2016-10-18 16:20




October 18, 2016

From Washington, this is VOA news. I'm David DeForest reporting.

Kurdish leaders reported some success as Iraqi forces launched an offensive to take the city of Mosul from the Islamic State group.

Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook says Iraqi and Kurdish forces are, in his words, "ahead of schedule so far."

"But this is obviously an important part of this broader effort to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL. It's an indication that effort is moving forward, but there's still a lot of important work to be done before that goal will be realized."

The operation in the Mosul area involves Kurdish fighters, federal police, Sunni tribal fighters and Shiite militia forces, as well as airstrikes and other support from a U.S.-led coalition.

U.S. officials have described the mission as a "decisive moment" in the campaign against the Islamic State group.

Meanwhile, diplomatic tensions have erupted again between the governments of Iraq and Turkey over the operation in Mosul. Dorian Jones takes a look.

As a military offensive to recapture Mosul from Islamic State militants began, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan launched a verbal salvo against Baghdad, demanding a role in the offensive.

He said, "Why should Turkey not enter Mosul?" Turkey, he said, has a 350-kilometer border with Iraq but others who have nothing to do with the region are entering the city.

Baghdad has ruled out any Turkish role.

Dorian Jones, Istanbul.

Also in Syria, the Russian Defense Ministry says Russian and Syrian forces are preparing for an 8-hour "humanitarian pause" in the Syrian city of Aleppo. That was announced Monday.

This is VOA news.

The United Nations special envoy to Yemen has announced a 72-hour cease-fire to begin Wednesday night.

Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said the cessation of hostilities will begin at 20:59 UTC on Wednesday and could be renewed after the initial three-day period.

He made the announcement after receiving all of the necessary commitments from the country's warring factions.

A retired U.S. Marine general who at one time was the nation's second highest-ranking military officer pleaded guilty Monday to charges that he lied to investigators about leaking classified information.

General James Cartwright, a retired 4-star general, is a former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Investigators wanted to know if he was the source of a leak to journalists about a computer virus the U.S. and Israel used to disrupt Iran's nuclear program.

Cartwright has agreed to serve a six-month sentence.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump says the U.S. election is "rigged" against him.

Trailing in the polls three weeks ahead of the November 8 election, Trump disparaged what he called "the dishonest and distorted national news media" that he says is promoting the candidacy of his opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton.

He complained about the way the media is covering the story about a group of women who are accusing him of making unwanted sexual advances.

A new survey by the political website, Politico, and the polling company, Morning Consult, shows many Americans are skeptical about the integrity of the national election, with 41 percent of voters believing that the election could be stolen from Trump.

The group WikiLeaks, which has gained notoriety for leaking government and corporate secrets, claimed Monday that the Internet link of its fugitive founder, Julian Assange, has been "intentionally severed by a state party."

Writing on Twitter, WikiLeaks later said it had "activated appropriate contingency plans" for Assange, who has remained holed up in Ecuador's London embassy since 2012. He is there to avoid arrest on alleged sex offense charges.

U.S. government officials deny that the U.S. State Department colluded with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to change the classification of a Hillary Clinton email concerning the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya.

A summary of FBI interviews shows a bureau official telling investigators that Undersecretary of State Patrick Kennedy pressured the FBI to declassify information in one of the emails from Clinton's private server essentially hiding the messages.

Critics have accused the agency of agreeing to the reclassification in exchange for gaining additional slots for FBI officials in Baghdad.

A spokesman Monday disputed the accusation.

In Washington, I'm David DeForest.

That's the latest world news from VOA.

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