1) HUNDREDS SURRENDER AS DAESH NEARS DEFEAT IN LAST ENCLAVE
Islamic State faced imminent defeat in its final enclave on Tuesday as hundreds of jihadist fighters and their families surrendered and the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces said the battle was as good as over.
The ferocious assault continued late on Tuesday and Live footage broadcast by the Kurdish Ronahi TV showed a series of large explosions lighting up the night sky over Baghouz, apparently from an ammunitions dump blowing up.
Smoke billowed past burning buildings, lit orange by flares and raging fires, as tracer fire poured into the enclave amid the sound of constant shooting and blasts.
The Baghouz enclave had been pounded on Monday with barrages of rockets, but the situation calmed on Tuesday morning before the intense bombardment resumed.
The SDF has laid siege to Baghouz for weeks but has repeatedly postponed its final assault to allow thousands of civilians, many of them wives and children of Islamic State fighters, to leave.
The SDF, which is spearheaded by the Kurdish YPG militia, has been advancing slowly into Baghouz to minimize its losses from sniper fire and landmines.
2) CRASHED JET IN ETHIOPIA GROUNDED IN MUCH OF THE WORLD
Much of the world, including the entire European Union, grounded the Boeing jetliner involved in the Ethiopian Airlines crash or banned it from their airspace, leaving the United States on Tuesday as one of the few remaining operators of the plane involved in two deadly accidents in just five months.
European Aviation Safety Agency took steps to keep the Boeing 737 Max 8 out of the air, joining Asian and Middle Eastern governments and carriers that also gave in to safety concerns in the aftermath of Sunday’s crash, which killed all 157 people on board.
British regulators indicated possible trouble with a reportedly damaged flight data recorder, saying they based their decision on the fact that they did not “sufficient information” from the recorder.
Turkish Airlines, Oman Air, Norwegian Air Shuttle and South Korean airline Eastar Jet were among the latest carriers to halt use of the Boeing model. Ireland, the Netherlands, Malaysia, Australia and Singapore suspended all flights into or out of their cities.
Ethiopian Airlines, widely seen as Africa’s best-managed airline, grounded its remaining four 737 Max 8s until further notice. The carrier had been using five of the planes and was awaiting delivery of 25 more.