Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

WORLD [Derived Headline]

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

WORLD [Derived Headline]

Article excerpt


BAGHDAD - Iraqi forces drove Islamic State militants out of the strategic oil refinery town of Beiji today, handing a major defeat to the extremist group, which a U.N. panel said has denied food and medicine to hundreds of thousands of people and hidden its fighters among civilians since the start of a U.S.-led air campaign.

The recapture of Beiji is the latest in a series of setbacks for the jihadi group, which has lost hundreds of fighters to airstrikes in a stalled advance on the Syrian town of Kobani and whose leader was reportedly wounded in an airstrike earlier this month.

Two Iraqi security officials said government forces backed by allied militiamen captured Beiji and lifted a months-long Islamic State siege on the refinery itself - Iraq's largest - hoisting the country's red, white and black flags atop the sprawling complex.

Reached by telephone in Beiji, they said the army used loudspeakers to warn the small number of residents still holed up in the town to stay indoors while bomb squads cleared booby- trapped houses and detonated roadside bombs.

Islamic State extremists captured Beiji during the summer offensive in which they swept across much of northern Iraq and captured its second largest city Mosul. The Iraqi forces collapsed in the face of the onslaught but have since partially regrouped and gone on the offensive, with Beiji the biggest locality they have recaptured to date.


JERUSALEM - A Jerusalem holy site at the heart of recent tensions between Israelis and Palestinians was quiet today, police said, after age restrictions for Muslim men who wanted to pray there were lifted for the first time in weeks, but minor clashes with Palestinian protesters continued in the West Bank.

Police have said age restrictions banning Muslim men under the age of 35 are imposed on the holy site in an attempt to reduce violence that often involves young Palestinians throwing rocks and firecrackers in protests held at the compound - which is sacred to both Muslims and Jews.

Palestinians have protested against age limitations in the past. It's not clear if the calm today was due to the lifting of the restrictions or the result of diplomatic progress the night before.

The development came a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Jordan's King Abdullah II in an attempt to restore calm in the holy city.

Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said the site was open to Muslims of all ages for weekly prayers. About 40,000 attended prayers and there were no immediate reports of violence, she said.


BERLIN - A European probe has begun drilling into a comet to collect scientific data, but mission controllers said today that battery issues may make it impossible - at least for now - to access that information. …

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