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Islamic State group loses emblematic Syria stronghold Raqqa

DAMASCUS: US-backed forces took full control of Raqqa from the Islamic State group on Tuesday, defeating the last militant holdouts in the de facto Syrian capital of their now-shattered "caliphate". The victory caps a battle of more than four months for Raqqa, and hammers another nail in the coffin of the militant group's experiment in statehood, which has collapsed in the face of offensives in Syria and Iraq. Inside Raqqa, joyous fighters from the Kurdish-Arab Syrian Democratic Forces celebrated and raised their…

Islamic State attacks Kirkuk as Iraqi forces push on Mosul

BAGHDAD, IRAQ: Islamic State launched a major counter-attack on the city of Kirkuk on Friday as Iraqi and Kurdish forces pursued operations to seize territory around Mosul in preparation for an offensive on the militants’ last major stronghold in Iraq. Islamic State's assault on Kirkuk, which lies in an oil- producing region, killed 18 members of the security forces and workers at a power station outside the city, including two Iranians, a hospital source said. Crude oil production facilities were not targeted and the…