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Aleppo on alert, ISIS is using Iraqi families as “human shields” in Mosul, and more from the rest of the world

What happened to the rest of the world while America voted

While the entire world seemed to be watching Tuesday as Donald Trump claimed the most unlikely of victories to become the 45th president-elect of the United States, there were actually other major stories unfolding at the same time.

Here are a few things that happened while the U.S. election dominated the news.

ISIS human shields

In Iraq, Islamic State group militants are forcing 1,500 Iraqi families to march to Mosul from the village of Hammam al-Alil as part of the ISIS defense of its stronghold city against Iraqi forces.

“People forcibly moved or abducted, it appears, are either intended to be used as human shields or — depending on their perceived affiliations — killed,” United Nations human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said in a news conference, according to The Guardian.

Iraqi officials began an investigation Tuesday into a mass grave in Hamman al-Alil. Iraq’s Joint Operations Command initially reported that up to 100 bodies were discovered in the grave, but the figure has since been revised downward to “dozens.”

Aleppo on alert

Russia is maintaining its focus on Syria and is preparing to resume airstrikes on the besieged city of Aleppo, according to military sources who spoke to Russian news site Gazeta.ru. A source inside Russia’s defense ministry said airstrikes were imminent, according to a report published Tuesday by the Interfax news agency. 

Russia has finished assembling a major naval presence in the eastern Mediterranean, including its only aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov. The threat of renewed airstrikes comes as the Syrian army on Wednesday claimed to have regained control of the strategically important district in Aleppo known as the 1070 Apartments.

India bans 500 and 1,000 rupee notes

In a move that surprised much of India, the country’s government withdrew 500- and 1,000-rupee notes ($7.50 and $15, respectively) from circulation in an attempt to flush out cash hidden from the tax man. The notes make up 85 percent of the cash in circulation, according to the BBC.

While people can exchange the currency, the two notes became illegal tender, leaving many unable to pay for basic goods and services, since much of the Indian population does not have access to the banking system. And those that do faced long lines at ATMs.

New 2,000- and 500-rupee notes will replace those removed from circulation over the next “three to four weeks,” Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said. 

EU accuses Turkey of “serious backsliding” in membership bid

A new report from the European Commission accused Turkey of “serious backsliding” in its attempts to meet the criteria for joining the EU. The report focused on the country’s post-coup purge, which has seen President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan clamp down on opponents in the government, the military, and the media.

One Turkish minister pushed back on the latest commission report, however, describing it as “not objective,” according to the BBC

Estonian PM loses vote of confidence

The Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Roivas lost a parliamentary vote of no confidence on Wednesday, which opened up the possibility of a party more friendly to the Kremlin taking power.

Roivas has been a vocal critic of Russia and its annexation of Crimea and strongly supported sanctions against President Putin’s government.

The vote came after the junior coalition partners, the Social Democrat party, deserted Roivas and his center-right Reform Party. The prime minister said they had been negotiating behind his back. The Social Democrat party has reportedly begun talks with the pro-Russian Centre Party about forming a new coalition.

And in chocolate news…

Toblerone, the beloved Swiss-made chocolate bar, announced a change to its shape by narrowing the triangular pieces and increasing the gap between them. While the move seems minimal, the triangular chocolate bar’s fans aren’t taking it well. In fact, they’re freaking out. They filled the company’s Facebook page and Twitter mentions with furious reactions on Tuesday.

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