ERBIL (Reuters) - Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has announced the start of an offensive aimed at retaking the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants, who have stamped out its rich mix of ethnic and religious cultures. He spoke on state TV in the early hours of Monday. The fight is expected to be the biggest battle in Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion which toppled Saddam Hussein. Here are some facts about Mosul, which had a population of about 2 million before the Sunni militants seized it in 2014. Mosul became the largest city to fall to the jihadists. - About 800 militants took it over, facing little resistance from an army widely accused of corruption. Iraq and its Western allies were stunned. Islamic State was so confident at the time that its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, calmly walked into the Great Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul in broad daylight and declared a caliphate and himself the leader of the world's Muslims. - Mosul is the capital of Nineveh governorate in northwestern Iraq, also home to Iraq's biggest dam. Mosul's original location was on the western bank of the Tigris River. The modern city spread to the eastern side and now surrounds the ruins of the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh. Mosul is located 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad. - Iraq's second-largest city, it was once the commercial hub of the Northwest, with thriving cement, textile and sugar industries. - Besides the Sunni Arab majority, Mosul had a large number of Christians, predominantly Assyrians. Kurds, Turkmens, Yazidis and Armenians made up the rest of the population. Earlier Sunni extremists then Islamic State showed no tolerance for diversity. - Mosul was one of the most enlightened cities in the Middle East. It was home to the famous Medical College, one of the largest educational and research centers in Iraq and the region. - It also contained ancient buildings, some dating back to the 13th century. They included the Great Mosque and the Red Mosque, Muslim shrines and several churches, in addition to mausoleums. Islamic State demolished shrines, mosques and churches and posted images of the destruction on internet sites. - Mosul had witnessed an earlier period of Sunni extremism in the last days of Saddam Hussein. Muslim extremists began targeting and killing nuns and other Christians who had roots dating to the 17th century. Over the years there has been a mass exodus of Christians from Mosul and other cities following attacks and threats on the minority. - Mosul was once known as "the city of a million officers," because Saddam Hussein, a secular Sunni Muslim, had stationed so many personnel there. Many of his Sunni generals and other army officers, as well as intelligence agents and police, came from Mosul. - In 2003, Saddam Hussein's once feared sons, Uday and Qusay, who sought refuge in Mosul after the U.S.-led invasion, were killed when American forces attacked their villa hideout. (Writing by Michael Georgy; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)
- The Daily Beast
Mikhail Svetlov/Getty ImagesRussian officials have begun to issue a series of threats to the United States in an attempt to fend off a war crimes tribunal, with top officials suggesting that Russia could be interested in going after Alaska next, which the United States purchased from Russian in 1867.Russia’s lower house speaker, Vyacheslav Volodin, warned the United States ought to hesitate when seizing or freezing Russian assets abroad, and instead ought to remember that Alaska previously belon
- The Daily Beast
Antonio Perez/Pool via ReutersMichele Rebollar remembers the moment during her son Anthony LaPorte’s funeral when Bobby Crimo—now charged with massacring seven people and wounding two dozen others at a Chicago suburb’s Fourth of July parade—stood up to speak.It was August 2017, and the long-haired, awkward Crimo described how Anthony was one of the only people he had to confide in. “My name is Bobby, and Anthony was the person I would call when I couldn’t sleep and he would always reply,” Crimo
Kate Middleton and Prince William pulled a very rare move today, being very, very affectionate at the Royal Charity Polo Cup 2022.
Kenny's never met a swimsuit she doesn't like.
- The Daily Beast
GoFundMeA married couple in their 30s whose toddler is now terrifyingly alone. A preschool teacher. A great-grandfather visiting from Mexico. A financial adviser who rode the train daily. These are some of the lives that were snuffed out by the gunman who opened fire on the Highland Park Fourth of July parade on Monday. A little over a day after the killing stopped, officials released the names of all but one fatal victim of the latest mass shooting nightmare in America. They identified the dece
- Fox News
Hollywood producer David Pearce, accused of murdering two women, may have more victims, prosecutors say
A Beverly Hills man has been charged with murder for the deaths of two women and there may be more victims, Los Angeles DA George Gascón said Tuesday at a press conference.
The mother of the suspect in Monday’s deadly mass shooting in Highland Park has been at the center of some police contact for hours on Tuesday, as well as with a SWAT team in the hours after the shooting.
The Royal Hashemite Court shared the exciting news about Princess Iman’s engagement on Wednesday
- The Daily Beast
Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/GettyRussian forces took a key region in eastern Ukraine over the weekend, thanks in part to Moscow stepping up its coordination and war planning, according to a British intelligence assessment released on Tuesday.This change in Russian forces’ approach to fighting in Eastern Ukraine could be the early signs of a brand new—and worrying—phase in Russia’s devastating war in Ukraine.While Ukrainian officials first denied that they had lost Ly
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IKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/Sputnik/AFP via Getty ImagesRussian President Vladimir Putin’s key ally Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko has started hinting at what may be next in Russia’s war, and it doesn’t sound pretty.Lukashenko claimed this weekend that he thinks it’s time for Europe to face a “moral cleansing.”“The time has come for the forgetful Europe to give itself a moral cleansing,” Lukashenko said, without going into further detail about what that would entail, according to BelTA.Lukashenko
- USA TODAY Sports
Browns finally trade former No. 1 pick, and Baker Mayfield's arrival in Carolina provides a path for a team desperate to find an answer behind center.
- The Daily Beast
Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast/Courtesy of Lilli MartiniThis story contains graphic imagesI’d been to the July 4 parade in Highland Park so many times. This time, I went with my cousin and her boyfriend, plus another 5-year-old cousin and her grandmother. We walked in the pets and children’s march that comes right before the main parade and then rushed to our seats in front of Walker Bros. pancake house to take it all in—like I had done almost every year of my life.The ambulances and poli
A YouTuber allegedly hacked into the CCTV cameras of an India-based scam ring office and gathered enough evidence of fraud to alert local police, which ultimately led to five arrests. The most recent video uploaded by Scambaiter on Sunday, titled “I Got Scammers ARRESTED On Their CCTV Cameras!”, has garnered nearly a million views at the time of this writing. In the 20-minute clip, viewers are given a look at CCTV footage taken from June 13-24, beginning with video of the alleged scammers at work, posing as Best Buy’s Geek Squad tech support employees, and ending with their arrest by local police in Punjab, India.
- In The Know by Yahoo
Husband accidentally sends ‘butt naked’ photo of mom to entire family: ‘The most embarrassing moment of my life’
A mom revealed the most embarrassing moment of her life — and it's low-key hilarious.
- Rolling Stone
The one-time triple threat is turning into the king of cringe
Highland Park mayor: People said they could tell by looking at mass shooting victims which were unlikely to survive based on 'unbelievable violence' they endured
Seven people have died as a result of the mass shooting that occurred in Highland Park, Illinois, on Monday. Dozens more are injured.
Rafael Nadal admits he does not know whether he will be fit to face Nick Kyrgios in Friday's Wimbledon semi-finals after an abdominal injury nearly forced him to quit against Taylor Fritz.
- National Review
Chuck Schumer is set to introduce a new reconciliation package that reflects an agreement among all Senate Democrats.
Police are searching for two suspects they said were involved in an attack at a Days Inn hotel in Washington County.
Mitch McConnell says the labor shortage will be solved when people run out of stimulus money because Americans are 'flush for the moment'
Lack of childcare and well-paid jobs might be driving the labor shortage. Mitch McConnell thinks March 2021 stimulus checks are to blame.