Iraq says its forces have completely recaptured the city of Ramadi and surrounding areas from Islamic State, but now must deal with the thousands of bombs the terrorists planted throughout the city. Iraq first declared Ramadi liberated in December when Islamic State was pushed out of the center of the city. But it took until this week for Iraqi forces to say the city is completely in their hands.
U.S.-led coalition airstrikes helped the Iraqis drive out the militants.
Islamic State seized Ramadi last May in what was a huge blow to the government and military. The city is nearly empty of civilians and U.N. officials say the level of destruction left behind is staggering.
Iraq’s ambassador to the United States, Lukman Faily, told VOA that the Iraqi forces will now focus on retaking Mosul, lost to Islamic State in 2014. But just like the situation in Ramadi, Faily said this is an Iraqi fight and not one for foreign forces. “We have not asked the United States for troops and there was clear agreement from both capitals that the fight should be led by the Iraqis,” Faily said. “We don’t need boots on the ground or combat forces.” VOA
Donald Trump is the runaway winner of the New Hampshire primary. With the vast majority of precincts reporting, he holds a dominant 35 percent of the vote. Giving his first victory speech of the election, Trump vowed “to make America so great again. Maybe greater than ever before.” Ohio Gov. John Kasich scored a clear second with 16 percent. Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, and Marco Rubio are locked in a battle for third place, all huddled around 10 or 11 percent.
Bernie Sanders is the winner of the Democratic primary in New Hampshire. With the vast majority of the state’s 300 precincts reporting, Sanders is leading Hillary Clinton 60 percent to 38 percent. In his victory speech, the Vermont senator said his New Hampshire win serves notice to the “political and economic establishments.” Clinton conceded the race nearly immediately after polls closed in her blowout loss.
Next up for the GOP presidential candidates is the South Carolina primary on Saturday, Feb. 20. Next up for the Democratic presidential candidates are Nevada’s caucuses on Saturday, Feb. 20. The New York Times
In a 5-4 ruling on Tuesday, the Supreme Court put a hold on the Environmental Protection Agency’s carbon emission rules during an appeals process. States and industry groups brought the legal challenge.
The Supreme Court’s ruling is a blow to President Obama, whose federal regulations had intended to limit carbon dioxide emissions at power plants to combat climate change. The hold could last for several years as the appeals process moves through the lower courts. The Los Angeles Times
Russia’s stepped up aerial bombardment in Syria will be a focal point for the United States and other members of the International Syria Support Group when it meets this week in Munich, Germany. The group, which includes Syria-backers Russia and Iran, is meeting Thursday on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.
It is the group’s first full meeting since U.N.-mediated proximity talks on a political transition in Syria bogged down, partly because of opposition protests against Russian-backed aerial assaults in Aleppo.
The bombing campaign has forced thousands of Syrians to flee their homes, with many of them heading toward the already crowded Turkish border. VOA
South Korea is to suspend operations at a jointly-run industrial park in North Korea following the North’s recent rocket launch and nuclear test. Seoul said all operations at the complex would halt, to stop the North using its investment “to fund its nuclear and missile development”.
Kaesong is one of the last points of co-operation between the two Koreas and a key source of revenue for Pyongyang. It came as Japan imposed new sanctions against the North following the launch. They include a ban on North Korean vessels coming into port in Japan and on vessels from other countries that have visited the state,
The US warned on Tuesday that the North could soon have enough plutonium for nuclear weapons. South Korea, the US, Japan and others see Sunday’s rocket launch – ostensibly to put a satellite into space – as cover for a banned test of missile technology.
Joint industrial complex located inside North Korea just across from the demilitarized zone. Launched in 2004 – it is a source of badly-needed cash for the North. 124 companies operate there from industries including clothing, textiles, car parts and semiconductors. South Korean firms pay about $100m (£69m) a year in wages – about 54,000 North Koreans work there. Last shut down in April 2013 – for four months – after US-South Korean military drills angered North Korea. BBC
Japanese shares have continued their slide, falling almost 7% in two days and entering bear market territory. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 dropped sharply by another 2.3% to close at 15,713.39, adding to Tuesday’s 5.4% tumble.
The index has lost more than 20% since mid-2015, meaning that it entered a bear market as investors lost their confidence. Latest concerns have been fuelled by a strengthening of the yen, which is expected to hurt exports.
The worry is that the currency is seen as a safe haven in an insecure regional economic context. If the yen keeps appreciating, it could hurt companies’ international competitiveness and cut into the export sector’s profits. BBC
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