By Alaa Marjani MOSUL, Iraq (Reuters) - People in the Iraqi city of Mosul celebrated their first Muslim Eid holiday without Islamic State in years on Sunday after the militants were ejected from much of the city, and hoped the battle to recapture the remaining area would soon be over. Children gathered in squares on the eastern side of the city. Some played on old swings and others with toy guns and rifles, which were among the toys allowed by Islamic State militants after they took over the city in June 2014. The militants implemented an extreme version of Islam which associated toys with a face, like dolls, with idolatry. They encouraged youngsters to train on weapons and changed text books to reflect their military ideology. Children were asked to add up bombs or bullets in maths exercises. Eid prayers were allowed under Islamic State but festivities were not. But for many, Sunday's Eid celebrations were overshadowed by the destruction of their historic leaning minaret, blown up by the militants on Wednesday, and fears for thousands of civilians trapped in the Old City in western Mosul still under Islamic State control. "It won't be real Eid before we return home," said a man in his 60s, displaced from the western side of the city, across the Tigris river, where fighting continues. Some expressed sadness over the destruction of the 850-year-old Grand al-Nuri mosque and its leaning 150-foot (45-metre) minaret. "Eid is not the same," said a man who declined to give his name as fear is still present even though Iraqi forces dislodged the insurgents from the eastern part of the city months ago. Iraqi forces took the eastern side from Islamic State in January, after 100 days of fighting, and started attacking the western side in February. The militants are now besieged in Mosul's Old City. Islamic State retaliated with a series of suicide attacks in Hay al-Tanak, a poor neighborhood west of the Old City. "The security forces blocked a violent attack carried out by (people wearing) explosive belts, in Hay al-Tanak," said a military statement, showing pictures of black smoke it said came from fires set to houses and cars by the militants. The Iraqi military didn't confirm Islamic State statements that the insurgents took control of Hay al-Tanak and began attacking the nearby Hay al-Yarmuk neighborhood. Witnesses said they saw residents fleeing the area. "As our heroic forces are closer to declaring final victory over the Daesh (Islamic State) gangs, I offer my most sincere congratulations for Eid al-Fitr," Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in a statement. A U.S.-led international coalition is providing air and ground support in the eight-month-old offensive to drive the militants from their de facto capital in Iraq. About 350 Islamic State fighters, most of them non-Iraqis, are defending their remaining stronghold in Mosul's densely populated Old City, an Iraqi general said on Sunday. He expected the battle for the city to end in days. TRAPPED "Most of the dead bodies are foreigners, most of the fighters are foreigners, we see some trying to escape across the Tigris," said Major-General Sami al-Arithi, a Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) commander. The U.S.-trained urban warfare units are leading the fight in the narrow alleyways of the historic district which lies by the western bank of the Tigris. More than 50,000 civilians, about half the Old City's population, remain behind Islamic State lines, complicating the troops' advance, Arithi told state TV. The civilians are trapped in crumbling old houses in harrowing conditions, with little food, water or medicines, according to those who have escaped. Aid organisations say Islamic State has stopped many from leaving, using them as human shields. Hundreds of civilians fleeing the Old City have been killed in the past three weeks. Iraqi authorities were hoping to declare victory in the northern city by Eid, a three-day festival which started on Sunday for Mosul's Sunni Muslim population and many Iraqi Shi'ites, celebrating the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. Arithi said the CTS were about 25 metres (yards) from the Nuri mosque, from where Islamic State's leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed his "caliphate" over parts of Iraq and Syria three years ago. The Iraqi government once hoped to take Mosul by the end of 2016, but the fighting has dragged on as the militants reinforced positions in civilian areas, launched suicide car bomb attacks, laid traps and kept up sniper and mortar fire. The fall of Mosul would mark the end of the Iraqi half of the "caliphate". Islamic State remains in control of large areas of both Iraq and Syria. Baghdadi has left the fighting in Mosul to local commanders and has been assumed to be hiding in the Iraqi-Syrian border area. There has been no confirmation of Russian reports over the past week that he has been killed. In Syria, the insurgents' "capital", Raqqa, is nearly encircled by a U.S.-backed, Kurdish-led coalition. (Writing by Maher Chmaytelli; Editing by Janet Lawrence and Adrian Croft)
Donald Trump says Mitch McConnell has a 'death wish' and insults his wife, Elaine Chao, after the senator voiced support for the Electoral Count Act reforms
Trump's remarks demonstrate a growing schism between him and McConnell, as the senator increasingly distanced himself from the former president.
Letters exchanged between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and former U.S. President Donald Trump between April 2018 and August 2019 have recently been published. “I am ready to work with your excellency with all my heart and devotion,” Kim said in a letter dated April 1, 2018, nearly six weeks before he first met Trump at the Singapore Summit. On the same day, Trump responded that he was “happy to meet” Kim to “drastically” improve relations between their respective governments.
- The Daily Beast
ILYA PITALEVMoscow celebrated the annexation of huge swathes of Eastern Ukraine Friday but President Vladimir Putin’s party was wrecked by a lightning counter-attack that may have trapped thousands of his men in a key city supposedly now part of Russia. “This is the will of millions of people,” Putin said at a glitzy ceremony in front of high-ranking Russian diplomats still in the country. “People living in Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson region and Zaporizhzhia region are becoming our compatriots for
- The Daily Beast
Kareem Elgazzar/ReutersA neuroscientist who specializes in concussions called for the Miami Dolphins’ medical staff and coaches to be fired after quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was hospitalized with a brutal head injury during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals Thursday night. Tagovailoa’s head hit the ground with such force during the second quarter that his hands and arms appeared to seize up. He had to be stretchered off the field. He was discharged from a hospital on Thursday night and return
David Beckham Is 'Appalled' By His Son, Brooklyn, Airing Family Drama With His New Wife: 'We Don't Do This in Our Family'
David Beckham reportedly confronted his 23-year-old son Brooklyn after his new wife Nicola Peltz gave a candid interview with Grazia Magazine. In it, Peltz opened up about headlines that reported her and her mother-in-law, Victoria Beckham, were butting heads. The actress addressed the root of the rumors, which revolved around a dust-up with her wedding […]
- The Hill
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and Democratic candidate Beto O’Rourke traded barbs and sought to paint each other as inherently out of touch with the state in their first and only televised debate on Friday evening. The debate — hosted by Nexstar Media Group, which also owns The Hill — gave the candidates an opportunity…
The mistake occurred as Martha MacCallum and other Fox News anchors discussed Hurricane Ian’s impact in Florida on Wednesday.
As Donald Trump and his eldest kids Donald Jr., Ivanka, and Eric tend to their $250 million business fraud lawsuit in New York, the three adult children are handling the legal situation in their own unique ways. Ivanka is choosing a much different strategy than her brothers by completely ignoring the drama publicly. Ivanka is […]
- The Hill
Missouri Senate candidate Eric Schmitt (R) is leading Democratic challenger Trudy Busch Valentine by 11 percentage points, according to a new Emerson College Polling-The Hill survey released Friday. The poll of likely Missouri voters showed 49 percent of respondents saying they would support Schmitt if the Senate election were held today compared to Busch Valentine…
- ProFootball Talk on NBC Sports
DeMaurice Smith vows to pursue “every legal option” regarding the handling of Tua Tagovailoa on Sunday
The biggest concern emerging from Thursday night’s game between the Dolphins and Bengals is whether Miami quarterback Tua Tagovailoa should have been playing. As explained by Michael Smith on the Amazon postgame show, NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith texted to Andrew Whitworth (a former NFLPA player rep) and Richard Sherman (a member of [more]
A 4-foot 'shark' was filmed swimming in a flooded backyard after Hurricane Ian pummeled southwest Florida — and yes, the video was deemed real
The infamous "hurricane shark" hoax has duped people into believing a wayward sea creature appeared ashore after a storm. But this time, it was real.
- Access Hollywood
The cause of Queen Elizabeth’s death has been revealed.