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6 stories you may have missed because of US election

Iraqi Kurdish forces seized the town of Bashiqa near Mosul from ISIL, an official said. PHOTO: REUTERS

WHILE the United States presidential race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton dominated international headlines on Tuesday, Russia announced that it was preparing to renew its air strikes on Syria’s Aleppo and Kurdish troops in Iraq declared that they had seized the town of Bashiqa near Mosul.

Al Jazeera highlights some of the news stories that you may have missed:

Russia preparing renewed strikes on Syria’s Aleppo “in coming hours”  

Russia is preparing to resume air strikes around the Syrian city of Aleppo “in coming hours”, the Interfax news agency cited a source in the Russian defence ministry as saying on Tuesday.

On Monday, the Kremlin had said Russia’s air force would maintain a moratorium on strikes in Aleppo unless opposition fighters launched an offensive.

Syrian army takes strategic Aleppo district

Meanwhile, the Syrian army said on Tuesday it had taken a strategic district of Aleppo, in what would mark the most important advance in the divided city by Syria’s government and its allies in weeks. Yet, rebels said the battle was not over.

The 1070 Apartments district is on the southwestern outskirts of Aleppo and lies alongside the government’s corridor into the parts of the city that it controls.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based group that monitors the war, said government forces and their allies had seized full control of 1070 Apartments.

But officials in two rebel groups fighting in Aleppo said their forces were still trying to fight back.

Iraqi Kurds say they seized ISIL-held town near Mosul  

Iraqi Kurdish forces have seized the town of Bashiqa near Mosul from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group, an official said on Tuesday.

Capturing Bashiqa would be a final step in securing the eastern approaches to Mosul, three weeks into an offensive by Iraqi forces to retake the country’s second city.

Bashiqa was under the “complete control” of Kurdish Peshmerga forces, Jabbar Yawar, secretary general of the Kurdish regional ministry responsible for the fighters, told AFP news agency.

“Our forces are clearing mines and sweeping the city,” Yawar said.

An AFP correspondent on the outskirts of Bashiqa said clashes were ongoing, with three air strikes hitting the town.

Peshmerga fighters said there were still some suicide bombers and snipers there, and that about 5 percent of Bashiqa remained under ISIL control.

Iraqi forces have been tightening the noose around Mosul since launching the offensive on October 17, with elite troops last week breaching city limits.

Venezuela says oil spill controlled, Orinoco unaffected  

Venezuela’s state oil company PDVSA said on Tuesday it had controlled a crude spill in a northeastern state and ruled out any contamination of the massive Orinoco river.

A pipeline leak at the locality of Santa Clara, in Anzoategui state, was fixed and even though rains carried crude into the nearby Aribi river, that is still 80km from the Orinoco, PDVSA said in a statement.

Opposition politicians and local media have accused PDVSA of covering up an “ecological disaster” with up to 100,000 barrels spilt since the leak began last week.

Though it did not give figures, the company denied that.

Germany rejects Turkey’s assertion that Berlin backs the PKK  

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Tuesday rejected a claim by his Turkish counterpart that Germany supported the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), saying such “extremist parties” were banned in Germany.

“The PKK and other extremist parties are banned as terrorist groups here. They are criminally prosecuted,” Steinmeier said.

“That is why I cannot understand the comments made about Germany today in Turkey. Repeating the claims does not make them right.”

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu accused Berlin on Tuesday of allowing the PKK and leftist DHKP-C, both of which have carried out attacks in Turkey, to operate on German soil with impunity

European Union agrees on new sanctions for Crimea  

European Union finance ministers agreed on Tuesday new targeted sanctions against Crimean officials, adding to restrictive measures adopted after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

“The Council adopted new listings under the restrictive measures in respect of actions undermining Ukraine’s territorial integrity,” Slovakia’s Finance Minister Peter Kazimir told a news conference at the end of a meeting of the Council of EU finance ministers.

He was replying to a question on whether new sanctions have been imposed on Crimean officials. Slovakia holds the rotating presidency of the EU until the end of the year.

A list of 151 people and 37 entities are already subject to visa bans and an assets freeze in the EU for their role in the annexation of Crimea or the Russia-backed rebellion in eastern Ukraine.

The annexation of Crimea has not been internationally recognised and the region is also subject to economic sanctions including bans on importing goods produced in Crimea, investing or providing tourism services there.

India’s Modi pulls 500, 1,000-rupee notes to fight graft 

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced that 500 and 1,000-rupee banknotes would be withdrawn from the financial system at midnight, saying it was part of a crackdown on rampant corruption.

New 500 and 2,000-rupee denomination notes will be issued later, Modi said. PHOTO: REUTERS
New 500 and 2,000-rupee denomination notes will be issued later, Modi said. PHOTO: REUTERS

The surprise step appears to be designed to bring billions of dollars worth of cash in unaccounted wealth into the mainstream economy.

“Black money and corruption are the biggest obstacles in eradicating poverty,” he said in an address to the nation.

New 500 and 2,000-rupee denomination notes will be issued later, he added.