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World Colombia launches 'elite force' to hunt rebels, drug gangs

00:10  27 february  2021
00:10  27 february  2021 Source:   afp.com

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Colombia on Friday put into action a military unit aimed at combating illegal armed groups that have begun to seize areas once controlled by Marxist FARC rebels in strategic drug -trafficking territory in the south of the Andean nation. The so-called Hercules task force , the largest military unit activated in two decades, will have 9,000 troops with the mission of regaining control of a broad region bordering the Pacific Ocean and Ecuador. In southern Narino province, which concentrates the majority of coca leaf crops - the raw material that makes cocaine

YOKY RIDGE, Colombia —On a hilltop base shielded with sandbags, police sharpshooter Jose Diaz gazed into thick jungle as a fellow commando checked tripwires protecting the stronghold. A radioman listened in on the fighters they were battling. Their adversaries weren’t the FARC rebels that security forces had long fought, but a cocaine-trafficking gang known as the Gulf Clan. In the year since the powerful Marxist guerrillas disarmed, drug gangs like this one have battled each other and the state for control of the booming cocaine trade in remote regions where the FARC once ruled.

Colombia on Friday launched a 7,000-strong elite force to fight rebels financed by drug trafficking and other illegal activities, and which allegedly operate across borders.

a group of people walking on a sidewalk: Colombian President Ivan Duque (C-L) handing a Colombian flag to Brigadier General Juan Carlos Correa Consuegra (C-R) during the inauguration of the Command Against Drug Trafficking and Offshore Threats (CONAT) at the Tolemaida base in Cundinamarca department, Colombia on February 26, 2021. © - Colombian President Ivan Duque (C-L) handing a Colombian flag to Brigadier General Juan Carlos Correa Consuegra (C-R) during the inauguration of the Command Against Drug Trafficking and Offshore Threats (CONAT) at the Tolemaida base in Cundinamarca department, Colombia on February 26, 2021.

Surrounded by helicopters, tanks and hundreds of soldiers at the Tolemaida military base in central Colombia, President Ivan Duque described the launch as "historic".

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Colombia on Friday put into action a military unit aimed at combating illegal armed groups that have begun to seize areas once controlled by Marxist FARC rebels in strategic drug -trafficking territory in the south of the Andean nation. The so-called Hercules task force , the largest military unit activated. The so-called Hercules task force , the largest military unit activated in two decades, will have 9,000 troops with the mission of regaining control of a broad region bordering the Pacific Ocean and Ecuador. In southern Narino province, which concentrates the majority of coca leaf crops - the raw material that

Rebels from the National Liberation Army (ELN), dissident fighters from Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) who refused to demobilize under a peace deal and the Los Pelusos crime gang are all present in the Catatumbo region, near the border with Venezuela, the rights group said. The demobilization of the FARC in 2017 left a power vacuum in restive regions around the Andean country, sparking bloody competition between remaining armed groups for control of lucrative drug trafficking and illegal mining operations. "Within Colombia and outside Colombia it is probable there exists the

The force, he said, will be tasked with "subduing, beating and subjecting the structures of drug trafficking and the... threats linked to the illegal exploitation of minerals, trafficking of species, of persons and, of course, to any transnational form of terrorism."

The force will "without qualms" pursue members of the ELN -- the last active guerrilla group in Colombia, as well as drug gangs and ex-FARC rebels who have abandoned the terms of a 2016 peace deal, he said.

"Soldiers, it is a morally necessary, morally correct battle... Let's go for the defence of Colombia!" he proclaimed.

Duque did not refer to Venezuela.

When he first announced the creation of the elite force earlier this month, he said many of its targets "are protected in Venezuela" though he did not mention direct military action in the neighboring country.

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Colombia ’s government has launched a military offensive to hunt down the gunmen responsible for the massacre of five indigenous leaders in the south-western province of Cauca. The president, Iván Duque, travelled to the region on Wednesday along with his defence and interior ministers to condemn the massacre and oversee operations to root out armed groups that plague the conflict-ridden Cauca province. The government blamed dissident factions of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (or Farc), a now-demobilised leftist rebel group, for the attack on Tuesday, in which assailants threw

Apartado ( Colombia ) (AFP) - Police are using Black Hawk helicopters to scour the green banana fields of northern Colombia in a newly intensified search for the country's most-wanted drug boss. With peace initiatives under way between the government and rebel groups, authorities are fighting on The general spoke to AFP following search operations in the town of Apartado, where the force formally launched a major search operation on Thursday. He gave out leaflets this week offering rewards for information about Usuga and his gang , and dropped stacks of them from a helicopter over the town.

His statement prompted Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro to vow to "respond forcefully".

In Caracas, he instructed the country's security forces to "clean the barrels of our rifles to answer them at any level we need to answer if Ivan Duque dares violate the sovereignty of Venezuela."

Bogota and a string of other countries recognise opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president, prompting Venezuela to break off diplomatic ties with its neighbor in 2019.

In 2008, Colombia executed a FARC leader on Ecuadorian soil, sparking a serious diplomatic crisis with Quito, whose president at the time, Rafael Correa, was a socialist ally of Venezuela's.

Despite the 2016 peace accord, Colombia continues to battle a multi-faceted armed conflict involving leftist guerrillas, drug-traffickers and right-wing paramilitaries competing for control of the lucrative cocaine and illegal mineral extraction industries.

Colombia has repeatedly accused Venezuela of providing refuge to armed groups, which Caracas denies.

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Saudi-led coalition jets pound Yemen capital after Huthi strikes .
A Saudi-led military coalition mounted air strikes on Yemen's Huthi-controlled capital Sanaa on Sunday after it intercepted a string of drones launched by the Iran-backed rebels, state media reported. The developments mark a new escalation in Yemen's six-year conflict between the coalition-backed Yemeni government and the rebels, despite a renewed US push to end the conflict. The strikes triggered huge explosions in Sanaa and sent plumes of smoke rising in the sky, according to AFP correspondents at the scene. The rebels reported seven air strikes on the city.

usr: 0
This is interesting!