Iraqi forces drive Islamic State out of Ramadi

GlobalPost
Mourners carry the coffin of a member from the Iraqi security forces who was killed in the city of Ramadi during a funeral in Najaf, south of Baghdad, on Dec. 27 2015.
Alaa Al-Marjani

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NEED TO KNOW:

For days, Iraqi forces have been locked in intense battles with Islamic State fighters to take back Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province which fell to the terror group in May.

It looks like they've nearly won.

On Sunday, Iraqi soldiers pushed IS out of a government complex they'd been occupying — the extremists' last stronghold in the city.

"The complex is under our complete control, there is no presence whatsoever of Daesh [IS] fighters in the complex," Sabah al-Numani, a spokesman for the force on the government side, told Reuters. "The next step is to clear pockets that could exist here or there in the city."

It's a significant victory on the ground for the Iraqi military, which has been heavily supported in the air by strikes from a US-led coalition. But defeating IS is going to take a whole lot more.

Next on Iraq's list of cities to retake: The northern city of Mosul, a major center of IS funding and influence.

WANT TO KNOW:

Immediately after the fall of communism, the images of starving, naked and sick children found in overcrowded Romanian orphanages shocked the world.

The supervisors cultivated violence to humiliate and control the children. The older kids hit the smaller ones. The educators beat everybody. An estimated 500,000 children suffered ​hunger, cold, beatings, and sexual abuse in the country’s "slaughterhouses of souls" before the end of the Cold War.

“We were wiped out as human beings — silenced, humiliated,” one of the orphans, now 38, told GlobalPost. “Our personalities were dissolved.”

And yet, half a million kids also survived. They've attempted to heal, with great difficulty. Some of them created an association called "Federeii," a Romanian epithet used for orphans that stems from a local term for a garbage dump.

The group is now pushing Romanian authorities to admit to, and apologize for, the abuse and neglect that went on in the country's dismal orphanages — and to reform the current state institutions that still house tens of thousands of children.

STRANGE BUT TRUE:

The US once used its weapons on communist forces in Vietnam. Now it wants to sell them there.

The White House partially nixed its longstanding embargo on lethal arms sales to Vietnam last year. So far, there’s a major caveat: The weapons must be used for “maritime-related” defense. But some officials are pushing to kill the ban completely. 

To American GIs during the Vietnam War, supplying communist forces would have been unimaginable. Today, outside of Vietnam, there are only a few communist nations in existence: China, Cuba, Laos and North Korea. All four are forbidden by the US from buying American weapons. But as Senior Correspondent Patrick Winn reports, the armed forces of the US and Vietnam are growing closer than ever thanks to a common goal: thwarting China’s dominance in the hotly contested South China Sea.

It certainly helps that Sen. John McCain, tortured by Hanoi communists in the late 1960s, is among the loudest voices calling for the US to sell more guns to Vietnam’s government.