Morocco, Wednesday, May 5

A Moroccan nurse takes care of one of the nine babies protected in an incubator at the maternity ward of the private clinic of Ain Borja in Casablanca, Morocco, Wednesday, May 5 

Pictured: Incubators with some of the newborn nontuplets are pictured at a neonatal station in a hospital in Casablanca, Morocco, May 5, 2021

Pictured: Incubators with some of the newborn nontuplets are pictured at a neonatal station in a hospital in Casablanca, Morocco, May 5, 2021

Details about Ms Cisse’s pregnancy unclear, but such multiple births are typically the result of IVF – were multiple fertilised eggs are simultaneously implanted into a woman’s womb to increase the chances she will fall pregnant.

In rare cases, several of embryos will develop into babies, causing extreme cases of multiple birth that almost never occur naturally.  

According to Mali 24, doctors in the impoverished country estimated that there was a less than 50 percent chance that a single one of the nine fetuses would survive. 

Ms Cisse spent two weeks in Point G Hospital in Bamako, Mali’s capital, before she was transferred to Morocco thanks to the intervention of Mali’s President of Transition Bah N’Daw.

She was admitted to the Ain Borja private clinic in Casablanca on March 20, and spent over six weeks in hospital before reportedly giving birth on Tuesday (May 4).  

Mali’s health ministry said in a statement that Cisse had given birth to five girls and four boys by cesarean section, and the Ain Borja later confirmed to the Associated Press she had given birth there.

‘The newborns (five girls and four boys) and the mother are all doing well,’ Mali’s health minister, Fanta Siby, said in a statement. 

The minister added that she had been kept informed by a Malian doctor who accompanied Cisse to Morocco.

The new family are due to return home in several weeks’ time, she added.

Siby offered her congratulations to ‘the medical teams of Mali and Morocco, whose professionalism is at the origin of the happy outcome of this pregnancy’. 

Pictured: The plane on which Ms Cisse arrived in Morocco in is shown on the tarmac, as a lift is shown taking her from the plane, with an ambulance waiting to collect her

Pictured: The plane on which Ms Cisse arrived in Morocco in is shown on the tarmac, as a lift is shown taking her from the plane, with an ambulance waiting to collect her

Pictured: People wait in front of the Ain Borja private clinic in Casablanca, Morocco, Wednesday, May 5, 2021, where Ms Cisse gave birth on Tuesday

Pictured: People wait in front of the Ain Borja private clinic in Casablanca, Morocco, Wednesday, May 5, 2021, where Ms Cisse gave birth on Tuesday

The pregnancy – while it was believed to involve septuplets – drew national attention in Mali, as organisations worked to ensure that Ms Cisse and her expected babies received the necessary medical care.

On April 15, 2021 it was announced that the Orange Mali Foundation would donate five million CFA Francs (around £6,580) to the cause, after the country’s The Department for the Promotion of Women, Children and the Family appealed for aid.

Cases of women successfully carrying septuplets to term are rare – and nonuplets even rarer – due to the strain multiple babies can put on the mother’s body. 

Ms Cisse’s pregnancy has become the third reported instance of nonuplets in history, with the other two occurring in Sydney and Malaysia. 

In both cases, none of the babies survived. 

Medical complications in multiple births of this kind often mean that some of the babies do not reach full term. 

Nadya Suleman, or 'Octomom' made headlines in the United States on January 26, 2009, when she gave birth to six boys and two girls in California.

Nadya Suleman, or ‘Octomom’ made headlines in the United States on January 26, 2009, when she gave birth to six boys and two girls in California.

The first recorded case of nonuplets came in Sydney in the 1970s, although sadly none of the babies survived, according to The Independent.

In March 1999, a set of nonuplets was born in Malaysia to a woman named Zurina Mat Saad, though none of them survived for more than six hours. 

In January 2009, Nadya Suleman – dubbed Octomum – gave birth to octuplets including six boys and two girls at a hospital in California.

All survived the birth, and recently celebrated their 12th birthdays. 

The babies were a result of IVF treatment, and were nine weeks premature when they were delivered via c-section.

To this day. the octuplets are still the only full set of eight babies born alive in the United States, and after one week after their birth they surpassed the previous worldwide survival rate for octuplets.

Before the record-breaking birth, Suleman already had six children, who were also conceived via IVF treatment.

The doctor who delivered the embryos, and who implanted twelve embryos in Suleman’s womb, had his license revoked in 2011 after charges were brought against him in relation to the octuplet’s conception.  

In a more recent case, a woman in Texas gave birth to sextuplets – two sets of twin boys and one pair of twin girls – in 2019. 

HOW CAN A WOMAN GIVE BIRTH TO NINE BABIES? 

In theory there is no limit for how many babies a pregnant woman can carry in her womb at once, scientists say.

But the chances of high-order multiple gestation — carrying four or more babies — happening naturally is extremely rare. 

Just five sets of quadruplets are born each year in the UK — meaning it occurs in only around one in every 150,000 pregnancies. 

It typically occurs via IVF, when multiple fertilized eggs are implanted into a woman’s womb to increase the chances she will fall pregnant.

There are just two recorded cases of nonuplets in medical history, the first of which occurred in Australia in the 1970s.

None of the babies survived, and it is unclear if any was born alive.

The second case occurred in March 1999 when a set of nonuplets was born to in Malaysia to mother Zurina Mat Saad.

While some of the infants survived the birth, none lived for more than six hours afterwards. 

The largest set of babies to be born in one go and to survive past infancy is eight – born to ‘Octomum’ Natalie Suleman in California in 2009.

Ms Suleman, who already had six children through IVF, had 12 embryos leftover. Her doctor implanted all of them inside her womb at once.

Her case sparked a fierce debate over IVF regulation, with the fertility specialist who carried out the procedure stripped of his medical licence. 

When mothers are carrying more than one baby at once the risk of the pregnancy going wrong is higher, and this generally increases the more babies there are.

The mother is more likely to develop anaemia, pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes if she is pregnant with two or more babies, because developing them puts extra strain on the body.

And multiple-baby pregnancies are also more likely to be born prematurely, with over 60 per cent of twins and almost all births of triplets or more taking place before the 37 weeks is completed, according to Beaumont Health, a healthcare provider in Michigan, US.

This may be because of the complications above, which are both more likely in multiple pregnancies and also raise the risk of premature birth. It can also be triggered by problems with the placenta(s), which are more likely to face difficulties and may lead to slow growth.

The fact that multiple-baby pregnancies are more likely to end prematurely means that the children at a higher risk of problems after birth.

Premature babies are often under-developed and may need hospital care to keep them safe as their hearts and lungs finish growing.

Premature babies are at a higher risk of various serious health conditions including cerebral palsy, learning difficulties, vision or hearing problems, behavioural issues or asthma or infections, according to the Mayo Clinic.

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Taliban take over Afghanistan: What we know and what’s next

Taliban take over Afghanistan: What we know and what’s next
Afghan people climb atop a plane as they wait at the Kabul airport on Aug. 16, 2021. WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP via Getty Images

The Taliban have seized power in Afghanistan two weeks before the US was set to complete its troop withdrawal after a costly two-decade war.

The insurgents stormed across the country, capturing all major cities in a matter of days, as Afghan security forces trained and equipped by the US and its allies melted away.

Here is a look at what happened and what comes next:

WHAT IS HAPPENING IN AFGHANISTAN?

The Taliban, a militant group that ran the country in the late 1990s, have again taken control.

The US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 ousted the insurgents from power, but they never left.

After they blitzed across the country in recent days, the Western-backed government that has run the country for 20 years collapsed.

Afghans, fearing for the future, are racing to the airport, one of the last routes out of the country.

WHY ARE PEOPLE FLEEING THE COUNTRY?

They are worried that the country could descend into chaos or the Taliban could carry out revenge attacks against those who worked with the Americans or the government.

Many also fear the Taliban will reimpose the harsh interpretation of Islamic law that they relied when they ran Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.

Back then, women were barred from attending school or working outside the home. They had to wear the all-encompassing burqa and be accompanied by a male relative whenever they went outside.

The Taliban banned music, cut off the hands of thieves and stoned adulterers.

The Taliban have sought to present themselves as a more moderate force in recent years and say they will not exact revenge, but many Afghans are skeptical of those promises.

WHY ARE THE TALIBAN TAKING OVER NOW?

Probably because US troops are set to withdraw by the end of the month.

The US has been trying to get out of Afghanistan, its longest war, for several years now.

American troops ousted the Taliban in a matter of months when they invaded to root out Al-Qaeda, which orchestrated the 9/11 attacks while being harboured by the Taliban.

But it proved more difficult to hold territory and rebuild a nation battered by repeated wars.

As the US focus shifted to Iraq, the Taliban began to regroup and in recent years took over much of the Afghan countryside.

Last year, then-President Donald Trump announced a plan to pull out and signed a deal with the Taliban that limited US military action against them.

President Joe Biden then announced that the last troops would leave by the end of August.

As the final deadline drew close, the Taliban began a lightning offensive, overrunning city after city.

WHY DID THE AFGHAN SECURITY FORCES COLLAPSE?

The short answer? Corruption.

The US and its NATO allies spent billions of dollars over two decades to train and equip Afghan security forces.

But the Western-backed government was rife with corruption. Commanders exaggerated the number of soldiers to siphon off resources, and troops in the field often lacked ammunition, supplies or even food.

Their morale further eroded when it became clear the US was on its way out. As the Taliban rapidly advanced in recent days entire units surrendered after brief battles, and Kabul and some nearby provinces fell without a fight.

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE PRESIDENT OF AFGHANISTAN?

He fled.

President Ashraf Ghani hunkered down and made few public statements as the Taliban swept across the country.

On Sunday, as they reached the capital, he left Afghanistan, saying he had chosen to leave to avoid further bloodshed.

It’s not clear where he went.

WHY ARE PEOPLE COMPARING AFGHANISTAN TO THE FALL OF SAIGON?

The Fall of Saigon to North Vietnamese forces in 1975 marked the end of the Vietnam War.

It became an enduring symbol of defeat after thousands of Americans and their Vietnamese allies were airlifted out of the city on helicopters.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has rejected any comparisons to Afghanistan, saying: “This is manifestly not Saigon.”

WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT IN AFGHANISTAN?

It’s not clear.

The Taliban say they want to form an “inclusive, Islamic government” with other factions. They are holding negotiations with senior politicians, including leaders in the former government.

They have pledged to enforce Islamic law but say they will provide a secure environment for the return of normal life after decades of war.

But many Afghans distrust the Taliban and fear that their rule will be violent and oppressive.

One sign that worries people is that they want to rename the country the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, which is what they called it the last time they ruled.

WHAT DOES THE TALIBAN TAKEOVER MEAN FOR WOMEN?

Many fear it could mean a severe rollback of rights.

Afghan women have made major gains since the overthrow of the Taliban.

Many are worried they will once again be confined to their homes.

The Taliban have said they are no longer opposed to women attending school but have not set out a clear policy on women’s rights.

Afghanistan remains an overwhelmingly conservative country, especially outside major cities, and the status of women often varied, even under Taliban rule.

WILL THE TALIBAN ONCE AGAIN HARBOUR AL-QAEDA?

That is anyone’s guess, but American military officials are worried.

In the peace deal signed with the United States last year, the Taliban pledged to fight terrorism and prevent Afghanistan from again becoming a base for attacks.

But the US has little leverage to enforce that.

Technological advances over the last 20 years allow the United States to target suspected militants in countries like Yemen and Somalia where it does not have a permanent troop presence.

The Taliban paid a heavy price for their role in the Sep 11 attacks and likely hope to avoid a repeat as they seek to consolidate their rule.

But earlier this year, the Pentagon’s top leaders said an extremist group like Al-Qaeda may be able to regenerate in Afghanistan, and officials are now warning that such groups could grow much faster than expected.

Afghanistan is also home to an Islamic State group affiliate that has carried out a wave of horrific attacks targeting its Shiite minority in recent years. The Taliban have condemned such attacks and the two groups have fought each other over territory, but it remains to be seen whether a Taliban government will be willing or able to suppress IS. AP

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Malala Yousafzai ‘Deeply Worried About Women, Minorities’ As Taliban Takes Kabul

Malala Yousafzai ‘Deeply Worried About Women, Minorities’ As Taliban Takes Kabul

The activist, who survived a Taliban attack, called for urgent humanitarian aid to Afghanistan.

Activist Malala Yousafzai voiced grave concerns for women, minorities and human rights activists after the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan.

Yousafzai, who was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen in Pakistan when she was 15, said on Sunday she was watching on in complete shock as Taliban forces advanced into Kabul after executing a near-complete takeover of the country in a little over a week.

“I am deeply worried about women, minorities and human rights advocates,” she said. “Global, regional and local powers must call for an immediate ceasefire, provide urgent humanitarian aid and protect. refugees and civilians.”

Yousafzai was targeted by extremists in 2012 after she spoke out publicly about the right to education for girls and women. She was shot on her school bus. She survived, went on to continue her advocacy from the UK, and in 2014, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

On Sunday, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, U.S. Embassy staff were evacuated and several other western missions worked to withdraw personnel. It comes months after the Biden administration announced the withdrawal of a decades-long U.S. military presence in the country.

Many fear the insurgents will roll back decades of gains by women and ethnic minorities, reimposing the brutal rule that all but eliminated women’s rights, the Associated Press reported. AP

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Video Shows Afghans Clinging To U.S. Military Plane As It Takes Off In Kabul

Video Shows Afghans Clinging To U.S. Military Plane As It Takes Off In Kabul

Seven people were reportedly killed during the chaos, including individuals who fell from a departing American transport jet.

Stunning video taken Monday at the Kabul airport shows people clinging to a U.S. military transport plane during takeoff, as well as others appearing to plunge to their death from the sky, in a disturbing scene that reportedly ended with several people dead.

The U.S. military suspended evacuation flights from the Afghan capital later on Monday due to the swarms of people blocking the airport’s tarmac, a spokesperson for the German foreign ministry told reporters.

“I understand there is no air traffic at the moment because a large number of desperate people are crowding the tarmac,” the spokesperson told journalists in Berlin, according to Reuters.

The chaos ended with seven people dead, including those who fell from a departing American military transport jet, The Associated Press reported, citing senior U.S. military officials.

Disturbing videos posted to social media appear to capture some of the deaths, and seem to show bodies falling from a plane shortly after takeoff. The authenticity of these videos has not been independently confirmed by HuffPost.

The Taliban has meanwhile attempted to reassure Afghans, saying in a statement that “life, property and honor” will be respected. But many Afghans fear that the Islamic militants will roll back basic democratic and human rights, particularly for women, journalists and nongovernment organization workers.

“Everyone is worried,” a former government employee who is hiding in Kabul told Reuters. “They’re not targeting people yet but they will, that’s the reality. Maybe in two or three weeks. That’s why people are fighting to get out now.” AP/REUTERS

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What is the Relationship Between the Taliban and ISIS?

What is the Relationship Between the Taliban and ISIS?
Taliban fighters stand guard in a vehicle along the roadside in Kabul on August 16, 2021, after a stunningly swift end to Afghanistan's 20-year war. (AFP)

Who are the two groups?

The Taliban and Isis are both Sunni Islamist extremist groups seeking to form authoritarian states under strict Sharia law and prepared to use violence to achieve their aim.

The two forces are actually enemies, however, who have fought bitterly since 2015 when Isis formed the Islamic State-Khorasan Province (ISKP) in Afghanistan at a time when it was first seeking to extend its geographical reach beyond Iraq and Syria.

The Taliban first came to prominence in 1994 during the Afghan Civil War, its ranks composed largely of students – from which the group derives its name in Pashto – many of whom had been mujahideen resistance fighters who had battled occupation by the Soviet Union in the 1980s.

A Deobandi fundamentalist Islamist movement originating in the Pashtun areas of eastern and southern Afghanistan and in northern Pakistan, the Taliban was led by Mullah Mohammed Omar and conquered first the province of Herat and then the whole country by September 1996, overthrowing the Burhanuddin Rabbani regime, establishing the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and making Kandahar the capital.

Its tyrannical rule, marked by the massacre of opponents, the denial of UN food supplies to starving citizens and the oppression of women, was brought to an abrupt end by US-led coalition forces in December 2001 in retaliation for Osama Bin Laden’s devastating al-Qaeda terror strike on the World Trade Center in New York City, which killed 2,996 people and left 25,000 injured.

Since then, Taliban fighters have regrouped as an insurgency and continued to battle to retake Afghanistan from US peacekeeping forces ever since.

Isis meanwhile was first formed by Jordanian jihadist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in 1999 before rising to global prominence when it drove Iraqi forces out of key cities in the west of the country in 2014 – having declared itself a worldwide caliphate – and later conquered swathes of eastern Syria before ultimately surrendering Mosul and Raqqa in 2017 when international forces intervened.

It established the ISKP in the Nangarhar Province of eastern Afghanistan in January 2015, actively recruiting defectors from the Taliban, in particular those who were disconttented with their own leadership’s lack of success on the battlefield.

How have their respective factions interacted?

The formation of ISKP prompted Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour to write a letter to his Isis counterpart, Abu Bakr al-

More battles erupted in April 2017 when ISKP captured three drug dealers selling opium to raise funds for the Taliban in the northern Afghan province of Jowzjan and again in May 2017 when 22 militants were killed in clashes between the two sides along the Iranian border.

The Taliban launched an offensive to clear Isis out of Jowzjan the following summer, with the the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan joining in on the latter’s side, as up to 7,000 people were displaced from their homes.

That July’s conflict ended in a significant defeat for ISKP, who suffered further setbacks in skirmishes the following year before being almost entirely eradicated by the US and the Afghan military in late 2019, although the Council for Foreign Relations estimates that there are still 2,200 members of ISKP still active in Afghanistan.

In February 2020, the Donald Trump administration signed its dubious peace accord with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, which saw the latter group pledge to keep other Islamist extremists, including Isis, out of the country.

Why are we asking this now?

Afghanistan is again in a state of turmoil after the Taliban recaptured the capital city of Kabul on Sunday, declaring the country an Islamic Emirate once more after president Ashraf Ghani abandoned the presidential palace and fled to Tajikistan.

The operation followed swiftly on from the withdrawal of American troops from the country last month at the order of US president Joe Biden, their exit coming almost 20 years after the US military drove the same faction out of Kabul at the outset of George W Bush’s War on Terror in response to 9/11.

Biden expressed his determination not to hand the responsibility for policing Afghanistan on to a fifth commander-in-chief following the completion of his own tenure in the White House and trusted in the Afghan military, in whom the US had invested almost $1trn over two decades, to keep the Taliban at bay.

“The fact of the matter is we’ve seen that that force has been unable to defend the country… and that has happened more quickly than we anticipated,” US secretary of state Anthony Blinken lamented on Sunday.

Amid the chaotic scenes in Kabul as people fled for the airports was the alarming sight of 5,000 escaped prisoners walking free from the Pul-e-Charki prison on Bagram air base, occupied by the Americans until recently, with alleged Isis and al-Qaeda fighters present among their number.

Speaking on NPR’s All Things Considered last week, former US defence secretary Leon Panetta gave this blunt assessment of the disaster unfolding: “The Taliban are terrorists, and they’re going to support terrorists. If they take control of Afghanistan, there is no question in my mind that they will provide a safe haven for al-Qaeda, for Isis and for terrorism in general. And that constitutes, frankly, a national security threat to the United States.”

Baghdadi, calling on him to abandon his recruitment drive of the disaffected and arguing that any war for their comparable cause in Afghanistan should be carried out under Taliban leadership.

Fighting duly broke out between the two sides that June 2015 and between two separate factions of the Taliban in the Zabul Province that November over whether or not to join forces with ISIS. INDEPENDENT

 

 

 

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1/3 of Israel’s Older Population Has Received COVID-19 Booster Shot as Delta Cases Rise

1/3 of Israel’s Older Population Has Received COVID-19 Booster Shot as Delta Cases Rise
An Israeli medical worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine during a campaign by the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality to encourage the vaccination of teenagers on July 5 in Tel Aviv. (Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images)

Over one-third of Israel’s older population has received a COVID-19 booster shot, as the country rushes to administer additional vaccine doses to counter the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Sunday that over 420,000 Israelis older than 60 have so far received a third dose of the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine. According to government statistics, that number is expected to exceed half a million by the end of the day, the Associated Press reported.

Israel began rolling out COVID-19 booster shots to its older population last weekend, after health officials reported new data indicating a decline in vaccine protection over time. The country had previously offered a third dose of the vaccine to some people with compromised immune systems, such as individuals with cancer.

The latest rollout comes as hospitalizations and daily case counts continue to rise due to the delta variant. Last week, Israel began recording an average of more than 3,000 new coronavirus cases a day, with 250 people in serious condition. That marks its worst outbreak since April, according to Agence France-Presse.

On Saturday, the country recorded 4,211 new cases and 19 new deaths. In response to the latest outbreak, the government recently moved to reinstated its mask mandate for indoor settings and is now weighing more restrictions.

Israel quickly became a world leader in vaccinating against the virus during its initial public campaign. By Sunday, nearly 60 percent of the country’s 9.3 million population has been fully vaccinated, with more eligible people now rushing to receive a third vaccine dose.

Israel booster shot
Over one-third of Israel’s older population has received a COVID-19 booster shot, as the country rushes to administer additional vaccine doses to counter the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant. In this photo, Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett accompanies his mother Myrna Bennett as she receives her third COVID-19 vaccine shot, at a Maccabi Healthcare Services clinic in the northern city of Haifa on August 3, 2021. POOL / AFP/Getty Images

While most vaccine makers and researchers agree that booster shots will be needed to provide additional protection against the virus, the World Health Organization (WHO) last week called for a moratorium on the use of third doses until the end of September in order to address inequalities in global vaccine distribution.

In response to the moratorium, Bennett said Thursday that Israel was doing the world a “great service” by administering the booster shots.

“Israel is going ahead here with something that dramatically contributes to global knowledge,” he said in a Facebook broadcast. “Without us, the world wouldn’t know the exact efficacy levels of the booster shots, wouldn’t know the dates, how much they affect infections, how they affect severe illness,” he added.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to approve of the use of coronavirus vaccine boosters for the American public. However, data from the CDC indicates that an increasing number of Americans are using dishonest means to receive a third jab.

Moderna has estimated that a COVID-19 vaccine booster could ready for use in the U.S. by the winter, and Pfizer is said to be preparing a booster shot for FDA approval soon.

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Israel attacks Hamas sites in Gaza in response to fire balloons

Israel attacks Hamas sites in Gaza in response to fire balloons
The Israeli military said its air raids were in 'response to continual launches of incendiary balloons from Gaza into Israel throughout the day' [File: Jack Guez/AFP]

Palestinians say the balloons aim to pressure Israel to ease restrictions on the coastal enclave that were tightened in May.

Israeli aircraft bombed Hamas sites in the Gaza Strip on Saturday in response to incendiary balloons launched from the Palestinian enclave, Israel’s military said.

There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage from the attack that targeted what the Israeli military said was a rocket launching site and a compound belonging to Hamas, the political group that governs Gaza.

Hamas had no immediate comment.

A social media post by New Press publication, showed streaks of lights coming from Gaza, as shots were fired targeting Israeli planes in retaliation of the attack.

New Press also reported that three sites were targeted by Israel including Beit Hanoun and Jabalya.

Since a May 21 ceasefire ended 11 days of Israel-Hamas fighting, Palestinians in Gaza have sporadically launched balloons laden with incendiary material across the border, causing fires that have burned fields in Israel.

The incendiary balloons have been used previously in response to the tightening of Israel’s blockade on the coastal enclave, after new restrictions were issued during Israel’s bombardment of Gaza in May.

Balloon launches had mostly ebbed after Israel eased some restrictions on Gaza.

But on Friday, balloons were again launched from Gaza, causing at least four brush fires in areas near the Israel-Gaza frontier.

The Israeli military said its air raids were in “response to continual launches of incendiary balloons from Gaza into Israel throughout the day”.

The blazes along the Gaza frontier broke out on Friday as Israel separately traded fire over its northern border with Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah, in a third day of cross-border salvoes amid wider regional tensions with Iran.

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