No more mincing words: the US has warned there are “potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack” by the Syrian regime and told the country’s president, Bashar al-Assad, he would face a “heavy price” if one is carried out. The announcement comes amid rising tensions in Syria between the US-led coalition and Russia, which is backing the Assad regime. While Russia continues to condemn the use of chemical weapons, it deemed it unacceptable for the White House to make threats to what the Kremlin considers the “legitimate leadership” of Syria.
So close yet it feels so far. Just 5 more neighborhoods left in Mosul for the Iraqi forces to liberate. Forces retook three more neighborhoods from the Islamic State in West Mosul on Wednesday where the Iraqi flag can now be seen flying. Anticipating the fall of ISIS in Mosul, other Iraqi forces, including the Hashd al-Shaabi, are preparing for the upcoming Hawija military offensive. The involvement of the Shiite paramilitary group has however raised concerns with local communities fearing sectarian violence.
Lastly, no love spared by Italy as it has threatened to stop vessels of other countries from bringing migrants to its ports. The warning came as Italy’s EU representative, Maurizio Massari, warned in a letter to the bloc the situation had become “unsustainable”. Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni has accused other European nations of “looking the other way”. An estimated 10,000 people are believed to have attempted the journey from North Africa in the past four days.