Battle for Mosul: Peshmerga seizes Bashiqa from ISIL

Al Jazeera

Kurdish Peshmerga have taken the town of Bashiqa near Mosul from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) as coalition forces pressed their offensive against the armed group's last urban stronghold in Iraq. A US official said Masoud Barzani, President of the Iraqi Kurdish Region, had informed US Defense Secretary Ash Carter that the Kurds had succeeded in recapturing Bashiqa from ISIL. Kurdish fighters told reporters at the scene they had entered Bashiqa, but journalists were not being allowed into the town. Kurdish forces announced their new push on Bashiqa at dawn on Sunday. The successful advance took place as US Defense Secretary Ash Carter was in Iraq's autonomous region of Kurdistan to support the unprecedented offensive, which a US-led coalition is backing with air and ground support.


Turkey: United against a coup, divided on the future

Al Jazeera

Istanbul, Turkey - As tanks rolled onto the streets and fighter jets took the skies of Turkey's major cities during last Friday's attempted coup, the regular clashes between police and working-class residents of Istanbul's Gazi district came to an abrupt halt. The minority Alevi neighbourhood has a long a history of anti-government protest and intense police crackdown, where fierce confrontations between residents and security forces have been a common occurrence for years. Armoured police jeeps patrol the main streets of the neighbourhood at all hours and residents have long complained about a lack of social services, minority persecution, and systematic police violence. However, on an evening where supporters of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stared down tanks and clashed with soldiers trying to topple the civilian government, Gazi experienced a sudden yet temporary return to calm. Locals describe scenes of a police force, which actively confronted the mutiny from a faction of the army around the country, immediately retreating to their barracks where they hunkered down behind water-cannon trucks.


Syria: Air strike kills 14 members of one Aleppo family

Al Jazeera

Air strikes have killed at least 14 people from one family in rebel-held Aleppo in northern Syria, bringing the death toll to 47 over the past 24 hours. Members of the Syrian Civil Defence, a search and rescue group also known as the White Helmets that operates in rebel-held areas across the country, say they are searching for more than a dozen people trapped under the rubble. "A new massacre happened this morning when Russian warplanes bombed the Marjeh neighbourhood killing 14 people from the same family, most of them women and children," Ibrahim Abu Leith, Aleppo-based spokesman for the White Helmets, told Al Jazeera on Monday. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that five children were among the dead. Of the 47 civilians killed, the highest number of dead were in the Qaterji neighbourhood, where Russian raids claimed 17 lives overnight, according to Rami Abdulrahman, the Syrian Observatory chief.


Two-pronged offensive launched in battle for Mosul

Al Jazeera

The Iraqi army and Kurdish Peshmerga forces have begun a new two-pronged offensive against ISIL in Mosul, from the northeastern Bashiqa region and through eastern Bartella villages. Iraqi special forces joined Thursday's offensive in a pre-dawn advance on Bartella, encountering heavy fire from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group (ISIL). Major General Maan al-Saadi said the elite Counterterrorism Forces were helped by US-led coalition air raids and heavy artillery on the fourth day of the massive operation to retake Iraq's second-largest city from ISIL, which is also known as ISIS. Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr, reported hearing the sound of heavy gunfire and artillery from the frontline near Bartella, as the offensive got under way. "Earlier this morning, ISIL tried to send a suicide car bomber, but that was destroyed," Khodr said.


Russia defends using Iran base for Syria air strikes

Al Jazeera

Russia has said its use of an Iranian airbase to carry out bombing missions in Syria does not violate a UN resolution that forbids supplying warplanes to Tehran. "No supplying, selling or transferring of warplanes to Iran has occurred," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday in comments reported by the Russian state news agency TASS. Lavrov was referring to comments by US State Department spokesman Mark Toner, who said on Tuesday that Russia might be violating UN Security Council Resolution 2231 by using Iranian territory to launch air strikes in Syria. The resolution prohibits the supply, sale or transfer of combat aircraft to Iran unless approved in advance by the UN Security Council. Toner also described Russia's move as "unfortunate but not surprising or unexpected", saying the air strikes that purport to target the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant in Syria in actuality "predominately target moderate Syrian opposition forces".