Iraqi army drops leaflets ahead of Mosul assault
BAGHDAD • The Iraqi army dropped tens of thousands of leaflets over Mosul before dawn yesterday, warning residents that an offensive to recapture their city from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was in its final stages of preparation, according to a military statement in Baghdad.
The leaflets carried several messages, one of them assuring the population that advancing army units and air strikes "will not target civilians" and another telling them to avoid known locations of ISIS militants.
The assault on Mosul, the last city still under control of the ultra-hardline ISIS in Iraq, could begin this month with the support of a US-led coalition, according to Iraqi government and military officials.
Israel closes occupied areas for Jewish holiday
JERUSALEM • Israel closed off the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip yesterday for the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, the army said, as concerns rose over whether visits to a sensitive holy site could lead to violence.
The restrictions barring Palestinians from entering would remain in place through today, but humanitarian cases would be allowed passage, said an army spokesman.
Sukkot usually sees an increase in the number of Jewish visitors to the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound in east Jerusalem, which has led to clashes in previous years.
Serbians nabbed for planning armed attacks
PODGORICA• Police in Montenegro arrested a group of Serbians suspected of planning armed attacks yesterday, heightening election-day tensions as voters were asked to choose between closer ties with Nato or Russia in a crucial parliamentary poll.
Twenty people, all citizens of neighbouring Serbia, were arrested overnight on suspicion of preparing armed attacks against state institutions on election night, national police chief Slavko Stojanovic said in a statement.