• Reporter’s Notebook: In Iraq, You Lose a Life, You Lose a World

    On the night I arrived in Irbil, Iraqi Kurdistan’s capital, a Cuban band was playing in the restaurant at my hotel. The first song I heard it perform with a distinctive Caribbean verve was John Lennon’s “Imagine.” The plea for a world without killing seemed highly appropriate, if forlorn.

    Kurdistan is part of Mesopotamia, a cradle of civilization that witnessed such crucial developments in human history as the invention of the wheel, the first planting of cereal crops and the first…

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  • Iraqi Troops Begin Risky Urban Operations in Mosul

    Iraqi troops were moving cautiously Thursday in a neighborhood just inside the city limits of Mosul, going from house-to-house to ensure the safety of civilians. The soldiers had to be wary of booby-trap bombs as well as ambushes and sniper fire from I…

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  • ‘There is One Kurdistan,’ Say Iranian Kurds Fighting in Iraq

    On the hardscrabble lower reaches of the mountains overlooking the town of Bashiqa in northern Iraq, Commander Rebawar leans over the sandbags and points to the nearest position of Islamic State fighters a half kilometer or so below. They are dug in — and no doubt watching us.

    Two days ago, the jihadists were launching mortars at the 47-year-old commander and his detachment of 20 Iranian Kurdish fighters, five women among them. But regular, pummeling airstrikes by U.S. and Iraqi warplanes…

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  • Kurdish Surgeons Scramble to Save Lives and Limbs Near Mosul

    Three-year-old Noor whimpers even before the surgeon starts gently lifting the coarse wool blanket to reveal her heavily bandaged leg. Her aunt watches as the blond-haired toddler complains, pleading with him to stop

    Just hours ago he operated on her — her fourth surgery in two weeks. This time the director of the Emergency Management Center in Irbil hopes he’s saved her leg, crushed in an air strike on a village south-east of Mosul, the city that Iraqi forces are trying to recapture…

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  • Iraqi Forces Nudge Into Mosul as Sectarian, Ethnic Tensions Rise in Northern Iraq

    The prize is close. In a village just two kilometers from Mosul, the head of Iraq’s Special Forces, General Talib Shaghati, held an impromptu news conference with several reporters to announce “good news” for more than a million civilians trapped in the Islamic State’s last major urban stronghold in Iraq.

    With the thud of mortars landing in the background, plumes of black smoke billowing on the horizon, and a warplane roaring overhead as it struck an IS position, the general pledged,…

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  • Fears Mount of IS Resorting to Chemical Warfare

    The sulfur dioxide fire Islamic State militants triggered last week is only the first stage in a plan that will see the extremists resort to chemical warfare in a bid to stave off Iraqi and Kurdish forces from retaking Mosul, the terror group’s last major urban stronghold in Iraq, military experts fear.

    Alarm is mounting that IS militants will use chlorine-filled improvised explosive devices in even greater numbers than in their defense last year of Tikrit, where they planted hundreds of…

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  • Allies Resist US Plan to Attack Raqqa

    A proposed U.S.-backed offensive on the Islamic State terror group’s Syrian stronghold of Raqqa is encountering problems, because Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan insists the Syrian-Kurdish YPG — the only militia currently up to the task — can play no part.

    America’s European allies also are raising objections and expressing strong skepticism about any major role for the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG. They fear that having the Kurds in the vanguard of an assault on…

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  • US Scrambles to Contain Flaring Turkey-Iraq Tensions

    U.S. officials are scrambling to contain flaring tensions between Ankara and Baghdad after Turkish officials announced their troops Sunday shelled Islamic State positions near the Iraqi city of Mosul – an artillery barrage, the Turks say, requested by Kurdish peshmerga commanders.

    A dispute between Baghdad and Ankara over Turkey’s insistence on participating in the retaking of Mosul has simmered for months, prompting Western alarm over yet another complication in a highly complex military…

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  • US, Kurdish Commanders Expect Drawn-out, Costly Battle for Mosul

    Islamic State leaders accept they will lose control of the city of Mosul but are planning to defend their last major urban stronghold in Iraq tenaciously, U.S. and Kurdish officials say, in much the same way they fought last year at Ramadi, leaving tha…

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  • Will British Pound Remain Major Convertible Currency?

    It ranks as one of the most disingenuous claims ever made by a modern British politician.

    Buffeted by a balance of payments crisis, Britain was forced in 1967 to devalue the pound by nearly 15 percent against the dollar, prompting the then-prime minis…

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