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Saturday, December 20, 2014

World briefs

Iraq

With the help of U.S. airstrikes, Kurdish military forces reported Monday they have won back control of Mosul Dam from the Islamic militant group ISIL. The dam in northern Iraq is the largest in the country and is vital to millions of people downstream, who rely on it for water, electricity and flood protection. Many in the area feared that The Islamic State, or ISIL (formerly known as ISIS), could 5use the dam as a weapon, cutting off power and water or even flooding large areas of the country, CNN reports. ISIL has a history of using water as a military tactic, according to CNN Earlier this year ISIL flooded many small villages when they opened the gates of Falluja dam in an attempt to stop approaching Iraqi soldiers.

London

After being holed up in Great Britain’s Ecuadorian embassy for two years, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange hopes to leave the protection of the embassy soon, according to a spokesman for WikiLeaks. Assange has been fleeing extradition to Sweden, where he has been wanted for questioning about the alleged sexual assault of two women, charges he denies. After the U.K. Sureme Court denied his request to block extradition, he took refuge in the embassy, and police have waited outside 24 hours a day, ready to arrest him on sight, according to the BBC. At a press conference Assange denied rumors that he was leaving for health reasons. Assange’s legal situation has not changed, and if he attempts to leave he will be arrested, according to the BBC. Assange said he is innocent, and that the charges are politically motivated.

Liberia

Locals wielding weapons attacked a health care facility in Monrovia on Saturday, where patients were being treated for Ebola, according to CNN. Most of the patients with Ebola fled the scene, and although some later returned, there may be some still missing. More than 150 people in Liberia have died from the infectious virus, and many more are suspected to be carrying it, sparking panic and chaos in the surrounding area, CNN reports. No one was injured in the attack, although assailants did steal some equipment. According to government sources, doctors there who have contracted Ebola will soon be treated with the new experimental drug ZMapp, which was recently approved by the UN for use in emergency cases.

Iceland

After an intense earthquake beneath Iceland’s Bardarbunga volcanic system on Monday, meteorologists say they fear another huge eruption like the one in 2010, which resulted in clouds of ash that severely disrupted world air travel, the BBC reports. The earthquake was the strongest in the region since 1996, and was accompanied by magma movement, according to the BBC. The aviation industry’s color-coded threat level has been raised to orange, indicating that the volcano is exhibiting “escalting unrest with increased potential for eruption,” the BBC reported. The volcano in question sits under Iceland’s Vatnajokull glacier.

Israel

As indirect peace talks resumed Sunday in Cairo between Israel and Palestine, Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli prime minister, said that he cannot agree to any extended ceasefire in Gaza unless Israel’s security needs are met. A spokesman for Palestine’s Hamas said that they would not budge on their demands either, which include the building of a seaport in Gaza and Israel lifting its blockade there. Fighting is expected to resume after a five day ceasefire expires on Monday at midnight, Al Jazeera reported. Nearly 2,000 Palestinians and 67 Israelis have been killed in Gaza since fighting began in early July, with civilain casualties on both sides. Israel’s blockade of supplies and travel from the small coastal zone has been in effect since 2007.