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News Wrap: NATO chief demands Russian troops leave Ukraine

July 10, 2017 at 6:45 PM EDT
In the our news wrap Monday, the head of NATO demanded that Russia withdraw its troops from Ukraine. Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg addressed the parliament in Kiev, saying Europe and the U.S. are united in support of Ukraine. Also, Iraq’s government has declared “final victory” in the battle to recapture the city of Mosul from the Islamic State militant group.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news: The head of NATO demanded that Russia withdraw its troops from Ukraine. Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg addressed the parliament in Kiev, and said Europe and the U.S. are united in support of Ukraine.

JENS STOLTENBERG, Secretary General, NATO: Russia, and you know this better than anyone else, is trying to destabilize Ukraine through its support of the militants in the east, its cyber-attacks, disinformation and not least by the presence of Russian forces in Eastern Ukraine. This must end.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Officials also announced that talks will begin on a plan for Ukraine to join NATO by 2020.

A new cease-fire in Southwestern Syria brokered by the U.S. and Russia appears to be holding for now. Opposition groups report relative calm across three provinces, despite some sporadic fighting in places.

Meanwhile, a U.N. envoy opened the latest round of Syrian peace talks in Geneva today.

Iraq’s government has declared final victory in the battle to recapture all of the city of Mosul from the Islamic State group. The U.S. coalition today welcomed the announcement and offered congratulations.

P.J. Tobia has our report.

P.J. TOBIA: The Iraqi national flag flies in Western Mosul tonight, after security forces began mopping up ISIS holdouts in the Old City.

MAN (through interpreter): We are holding their flag upside down and our flags are fluttering on the riverbank.

P.J. TOBIA: Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi visited Mosul yesterday, and he returned today, formally declaring victory over the militants known in Arabic as Da’esh.

HAIDER AL-ABADI, Prime Minister, Iraq (through interpreter): Our victory today is a victory against darkness, brutality and terrorism, and from here we announce to the entire world the end, the failure and the collapse of the mythical state and the Da’esh state that was announced here in Mosul three years ago.

P.J. TOBIA: But that victory has come at great cost. Five months of aerial bombardments and house-to-house fighting have left much of Western Mosul in ruins.

According to the local government, thousands of civilians have been killed in the fighting, and nearly a million fled their homes. It’s estimated that around 1,000 Iraqi soldiers have died in the campaign.

The New York Times’ Rukmini Callimachi was in Mosul this morning. She says, despite the claims of victory, there was still isolated fighting.

RUKMINI CALLIMACHI, The New York Times: I think it’s accurate to say that most of the city is now under Iraqi control, but there is definitely a pocket of resistance here in Western Mosul.

P.J. TOBIA: And ISIS is far from a spent force. It still controls areas across the Syria-Iraq border, key towns in Iraq and most of Syria’s Deir el-Zour province.

Indeed, in the Syrian city of Raqqa, the Islamic State’s self- declared capital, the battle is just beginning, as U.S.-backed militia fighters ring the outskirts.

Meanwhile, back in Mosul, grim work awaits.

RUKMINI CALLIMACHI: Everywhere you go in the Old City, if you catch the wind in the wrong direction, you smell the horrible smell of decaying bodies.

P.J. TOBIA: For those still living in Mosul, the immediate concern is digging out and piecing together their shattered city.

For the PBS NewsHour, I’m P.J. Tobia.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Back in this country, Congress returned to work today, and got a warning from President Trump. In a tweet, he said he can’t imagine lawmakers would dare to take August off without passing a health care bill. Senate Republicans remain at odds over replacing Obamacare, with no resolution in sight.

The number of American adults without health insurance has increased by two million this year. The Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index reports the uninsured rate in the second quarter was 11.7 percent. That’s up from a record low of 10.9 reached at the end of last year.

Thousands of people in the Western U.S. and Canada are awaiting word to go home after wildfires chased them away. One fire in Southern California has charred more than 45 square miles and burned down at least 20 buildings. To the north, in British Columbia, more than 200 fires burned over the weekend, and more than 2,000 firefighters mobilized.

President Trump has again lit into the man he fired as FBI director. He accused James Comey of illegally leaking classified information, based on a report cited by FOX News. In fact, the report doesn’t make that charge. Comey has acknowledged letting a friend leak a memo about a conversation with the president, but he says it was not classified.

And Wall Street had an up-and-down day today. The Dow Jones industrial average lost five points to close at 21408. The Nasdaq rose 23 points, and the S&P 500 added two.

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