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Islamic State persists despite territory loss: Pompeo

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The Islamic State group remains a threat in Syria and Iraq, and in some areas has even gained power despite the elimination of their “caliphate”, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday.

“There are places where ISIS is more powerful today than they were three or four years ago,” Pompeo said on CBS’s “This Morning” show.

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“But the caliphate is gone in their capacity to conduct external attacks, it’s been made much more difficult,” he said.

“We’ve taken down significant risk. Not all of it, but a significant amount. We’re very pleased with the work that we’ve done.”

US President Donald Trump declared early this year that US-led forces in Syria and Iraq had achieved “100 percent victory” over the Islamic extremist group after a campaign to eliminate their redoubt in the Euphrates river valley in Syria.

But many fighters are believed to have melded into the population, and the group maintains small strong holds in remote locations in Iraq.

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A report by the Pentagon’s Inspector General earlier this month said IS is transitioning “from a territory-holding force to an insurgency in Syria,” and has firmed up its insurgent capabilities in Iraq.

The US drawdown or reassignment of some security forces in the region has left some room for the group to rebuild, the report said.

The Islamic State has “established ‘resurgent cells’ in Syria and sought to expand its command and control nodes in Iraq,” it said.

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IS has also become a potent threat in Afghanistan, where it acts independent of the Taliban, which is currently negotiating a peace deal with the United States.

On Saturday the IS took credit for a suicide bombing of a wedding in Kabul that killed 63.


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Accused child molester Roy Moore defends Brett Kavanaugh: ‘I too was the object of false allegations’

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Accused child molester Roy Moore on Wednesday came to the defense of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who has been accused of sexual assault.

Moore's remarks came after The New York Times published accounts from a new book, which found that two of Kavanaugh's accusers were credible.

In a statement to the press, Moore defended Kavanaugh on Wednesday.

"I too was the subject of false allegations, but unlike Justice Kavanaugh and others who have suffered the ire of the left, I filed suit against my accusers and their conspirators," Moore said. "For over two years, I have not seen nor been able to question any of those who went on national television tol tell their false stories just 32 days before the election in December 2017, and ironically I have been sued for defamation for merely denying their false and malicious accusations."

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Trump says ‘many options’ on Iran response

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US President Donald Trump said Wednesday he has "many options" in addition to military strikes against Iran and that details of newly announced sanctions will come within 48 hours.

Asked by reporters about a possible US attack on Iran, Trump said "there are many options. There's the ultimate option and there are options a lot less than that."

He explained that by "ultimate option" he meant "war."

Trump said that the specifics of sanctions he announced earlier would be made public "over the next 48 hours."

US ally Saudi Arabia says Iran was behind a missile or drone attack setting ablaze major oil facilities last weekend.

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Bermuda braces for Hurricane Humberto

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Residents of the tiny British archipelago of Bermuda battened down the hatches on Wednesday ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Humberto, a major category 3 storm packing fierce winds and punishing rain.

The Miami-based US National Hurricane Center put the center of the storm about 225 kilometers (140 miles) west of Bermuda at 1800 GMT, with maximum sustained winds of 195 kilometers per hour.

The core of the large storm was expected to pass to the northwest of Bermuda later in the day or overnight, dumping as much as 15 centimeters (six inches) of rain. A heightened storm surge is possible.

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