ISIS

Iraq declared victory over the Islamic State Saturday after its forces drove out the group from its final area of control along the Syrian border, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told a conference in Baghdad.

"Our heroic armed forces have now secured the entire length of the Iraq-Syria border," Abadi later tweeted. "We defeated Daesh through our unity and sacrifice for the nation. Long live Iraq and its people."

The U.S.-led military coalition has marked a string of successes in its fight against ISIS, including the liberation of Raqqa, Syria, and Mosul, Iraq. But the force says that its artillery and airstrikes have killed at least 801 civilians in those countries since Operation Inherent Resolve began in 2014.

Updated at 10:30 a.m. ET

The Islamic State is claiming responsibility for Tuesday's vehicle attack in New York City that killed eight people and injured a dozen others.

The extremist group did not provide evidence of its involvement in the attack, but in a weekly issue of its Al-Naba newsletter, it claims that "the attacker is one of the caliphate's soldiers."

The Trump administration is pushing back against a growing bipartisan push for Congress to pass a new measure authorizing the use of military force against ISIS, Al-Qaida, and other terror groups.

Hussein Malla / AP Photo

This week on “Two Way Street,” Lawrence Wright joined us in front of a live audience at the Atlanta History Center to discuss his new book, ”The Terror Years: From al-Qaeda to the Islamic State.”

Attackers in the Afghan capital attempted to storm the Iraqi Embassy on Monday, setting off a bomb before gunmen rushed the compound's gate. The Islamic State has claimed responsibility.

NPR's Diaa Hadid, reporting from Islamabad, says the attack is likely in retaliation for Iraqi security forces routing ISIS fighters from their stronghold in Mosul, Iraq.

"The group is trying to assert itself – through violent attacks – to show its followers that it still has power, despite losing important battles in Iraq and Syria," she says.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Iraqi forces have opened what they hope will be the final assault to retake Mosul, pushing into the the crowded, narrow lanes of the area still occupied by ISIS. The operation, launched at dawn Sunday after a barrage of airstrikes from the U.S.-led coalition, aims to retake Mosul's Old City from the militant group.

The Russian Defense Ministry says it may have killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a late May airstrike on an ISIS meeting in Raqqa, Syria. But the development has not been confirmed, Russian officials said Friday. In recent years, previous reports of Baghdadi's death have proved inaccurate.

"So far, I have no 100 percent confirmation of this information," Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, according to state-run Tass media, hours after defense officials posted a notice about the May 28 attack.

U.S.-backed fighters have launched an operation to try to seize control of ISIS' so-called capital, the city of Raqqa in northern Syria.

Raqqa is the most important stronghold for the militant group in Syria and fell under its control in 2014. Together with the ongoing fight for Mosul in Iraq, seizing control of the city is seen as a crucial goal in the fight against ISIS.

Updated at 11:40 p.m. ET

The father and younger brother of suspected Manchester Arena suicide bomber Salman Abedi have been arrested in Libya.

It's a simple, frequently recurring phrase: "The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack." But it raises some questions: Is the claim credible or just an empty assertion, and if it's true, what does "responsibility" actually entail?

Experts who closely follow the Islamic State say that in general when it comes to attacks in the West, an ISIS claim of responsibility usually means there was some sort of connection. But the attack might have been planned, funded and directed by ISIS — or it could just have been inspired by the group's propaganda.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We're going to turn now to Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff. He's the ranking member on the House intelligence committee. He joins us this morning on Skype. Congressman, thanks for being with us again.

An Iraqi army truck pulls up to an abandoned gas station on the edge of Mosul in northern Iraq.

Exhausted-looking men and boys climb out of the back — civilians evacuated from neighborhoods that Iraqi security forces have just freed. They've suffered through six months of fighting between ISIS and Iraqi security forces.

Many say that as Iraqi forces close in on the remaining ISIS-held neighborhoods, ISIS has become increasingly brutal toward the civilians they are using as human shields.

Updated at 4 a.m. ET Saturday

A government spokesman has increased the death toll from Thursday's bombing using the "Mother of All Bombs" in Afghanistan to 94, up from 36.

Ataullah Khogyani, the spokesman for the governor of Nangarhar province, said in a tweet Saturday that 94 ISIS members were killed in the attack on an ISIS underground complex, including four top commanders.

"Fortunately there is no report of civilians being killed in the attack," Khogyani told The Associated Press on Saturday.

Updated at 5:30 p.m. ET

The man who is believed to have carried out a deadly attack near the U.K. Parliament has been identified by Britain's Metropolitan Police as Khalid Masood, 52.

Police believe the man acted alone. He was shot and killed after carrying out an attack that killed a police officer and three civilians and wounded several others around 2:40 p.m. local time Wednesday. (Two of the civilian victims died on Wednesday; the third was hospitalized after the attack and died Thursday.)

At the State Department on Wednesday, officials from 68 countries and organizations gathered for a two-day summit to coordinate plans to fight ISIS. This was the first full meeting of the Global Coalition on the Defeat of ISIS since 2014, and a chance for the Trump administration to flesh out what it wants to do differently.

So far, it is mainly stepping up a fight that the Obama administration put in motion.

The Pentagon is sending about 400 Marines to Syria to help local fighters wrest control of Raqqa, which ISIS considers its capital.

The Pentagon says the new troops will fire artillery rounds at ISIS fighters in support of the local forces, as well as provide security for the Marine artillerymen, as NPR's Phil Ewing reports.

These 400 troops will bring the number of U.S. forces on the ground in Syria to about 900, Phil says.

Days after expanding the fight for of Mosul, Iraq's security forces are pushing further into the strategic city's western portion, focusing on its airport. Thousands of ISIS fighters are believed to be in Mosul, the extremist group's biggest stronghold in Iraq.

From Erbil, Iraq, NPR's Alice Fordham reports for our Newscast unit:

The so-called Islamic State's financial fortunes are bound to the amount of territory it controls.

And the group's dramatic loss of ground in its strongholds in Syria and Iraq is putting pressure on its finances, according to a new report from the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis is in Baghdad, Iraq on Monday on an unannounced visit as the fight against ISIS continues there. In an attempt to ease relations between the U.S. and Iraq, Mattis also commented on the oil in Iraq in an apparent contradiction to President Trump’s previous comments, saying, “We’re not in Iraq to seize anybody’s oil.”

Karen Greenberg of Fordham University explains a report on ISIS prosecutions in the U.S. Responding to a lawmaker who cited a number from her study on NPR to show the potential danger from refugees, Greenberg says the number was correct, but that further context shows the number to be less important than it seemed.

President Trump says he wants a swift and complete victory over the Islamic State, and he inherits the battle at a moment when the extremist group is losing ground in Iraq and Syria. The group's self-declared caliphate is looking increasingly fragile.

Could 2017 be the year the U.S. and its allies break the back of ISIS?

Progress is being made in the war against the Islamic State, according to analysts. But they caution that the U.S. is likely to face a recurring challenge in the Middle East: how to turn battlefield gains into a comprehensive political solution.

Among the many things President Obama will be handing off to his successor this week: stubborn wars in three separate countries.

Obama came to office eight years ago vowing to end U.S. military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet President-elect Trump stands to inherit the nation's longest war ever in Afghanistan, as well as renewed fighting in Iraq that has spread to Syria.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

After more than two weeks, a manhunt in Turkey is over. Overnight, police captured the main suspect in a deadly attack at an Istanbul nightclub. The suspect is described as a native of Uzbekistan and a supporter of ISIS.

Monday's attack on a Christmas market in Berlin that killed at least 12 and injured scores more is the latest in a series of atrocities claimed in the name of the Islamic State. In this operation, an assailant — the suspect now sought by German police has been identified as Tunisian-born Anis Amri — rammed a truck into pedestrians and street stalls.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Let's get a look at the fight to retake the city of Mosul in Iraq from the Islamic State. Iraqi forces have been waging that fight for some weeks with U.S. help. And NPR's Peter Kenyon is in Erbil, a city in northern Iraq not far away. Hi, Peter.

The audience squirms as the actors put on skull caps and fake beards and shout about how great it is to be a German Muslim. They call for jihad, initially as a way to self-reflect and later, as a battle cry.

The actors ask, "How can you sit here in comfort when our brothers and sisters in Syria and Iraq are being slaughtered? What does your conscience say? Do you even have a conscience?"

Inside IS, it's called, is a play for German teens about the so-called Islamic State was featured recently at Grips Theater, the largest youth theater in Berlin.

When archaeologist Layla Salih was a 14-year-old schoolgirl in Mosul, Iraq, she visited the ancient site of Nimrud for the first time on a field trip, led by a guide past the remnants of temples and roads to the ancient palace of Ashurnasirpal II.

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