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Fighting in Tikrit in April
Fighting in Tikrit in April
Hélène Sallon

TIKRIT — A line of vehicles has formed in front of the checkpoint at the southern entrance to Tikrit. The nine members of the Mouslah family, their personal goods and some food are stuffed into their overcrowded car. As policemen give instructions, the father, Nasser, fills out a form on the hood of the car while his children and wife wait under the shade of a tent. An hour later, he is given the precious paper, after the police and the intelligence services had verified that he was not on the list of those linked to ISIS, the Islamic State terror group.

After Tikrit's liberation on March 31, the jihadists have been pushed back 70 kilometers to the north, behind several defensive lines. But doubts remain about the identity of the men who helped ISIS conquer Saddam Hussein's former home territory in June 2014. Ten men had discovered with horror that their names appeared on the list of the terrorist group associates. "They are under investigation," is all that Iraqi colonel Karim Salman, head of military intelligence of the Salaheddine district, will say.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Kharkiv Revisited: Inside Russia's New Assault On The "Hero City" Of Ukraine

The nation's second-largest city, Kharkiv was quiet for weeks after Ukrainian forces took control. But now it is again under attack as Russia pushes to capture the city that's considered the "gateway" to Ukraine. Die Welt reports from the frontline.

Damages due to Russian shelling in Kharkiv, Ukraine

Alfred Hackensberger

KHARKIV — "Come, I want to show you something," Denys Vezenych says, opening the door of his dental office.

The 40-year-old begins to tell the story in the waiting room: "It was April 16 when the Russian artillery shell hit. The windowpanes were broken, the walls had holes everywhere and the roof was destroyed. But I renovated everything."

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The repairs cost him several thousand euros. "You have to think positively, because life goes on," he explains with a smile. But this attitude is not so present generally in Saltivka, a neighborhood in northeastern Kharkiv. The dental practice may be like new, but the rest of this area in the northeastern Ukrainian city is completely destroyed.

The Russian army has done a great job in its three-month offensive on Ukraine's second largest metropolis. Countless flats have been burned out, the facades of houses have been shot to pieces, entire shopping centers have been bombed. Debris still lie in the streets everywhere.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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