Assault on Raqqa begins: Following a seven-month buildup, the long-awaited attack on Raqqa, Syria, the de-facto capital of the Islamic State (ISIS), began on Monday.
ISIS has held Raqqa since 2014.
Backed by a series of American-led coalition airstrikes, ground troops spearheaded by Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) breached the community of Al-Meshleb in eastern Raqqa on Tuesday.
American intelligence believes between 3,000 and 4,000 ISIS terrorists remain inside the city.
Montenegro joins NATO: In a small ceremony held in Washington, D.C., on Monday, Montenegro became the 29th country to gain full membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
Montenegro’s accession to the alliance marks the first addition to NATO since Albania and Croatia were granted membership in 2008.
Russia, long a critic of NATO expansion, reacted sharply to Podgorica’s membership and promised to retaliate.
Arab nations dissolve relations with Qatar: In a surprising move Monday, the governments of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain cut all diplomatic ties to the State of Qatar, alleging its support for Islamist militants and Iran.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE have ordered all Qatari residents to leave their country in two weeks; Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have halted all air, sea and road traffic out of Qatar.
Despite the dispute, Qatar has continued to deliver natural gas to the UAE via a pipeline that runs under Persian Gulf waters, giving Abu Dhabi about 30 percent of it’s country’s energy.
Turkey strips citizenship from 130: The Turkish Interior Ministry announced Monday it would strip 130 Turkish nationals of citizenship over alleged connection to the failed July 2016 coup attempt.
The move specifically targets several current or former Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party lawmakers and exiled cleric, Fethullah Gulen, who Ankara claims inspired the attempt to overthrow Turkish President Recep Erdogan.
Turkey announced citizenship would be stripped unless those targeted returned to Turkey in 90 days.
Myanmar, Malaysia, Ukraine and Georgia have all forcibly returned Gulen loyalists living in exile.
Boko Haram raids Maiduguri ahead of vice-presidential visit: Islamic fundamentalist group Boko Haram launched an attack on the Nigerian town of Maiduguri Wednesday, killing 17 and injuring 34.
Maiduguri is the largest city in the Borno State of Nigeria; its population exceeds 1 million residents.
Officials say the ISIS-linked terror group inaugurated an assault in the late evening Wednesday, entering Jiddari Polo, a largely residential area, and randomly shooting civilians.
The attack came in advance of a scheduled visit by Nigerian vice president Yemi Osinbajo, whose planned trip was intended to direct the distribution of relief supplies to victims of Boko Haram terror.
U.S. hits Syrian assets; Russia warns against further attacks: For the second time in a month, U.S. coalition forces attacked pro-Assad forces in Syria. During a Tuesday airstrike, coalition aircraft struck Assad forces in southern Iraq destroying several artillery pieces and damaging several military vehicles.
Responding to the attack, the Russian Foreign Ministry warned against further incidents and stated the U.S. presence in Syria violates Damascus’ sovereignty and threatens political efforts to solve Syria’s six-year-old civil war.
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