ISIS Militants Fight On in Tikrit After Losing Mosul Dam

Iraqi and Kurdish forces, backed by American air strikes, retook the Mosul Dam in northern Iraq on Aug. 18, wresting control of the strategically important site from the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS). The dam, the country’s biggest, holds back 11 billion cubic meters of water, which, if released, could flood villages and cities all the way to Baghdad.

“If that dam was breached, it could have proven catastrophic,” President Obama said, calling the conquest a “major step forward” in the fight against the Sunni militant group that seized a large swath of northern Iraq in June.

Beset by U.S. strikes, ISIS released a video on Aug. 19 showing a militant beheading James Foley, an American journalist kidnapped in Syria nearly two years ago. The video also included a threat to kill Steven Sotloff, a freelance journalist who has written for TIME, among other outlets, and has been missing since August 2013.

Speaking the day after the video appeared online, Obama said he had spoken to Foley’s parents and “told them that we are all heartbroken at their loss.” “The entire world is appalled by the brutal murder of Jim Foley,” he said, adding that when people harm Americans, the U.S. will do “what’s necessary to see that justice is done.”

Iraqi national forces followed up the victory at the Mosul Dam with an offensive to retake the rebel-held city of Tikrit on Aug. 19, but the militants managed to push them back no fewer than three times.

The militant resistance in Tikrit underlined the challenges facing Haider al-Abadi, the Shi’ite leader who is set to replace Nouri al-Maliki as the country’s Prime Minister. ISIS may have lost the Mosul Dam, but as al-Abadi works to form a new government, reaching out to Sunni and Kurdish leaders, the militant group remains a powerfully destabilizing force inside the country.


‘If you want peace, you have to use peaceful means.’

PAVLO KLIMKIN, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister, on Aug. 18 while in Berlin for talks with his Russian, German and French counterparts to end the fighting between Kiev and pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine



Gallup asked people in 124 countries if they had confidence in their nation’s financial institutions or banks. Here’s a sampling of those who said yes:

[The following text appears within 5 charts. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual charts.]

77% India

47% U.S.

26% Iceland

23% Chile

11% Cyprus


The death of Brazilian presidential candidate Eduardo Campos in a plane crash on Aug. 13 has turned the spotlight on his running mate, Marina Silva, who is set to replace him on the ballot for the October election. Campos was polling third in a field led by the incumbent, Dilma Rousseff. Now Silva is expected to shake up the race.


A prominent environmental activist, Silva became Campos’ unlikely running mate on the Socialist Party ticket after she failed to obtain the necessary number of signatures to register her own party. A former Minister of the Environment who is credited with helping to slow deforestation of the Amazon, she ran for President in 2010 as the Green Party candidate.


Born into a poor family of rubber tappers, Silva is expected to be more successful than Campos in capitalizing on the widespread disillusionment that has fueled mass protests in Brazil since 2013. With the economy slowing, anger has grown over deteriorating public services even as the government supports megaprojects like this year’s soccer World Cup.


A poll released on Aug. 18, the first since Campos’ death, put Silva in second place behind Rousseff. Her best shot at winning will come if she forces a runoff against Rousseff. In such a scenario, early polling points to a dead heat.


The Pope’s Tour of Asia

Pope Francis celebrated Asian Youth Day and preached a message of unity in South Korea, a country that is home to some 5 million Catholics, during a five-day tour that ended Aug. 18. Here are the highlights from the Pontiff’s first trip to Asia.

Catholic growth

The trip came as Asia becomes a top priority for the Vatican. A growing number of people across the continent, now totaling over 131 million, identify as Catholic. Francis will return to the region in January for a visit to Sri Lanka and the Philippines.


Francis became the first Pope to fly over the communist nation, which has no official relations with the Vatican. During the flight, he sent a message of goodwill to President Xi Jinping (in which he notably avoided the word God) and later told reporters he hoped to visit soon.


Francis made one of the strongest pro-life statements of his papacy when he stopped to pray silently at a symbolic “cemetery for abortion victims” about 120 miles southeast of Seoul. Abortion is illegal in South Korea except in special cases like rape or incest.


On his return flight, Francis backed collective action via the U.N. to oppose the ISIS militants who have attacked government forces and religious minorities in Iraq. He also said he was willing to visit the country but that “at the moment it is not the best thing to do.”



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This appears in the September 01, 2014 issue of TIME.
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