ISIL battles rage in Iraqi cities

Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters mounted one of their fiercest assaults in months Wednesday, setting off 21 car bombs in the city of Ramadi, even as the group lost ground in an Iraqi government offensive in Tikrit. Security forces fought ISIL holdouts in two remaining neighborhoods on the west side of Tikrit, where militants massacred more than 1,000 Shiite Iraqi soldiers last year. The city has been the focus of a weeklong assault by Iraqi forces, the largest operation against ISIL since it swept into control of much of the country last year.

General worries about Iran's role

While Iran's support in the fight against ISIL is helpful, the U.S. remains concerned about what happens "after the drums stop beating" and the militants are defeated, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday. He said that anything anyone does to counter ISIL is a "positive thing," but there is concern about whether Iran-backed militiamen, who are Shia, will turn against Sunni Iraqis, further destabilizing Iraq.

French shown in propaganda video

A man and a boy featured in an ISIL propaganda video that threatens Jews and shows the killing of a Palestinian were identified as French citizens, and investigators are looking into whether the man is related to an extremist who attacked a Jewish school in France in 2012. The man is suspected of being the brother-in-law of Mohammed Merah, who killed seven people in the March 11, 2012, attacks. In the video, the man praised attacks on Jews "in your own stronghold in France" as he and the boy stood behind the man about to be killed.

News services