The Islamic State’s days are counted. The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces say they have driven ISIS militants out of 80% of the northern Syrian city of Raqqa. The SDF announced that its three-month-old assault was now in its “final stages”. Meanwhile in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region, the operation to retake Hawija has begun today.

Sad news as the death toll from Tuesday’s Turkish airstrikes in Shiladze in the district of Amedi, northeast of Duhok, has risen to seven people. Turkish jets bombed the Amedi area again on Wednesday night, with no casualties reported. Two jets bombed a village near the Shin River close to Shiladze.

Lastly, some optimism for next week as Former Turkish Foreign Minister and one of the founders of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Yashar Yakish said his country would not view the Kurdistan Region’s planned referendum for independence from Iraq as a reason for war. Many have been concerned with the possible outcomes from the Sep. 25 vote but little appetite has been shown for military action.