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Battle 'over' against Islamic State in Raqqa

Battle 'over' against Islamic State in Raqqa

World
Military operations have ended against Islamic State in its Syrian stronghold of Raqqa, say the Syrian Democratic Forces.Clearing operations were continuing to flush out the remaining fighters and locate landmines and booby traps.Dozens of fighters were making a last stand in the city's stadium - also being used as its weapons' store - and some may still be holed up in its warren of tunnels.About 100 fighters are left in the city, the US military estimated.:: Raqqa 'broken in every sense' after IS occupation:: The rise and fall of Islamic State in RaqqaEarlier on Tuesday, the SDF said they had killed 22 fighters as they captured the city hospital, being used by IS as its headquarters.The US-backed SDF is made up mainly of Kurdish fighters, but also Arab and other militias.It has been battl...
Iraqi Kurdish independence gamble backfires

Iraqi Kurdish independence gamble backfires

World
In ongoing standoff following a referendum for an independent state separate from Iraq, Kurds in northwestern Iraq have suffered significant losses, including areas that supply much of the region's revenue. Iraqi Kurds lost another major territory on Tuesday to Baghdad, surrendering the town of Sinjar -- one day after losing the oil-rich Kirkuk. Kurdish troops, known as the Peshmerga, abandoned the town to the Popular Mobilization Forces, an Iran-backed and predominantly Shia militia coalition that operates as part of the Iraqi security apparatus. Iraqi forces have continued their advance on Peshmerga positions in disputed territories, exactly one year after the now-warring sides jointly launched the battle to retake Mosul from ISIS, backed by the United States. The current confrontatio...
US urges calm as Kirkuk crisis escalates

US urges calm as Kirkuk crisis escalates

World
Media playback is unsupported on your deviceThe US has called for "calm" after Iraqi government forces seized the northern city of Kirkuk and key installations from Kurdish control.State department spokeswoman Heather Nauert urged all parties to "avoid further clashes". Iraqi soldiers moved into Kirkuk three weeks after the Kurdistan Region held a controversial independence referendum.They are aiming to retake areas under Kurdish control since Islamic State militants swept through the region.Residents of Kurdish-controlled areas, including Kirkuk, overwhelmingly backed secession from Iraq in a vote on 25 September.While Kirkuk is outside Iraqi Kurdistan, Kurdish voters in the city were allowed to take part.Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi had denounced the vote as unconstitutional. But...
Iraqi forces enter Kirkuk as Kurds flee

Iraqi forces enter Kirkuk as Kurds flee

World
Media playback is unsupported on your deviceIraqi government forces have entered central Kirkuk after taking key installations outside the disputed city from Kurdish fighters.Thousands of people fled the city ahead of the Iraqi advance.The Iraqi military moved into Kirkuk three weeks after the Kurdistan Region held a controversial independence referendum.They are aiming to retake areas under Kurdish control since Islamic State militants swept through the region.Residents of Kurdish-controlled areas, including Kirkuk, overwhelmingly backed secession from Iraq in a 25 September vote.While Kirkuk is outside Iraqi Kurdistan, Kurdish voters in the city were allowed to take part.Iraq's prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, had denounced the vote as unconstitutional. But the Kurdistan Regional Governm...
Kirkuk: Clashes reported after Iraqi forces advance on Kurdish-held sites

Kirkuk: Clashes reported after Iraqi forces advance on Kurdish-held sites

World
Clashes have been reported between Iraqi and Kurdish forces after Baghdad sent troops towards disputed areas held by the Kurds in Kirkuk province.State TV said government forces had taken control of some areas, including oil fields, "without fighting". But Kurdish officials denied this.An exchange of artillery fire is said to have occurred south of Kirkuk city. The US government has said it is very concerned and urged dialogue "as the best option to defuse tensions".Why was the operation launched?Tensions between Iraq's Arab-led central government and the autonomous Kurdistan Region intensified after people living in areas under its control voted overwhelmingly for independence in a referendum last month.Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said the referendum was unconstitutional and dema...