The battle for the ISIS-held city of Mosul, now in its second day, is expected to drag on for weeks or months. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces approach the city, aid groups in the region are preparing for a humanitarian crisis.

Fighting has lulled in some areas, but is continuing in others, and airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition continue, NPR's Alice Fordham reports from Kalak, Iraq.

"The Iraqi army is fighting its way toward the city from the south: a spokesman said they are facing resistance but moving," Alice says.

An attack on a funeral hall killed 90 people and wounded more than 560 in Sanaa Saturday, Yemen's rebel government says. The Saudi-led coalition has promised to conduct an immediate investigation into the airstrikes.

"We're mobilizing to support health facilities deal with the influx of dead and wounded," the Red Cross delegation in Yemen says, adding that it's sending 300 body bags and medical supplies to help cope with the violence's effects.

Sikorsky Aircraft

The General Assembly has overwhelmingly approved a bill giving a $220 million aid package to helicopter maker Sikorsky. Both chambers met in special session Wednesday for just one day to consider the legislation.

A Dutch-led team of international investigators has concluded that Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which crashed in July 2014, was shot down by a Russian Buk missile that had been transferred into rebel-held eastern Ukraine.

After the shooting, the surface-to-air missile launcher was transferred back to Russia.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Syrian President Bashar Assad blamed the U.S. for the collapse of a fragile cease-fire earlier this week and denied carrying out well-documented human rights abuses, such as besieging civilians or using chemical weapons against them.

At least five emergency medical workers were said to have been killed in airstrikes near the northern city of Aleppo on Tuesday, following the collapse of a fragile cease-fire in Syria.

The Syrian military announced Monday it is no longer observing a cease-fire brokered by the U.S. and Russia to allow food and medicine into besieged areas.

Seven days after the agreement was reached by Russia, which backs Syrian President Bashar Assad, and the U.S., which backs anti-Assad rebels, the regime blamed the truce's collapse on the rebels, and unilaterally declared that the cease-fire is over.

NPR's Alice Fordham reports this about the cease-fire:

Women Warriors

Sep 13, 2016
Wikimedia Commons

There is still a debate about whether women belong in combat. It's been more than a year since Defense Secretary Ash Carter ordered all branches of the military in 2015 to allow women on to the front lines of combat and generations since women silently fought alongside men in the Civil War.

A forum designed to test the leading presidential candidates' capacity for military leadership Wednesday night displayed as much unpredictability as the rest of this election, as questions and answers veered off-topic and both candidates were put on the defensive several times.

The Navy continues struggling to get its new class of warships to work right.

When the USS Coronado set sail last week from Pearl Harbor for a planned deployment across the Pacific Ocean, it suffered engine problems and had to turn back. Before that, the Navy acknowledged that a diesel engine on another ship, the USS Freedom, was in such bad shape, it needs to be rebuilt or replaced.

Both of these are littoral combat ships, known as LCS, which are intended for operations taking place close to shore.

A U.S. service member was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan's restive Helmand province Tuesday — the second U.S. combat death in Afghanistan since January.

The service member was conducting "train, advise, assist activities" with Afghan forces when the explosive device went off, according to the U.S. Defense Department. Another American service member and six Afghan soldiers were wounded in the attack near the provincial capital, Lashkar Gah.

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.

Tony Bacewicz / C-HIT

Bianca Cruz’s Navy career started with a job she loved on a ship in Japan, but after she was sexually assaulted by a sailor, her military life spiraled downward, ending with a “bad paper” discharge after serving 20 months.

Updated at 10:00 am:

A coup attempt by factions in the Turkish military crumbled Saturday as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made his way to Istanbul and his government began reestablishing control after a long night of widespread violence.

"The people have taken to the streets and voiced their support for democracy," the acting head of the military, Gen. Umit Dundar, said at a news conference Saturday. "The nation will never forget this betrayal."

On Tuesday, an international tribunal soundly rejected Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea, an area where China has been building islands and increasing its military activity.

The case before the international tribunal in the Hague was brought by the Philippines, challenging what's widely seen as a territorial grab by Beijing. The tribunal essentially agreed. Beijing immediately said the decision was null and void and that it would ignore it. There are concerns now that the tribunal's decision could inflame tensions between the U.S. and China.

Screenshot / White House

President Barack Obama announced an adjustment of how many troops he plans to leave in Afghanistan at the end of the year.

The Afghan army commander said the treacherous road to Marjah, in Afghanistan's southern province of Helmand, was now safe. His forces had driven out the Taliban a few days earlier, he added.

"The road is open, so no problem," said Lt. Gen. Moeen Faqir. "Of course I hope you go there and find the reality and reflect it."

U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter says the military is lifting a ban on transgender service members.

"Effective immediately, transgender Americans may serve openly, and they can no longer be discharged or otherwise separated from the military just for being transgender," he told reporters today at the Pentagon.

The fundamental reason for the change, Carter said, is "that the Defense Department and the military need to avail ourselves of all talent possible in order to remain what we are now – the finest fighting force the world has ever known."

Thomas Hart / Wikimedia Commons

When you "pull a Benedict Arnold," you sell out your side to join the stronger side of a situation out of fear, not honor.  Needless to say, that's not a compliment.

More than 230 years after America secured independence from Britain, this skilled warrior and confidante of George Washington is remembered as a traitor and coward for defecting to the British side.

But it's not that easy.  

An attack on an intelligence office at the Baqaa refugee camp in Jordan today was an act of terrorism, says government spokesman Mohammed Momani. Jordan says five service members were killed: a staff sergeant, two corporals, a lance corporal and a private.

The timing of the attack coincides with the first day of the holy month of Ramadan, which Momani called "a clear evidence of those terrorists' criminal behavior and extremism."

Naval Submarine Base New London

For a century, Groton, Connecticut has been home to the Naval Submarine Base and Training School. It’s turned into an economic staple for the region with the presence of manufacturer Electric Boat. The state is celebrating one hundred years as the "Submarine Capital of the World." This hour, we discuss the history of the submarine industry and how it fares today. Even after all these years, the vessels continue to play an important role in U.S. military strategy.

The American Green Berets were seated around a long, plywood table at their base when they spotted the Taliban counterattack on their screens.

The burly Americans were working on computers, drinking coffee and munching on chips and peanut butter cookies. Their team leader answered an ever-ringing phone, giving his superiors updates on an Afghan commando mission in the mountains just north of Afghanistan's Kandahar Airfield.

U.S. Navy

Yale University has awarded more than 3,600 degrees during ceremonies at its 315th commencement. Later Monday, the school will confer military commissions to its first group of ROTC graduates in more than four decades.

In 2009, Emily Vorland went to Iraq with the Army for a year, hoping it would lead to a career in special operations. That dream was derailed not by the enemy, but by a superior officer, who started sexually harassing her.

"I said no and then reported it. And my direct chain of command relieved him of his position. However, it was three months later when the retaliation started," she says.

The most tangible sign of a growing American military presence in Eastern Europe, behind the former Iron Curtain, is tucked inside a former military base in rural Romania.

Hidden from view is a U.S. naval facility, where sailors use high-tech radar day and night to watch for incoming ballistic missiles fired at NATO countries. If any are spotted, the Americans would fire back with SM-3 Block IIA missiles.