The battle for Fallujah continues

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50,000 civilians are feared trapped inside the Iraqi city.

Wednesday

June 1, 2016

Forty dead tiger cubs were found in the freezer of a Thai temple accused of wildlife trafficking and animal abuse. TV show The Biggest Loser is under investigation following a report that contestants were given drugs to aid weight loss. And a first look at the cast of the Harry Potter play — opening in London on June 7 — in character.

Here are the top stories

Iraqi forces are fighting to take back the ISIS-held city of Fallujah, west of the capital, Baghdad.

The city has been under ISIS control for more than two years. The bid to recapture it — launched by Iraqi forces about a week ago — is being supported by paramilitary troops, and is receiving aerial assistance from the U.S.-led coalition. On Sunday, four airstrikes hit two ISIS tactical units near Fallujah, destroying three vehicles and a tunnel entrance, BuzzFeed News reports.

The Norwegian Refugee Council on Tuesday warned of a “catastrophe unfolding in Fallujah,” adding that humanitarian conditions were “rapidly deteriorating as fierce fighting intensifies,” the New York Times writes. Lise Grande, the top United Nations humanitarian official in Iraq, told the Times that informers inside the city said ISIS fighters were moving families to the city center to serve as human shields.

There are an estimated 50,000 civilians trapped inside Fallujah, and there have been reports of people starving to death, or being killed if they refuse to follow ISIS orders.  

Meanwhile, thousands of Kurdish troops are also battling to take the ISIS-held city of Mosul. Winning control of both Mosul and Fallujah is a key objective for forces fighting ISIS in Iraq.

Meanwhile, thousands of Kurdish troops are also battling to take the ISIS-held city of Mosul. Winning control of both Mosul and Fallujah is a key objective for forces fighting ISIS in Iraq.

Safin Hamed / AFP / Getty Images

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What’s next?

If the recapturing of Fallujah is successful, ISIS will be confined to the city of Mosul, which effectively acts as the capital of the territory the group has seized in Iraq. This would make it harder for ISIS to gain more territory across the country.


Up to 1,000 people are dead or missing due to Mediterranean shipwrecks this past week, a migration agency says.

Three boats carrying migrants and refugees capsized in the Mediterranean Sea last week, BuzzFeed News’ Alicia Melville-Smith reports. Between 700 and 1,000 migrants are feared dead.

Since the start of the year, more than 180,000 people have arrived in Europe, according to Doctors Without Borders. The medical nonprofit estimates more than 1,200 people have drowned or gone missing after their boats capsized or sank in 2016.

Since the start of the year, more than 180,000 people have arrived in Europe, according to Doctors Without Borders. The medical nonprofit estimates more than 1,200 people have drowned or gone missing after their boats capsized or sank in 2016.

Raffaele Martino / AP Photo

Quick things to know

  • Cincinnati police are investigating the parents of a boy who fell into a gorilla enclosure. Supporters of Harambe, the ape shot dead to protect the child, have blamed the parents for what they say is a failure to properly supervise their son. (BuzzFeed News) And 40 dead tiger cubs were found in the freezer of a Thai temple accused of wildlife trafficking and animal abuse. (BuzzFeed News)
     
  • U.S. presidential election: Donald Trump’s personal $1 million check to a charity was dated the same day as he was interviewed by a reporter looking into the funds. (BuzzFeed News) And the candidate was asked about the gorilla who was killed at the Cincinnati Zoo. “I don’t think they had a choice,” Trump said. (BuzzFeed News)

  • A controversial body trusted by the U.S. government to accredit colleges recently hosted a training session for schools on how to evade government lawsuits. (BuzzFeed News)

  • A bunch of skinheads threw meat inside a vegan café in the country of Georgia. Patrons were reportedly bombarded with grilled meat, sausages, and fish during a screening of animated series Rick and Morty. (BuzzFeed News)

  • Entertainment news: TV show The Biggest Loser is under investigation following a report that contestants were given drugs to aid weight loss. (BuzzFeed News) Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda will star in an upcoming Mary Poppins sequel. (BuzzFeed) And here’s the first look at the cast of the Harry Potter play — opening in London on June 7 — in character. (BuzzFeed)

The first look at Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, and Rose Granger-Weasley in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

The first look at Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, and Rose Granger-Weasley in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

Charlie Gray

#TryBeatingMeLightly

Last week, the Council of Islamic Ideology in Pakistan, in a proposed women’s protection bill, said that men could “lightly beat” their wives “if needed.” As a response, photographer Fahhad Rajper took pictures of Pakistani women of all ages with their reactions to the proposed bill. “#TryBeatingMeLightly is an initiative to empower women amongst us who work towards individual and collective betterment,” he told BuzzFeed. “It’s an opportunity for those to voice their opinions who can’t or don’t.”

Adeeqa Lalwani

Adeeqa Lalwani said, “#TryBeatingMeLightly, I’ll become the destruction you will never foresee.”

Fahhad Rajper

This letter was edited and brought to you by Natasha Japanwala and Claire Moses. You can always reach us here.  

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