WILLIAM BRANGHAM: In the day’s other news: Iraqi soldiers in Western Mosul advanced deeper into the last pocket still being held by Islamic State forces. Fierce fighting continued in an area packed with civilians. But in Baghdad this evening, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi proclaimed a big victory over ISIS, or Da’esh in Arabic.
HAIDER AL-ABADI, Prime Minister, Iraq (through interpreter): All the displaced must return to their homes. We are continuing to liberate all our land from Da’esh. The Iraqi people ended the myth of Da’esh in record time, although the world thought that this wasn’t possible.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Meanwhile, in Syria, a Kurdish-led militia has breached the heart of the Islamic State’s self-proclaimed capital, Raqqa. The U.S.-backed forces today punched through the wall around the Old City and are now pushing into the most heavily fortified portion of the ISIS stronghold.
President Trump’s first face-to-face meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin will happen this Friday. They will meet on the sidelines of the G20 summit as it begins in Hamburg, Germany. The White House says there will be no specific agenda for the meeting.
There’s word that Canada will apologize to a Canadian citizen for the alleged treatment he received at the Guantanamo Naval Base. It’s widely reported that he will also be paid nearly $8 million. Omar Khadr was captured in Afghanistan when he just 15 years old. He initially admitted to killing a U.S. soldier and spent 10 years at Guantanamo. Khadr says his confession was coerced, and Canada’s Supreme Court has now ruled he was interrogated under what it called oppressive circumstances.
In New Jersey, the three-day government shutdown is over. Democratic lawmakers reached a budget deal last night, and Republican Governor Chris Christie signed it into law. Christie had been heavily criticized for using a state beach on Sunday, after it was closed to the public. The new budget agreement allowed state parks and beaches to reopen for everyone just in time for the Fourth of July.
MAN: Pretty excited. We’re going to see the Statue of Liberty, so we’re pretty excited to be back here. And I saw on the news yesterday that it was closed for budget issues, so it’s pretty cool.
WOMAN: It’s my first time.
MAN: Our first time.
WOMAN: Well, it’s amazing that it opened in time. But it’s very thankful, and it’s a very special day to reopen Liberty Park.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: In Maine, Governor Paul LePage also signed a new budget, ending a partial government shutdown in his state.
And in Illinois, there was no break in a budget impasse that’s now in its third year. Republican Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed a $36 billion package, along with a major tax hike. The Democratic-controlled state Senate quickly overrode the veto. But the House took no immediate action.
And the nation marked its 241st birthday today with an array of annual celebrations. Fourth of July parades began with one in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, at midnight. That’s been their tradition for 42 years.
And in Washington this evening, President and Mrs. Trump hosted a White House picnic for military families before the annual fireworks over the National Mall.