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Offensive to Liberate Mosul

US-coalition (Turkish, Kurdish, Iraqi, and US) troops launched the long-awaited offensive to liberate the Iraqi city of Mosul, which has been under IS control since 2014. The Kurds are currently faced with not just a resistance but full blown military attack. Just south of Mosul, IS launched an offensive in the Kurdish city of Kirkuk. Dozens of fighters wearing IS uniforms stormed the city in vehicles with guns drawn. An estimated two dozen are dead at the time of writing this including some Iranian construction workers. IS fighters are reportedly hiding out in a Kirkuk hotel. In northern Mosul, IS is bombarding Kurdish troops with car bombs and fighters wearing suicide vests. The Kurds have also been facing attacks from above in the form of Turkish airstrikes. Kurdish commanders claim they aren’t receiving much air support from the United States either– which they were expecting.

In another last ditch effort, IS has reportedly taken at least 550 families in Mosul hostage which the group is expected to use as human shields. An estimated 4,000 to 8,000 IS fighters are still in Mosul along with thousands of civilians. The offensive is expected to last for weeks if not months and is unfortunately expected to create a new humanitarian disaster.

Read more about the Mosul Offensive here.

Syria

Turkey has also been launching airstrikes on Kurdish forces near Aleppo. The Syrian government stated that if the airstrikes do not stop they will forced to retaliate and won’t hesitate to shoot down Turkish planes. “Any attempt to once again breach Syrian airspace by Turkish war planes will be dealt with and they will be brought down by all means available,” the statement said. Turkish-backed rebels and Kurdish forces have also been clashing on the ground in northern Aleppo.

Read more about this week’s Turkish airstrikes here.

Russian and Syrian forces are currently observing a ceasefire in order to allow aid to enter Aleppo and give civilians the opportunity to escape rebel-held or terrorist-held areas. The US-backed rebels are not observing the ceasefire and have instead used it as an opportunity to launch a new offensive on pro-Assad forces. If militants do not take advantage of the ceasefire by exiting the city and instead continue fighting, Moscow states they will have no choice but to end the ceasefire. “It will depend on how the process of militants’ exit from Aleppo – unfortunately, so sluggish yet – will be proceeding; on how security will be ensured for humanitarian aid convoys and on which policy the militants will prefer, namely whether they will go on with their aggressive advances or not, and whether this humanitarian pause would be used for regrouping, reequipping and additional arming of terrorist groups,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday.

Yemen

The US directly entered into Yemen’s civil war this week for the first time. A US ship bombed Houthi forces after what the US calls “failed attacks” from the rebels. The Houthis completely denied this claim calling it “baseless.” On Wednesday a ceasefire was announced and things have been relatively quiet. Leading up to the ceasefire, however, Saudi planes carried out relentless airstrikes around Sana’a. Targets included a funeral and an airport.

US officials stated weapons are flowing to Houthi forces from Iran via Oman; which they admit is entirely speculative by pointing to US “intelligence gaps” and a reduced oversight of activity in Yemen. The Houthis deny any substantial support coming from the Iranian government and have not yet responded to the most recent allegations.

Read more about the US bombing the Houthis here.

Philippines Pivot Away from US

Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte officially announced while on a visit to Beijing that his country would be ending its alliance with the United States and strengthening its military alliance with China. The two countries appear to have settled their dispute over the South China Sea and instead are attempting to create a powerful counter-weight to US imperialism in the region.

Read more about the US losing its grip on southeast Asia here.

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