Iraqi forces recapture Mosul from Islamic State
After an offensive that lasted almost two years, the Iraqi security forces announced in early July that the city of Mosul was finally being liberated from the Islamic State (IS) group. The defeat of IS in Mosul was a major milestone for Iraq as well as the coalition in diminishing the influence of the militant group in the region. The country’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi who made the declaration on 10th July also took the opportunity to congratulate his soldiers for their bravery. Despite the declaration, fighting continued in the Old City in western Mosul where pockets of resistance were being reported. Apart from heavy casualties and damage, the battle for Mosul also displaced thousands of people from their homes in the city.
Flooding causes major disruptions in northern and southern hemispheres
The month of July witnessed a number of massive flooding incidents that affected Asia and parts of Europe. In Asia, Japan experienced severe flooding in Kyushu that left dozens of people dead or missing and also caused heavy material damage. Similar situations were also reported in southern China, India’s Gujarat as well as northeastern Bangladesh, putting millions of people at risk. In Europe, flooding was also reported in Cornwall in the United Kingdom and in Turkey's largest city of Istanbul, triggering transport disruptions. In the southern hemisphere, flooding forced many to evacuate their homes in New Zealand, particularly in Christchurch where a state of emergency was declared.
Heatwave in Europe causes wildfires
While parts of the world experienced the wettest season of the year so far, it was also a contrasting situation in some countries where severe a heatwave triggered wildfires in some towns and cities. In Europe, wildfires were reported in Portugal’s Leiria region where dozens of people were killed on a rural road that got engulfed in flames. With heavy loss of lives, the wildfires have been the worst incident in the country’s history. In France, the wildfires in Cote d’Azur region also prompted the evacuation of more than 10,000 people and resulted in the government formally requesting foreign assistance to combat the blaze. Across the Atlantic, the wildfire situation in Canada’s British Columbia also caused a trail of destruction in many small towns in the province.
Israel’s closure of Al-Aqsa mosque triggers outcry, protests in the Muslim world
After a deadly shooting incident in mid-July, the Israeli authorities decided to shut the Al-Aqsa Mosque, drawing condemnations from Palestinians. In the days that followed the shutdown, protests were reported numerous cities in the Muslim world such as Gaza, Rafah, Amman, Istanbul, Ankara, Kuala Lumpur as well as in the west including New York City, London, and Vienna. Amid heightening tension, the Israeli authorities continued to deploy more personnel to ensure security in the Old City of Jerusalem. Some had warned that such measures could alienate the Palestinians further, raising the prospect of more clashes.
North Korea test-fires its first ICBM, draws strong criticisms from Trump administration
North Korea conducted its first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test in early July, escalating the already heightened tension between Pyongyang and Washington. The Trump administration strongly criticized the test that came as the US marked its Independence Day and called for tougher action by the North’s closest ally, China, to punish its belligerent neighbor. Although many analysts concurred that the rogue state is still years away to master technologies necessary to deliver a nuclear warhead to US soil, the test was still being regarded as worrisome as it demonstrated the rapid and steady progress of North Korea's missile programme over the years.