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ISIS

U.S.-backed fighters have launched an operation to try to seize control of ISIS' so-called capital, the city of Raqqa in northern Syria.

Raqqa is the most important stronghold for the militant group in Syria and fell under its control in 2014. Together with the ongoing fight for Mosul in Iraq, seizing control of the city is seen as a crucial goal in the fight against ISIS.

The Bei Posti / Creative Commons

Seven people were killed and more than forty were injured in the third attack in London in a few months time. If you're like writer Yascha Mounk, you may have reacted not with the shock and disorientation you would expect to feel in response to a barbaric and random act of violence, but the calm clarity of someone who has seen this before and is resigned to see it again.

Updated at 5:57 p.m. ET

ISIS has claimed responsibility for Saturday's terror attack in London. The Islamic State's news agency Amaq said in a statement Sunday that ISIS "soldiers" carried out the attack.

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On Monday, 22 people died and more than two dozen were injured in a horrific terrorist attack at a concert in Manchester, England. President Trump took time out of his whirlwind international tour to respond to the tragedy. "I call them losers because that's what they are," he said, speaking about the ISIS-claimed attackers. "They are losers and we'll have more of them. But they're losers, just remember that."

Updated at 9:45 p.m. ET

President Trump revealed "highly classified information" to two top Russian officials during a controversial Oval Office meeting last week, according to a report from The Washington Post.

The U.S. has dropped the most powerful conventional weapon ever used in combat to hit an underground ISIS complex in Afghanistan, Pentagon officials say.

The nearly 22,000-pound "MOAB" — standing for Massive Ordnance Air Blast, or as it's also known, the "Mother of All Bombs" — was designed during the Iraq War but had never before been used on the battlefield.

The U.S. has used the bomb's predecessor, a smaller but still massive weapon known as the "Daisy Cutter," in Afghanistan before.

Jared Kushner "is on the ground" in Iraq, visiting the embattled nation along with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Joseph Dunford, White House press secretary Sean Spicer says. Kushner is both a senior adviser to President Trump and his son-in-law.

Spicer confirmed Kushner's visit to NPR's Tamara Keith early Monday. According to Reuters, which has a reporter traveling with Kushner and Dunford, the U.S. group arrived on Monday, not over the weekend as some news outlets reported on Sunday.

Updated at 8:00 p.m. ET

A cease-fire in besieged eastern Aleppo appears to be going forward, paving the way for people trapped there to evacuate.

It's difficult to confirm exactly how many civilians remain in the small slice of Aleppo still controlled by rebel groups, but estimates put the number in the tens of thousands.

NPR's Alison Meuse reports an opposition activist in the city says the bombing has stopped.

The Pentagon says U.S. warplanes began attacking Islamic State targets in Libya today at the request of the U.N.-backed Libyan government. The airstrikes are in the city of Sirte, which is controlled by ISIS.

American aircraft destroyed a tank and two ISIS vehicles that the Pentagon says posed a threat to Libyan fighters trying to retake the city.

Updated at 8:55 p.m. ET.

He called it yapping, loose talk, and sloppiness. President Obama dismissed criticism of his administration's avoidance of the term "radical Islam" and urged America to live up to its founding values Tuesday, speaking at length about inclusiveness and religious freedom.

Syria's bloody civil war has been raging for six years. At least a quarter of a million people have been killed, and half the country is displaced. Major swaths of the county are held by ISIS or opposition fighters.

But in government-held areas, citizens queued up to cast ballots Wednesday for parliamentary elections, the second since the start of the war. Syrian state media carried photos from multiple provinces showing voters tucking their ballots into boxes and dipping their fingers into ink to show their participation.

Josh Hough / Creative Commons

Syrian government troops have recaptured Palmyra from Islamic State fighters. There are reports that experts are working now to clear mines left at the ancient ruins.

The Islamic State has been steadily losing territory in its self-declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq, where a U.S. bombing campaign and a host of rival forces chip away at its holdings.

Yet the Brussels bombings again demonstrated the group's potency much farther afield, from terror attacks in Western Europe and North Africa to seizing control of Libya's coastal city of Sirte.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy said Tuesday’s deadly attacks in Brussels underscore the need for European leaders to take a hard look at whether their law enforcement and anti-terrorism operations can meet the true threat on the continent.

The terrorist attacks in Brussels mark the third major assault in the heart of Europe in just over a year and raise a troubling question: Are European states prepared to deal with a sustained onslaught?

The satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo was hit in January 2015. Terrorists rampaged through Paris again in November. And now, Brussels has suffered bomb attacks at the airport and the subway, claiming more than 30 lives.

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