Sunday 18 March 2018

Isil continues to fight off advancing Iraqis

Iraqi troops yesterday faced stiff resistance from Isil militants as they pushed deeper into eastern Mosul, backed by aerial support from the US-led international coalition, a senior military commander said.

Major General Sami al-Aridi, of the Iraqi special forces said Isil militants were fighting back with snipers, rocket-propelled grenades and mortar rounds.

Suicide bombers on foot attacked security forces and suicide car bombers also targeted troops.

The offensive to retake the city was launched on October 17 and is the biggest military operation in Iraq since US troops left in 2011. If successful, the retaking of Mosul would be the strongest blow dealt to Isil's self-styled caliphate stretching into Syria.

According to the UN, more than 56,000 civilians have been forced from their homes since the operation began. There were nearly 1.5 million civilians living in and around Mosul.

In Bashiqa, a heavily damaged town 13km north of Mosul's outskirts, Christians rang the bells of Saint George's church for the first time to celebrate its liberation from Isil, which was driven out earlier this month. Much of the town has been reduced to rubble.

Tintin drawing fetches record €1.55m

A rare drawing from the Tintin cartoon book Explorers on the Moon has sold for €1.55m.

The figure - a record sale for a single cartoon plate - was reached at an auction in Paris yesterday.

The original comic strip drawing in Chinese ink by the Belgian cartoonist Georges Remi, known as Herge, shows fearless reporter Tintin, his white dog Snowy and his friend Captain Haddock in spacesuits, walking on the moon and looking at the Earth. The book was first published in 1954.

Uneasy truce in Yemen as battle rages on

A truce aimed at ending more than a year of war in Yemen began yesterday - though residents said fighting was still going on in parts of the country.

The 48-hour ceasefire by the Saudi-led military coalition raised hopes of an end to a humanitarian crisis caused by a war that has drawn in regional rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia.

The truce seemed to be largely holding up despite gun battles in the western city of Taiz and air strikes by the Saudi-led coalition reported by residents in villages east of the capital Sanaa.

Yemen's Saudi-backed government and its Iran-aligned Houthi adversaries blamed each other for the violence in Taiz, where thousands of civilians are trapped and many have been wounded. Government forces this week made advances on Taiz, threatening to break a year-long siege by the rebels.

Philippines protests over Marcos reburial

Family members and followers of former Philippines dictator Ferdinand Marcos yesterday gathered for a vigil at his tomb - a day after his secret burial at a heroes' cemetery triggered widespread protests.

Marcos's widow Imelda thanked supporters and local officials who travelled by bus from Marcos' northern home province to pay their respects.

She said they had given her family strength as they kept up hope for nearly 30 years to have Marcos buried at the country's Heroes' Cemetery, which is reserved for former presidents, national artists and soldiers. Marcos was ousted and exiled in 1986, and died in the US in 1989.

Sunday Independent

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