Muslim clerics of both the Shi’ite and Sunni sects from about 80 countries gathered in Qom, Iran today (Sunday) in order to work on a strategy to combat extremists, including the “Islamic State” terror group that has captured large parts of Iraq and Syria.
Iran, which has a Shi’ite majority, has been helping Iraqi, Syrian and Kurdish forces battle the Sunni extremist group on the ground while the US.-led coalition has been conducting airstrikes.
Jomana Karadsheh and Ralph Ellis, CNN.
(CNN) — A fierce battle between ISIS militants and Iraqi military and tribal forces is raging close to the main government complex of Anbar province in the center of Ramadi, the capital city.
The battle is happening about 1,000 feet from the complex that houses the regional government and security headquarters.
The fighting started Friday after ISIS militants launched a coordinated assault from different directions around the city. At least 37 people have died in the fighting, authorities said.
ISIS already controls most of Anbar, so Ramadi is highly strategic. If it falls, ISIS will tighten its grip on a large swath from the western outskirts of Baghdad north through Syria and to the Turkish border.
While losing ground in Anbar, Iraqi forces say they’ve made progress in the past week in Diyala province with the help of coalition airstrikes.
Iraqiya state TV has been reporting that the strategic towns of Jalawla and Saadiya, located a few kilometers apart, have been retaken by Kurdish Peshmerga forces, Iraqi military and police and Shiite militias.
They retook Baiji refinery, the country’s largest refinery that was lost to ISIS in June.
Iraqiya TV also aired footage from the city of Khanaqin in the Diyala province showing Peshmerga fighters who were interviewed and talked about their readiness to fight ISIS.
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Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko together with his wife Maryna Poroshenko, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk and Kyiv Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko visit the Holodomor memorial in Kyiv to commemorate the victims of the famine in Ukraine in 1932-33. © Anastasia Vlasova
Anastasia Vlasova, Kyiv Post.
The great famine in Ukraine of 1932-33, which was engineered by Soviet Union Secretary General Joseph Stalin and leading members of the Communist Party in Moscow and Ukraine, was commemorated in Kyiv on Nov. 22.
People lay flowers and light candles on the Holodomor memorial in Kyiv on Nov. 22. © Anastasia Vlasova
Thousands of people paid their respects to the victims of the Holodomor, which is Ukrainian word for the great famine of 1932-33, as well as to the victims of other Ukrainian famines at the Museum of Famines near Pecherska Lavra. The Ukrainian government recognizes Nov. 22 as the official day of commemoration.
A woman cries near the memorial to the victims of the Holodomor in Ukraine in 1932-33. © Anastasia Vlasova
A tidewater glacier on the Antarctic coast. Wikicommons.
The Moscow Times.
The world’s largest landlocked country, Kazakhstan, has joined the Antarctic Treaty, an international agreement on the southern continent’s neutrality, Interfax reported Friday.
The decree by President Nursultan Nazarbayev, available online, provides no reason for the move.
But the Central Asian country has shown an interest in the Antarctic before, with officials even identifying it as a potential source of drinking water for the arid steppe nation.
The ex-Soviet country staged its first expedition to the South Pole in 2011, tasked with bringing back a “sample of clear air,” Mir24.tv reported at the time.
Local media also reported in 2012 plans for a Kazakh station in the Antarctic, though online reports have since been deleted.
Nazarbayev gave the order to join the treaty earlier this month, but the move had gone under the public radar until this week.
The Antarctic Treaty, which entered into force in 1961, formed the basis of the modern approach to the Antarctic: that it should be used only for peaceful research and tourism purposes.
Contrary to popular belief, the treaty — which Kazakhstan was the 51st country to ratify — does not explicitly prohibit territorial claims or economic activity in the Antarctic.
Limited economic activity is ongoing in the Antarctic region, most notably in the ocean around the continent, a territory popular with fishermen. Last month, Russia and China blocked an EU-Australian plan to create a marine reserve covering at least one million square kilometers in the eastern Antarctic.
There are currently about 70 research stations on the continent devoted to a range of topics, ranging from the unique subglacial Lake Vostok to the odd recent behavior of seals, who are increasingly attempting to mate with penguins before, in some cases, devouring them.
An aerial view shows a sinkhole 3.5 km (2 miles) to the east of Solikamsk-2 mine in Perm region on Nov. 20, 2014. Press service of Uralkali company / Reuters.
Jennifer Monaghan, The Moscow Times.
Photos of a sinkhole that appeared in the Perm region after a mining accident this week have been published online, as local emergency services strive to contain the expansion of a giant crater that is threatening global supplies of the crop nutrient potash.
The sinkhole, which initially measured 20 by 30 meters, appeared after high levels of brine inflow forced the closure of the Solikamsk-2 mine on Tuesday. The mine is operated by Uralkali, the world’s largest potash company, whose shares dipped on news of the closure.
Shares in Uralkali have fallen 28 percent since Tuesday amid fears the mining accident could reduce global potash supplies and inflate prices of the nutrient worldwide.
While some fear the mining accident could deal yet another blow to Russia’s economy — already under duress due to Western sanctions over the crisis in Ukraine and a struggling ruble — Uralkali’s CEO downplayed the fears.
“The accident is not catastrophic for the company’s operations or people living in the area,” Chief Executive Dmitry Osipov said, Reuters reported Tuesday.
Since its discovery, the sinkhole has stretched from about 30 meters to 40 meters, local news site V Kurse reported Friday, posting images of the hole taken by an emergency services’ drone.
The hole is located on the site of an abandoned mine, 3,5 kilometers away from the nearest settlement, the regional emergency services said Wednesday in an online statement.
The site also once housed a cooperative of summer residences, or dachas, which was abandoned in 2005 following concerns that the ground was sinking, V Kurse reported. According to local residents, one of the dachas was swallowed up by the hole, the report said.
Aerial photos of the giant sinkhole taken by the emergency services show the crater surrounded by properties.
The images recall photographs of a giant crater that appeared in the Yamal-Nenets autonomous district in mid-July, before a second hole was discovered several days later.
Scientists later tied the appearance of the hole to a discharge of gas hydrates deep beneath the surface of the Yamal Peninsula, resulting in an underground explosion that formed the crater.
Emergency Ministry researchers are carrying out tests around the sinkhole in Solikamsk to determine whether any gas is being released at the site. Seismic sensors have also been placed near the crater, V Kurse reported.
About 1,300 miners working at the Solikamsk-2 mine have been sent home on two-thirds of their pay until January following the mine’s closure, the report said.
It remains to be seen whether the situation at Solikamsk will be as serious as that experienced at Uralkali’s Berezniki-1 site, also located in the Perm region, which was closed in 2006 after becoming completely flooded following a brine inflow.
The Solikamsk-2 mine accounts for a fifth of Uralkali’s output and 3.5 percent of global capacity.
This article has been corrected to state that about 1,300 miners have been sent home. An earlier version incorrectly put that figure at 3,500.