While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Dec 28 edition

Victory near for Iraq forces as ISIS leaves key compound

Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group fighters pulled out of their last stronghold in Ramadi on Sunday (Dec 27), bringing Iraqi federal forces within sight of their biggest victory since last year’s debacle.

The elite counter-terrorism service was hours away from moving into the former government complex in Ramadi, which the jihadists had fiercely defended for several days, the force’s spokesman said.

“All Daesh (IS) fighters have left. There is no resistance,” Sabah al-Numan told AFP. “The operation is almost wrapped up; our forces will enter in the coming hours.”


At least 11 killed in Texas tornadoes as storms slam central US

At least 11 people were killed in the Dallas area from a storm system packing torrential rains and unleashing a string of tornadoes that toppled homes, cut power lines and snarled transport for people returning from the Christmas holidays.

The worst-hit area was in Garland, northeast of Dallas, where eight people were killed, cars blown off highways and homes flattened, officials said on Sunday (Dec 27).

Three other deaths were reported in the Dallas metro area, the nation's fourth most populous, with about 7 million people. Scores of people were injured in the region, officials said.


Germany recruits 8,500 teachers for child refugees

Germany has recruited 8,500 people to teach child refugees German, as the country expects the number of new arrivals to soar past the million mark in 2015, Die Welt daily reported on Sunday (Dec 27).

With some 196,000 children fleeing war and poverty entering the German school system this year, 8,264 "special classes" have been created to help the new arrivals catch up with their peers, Die Welt said, citing a survey carried out in 16 German federal states.

"Some 8,500 additional teachers have been recruited nationwide," the daily said.


New Star Wars fastest film to hit US$1 billion at box office

The new Star Wars film has become the fastest movie to pass the US$1 billion (S$1.4 billion) mark in global box office sales in a record time, Disney said on Sunday (Dec 27), as fans of the space epic pack theatres around the world.

Twelve days after it first hit screens, “The Force Awakens” has posted an estimated US$545 million in ticket sales in North America and US$546 million internationally, a statement said.

The previous record was held by “Jurassic World,” which took 13 days to reach the milestone.


Former Salvadoran national soccer player Alfredo Pacheco shot dead

Alfredo Pacheco, a soccer player who played for the Salvadoran national side before being banned from the sport for life for his involvement in match fixing, was murdered on Sunday (Dec 27), the Salvadoran attorney general's office said.

Pacheco, 33, was with a group of friends chatting in a petrol station when an unknown assailant shot at the group various times, authorities said. Two other people were injured and were taken to a nearby hospital in the city of Santa Ana, west of the capital San Salvador.

"The attorney general's office in Santa Ana processed the crime scene of the murder of Alfredo Pacheco at 3.30 am in a petrol station," it said.