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.


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".


Syria: Scores killed in air strikes ahead of truce deal

Al Jazeera

Air strikes killed at least 50 people in rebel-held areas of Idlib and Aleppo on Saturday, just hours after Russia and the US announced a deal intended to put a stop to more than five years of fighting. Fighter jets believed to be Russian hit a crowded market in Idlib province on Saturday afternoon, killing at least 30 people, according to an Al Jazeera reporter at the scene. "A Russian warplane targeted a residential area and a market in Idlib," Al Jazeera's Adham Abu al-Husam said, as civil defence forces, firemen and paramedics worked to pull survivors from the rubble. "The marketplace was full of civilians shopping for the upcoming Eid holiday." Separate air strikes on rebel-held neighbourhoods of Aleppo city and the surrounding countryside killed at least 20 people, according to local rescue workers, and 10 people were killed by rebel shelling on the government-controlled neighbourhood of Salahuddin.


Captured battlefield cellphones, computers help U.S. target and kill Islamic State's leaders

Los Angeles Times

U .S. military officers watched grainy video feeds at a small operations center in Baghdad on Tuesday as Predator drones tracked and killed three reputed Islamic State leaders -- one after another -- in the offensive on Mosul. The targeted air strikes were due in large part to intelligence extracted from cellphones, computer hard drives, memory cards and hand-written ledgers recovered from battlefields and towns taken from Islamic State fighters. Recently captured intelligence also has proved useful in providing clues to detecting potential terrorist plots, tracking foreign fighters and identifying Islamic State supporters around the globe, U.S. officials said. The largest data trove was recovered when U.S.-backed Syrian rebel forces recaptured Manbij, an Islamic State stronghold in northern Syria, in mid-August. Intelligence agencies recovered more than 120,000 documents, nearly 1,200 devices and more than 20 terabytes of digital information, officials said.