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A man from Lancashire who encouraged Islamic extremists to wage jihad in the West, including targeting Prince George and injecting poison in to supermarket ice-cream, has been convicted today (31 May).
Husnain Rashid, 32, posted messages online glorifying successful terrorist atrocities committed by others while encouraging and inciting his readers to plan and commit attacks.
One of his posts included a photograph of Prince George, along with the address of his school, a black silhouette of a jihad fighter and the message ìeven the royal family will not be left aloneî.
His common theme was that attacks could be carried out by one individual acting alone. Rashid suggested perpetrators had the option of using poisons, vehicles, weapons, bombs, chemicals or knives. Rashid uploaded terrorist material to an online library he created with the goal of helping others plan an attack.
He also planned to travel to Turkey and Syria with the intention of fighting in Daesh-controlled territories. He contacted individuals he believed to be in Daesh territory, seeking advice on how to reach Syria and how to obtain the required authorisation necessary to join a fighting group.
Rashid provided one individual who had travelled to Syria and was known online as ìRepunzelî, with information about methods of shooting down aircraft and jamming missile systems.
All the offences relate to Rashidís activities online between October 2016 and his arrest in November 2017.
Rashidís trial started on 23 May at Woolwich Crown Court but he changed his plea to guilty on four counts on 31 May. He will be sentenced on 28 June.
Sue Hemming from the CPS said: ìHusnain Rashid is an extremist who not only sought to encourage others to commit attacks on targets in the West but was planning to travel aboard so he could fight himself.
ìHe tried to argue that he had not done anything illegal but with the overwhelming weight of evidence against him he changed his plea to guilty.
ìThe judge will now deci
PHOTO: Greater Manchester Police
A man from Lancashire who encouraged Islamic extremists to wage jihad in the West, including targeting Prince George and injecting poison in to supermarket ice-cream, has been convicted today (31 May). Husnain Rashid, 32, posted messages online glorifying successful terrorist atrocities committed by others while encouraging and inciting his readers to plan and commit attacks. One of his posts included a photograph of Prince George, along with the address of his school, a black silhouette of a jihad fighter and the message ìeven the royal family will not be left aloneî. His common theme was that attacks could be carried out by one individual acting alone. Rashid suggested perpetrators had the option of using poisons, vehicles, weapons, bombs, chemicals or knives. Rashid uploaded terrorist material to an online library he created with the goal of helping others plan an attack. He also planned to travel to Turkey and Syria with the intention of fighting in Daesh-controlled territories. He contacted individuals he believed to be in Daesh territory, seeking advice on how to reach Syria and how to obtain the required authorisation necessary to join a fighting group. Rashid provided one individual who had travelled to Syria and was known online as ìRepunzelî, with information about methods of shooting down aircraft and jamming missile systems. All the offences relate to Rashidís activities online between October 2016 and his arrest in November 2017. Rashidís trial started on 23 May at Woolwich Crown Court but he changed his plea to guilty on four counts on 31 May. He will be sentenced on 28 June. Sue Hemming from the CPS said: ìHusnain Rashid is an extremist who not only sought to encourage others to commit attacks on targets in the West but was planning to travel aboard so he could fight himself. ìHe tried to argue that he had not done anything illegal but with the overwhelming weight of evidence against him he changed his plea to guilty. ìThe judge will now deci
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FILE - In this undated file photo released by a militant website, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, militants of the Islamic State group hold up their weapons and wave flags on their vehicles in a convoy on a road leading to Iraq, while riding in Raqqa, Syria. Simultaneous attacks on the Islamic State-held city of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa, the de facto IS capital across the border in eastern Syria, would make military sense: They would make it harder for the extremists to move reinforcements and deny them a safe haven. (Militant website via AP, File)
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FILE - In this undated file photo released by a militant website, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, militants of the Islamic State group hold up their weapons and wave flags on their vehicles in a convoy on a road leading to Iraq, while riding in Raqqa, Syria. Simultaneous attacks on the Islamic State-held city of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa, the de facto IS capital across the border in eastern Syria, would make military sense: They would make it harder for the extremists to move reinforcements and deny them a safe haven. (Militant website via AP, File)
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(FILES) This image grab taken from a propaganda video released on July 5, 2014 by al-Furqan Media allegedly shows the leader of the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, aka Caliph Ibrahim, adressing Muslim worshippers at a mosque in the militant-held northern Iraqi city of Mosul. 
The Russian army on June 16, 2017 said it hit Islamic State leaders in an airstrike in Syria last month and was seeking to verify whether IS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had been killed. In a statement, the army said Sukhoi warplanes carried out a 10-minute night-time strike on May 28 at a location near Raqa, where IS leaders had gathered to plan a pullout by militants from the group
(FILES) This image grab taken from a propaganda video released on July 5, 2014 by al-Furqan Media allegedly shows the leader of the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, aka Caliph Ibrahim, adressing Muslim worshippers at a mosque in the militant-held northern Iraqi city of Mosul. The Russian army on June 16, 2017 said it hit Islamic State leaders in an airstrike in Syria last month and was seeking to verify whether IS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had been killed. In a statement, the army said Sukhoi warplanes carried out a 10-minute night-time strike on May 28 at a location near Raqa, where IS leaders had gathered to plan a pullout by militants from the group's stronghold. / AFP PHOTO / AL-FURQAN MEDIA / --/AFP/Getty Images
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Story highlights

Hundreds of combatants and civilians have been killed over the past week

The regime of President Bashar al-Assad is battling to retain a foothold in the area

Russian aircraft have been dropping supplies to beleaguered army units

(CNN) —  

Fierce battles continue around the strategic city of Deir Ezzor in northern Syria between regime forces and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), according to human rights groups.

Hundreds of combatants and civilians have been killed over the past week, and Russian aircraft have been dropping supplies to beleaguered army units.

The regime of President Bashar al-Assad is battling to retain a foothold in the area. It still controls the military airport to the south, but ISIS claims to have overrun several regime-held districts at the beginning of the week, taking advantage of a sandstorm that grounded military aircraft. But in the last few days, Russian and possibly Syrian warplanes have carried out airstrikes against ISIS areas, while the already desperate situation of civilians has worsened.

The Institute for the Study of War – a Washington-based group that analyzes the conflict in Iraq and Syria – said Russia had shifted the focus of its air campaign to Deir Ezzor in the face of the major ISIS assault on parts of the city still held by the regime. “The shift in Russian air operations serves to forestall the immediate defeat of regime forces in Deir Ezzor, one of the last remaining regime outposts in Eastern Syria,” the Institute said.

Even so, the regime presence in Deir Ezzor looks increasingly precarious. Were ISIS to capture the entire city, it would give the group morale-boosting control of a second provincial capital in Syria, after Raqqa, and improve its supply lines across the border into Iraq.

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Much of the fighting has concentrated on the suburb of al Bghiliyyeh to the north of the city, an area held by army units and allied militia even after ISIS took control of most of Deir Ezzor a year ago. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), which monitors the conflict across Syria, reported that 200 soldiers had been killed in the latest surge of fighting, of whom 48 had been executed by ISIS, while 110 ISIS fighters had died, including 30 suicide bombers.

SOHR said that more than 40 civilians had been killed in aerial and artillery bombardments by regime forces and their allies as they tried to recover lost ground. And on Friday it reported fresh airstrikes against the nearby town of Tabia, which is controlled by ISIS, in which 30 civilians were killed, including 13 children.

Inevitably, the Syrian Foreign Ministry has painted a very different picture, claiming ISIS had carried out a massacre in al Bghiliyyeh last Saturday, “slaughtering, and shooting innocent civilians, claiming the lives of more than 280 civilians, most of them women, children, and elderly people.”

There is no way to independently reconcile the widely differing accounts of events in Deir Ezzour. But it’s clear there has been heavy fighting and that ISIS has gained the upper hand, taking a number of districts as well as high ground around the city.

Videos and photographs published by the ISIS-affiliated Amaq news agency this week purport to show captured and dead regime soldiers, stocks of seized weapons, including a number of missiles, and ammunition.

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Another Amaq video purports to show Russian planes dropping supplies to regime-held areas this week, but intelligence consultancy Flashpoint Partners said that given the fluid situation on the ground, “it is not clear whether the alleged Russian airdrops ended up in The Islamic State’s hands.”

The humanitarian situation in Deir Ezzor has worsened dramatically since ISIS besieged several neighborhoods a year ago. SOHR says ISIS has long prevented food and medical supplies reaching these areas and estimates that some 250,000 civilians in the area now lack food and other essentials. The latest fighting has sent thousands fleeing to surrounding areas.

ISIS appears to be trying to take advantage of its gains by coercing local tribes to take its side. SOHR said that according to its sources, ISIS had met with tribal leaders near the city this week to demand that “the sheikhs of the clans and their clans support the Islamic State in the fighting against the infidels.” SOHR’s sources said several agreements had been reached, without disclosing details.

Deir Ezzour is a critical junction for the group, with roads east and south toward Iraq and west to areas it controls in Homs province, including Palmyra. The city is also surrounded by some of ISIS’ most valuable oilfields, which have been intensively targeted by both U.S. and Russian airpower in recent months.

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