Iraqi forces declare Falluja free of ISIS: Iraqi military officials announced Sunday the city of Falluja has rid itself of ISIS. After one month of intense fighting and more than two years of occupation, Iraqi troops reached the center of town and were conducting final operations to sweep small pockets of remaining Islamic State resistance.
The battle has forced an estimated 85,000 Iraqi citizens to flee the city.
Leading the operation was Iraqi Lieutenant General Abdul Wahab al-Saidi, who said at least 1,800 ISIS militants were killed in the month-long operation. Iraqi authorities said their troops are now disarming explosives which ISIS left behind, but a confident Defense Minister Khalid al-Obeidi revealed on social media the city was “90 percent safe and inhabitable.”
Scotland’s Sturgeon: Scottish parliament could block Brexit: Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told reporters Scottish Parliament could block Scotland’s forced exit from the European Union (EU).
Citing the 62 percent of Scots who voted “Remain”, Sturgeon admitted she may request that Scottish MSPs not support Brexit’s legislative measure.
Sturgeon emphasized her priority is to engage in talks with the EU to keep Scotland within the economic bloc and warned David Cameron’s successor at 10 Downing it would be “unacceptable” for Whitehall to oppose a second Scottish independence referendum, which the First Minister says is “very much on the table.”
Biden warns China over North Korea: Following two North Korean missile tests last week, Vice President Joe Biden issued a warning to China demanding Beijing exercise influence to reel in Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions.
Biden said if the North Korean threat was not curtailed, Japan could obtain a nuclear arsenal of its own “virtually overnight” should North Korea persist in developing nuclear weapons and threatening the region.
The U.S. has weighed a number of options to halt North Korea’s missile program in the recent past, one of which is the introduction of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile defense system in South Korea, which Beijing opposes.
Turkey, Israel normalize ties: Following three grueling years of talks, Israel and Turkey have agreed to restore formal diplomatic ties.
The restoration of full diplomatic recognition follows a six-year period of deteriorating relations which were shattered over Israel’s 2010 attack on six ships, the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, in the Mediterranean Sea. The raid killed nine pro-Palestinian Turks intending to break the Israeli maritime blockade of the Gaza Strip.
Rumored to be carrying weapons bound for Palestinian terrorists, Israeli commandos stormed the flotilla and seized the crew. Seven Israeli servicemen were injured, two of whom sustained gunshot wounds.
In 2013, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu phoned Turkish President Recep Erdogan and apologized for the deaths. Since 2013, the two nations have entered into talks which produced Saturday’s agreement to fully restore ties.
Believed to be in the agreement is a $20 million payment from Israel to a Turkish fund representing families of victims of the assault in 2010.
[RT News] [Reuters] [Daily Mail]