Iraqi-led forces have severed the Islamic State group’s last supply line from Syria to Mosul, leaving the extremist forces in the city completely isolated.
Security officials confirmed that Iraqi fighters captured the route on Wednesday and then linked up with Kurdish forces.
On the same day, a US-led coalition airstrike disabled a different route, leaving only one fully-functioning route out of the city. These developments will make it extremely difficult for ISIS to resupply its forces from its HQ in the Syrian city of Raqqa.
Iraqi forces began the operation to retake Mosul on October 17, 2016. Airstrikes are attacking the western part of Mosul, targeting an industrial area where ISIS is believed to be preparing car bombs. The Iraqi military estimates 5000 to 6000 ISIS fighters remain in Mosul, facing an onslaught by 100,000 Iraqi-led fighters.
Trump appoints two women to cabinet
The US President-elect, Donald Trump, has named two women, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and the businesswoman and philanthropist Betsy DeVos, as part of his administration. Ms DeVos was appointed education secretary and Ms Haley as US envoy to the United Nations.
Both women had been critical of Mr Trump during his campaign. Ms Haley attacked Trump’s proposed ban on Muslim immigrants, prompting the president-elect to say she was “weak on immigration” and that the people of South Carolina were “embarrassed” by her. Ms Devos described Mr Trump as an “interloper” who “does not represent the Republican Party”. Both appointments will have to be approved by the mostly Republican Senate but they have said they are “moved” and honoured by their nomination.
Facebook trying to get back into China
Facebook has created special software to accommodate China’s censorship demands, The New York Times reported. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has visited China several times and learnt Mandarin in an apparent effort to repair relations with the country. Facebook is yet to confirm or deny the report, simply announcing it was “spending time understanding and learning more” about China. Since 2009, the only way for Chinese people to access Facebook has been through a virtual private network.
Violent protests erupt in Cameroon
One person has been killed and 10 admitted to hospital with gunshot wounds in the city of Bamenda after violent protests targeting the use of French in select courts and schools. At least 100 people have been arrested in the city, the main centre of the English-speaking region of the country. The language divide has been a contentious issue since British- and French-administered regions were merged to form Cameroon. Eighty per cent of the country is Francophone and applies French civil law; the remainder uses English and British common law. English-speakers complain that they face employment discrimination and that government documents are published only in French.
Jamie Murphy released from Bali police station
Indonesian police have released Australian teen Jamie Murphy, arrested at a Bali nightclub on Tuesday night, after confirming that a white power allegedly found in his possession was not an illegal drug. The powder was found to contain caffeine and painkillers, and at least two other lawful materials. Mr Murphy also tested negative to blood and urine tests.
“As it is not drugs, automatically he has to be freed as soon as possible,” Bali’s police chief said. Mr Murphy left the police station with his lawyer and is expected to return home to Perth with his parents later today.
Ellen laughs her way to the top
Comedian Ellen DeGeneres has received America’s highest honour, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, presented by Barack Obama at the White House.
The US President “choked up” while presenting the medal to a group of 21 outstanding members of the community whom he celebrated for devoting themselves to matters of national interest, security and culture. Tom Hanks, Robert De Niro and Michael Jordan were among the recipients of the medal at Mr Obama’s last awards ceremony. – Compiled from web sources by Alicia Camilleri and Sinead Fogarty
Screen grab from Al Jazeera English Youtube video.