TIME england

Titanic Deckchair Sells for 100,000 Pounds at Auction

MAHOGANY DECK CHAIR RECOVERED FROM TITANIC IS SEEN IN THE MARITIME MUSEUM OF THE ATLANTIC IN HALIFAX
Paul Darrow—Reuters /Landov A mahogany deck chair from the Titanic recovered by the crew aboard the CS Minia is seen in the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax, UK, January 27, 2012.

A crew dispatched to gather bodies from the water found the chair in 1912

A deckchair that was pulled from the wreckage of the Titanic more than a century ago has found a new home.

The chair was sold at an auction in England on Saturday, fetching just over 100,000 pounds including taxes and fees, or nearly $150,000, a representative of the Wiltshire auction house told TIME.

The chair sat on the first-class deck of the luxury ship that sank after hitting an iceberg in 1912, killing 1,500 people.

It was discovered floating on the surface of the ocean by a crew dispatched to recover bodies from the wreckage in 1912, the Guardian reports. The chair originally belonged to a member of that crew, and then to an English Titanic collector who owned it for the last 15 years and used it as a display item in his home.

It was sold by auctioneer Henry Aldridge and Son to an unnamed collector in the U.K.

 

TIME Italy

Pope Asks Europe to Do More to Help Migrants Flooding Into Italy

ITALY-IMMIGRATION-SHIPWRECK
Giovanni Isolino—AFP/Getty Images Shipwrecked migrants disembark from a rescue vessel as they arrive in the Italian port of Augusta in Sicily on April 16, 2015.

"The proportions of the phenomenon require much broader involvement"

(ROME )—Pope Francis joined Italy in pressing the European Union Saturday to do more to help the country cope with rapidly mounting numbers of desperate people rescued in the Mediterranean during journeys on smugglers’ boats to flee war, persecution or poverty.

As the pope made his appeal, flanked by Italian President Sergio Mattarella, hundreds of migrants took their first steps on land in Sicilian ports after being rescued in past days by merchant vessels and Italian Coast Guard boats. Sicilian towns were running out of places to shelter the arrivals, including more than 10,000 in the week ending Saturday.

With his wide popularity and deep concern for social issues, the pope’s moral authority gives Italy a boost in its lobbying for Brussels and northern EU countries to do more. Since the start of 2014, nearly 200,000 people have been rescued at sea by Italy.

“I express my gratitude for the commitment that Italy is making to welcome the many migrants who, risking their life, ask to be taken in,” Francis told the Italian head of state. “It’s evident that the proportions of the phenomenon require much broader involvement.”

“We must never tire of appealing for a more extensive commitment on the European and international level,” Francis said.

Italy says it will continue rescuing migrants abandoned by smugglers but demands the European Union increase assistance to shelter and rescue them. Since most of the migrants want to reach family or other members of their community in northern Europe, Italian governments have pushed for those countries to do more, particularly by taking in the migrants while their requests for asylum or refugee status are examined.

“For some time, Italy has called on the European Union for decisive intervention to stop this continuous loss of human life in the Mediterranean, the cradle of our civilization,” Mattarella said.

The European Union’s commissioner for migration, Dmitris Avramopoulos, says a new policy will be presented in May. Meanwhile, he has also called for member states to help deal with the crisis.

Some of the 90 migrants who set foot Saturday on Palermo’s docks were too weak to stand. Most were from Somalia. A merchant ship which intercepted their distress call rescued them; then they were transferred to an Italian Coast Guard vessel.

Also on Saturday, an Italian navy ship arrived in the Sicilian port of Messina with more than 450 migrants, including 50 minors, from Ethiopia, Eritrea and Syria. Police marched two suspected migrant-smugglers off the ship after arresting them onboard.

Several Sicilian towns say they are running out of room, and many of the latest arrivals were being taken to other shelters on the Italian mainland, including in the north.

Days of calm seas and good weather, combined with increasing chaos and violence in Libya, are cited as factors in the current surge of migrants.

TIME Australia

5 Australian Teens Arrested in ISIS-Inspired Anzac Day Plot

Five arrested over ANZAC Day terrorism plot in Australia
Karen Sweeney—EPA Australian Federal Police acting Deputy Commissioner Neil Guaghan (L) and Victoria Police acting Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton during a press conference on the arrest of five teenagers during counter terrorism raids in Melbourne, 18 April 2015.

"There was reference to an attack on police"

(SYDNEY)—Five Australian teenagers were arrested Saturday on suspicion of plotting an Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria-inspired terrorist attack at a Veterans’ Day ceremony that included targeting police officers, officials said.

The suspects included two 18-year-olds who are alleged to have been preparing an attack at the ANZAC Day ceremony in Melbourne later this month, Australian Federal Police Acting Deputy Commissioner Neil Gaughan told reporters.

Another 18-year-old was arrested on weapons charges, and two other men, aged 18 and 19, were in custody and assisting police. All the arrests took place in Melbourne.

ANZAC Day is the annual April 25 commemoration of the 1915 Gallipoli landings — the first major military action fought by the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps during World War I.

Police said they believe the plot was inspired by the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, and was to have involved “edged weapons.”

“At this stage, we have no information that it was a planned beheading. But there was reference to an attack on police,” Gaughan said. “Some evidence that we have collected at a couple of the scenes, and some other information we have, leads us to believe that this particular matter was ISIS-inspired.”

Australia’s government has raised the country’s terror warning level in response to the domestic threat posed by supporters of the Islamic State group. In September last year, the group’s spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani issued a message urging attacks abroad, specifically mentioning Australia.

Federal Police Deputy Commissioner Michael Phelan said at a separate news conference that the teens had links to Numan Haider, an 18-year-old who stabbed two Melbourne police officers and was subsequently shot dead in September. Haider had caught authorities’ attention months earlier over what police considered troubling behavior, including waving what appeared to be an Islamic State group flag at a shopping mall.

Phelan said the teens arrested Saturday were on officials’ radar for months, but the investigation was ramped up when it appeared they were planning a specific attack.

“This is a new paradigm for police,” Phelan said. “These types of attacks that are planned are very rudimentary and simple. … All you need these days is a knife, a flag and a camera and one can commit a terrorist act.”

One of the teens, Sevdet Besim, appeared briefly in court Saturday on a charge of preparing for, or planning, a terrorist act. He did not apply for bail and was ordered to reappear in court next week.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has warned that the terrorism threat in Australia has escalated, with one-third of all terrorism-related arrests since 2001 occurring in the last six months. At least 110 Australians have gone to Iraq and Syria to fight alongside extremists, and the nation’s security agency is juggling more than 400 high-priority counterterrorism investigations — more than double the number a year ago.

In February, two men were charged with planning to launch an imminent, Islamic State group-inspired terrorist attack after authorities said they appeared on a video threatening to stab the kidneys and necks of their victims. In September, a man arrested during a series of counterterrorism raids was charged with conspiring with an Islamic State group leader in Syria to behead a random person in Sydney.

In December, Man Monis, an Iranian-born, self-styled cleric with a long criminal history, took 18 people hostage inside a Sydney cafe, forced them to hold up a flag bearing the Islamic declaration of faith and demanded he be delivered a flag of the Islamic State group. Monis and two hostages were killed.

Abbott said the latest alleged plot was at an advanced stage of planning, prompting police to swoop in. Still, he urged the public to participate in ANZAC Day events as usual.

“The best sign of defiance we can give to those who would do us harm is to go about a normal, peaceful, free and fair Australian life,” he said. “And I say to everyone who is thinking of going to an ANZAC Day event, please don’t be deterred. Turn up in the largest possible numbers to support our country.”

TIME Japan

Japan’s Population Falls to 15-Year Low

More than 1 in 4 people in Japan is now 65 or older

Japan’s population has dropped for the fourth year in a row, bringing it to a low not seen since 2000.

There were just more than 127 million people living in Japan as of last Oct. 1, which marked a decrease of 215,000 people compared to one year earlier, according to newly released government data reported by The Guardian.

The biggest problem for Japan may be the rate at which its population is aging. The number of people aged 65 or older in Japan has reached 33 million. More than 1 in 4 people are older than 65 and they outnumber people 14 and younger 2 to 1. The government estimates the population will drop to 86.7 million by 2060, with people over 65 making up 40% of the country.

Though the problem of falling birthrates and aging population is particularly acute in Japan, a similar problem is also brewing in Europe and the U.S. The federal government’s data from late last year showed that 2013 birthrates hit a record low in the U.S. in 2013, down 9% from a high in 2007, as American women delay having children.

 

TIME Afghanistan

ISIS Claims Suicide Bombing in Afghanistan That Killed 35

Afghanistan
AP Afghan security forces members inspect the site of a suicide attack near a new Kabul Bank in Jalalabad, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, April, 18, 2015.

This is the first major ISIS attack in Afghanistan

At least 35 people died in a suicide bomb attack in eastern Afghanistan on Saturday morning, with the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) claiming responsibility for what, if confirmed, would be the terrorist group’s first major attack in the country.

More than 100 people were wounded in the bombing outside a bank branch in Jalalabad in Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar province.

“Who claimed responsibility for horrific attack in Nangarhar today? The Taliban did not claim responsibility for the attack, Daesh [as ISIS is also known] claimed responsibility for the attack,” Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani said during a visit to northeastern province of Badakhshan. He did not identify the source for the claim.

Separately, a militant group linked to ISIS reportedly released a picture of the alleged suicide bomber who struck the bank branch in Jalalabad as people queued up outside to collected their paychecks. The New York Times identified the branch as same one that was attacked in 2011. Responsibility for that bombing, which killed 38 people, was claimed by the Taliban.

A Taliban spokesman denied responsibly for the suicide attack on Saturday, telling Reuters: “It was an evil act. We strongly condemn it.”

If confirmed as an ISIS attack, Saturday’s suicide bombing would mark a significant expansion of the terrorist group’s activities from its base in the Middle East. The attack comes against the backdrop of a significantly reduced presence of foreign troops in the conflict-ridden nation as international forces exit Afghanistan. In March, President Obama announced a slowdown in the pace of withdrawal of U.S. troops in the country, saying America would maintain a nearly 10,000-strong force in Afghanistan through 2015.

The announcement was made during a visit to the U.S. by President Ghani, who, in a speech before a joint session of the U.S. Congress, warned of the “terrible threat” posed by ISIS to the “states of western and central Asia.”

“Terrorist movements whose goal is to destabilize every state in the region are looking for new bases of operation,” he said. “We’re the front line. But terrorists neither recognize boundaries [nor] require passports to spread their message of hate and discord. From the west, the Daesh is already sending advanced guards to southwestern Afghanistan.”

The suicide bombing was one of three explosions that shook Jalalabad on Saturday morning, including what was reported to be a controlled detonation after authorities discovered motorcycle rigged with explosives.

TIME Natural Disasters

‘Isis’ Removed From UN List of Hurricane Names

It was replaced with Ivette

Don’t expect Hurricane Isis to hit anytime soon.

The U.N. has removed “Isis” from its official list of future hurricane names, deeming it inappropriate because of the rise of the militant group the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), Reuters reports.

Clare Nullis, spokesperson for the U.N.’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO), said it’s not unprecedented for the group to strike hurricane names.

“Names are knocked off the list, which rotates every six years, if they are considered inappropriate if they caused too much damage and too much death,” Nullis said.

She told TIME how the process works to take a name off the list: “There was consensus on this. These sorts of decisions are always taken by consensus, there is never a vote.”

The WMO Hurricane Committee has replaced the name Isis with Ivette.

 

TIME China

China Building Runway in Disputed South China Sea Islands

Airstrip construction on Fiery Cross Reef in the South China Sea, seen in a satellite image taken on April 2, 2015.
Reuters Airstrip construction on Fiery Cross Reef in the South China Sea, seen in a satellite image taken on April 2, 2015.

The runway could increase China's influence in the region

China is building a runway capable of handling military aircraft in disputed territory in the South China Sea, according to a recent satellite image released Thursday.

The runway on a reef in the Spratly Islands, an archipelago also claimed in part by Vietnam and the Philippines, could stretch to nearly 10,000 feet and expand China’s influence in a region where at least six countries have overlapping claims. U.S. officials have expressed growing concern over China using reefs to build artificial islands and expand its military presence in the area. China has acknowledged that the islands will serve both civilian and military purposes, according to the New York Times.

President Obama said last week that he had concerns of China using “its sheer size and muscle to force countries into subordinate positions.”

“We think this can be solved diplomatically, but just because the Philippines or Vietnam are not as large as China doesn’t mean that they can just be elbowed aside,” added Obama.

Satellite images detail China's construction activity on Fiery Cross Reef.
EPASatellite images detail China’s construction activity on Fiery Cross Reef.

Construction on the runway appears to have begun in the past few months.

Read next: Veteran Chinese Journalist Gao Yu Sentenced to 7 Years

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Vietnam War

The Last 48 Hours of the Vietnam War in Photos

As thousands fled Saigon and others steeled themselves for takeover, photographers captured a city bracing for the end of war

On April 28, 1975, Saigon was under curfew as North Vietnamese forces drew near. The capital city that for years had evaded attack was now characterized, TIME reported, by “a strange blend of serenity and fear.” Some streets were clogged with a cavalry of bicycles, pedicabs and trucks heading for anywhere but where they were. In other corners, life went on as though it weren’t about to change irrevocably.

The following day, helicopters began airlifting evacuees as Americans and South Vietnamese clamored for spots. Some residents holed up in their homes and waited while others desperately sought a way out, whether by air, by sea or by the benevolence of strangers. One 18-year-old girl placed a classified ad in the Saigon Post, seeking “adoption by or marriage with foreigner of American, French, British, German or other nationality.”

At 10:24 on the morning of April 30, Duong Van Minh, president for all of two days, announced the unconditional surrender of South Vietnam. At midday, tanks stormed through the gates of the Presidential Palace, where Minh waited to cede what power he had left, and a war that had raged for two decades was over.

Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter at @LizabethRonk.

TIME

Is Saudi Arabia Setting the World Up for Major Oil Price Spike?

saudi-arabia-flag
Getty Images

Saudi Arabia will have very little spare capacity if and when the need arises

In order to maintain a grip on market share by pushing U.S. shale producers out of the market, Saudi Arabia (and OPEC) is willing to use up its spare capacity. That could lead to a price spike.

Saudi Arabia produced 10.3 million barrels per day in the month of March, a 658,000 barrel-per-day increase over the previous month. That is the highest level of production in three decades for the leading OPEC member. On top of the Saudi increase, Iraq boosted output by 556,000 barrels per day, and Libya succeeded in bringing 183,000 barrels per day back online. OPEC is now collectively producing nearly 31.5 million barrels per day, well above the cartel’s stated quota of just 30 million barrels per day.

Read more: Latest EIA Predictions Should Be Taken With More Than A Pinch Of Salt

The enormous increase in production comes into a market that is still dealing with extraordinarily low prices. The move could be interpreted as a stepped up effort on behalf of Saudi Arabia to maintain market share at all costs. More output will prolong the slump in oil prices, which will force even more U.S. shale production out of the market. The signs of success are already showing – the U.S. is set to lose 57,000 barrels per day in production in May, and rig counts are still falling.

The increase in Saudi production would also suggest that global markets are well-supplied. But, more Saudi oil comes at the cost of a shrinking global spare capacity. Saudi Arabia is essentially the only oil producer that has significant slack production capabilities, which can be ramped up or down depending on market conditions. That is what has allowed Saudi Arabia to influence prices to its liking for so many years. But when the Kingdom produces near flat out, it starts to run out of ammo. It is kind of like a central bank running interest rates near zero – once you are at that point, you run out of tools in the event that you need to do more.

Read more: Why It Won’t Matter If Oil Prices Rebound

OPEC’s actual levels of spare capacity are somewhat opaque, which makes estimates difficult. But Saudi Arabia producing at its highest level in three decades certainly eats into that reserve. Moreover, Saudi Arabia typically consumes more oil in the summer for domestic purposes, which could further shrink spare capacity in the months ahead. PIRA Energy Group warned of such a scenario in its latest weekly oil report. “Incremental Saudi crude burn demand could push its volume this summer to levels that would substantially reduce global spare capacity, at a time when oil markets will be tighter and geopolitical risks to supply are growing,” PIRA wrote on April 14. Spare capacity may shrink to just 1.7 million barrels per day.

Saudi Arabia is succeeding in pushing out U.S. shale production, but in the meantime, the world is getting hooked on low prices. Oil demand is growing quickly – the IEA predicts global demand will jump from 92.66 million barrels per day in the second quarter up to 94.67 million barrels per day in the fourth quarter.

That will put oil markets in an interesting situation. U.S. production will continue to shrink as the year goes on and Saudi Arabia will have very little spare capacity. If a supply disruption occurs somewhere – more loss of Libyan oil, violence in the Middle East, or a faster-than-expected drop off in U.S. production – the Saudis will be left with little firepower to control a price spike (not that a price spike would necessarily be bad for them).

Read more: Top 12 Media Myths On Oil Prices

There is an argument that U.S. shale has emerged as a sort of collective swing producer – shale operations ramp up and down much quicker than conventional drilling. But they don’t turn on and off that quickly. They can’t mimic the latent supply that the Saudi’s have in their back pocket. Furthermore, shale production is the result of drilling by hundreds of companies, and future investments and drilling will be made by private individuals based on individual financial circumstances, as opposed to state-level geostrategic calculations.

In other words, shale producers, now that they are shrinking their footprints and production levels, will not be able to step up to the plate in a pinch. If global supplies shrink unexpectedly, and Saudi Arabia has run down its spare capacity to low levels, oil markets will tighten to a precarious point.

This article originally appeared on Oilprice.com.

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TIME conflict

Saddam Deputy Killed Near Tikrit, Iraqi Officials Say

Iraqi Vice chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri salutes during a ceremony at the Martyrs Monument in Baghdad, Iraq on Dec. 1, 2002 Gov. Raed al-Jabouri says soldiers and allied Shiite militiamen killed al-Douri on April 17, 2015 in an operation east of the city of Tikrit.
Jassim Mohammed—AP Iraqi Vice chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri salutes during a ceremony at the Martyrs Monument in Baghdad, Iraq on Dec. 1, 2002 Gov. Raed al-Jabouri says soldiers and allied Shiite militiamen killed al-Douri on April 17, 2015 in an operation east of the city of Tikrit.

Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri remained a wanted fugitive since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraqi officials said Friday they believe that government forces killed Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, the former deputy of Saddam Hussein who for over a decade was the top fugitive from the ousted regime and became an underground figure involved in Sunni insurgencies, most recently allying with Islamic State militants.

It was not the first time Iraqi officials have claimed to have killed or captured al-Douri, who was the “king of clubs” in the deck of playing cards issued to help American troops identify key regime fugitives after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion ousted Saddam. DNA tests were underway to confirm whether a body recovered from fighting around the city of Tikrit was al-Douri’s.

Reports of al-Douri’s death came as Iraqi forces are trying to push back Islamic State group fighters in Salahuddin province, where Tikrit is located. Government troops took back several towns near the country’s largest oil refinery at Beiji in the province, officials said.

Further north, a large car bomb exploded Friday afternoon next to the U.S. Consulate in the northern city of Irbil, a rare attack in the capital of the Kurdish autonomy zone. Iraqi police officials said three people were killed and five were wounded in the bombing. U.S. officials said there were no American casualties or casualties among consulate personnel or guards.

An Associated Press reporter at the scene said the powerful blast went off outside a cafe next to the building in Irbil’s Ankawa neighborhood, setting several nearby cars on fire. Shortly afterward, the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the Irbil attack, reported the SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks militant websites.

According to the governor of Salahuddin province, Raed al-Jabouri, al-Douri was killed by Iraqi troops and Shiite militiamen in an operation in the Talal Hamreen mountains east of Tikrit, Saddam’s hometown, which was retaken from the Islamic State group earlier this month.

Troops opened fire at a convoy carrying al-Douri and nine bodyguards, killing all of them, Gen. Haider al-Basri, a senior Iraqi commander, told state TV.

The government issues several photos showing a body purported to be al-Douri. The body had a bright red beard, perhaps dyed, and a ginger-colored moustache. Al-Douri was a fair-skinned redhead with a ginger moustache, making him distinctive among Saddam’s inner circle.

DNA tests were underway to confirm the identity of the body, Iraqi intelligence officials told The AP, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media. In 2013, the Iraqi government said it arrested al-Douri, circulating a photo of a bearded man who resembled the former Baathist. It later said it was a case of mistaken identity.

Col. Pat Ryder, spokesman for U.S. Central Command, said the U.S. has no information to corroborate the reported death of al-Douri.

Al-Douri was officially the No. 2 man in Iraq’s ruling hierarchy. He served as vice chairman of Saddam’s Revolutionary Command Council, was one of Saddam’s few longtime confidants and his daughter was married briefly to Saddam’s son, Odai, who was killed with his brother, Qusai, by U.S. troops in Mosul.

When Saddam’s Baathist regime collapsed as U.S. troops occupied Baghdad, al-Douri disappeared. He was No. 6 on the most-wanted list of 55 Iraqis after the invasion. When Saddam was killed months later and more regime figures were caught, al-Douri became the most prominent fugitive — and U.S. authorities soon linked him to the Sunni insurgencies that erupted against the American occupation and the Shiite-led government that replaced Saddam.

Early in the war, U.S. authorities linked al-Douri to Ansar al-Islam, a militant group with ties to al-Qaida, and he was accused of being a major financier of the insurgency. Sunni former officers from Saddam’s military and police were believed to have played large roles in the insurgency, whether with al-Qaida or other factions.

Al-Douri emerged as a leader of the shadowy Army of the Men of the Naqshabandi Order. The group depicts itself as a nationalist force defending Iraq’s Sunni minority from Shiite rule and as an alternative to the extremist version of Islam championed by al-Qaida. But last year, when the Islamic State group — the successor to al-Qaida’s branch in Iraq — launched a blitz across much of western and northern Iraq, al-Douri, the Naqshabandi Army and other former Saddam-era officers reportedly entered a shaky alliance with it.

When Tikrit was overrun by the Sunni militant group last June, witnesses said fighters raised posters of Saddam and al-Douri. Fighters loyal to his Naqshabandi Army as well as former members of Saddam’s Baath Party were the main militant force in Tikrit at the time of its capture, local residents told The AP at the time. Still, the Naqshabandi Army criticized IS atrocities, including the persecution of religious minorities and the burning of a Jordanian coalition pilot in Syria.

Iraqi security forces recaptured al-Douri’s hometown of Dawr in March as part of its large-scale offensive to retake Tikrit. Government forces seized control of Tikrit on April 1.

In Washington, Deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said there were no U.S. casualties among consulate staff or local guard staff in the Irbil attack.

Also Friday, Iraqi security forces gained full control over a contested area south of the Beiji refinery as part of their push to secure the rest of Salahuddin province.

General Ayad al-Lahabi, a commander with the Salahuddin Command Center, said the military, backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes and Shiite and Sunni militias dubbed the Popular Mobilization Forces, gained control of the towns of al-Malha and al-Mazraah, located 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) south of the Beiji oil refinery, killing at least 160 militants with the Islamic State group.

Al-Lahabi said security forces are trying to secure two corridors around the refinery itself after the Sunni militants launched a large-scale attack on the complex earlier this week, hitting the refinery walls with explosive-laced Humvees.

Extremists from the Islamic State group seized much of Salahuddin province last summer during their advance across northern and western Iraq. The battle for Tikrit was seen as a key step toward eventually driving the militants out of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city and the capital of Nineveh province. In November, Iraqi security forces said they had recaptured the town of Beiji from the militant group. The refinery had never been captured by the militants but has been subjected to frequent attacks by the group.

In Iraq’s western Anbar province, Iraqi special forces maintained control of the provincial capital, Ramadi, after days of intense clashes with the Islamic State group left the city at risk. Sabah Nuaman, a special forces commander in Anbar, said the situation had improved early Friday after airstrikes hit key militant targets on the city’s fringes.

Sabah al-Karhout, head of Anbar’s provincial council, said there were no major attacks on the city Friday but that the militants still maintained control of three villages to the east of Ramadi, which they captured Wednesday, sending thousands of civilians fleeing for safety.

In Baghdad, a series of bombings ripped through the city on Friday, mainly targeting public places and killing at least 40 people, Iraqi officials said. No group claimed responsibility for the latest attacks, though the Islamic State has taken credit for similar attacks in the past, especially those targeting Shiites, as well as Iraqi security forces and government buildings.

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