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Fighting rages between #ISIS, Iraqi forces near government center of #Ramadi

Ramadi - Fierce fighting

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.

TM & © 2014 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.


Ukrainians commemorate victims of #Holodomor #famine, November 22

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 VlasovaUkrainian 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 VlasovaPeople 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 VlasovaA woman cries near the memorial to the victims of the Holodomor in Ukraine in 1932-33. © Anastasia Vlasova

Kyiv Post.

#Kazakhstan Joins #Antarctic Treaty

A tidewater glacier on the Antarctic coast. WikicommonsA 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,” 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.

The Moscow Times.

#Russia: Images of Giant #Sinkhole Linked to #Uralkali Mining Accident

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.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.

The Moscow Times.

#Tunisia closes border ahead of presidential election as fear of #ISIS attack mounts

Tunisia closes border ahead of presidential election as fear of ISIS attack mounts

Source: al-akhbar

In addition to securing the Tunisian presidential election three days before its scheduled date, Tunisian security agencies are trying to follow-up on the serious security development with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) declaring the establishment of “Wilayat Tripoli” in Libya. This development prompted the Tunisian government to close its borders with Libya fearing that ISIS might target the elections after warning the country that it is not going to be isolated from what is happening in the region.

In an expected move, ISIS declared the establishment of an Islamic emirate called Wilayat Tripoli (the Libyan capital) and its online media site published pictures of its fighters in a military parade carrying the group’s flag and four-wheel drive vehicles carrying the group’s insignia. The new “Wilayat Tripoli” includes the cities of Sirte, Subrata, Khums, Zliten, Misrata, al-Zawiya in addition to Jabal al-Gharbi cities such as Byda and some areas in western Libya. This development came after the group seized complete control of the city of Derna which had been declared a few weeks ago as one of ISIS’ cities.

This major development put Tunisian security and military agencies on high alert. The Libyan capital is no more than 60 kilometers (37 miles) away from the Tunisian border city of Ben Gardane in the Medenine governorate, so one can understand Tunisia’s quick response. The crisis cell, headed by Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa, decided to close the border crossing of Ras Jdir in Ben Gardane and the border crossing of Zahabiya in the Tataouine governorate from yesterday until Sunday, the date of the presidential election. The border will be reopened on Monday.

This is the first time that the Tunisian-Libyan border will be closed for this long since the toppling of the previous regime. It confirms the gravity of the threats the Tunisian government believes it faces, based on Tunisian, Algerian and French intelligence information about the presence of a real plan threatening Tunisia’s stability. Information indicates that ISIS proclaimed through a statement by its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi the need to target Tunisia and secular forces and march toward south Tunisia on election day. The Tunisian authorities dealt with this information very seriously on the security and military levels.

After Baghdadi’s announcement, the Tunisian Interior Ministry published in most Tunisian newspapers and satellite TV stations pictures of more than 30 terrorists from Algeria, Libya, Mali and Nigeria wanted for their involvement in terrorist activities. The ministry also issued an official statement asking citizens to come forward with any information on these terrorists because they pose a threat to national security. The statement of the Interior Ministry came after successful preemptive operations were carried out by national security forces and the army thwarting a large number of terrorist operations aimed at public facilities in addition to intellectuals, political figures and ministers.

A senior security official told Al-Akhbar that security forces have regained their state of readiness after a period of decline in 2011 and 2012. That is why they, along with the army, succeeded in dismantling terrorist sleeper cells. The source expects security forces to completely eliminate terrorist cells concentrated in the mountain range along the Tunisian-Algerian border between the governorates of Kef, Kasserine, Jendouba, Gafsa and the desert border area between the governorates of Tozeur and Kebili that were used by terrorist groups as routes to smuggle weapons.

In a related matter, security forces fought a new terrorist cell the day before yesterday in the Sidi Bouzid governorate that was trying to target presidential candidate Beji Caid Essebsi, killing one of its members and arresting the rest.

AhlulBayt News Agency – ABNA – Shia News.

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