Aug 31, 2017

Iraq declares victory over ISIS in Tal Afar

A Belgian special forces soldier in Tal Afar. Balint Szlanko / AP

The Iraqi government announced the liberation of Tal Afar Thursday in what Army Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, the commander of U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq is calling a "swift and decisive victory." Tal Afar is a city to the west of Mosul — Iraq's second-largest city which was liberated last month after a prolonged battle. The Tal Afar offensive began August 20.

Why it matters: Tal Afar produced some of ISIS's most senior commanders, per Reuters, and British army Maj. Gen. Rupert Jones told reporters last week that liberating Tal Afar would essentially put an end to ISIS in northern Iraq.

Other progress
  • Hezbollah has declared "mission accomplished" in Lebanon, after becoming the first battlefield enemy along with the Lebanese army to strike a peace deal with ISIS.
  • Syrian Democratic Forces have reclaimed about 60% of Raqqa, the "capital" of ISIS, per the Pentagon.
  • About 90% of Iraqi territory once held by ISIS has been reclaimed, per U.S. Central Command.

Go deeper

Coronavirus kills 2 Diamond Princess passengers and South Korea sees first death

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. U.S. numbers include Americans extracted from Princess Cruise ship.

Two elderly Diamond Princess passengers have been killed by the novel coronavirus — the first deaths confirmed among the more than 600 infected aboard the cruise ship. South Korea also announced its first death Thursday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed more than 2,200 people and infected over 75,465 others, mostly in mainland China, where the National Health Commission announced 118 new deaths since Thursday.

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SoftBank to cut its stake to get T-Mobile's Sprint deal done

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

T-Mobile and Sprint announced a revised merger agreement that will see SoftBank getting a smaller share of the combined company, while most shareholders will receive the previously agreed upon exchange rate. The companies said they hope to get the deal as early as April 1.

Why it matters: The amended deal reflects the decline in Sprint's business, while leaving most shareholders' stake intact and removing another hurdle to the deal's closure.