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Middle East watchers round up latest from Iran, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Qatar

by AirTalk®

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US Marines and Afghan National Army (ANA) personnel hold flags during a handover ceremony at Leatherneck Camp in Lashkar Gah in the Afghan province of Helmand on April 29, 2017. WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP/Getty Images

We’re hearing some good news out of Iraq this morning as the Iraqi military is reporting it has surrounded the Islamic State’s stronghold in the Old City of Mosul after liberating the city’s al-Shifaa district.

U.S.-backed forces will now look at how to go about reclaiming control of the city, which is ISIS’ de-facto capital, without collateral damage to the hundreds of thousands of people suspected to still be in the Old City.

Meanwhile, Iranian forces launched a missile strike on an Islamic State target in the eastern Syrian city of Deir el-Zour in response to terrorist attacks in Iran’s capital, Tehran, earlier this month. President Trump had previously put Iran ‘on notice’ regarding missile tests, and it remains to be seen how the White House will respond.

This comes as tensions between the U.S. and Russia heighten after the U.S. shot down a Syrian government jet on Sunday and Russia responded by threatening to target any U.S.-backed jets west of the Euphrates River. It’s all part of a continuing proxy war that the U.S. and Russia are fighting through Syria.

There are also questions on the horizon about the United States’ future involvement in Afghanistan after President Trump gave Secretary of Defense James Mattis authority to decide on troop levels there, a decision that some are questioning.

We’ll also take a look at what has happened since four Arab nations cut ties with Qatar.

Guest host Libby Denkmann in for Larry Mantle


Borzou Daragahi, Middle East correspondent for Buzzfeed News; he tweets @borzou

Aaron David Miller, Vice President for New Initiatives and a distinguished scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center; he tweets @aarondmiller2

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