Daesh retreating deep into desert, say Iraqi forces

Armoured personnel carriers and humvees of the Iraqi forces advance in the western desert in the northern Iraqi region of Al-Hadar, 105 km south of Mosul, on Thursday, as they flush out remaining Daesh fighters in the Al-Jazeera region straddling Salaheddin, Nineveh and Anbar provinces. (AFP)
Updated 24 November 2017
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Daesh retreating deep into desert, say Iraqi forces

BAGHDAD: Iraqi forces said on Friday that Daesh fighters are withdrawing deep into the desert to escape an offensive now in its second day aimed at finally defeating them.
The militants have already been driven out of all of the towns they once held but Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi has said he will not proclaim victory until they have been cleared from the western desert bordering Syria.
The Hashed Al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization) paramilitary force said its fighters had taken control of 77 villages and hamlets since the launch of the offensive on Thursday morning.
It said five militants had been killed south of the ancient desert city of Hatra but otherwise Daesh had put up little resistance.
The Hashed said that its fighters overran an airfield in the same area, where they discovered underground warehouses used by the militants.
Air support for the offensive, which also involves the army and federal police, has so far been provided exclusively by the Iraqi air force.
The US-led coalition, which has provided air support for other offensives against Daesh in Iraq, said it carried out no strikes on Thursday.
At its peak in 2014, Daesh ruled over 7 million people in a territory as large as Italy encompassing large parts of Syria and nearly a third of Iraq.
It is now being flushed out of its last desert hideouts in Iraq and under attack by Russian-backed government forces and US-backed Kurdish-led fighters in its last pockets of control in Syria.


Israel braces for more wildfires as temperatures spike

Updated 20 min 10 sec ago
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Israel braces for more wildfires as temperatures spike

  • Thousands of people were evacuated from their homes on Thursday as fires raged
  • The fires were fueled by high temperatures and dry condition

JERUSALEM: Israel is bracing for renewed wildfires amid a major heat wave that shows no signs of abating.
Thousands of people were evacuated from their homes on Thursday as fires raged, fueled by high temperatures and dry conditions.
The EU ambassador, Emanuele Giaufret, said Israel had asked for international help to combat the fires, and aid was arriving on Friday from Cyprus and Italy.
Plumes of smoke rose from hillsides in the country’s center and south as firefighters worked into the early hours to control the blaze.
The cause of the blaze remains unclear, but it erupted following the Jewish festival of Lag Ba’Omer, which observers mark with bonfires.
A sweltering heat wave is pushing temperatures in parts of the country up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit, or 43 Celsius.