By Ahmed Rasheed BAGHDAD (Reuters) - An Iraqi commander expects to dislodge Islamic State from Mosul in May despite resistance from militants in the densely populated Old City district. The battle should be completed "in a maximum of three weeks", the army's chief of staff, Lieutenant General Othman al-Ghanmi, was quoted as saying by state-run newspaper al-Sabah on Sunday. A U.S.-led international coalition is providing air and ground support for the offensive in Mosul, the largest city in northern Iraq, which fell to hardline Sunni Muslim fighters in June 2014. Islamic State has lost most of the city since the offensive began in October and is now surrounded in the northwestern districts, including the historic Old City centre. The United Nations believes up to half a million people remain in the area, 400,000 of whom are in the Old City with little food, water and medicine. The militants have dug in among the civilians, often launching deadly counter-attacks to repel forces closing in on the Old City's Grand al-Nuri Mosque, from where Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a caliphate over parts of Iraq and Syria. The hardline group persecuted non-Sunni communities and inflicted harsh punishments on Sunnis who do not abide by its extreme interpretation of Islam. SLAVERY A group of 36 Yazidi survivors has been rescued after three years of "slavery" under Islamic State's rule, the United Nations said on Sunday. Since Friday, the women and girls from the group have received lodging, clothing, medical and psychological aid in Duhok, a Kurdish city north of Mosul, said a statement from U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq Lise Grande. The Yazidis, whose beliefs combine elements of several Middle Eastern religions, were the most persecuted community under Islamic State which considered them devil-worshippers. The U.N. estimates that up to 1,500 Yazidi women and girls remain in captivity, suffering abuse. Iraqi forces estimate the number of Islamic State fighters still in Mosul at 200 to 300, mostly foreigners, down from nearly 6,000 when the offensive started. They are still capable of deadly counter-attacks on the tens of thousands of soldiers and paramilitary groups arrayed against them. A Federal Police brigade commander and 18 other members of the Interior Ministry force were killed in attacks on two positions at the edge of the Old City on Friday, military sources said. Federal Police took back the positions on Saturday but the ministry has sacked a commander for failing to fend off the counter-attacks, the sources said. The Federal Police said it had since strengthened fortifications around the Old City with concrete blocks to prevent suicide attacks on its forces. The U.S.-trained Counter Terrorism Service and Federal Police are the main forces fighting inside Mosul. Regular Iraqi army units are taking part in battles outside the city, alongside Shi'ite volunteers trained and armed by Iran, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Sunni tribes. The total number of fighters aligned against Islamic State in Mosul exceeds 100,000. Islamic State announced attacks on Sunday the Shi'ite paramilitary northwest of Mosul and on an Iraqi army position in Akashat, near the Syrian border, an area where its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is believed to be hiding, according to the Iraqi military. The Iraqi army said its ground and air forces pushed back the attack, killing eight militants. Several thousands of people have been killed so far in the battle, both civilians and military, according to international aid organisations. The total number of people displaced from Mosul since October is close to 400,000, about a fifth of the population before its capture by Islamic State. Even if defeated in Mosul, Islamic State will remain in control of vast swathes of land in the border area with Syria. (Writing by Maher Chmaytelli; Editing by Janet Lawrence and Robin Pomeroy)
- Yahoo News
Maryland Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin was grieving on the morning of Jan. 6, having just experienced the most painful of tragedies: burying his 25 year-old-son, Tommy, a gifted student at Harvard Law School, who had taken his own life on New Year’s Eve after a bout of deep depression. Raskin was insistent. “We wanted to be together,” Raskin said in an interview on the Yahoo News “Skullduggery” podcast.
The white woman caught on tape getting into a physical altercation with a Black female security guard the evening before the Capitol riots lost her job at UMass Hospital. The termination occurred after her daughter went viral for exposing her identity on social media. On January 5th, Therese Duke and a group of pro-Trump protesters that included other family members were filmed harassing Ashanti Smith, a security guard working at Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington D.C.
- National Review
Senator Rand Paul (R., Ky.) warned Friday that one-third of Republican voters could leave the party if GOP senators vote in impeachment proceedings to convict President Trump. Paul made the comments in an interview on Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle. The senator’s remarks come amid an increasing divide between congressional Republicans who oppose impeaching the president and a smaller number who support the measure following the riots at the Capitol on January 6. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) is reportedly hopeful that Republicans can use impeachment to purge Trump from the GOP, although he would need the support of at least 16 additional Republican senators to vote to convict. “Look, I didn’t agree with the [Capitol] fight that happened last week, and I voted against overturning the election, but at the same time, the impeachment is a wrongheaded, partisan notion, [and] if Republicans go along with it, it’ll destroy the party,” Paul said during the interview. “A third of the Republicans will leave the party,” Paul continued. “This isn’t about, anymore, the Electoral College, this is about the future of the party, and whether you’re going to ostracize and excommunicate President Trump from the party. Well, guess what? Millions of his fans will leave as well.” While a majority of Americans believe Trump should be removed from office immediately, just 17 percent of Republicans support expelling Trump from the presidency, according to an Axios–Ipsos poll released on Thursday. Support for Trump among Republicans has fallen since the Capitol riots; however, 60 percent believe the party should continue to follow Trump once he leaves office, an ABC News/Washington Post poll found.
- Yahoo News Video
A 16-year-old boy has admitted to fatally shooting his newborn daughter and leaving her body inside a fallen tree in the woods in Wisconsin, according to prosecutors.
- Associated Press
A federal judge in Washington on Friday night halted a plan to release and put on house arrest the Arkansas man photographed sitting at a desk in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office during last week's riot at the U.S. Capitol. Richard Barnett will instead be brought to Washington, D.C., immediately for proceedings in his case, Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell ordered Friday night, staying a decision by another judge to confine Barnett to his home in Gravette, Arkansas, until his trial. Howell's ruling came hours after U.S. Magistrate Judge Erin Wiedemann in Arkansas set a $5,000 bond for Barnett and ordered that a GPS monitor track his location.
- Architectural Digest
The Manhattan-based interior designer preserved the element of gritty New York through a “raw but elevated” renovationOriginally Appeared on Architectural Digest
A 1st Armored Division soldier at Fort Bliss, Texas has been charged with sexually assaulting three women over the past year, including a fellow soldier who was found dead a year on New Year's Eve.
- The Independent
Kayleigh McEnany leaves White House after final two-minute press briefing following deadly Capitol riot
Trump’s press secretary refused to take questions following the deadly insurrection at the US Capitol earlier this month
- The Telegraph
Joe Biden believes a patched-up relationship with Boris Johnson will help to decide the "destiny of the world" as the president-elect is set to head to the UK for his first foreign visit outside of North America, sources have told the Telegraph. A close friend of Mr Biden said the leaders will bury differences over Brexit as British officials said they expected the UK to be one of the first foreign destinations, in what would be a major diplomatic coup for Mr Johnson. Mr Biden is due to be sworn in on Wednesday. Sources who would be closely involved in any visit have circled the G7 summit in June, hosted in the UK, as the potential date for the new president’s trip across the Atlantic. Mr Biden opposed Brexit, and feels strong loyalties to his ancestral home in Ireland. He warned repeatedly last year, including directly to Mr Johnson, that the Good Friday Agreement must not become a "casualty of Brexit". But a friend of Mr Biden told The Telegraph: "Boris is a conservative, Joe's a moderate [Democrat] so I think they can get over it. I think they'll end up getting along. "Joe's view will be that they'll have the destiny of the world on their shoulders so he'll want to overcome any political differences. "I think there'll be more empathy than there was between Boris and Donald Trump. Boris seemed to get along with Trump, but I don't know if he really did."
- Associated Press
People throughout the San Francisco Bay area on Saturday night reported feeling a magnitude 4.2 earthquake that hit the region. The earthquake hit 8:01 p.m and had an epicenter about 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) southeast of Aromas, a town of about 2,650 people that straddles Monterey and San Benito counties, the U.S. Geological Survey said. The San Jose Mercury News reported that social media activity indicates that the earthquake was felt not only in the counties near where it was centered, but at least as far as San Francisco and Contra Costa counties.
- Miami Herald
“I thought, ‘This could be the end,’” the D.C. police officer said.
- The Week
President Trump is known for going off script, but his premature presidential election victory declaration in the early hours of the morning on Nov. 4 wasn't a completely spur-of-the-moment decision, Axios' Jonathan Swan reports.In the first installment of a reported series on Trump's final two months in office, Swan writes that Trump began "choreographing election night in earnest" during the second week of October following a "toxic" debate with President-elect Joe Biden on Sept. 29 and a bout with COVID-19 that led to his hospitalization. At that point, Trump's internal poll numbers had reportedly taken a tumble, Swan notes.With that in mind, he reportedly called his first White House chief of staff, a stunned Reince Priebus, and "acted out his script, including walking up to a podium and prematurely declaring victory on election night if it looked like he was ahead." Indeed, in the lead up to Election Day, Trump reportedly kept his focus on the so-called "red mirage," the early vote counts that would show many swing states leaning red because mail-in ballots had yet to be counted. Trump, Swan reports, intended to "weaponize it for his vast base of followers," who would go to bed thinking he had secured a second-term, likely planting the seeds of a stolen election. Read more at Axios. > As I've been writing, the plan was to steal the election all along. Fantastic reporting here. https://t.co/k8C73o8vH7> > -- Jonah Goldberg (@JonahDispatch) January 16, 2021More stories from theweek.com 5 more scathing cartoons about Trump's 2nd impeachment Trump's vaccine delay is getting suspicious Here's what Biden reportedly plans to do his 1st day in office
- The Telegraph
Anas Sarwar has confirmed his bid to succeed Richard Leonard as the next Scottish Labour leader. The Glasgow MSP used an article for the Observer online to set out his stall in the leadership race, which was triggered by Mr Leonard's resignation on Thursday. Late on Saturday night, he tweeted to say the country "needs political leadership that will bring people together" and that he wants "to rebuild Scottish Labour, and then rebuild Scotland". In his column, Mr Sarwar wrote: "Over the past few years, I have gained a new perspective on our politics and realised that the things we argue about mean little to people's lives. "We spend too much time highlighting our differences, rather than focusing on what unites us. "I firmly believe we cannot go back to society as it was before the pandemic - insecure work, hollowed-out public services, an underfunded health service, and the constant focus on another independence referendum when there's far more important things we need to be dealing with. "Scottish Labour can compete again if we offer a positive alternative - a plan to heal our wounds, to reunite our people and to rebuild our country." Read more: Alan Cochrane: With Leonard gone, Unionists have a chance to fight back against SNP
Fanny Mergui has no doubt: Moroccan Jews "are already packing their suitcases" to board direct flights to Israel after the kingdom normalised ties with the Jewish state.
- NBC News
Lonnie Coffman, a Capitol protester from the backwoods of Alabama, represents the kind of threat that keeps crime fighters “up at night,” a former FBI profiler said.
President-elect Joe Biden will roll back some of President Trump's most controversial policies and address "four overlapping and compounding crises" in his first 10 days in office — the pandemic, the economic downturn, climate climate and racial inequity.Driving the news: That's according to a memo from Biden's incoming Chief of Staff Ron Klain Saturday. Following Biden's inauguration Wednesday, he'll "sign roughly a dozen actions to combat the four crises," Klein said.Be smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America.Zoom in: Biden's actions on day one of his presidency will include rejoining the Paris climate agreement, extending a pause on federal student loan payments, reversing Trump's ban on travel to the U.S. from several Muslim-majority countries and issuing a mask mandate in an attempt to curb surging COVID-19 cases. * On Thursday, Biden will sign several executive actions aimed at changing the course of the COVID-19 crisis and safely re-open schools and businesses. * On Friday, the president-elect will "direct his Cabinet agencies to take immediate action to deliver economic relief to working families bearing the brunt" of the coronavirus crisis, Klein wrote. * Between Jan. 25 and Feb. 1, Biden will address the climate crisis, criminal justice reform, take steps to expand access to health care, and move to reform immigration — including reuniting families separated at the border under Trump's immigration policy.For the record: All of these measures were previously announced, but this is the first time Biden's timetable has been revealed.Go deeper: Biden's "100-day challenge"Support safe, smart, sane journalism. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.
- The Telegraph
Government must 'get a grip' of what is now a full-blown crisis in the fishing industry, say fishermen
Scotland's fishermen have told Boris Johnson his Brexit trade deal leaves them with the "worst of both worlds" amid export delays and collapsing market prices. In a letter to the Prime Minister, the Scottish Fishermen's Federation (SFF) said the industry was facing "mounting financial losses" and the only way to ensure a fair price was a 72-hour round trip to land catch in Denmark. Elspeth Macdonald, the trade group's chief executive, said there was "huge disappointment and a great deal of anger about your failure to deliver on promises made repeatedly to this industry." She accused him of having "spun a line" about a 25 per cent uplift in the UK's quota and demanded urgent details of promised compensation for the disruption. Her concerns were echoed by Scotland's seafood processors, who said ministers in both London and Edinburgh need to "get a grip" of the long delays exporters are facing. A third of fishing boats in Scotland are tied up at harbours and the industry is estimated to be losing £1 million per day. Exporters warned they face possible bankruptcy amid a suspension of road deliveries due to border delays. Transport company DFDS stopped exports last week after delays in getting new paperwork introduced following the expiry of the Brexit transition period for EU border posts in France. It aims to resume the service on Monday. Paperwork has to be approved before consignments can be sent to DFDS's warehouse in South Lanarkshire and then on to English Channel ports. In her letter to the Prime Minister, Ms McDonald said: "Many fishing vessels are tied to the quay wall.” She added: "This industry now finds itself in the worst of both worlds. Your deal leaves us with shares that not only fall very far short of zonal attachment, but in many cases fail to ‘bridge the gap’ compared to historic catches, and with no ability to leverage more fish from the EU, as they have full access to our waters. "This, coupled with the chaos experienced since 1st January in getting fish to market means that many in our industry now fear for their future, rather than look forward to it with optimism and ambition."
- Associated Press
Lottery players have another chance to win big next week since there were no winners of the top prize for both the Powerball and Mega Millions jackpots in their most recent drawings. The Powerball jackpot grew to an estimated $730 million after no one matched all five numbers and the red ball in the drawing on Saturday night. If a lottery player strikes big in the next Powerball drawing on Wednesday, it would be the fifth-largest jackpot ever in the United States.
- LA Times
The U.S. Department of Justice said Mexico violated a treaty by releasing evidence the U.S. collected in a drug case against a former Mexican defense minister.
- The Independent
Trump impeachment news - live: Nation braces for inauguration as Comey warns ‘very serious risk’ of violence
Follow the latest updates