BAGHDAD (AP) — Sunni insurgents led by an al-Qaida breakaway group expanded their offensive in a volatile western province yesterday, capturing three strategic towns and the first border crossing with Syria to fall on the Iraqi side.
It’s the latest blow against Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who is fighting for his political life even as forces beyond his control are pushing the country toward a sectarian showdown. In a reflection of the bitter divide, thousands of heavily armed Shiite militiamen — eager to take on the Sunni insurgents — marched through Iraqi cities in military-style parades on streets where many of them battled U.S. forces a half decade ago
The towns of Qaim, Rawah and Anah are the first territory seized in predominantly Sunni Anbar province, west of Baghdad, since fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group overran the city of Fallujah and parts of the provincial capital of Ramadi earlier this year. The capture of Rawah on the Euphrates River and the nearby town of Anah appeared to be part of march toward a key dam in the city of Haditha, which was built in 1986 and has a hydraulic power station that produces some 1,000 megawatts. Destruction of the dam would adversely impact the country’s electrical grid and cause major flooding.
NYC mayor reigns over Mermaid Parade
NEW YORK (AP) — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio portrayed himself as a man of the people in last year’s election. Yesterday he became a pirate among mermaids.
De Blasio showed up for yesterday’s zany Coney Island Mermaid Parade wearing a puffy pirate shirt and brandishing a fake sword. Organizers say he’s the first mayor to come in costume.
De Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, and their daughter, Chiara de Blasio, chose blue and gold mermaid dresses.