AP News in Brief at 11:04 p.m. EDT

Iraqi PM signals start of operations to drive IS from Mosul

IRBIL, Iraq (AP) — Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the start of military operations to liberate the northern city of Mosul from Islamic State militants on Monday, launching the country on its toughest battle since American troops left nearly five years ago.

State TV aired a brief statement in the early hours Monday announcing the start of the widely anticipated military offensive to drive IS out of Iraq’s second-largest city.

Broadcasts showed the prime minister, dressed in the uniform of the elite counterterrorism forces, speaking while flanked by senior military officers.

“These forces that are liberating you today, they have one goal in Mosul which is to get rid of Daesh and to secure your dignity. They are there for your sake,” he told the city’s residents, using an alternate name for the militant group. “God willing, we shall win.”

The thuds of sporadic artillery shelling rumbled across the rolling Nineveh plains in the direction of Mosul, witnesses said. State TV broadcast patriotic music within minutes of the announcement.


Pence says GOP ticket will ‘absolutely’ accept vote outcome

WASHINGTON (AP) — Mike Pence said Sunday he and Donald Trump will abide by “the will of the American people” on Election Day, and suggested that Trump’s claim of a ‘rigged” election stems from his belief the media is ganging up on him.

“We will absolutely accept the results of the election,” Pence said in television interviews. He said Trump’s complaint, articulated from the campaign stage and across Twitter but without evidence, reflects fatigue with “the obvious bias in the national media. That’s where the sense of a rigged election goes here.”

Not long after Pence said that, Trump partly undermined his comments.

“The election is absolutely being rigged by the dishonest and distorted media pushing Crooked Hillary – but also at many polling places,” Trump tweeted. “SAD.”

Pence’s words were the latest attempt by Trump’s surrogates to attempt to explain that some things the GOP presidential nominee has said and tweeted are not what he meant.


10 Things to Know for Monday

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Monday:


Iraq announces the start of operations to drive Islamic State militants from the country’s second-largest city.


With the billionaire businessman complaining of a “rigged election,” Mike Pence pledges that he and Trump will abide by “the will of the American people” on Election Day.


Analysis: Trump ‘rigged’ vote claim may leave lasting damage

WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump keeps peddling the notion the vote may be rigged. It’s unclear whether he understands the potential damage of his words, or simply doesn’t care.

Trump’s claim, made without evidence, undercuts the essence of American democracy, the idea that U.S. elections are free and fair, with the vanquished peacefully stepping aside for the victor. His repeated assertions are sowing suspicion among his most ardent supporters, raising the possibility that millions of people may not accept the results on Nov. 8 if Trump loses.

The responsibilities for the New York billionaire in such a scenario are minimal. Trump holds no public office and has said he’ll simply go back to his “very good way of life” if Democrat Hillary Clinton wins.

Instead, Clinton and congressional Republicans, should they retain control, would be left trying to govern in a country divided not just by ideology, but also the legitimacy of the presidency.

As Trump’s campaign careens from crisis to crisis, he’s broadened his unfounded allegations that Clinton, her backers and the media are conspiring to steal the election. He’s accused Clinton of meeting with global financial powers to “plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty” and argued his opponent shouldn’t have even been allowed to seek the White House.


GOP strategists: Clinton is in good shape with 3 weeks left

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — With roughly three weeks to Election Day, Republican strategists nationwide publicly concede Hillary Clinton has a firm grip on the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the White House — and may be on her way to an even more decisive victory over Donald Trump.

“He is on track to totally and completely melting down,” said Republican pollster Whit Ayers, who is advising Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s re-election campaign. Like many Republican strategists, he was willing to speak publicly about the GOP nominee’s rough road ahead at the end of an unprecedented campaign.

Things can change before Election Day. There is one more presidential debate, and Trump has rallied before. His core supporters remain strongly committed.

But along with indicators such as polling, campaign travel, staffing and advertising, the interviews with Republican political professionals unaffiliated with the Trump campaign suggest only an epic collapse by Clinton would keep her from winning enough states to become president.

In the past week, Trump’s campaign has been hit by allegations the New York billionaire sexually accosted several women over the past three decades. Early voting in pivotal North Carolina and Florida shows positive signs for Clinton, and donations to the Republican National Committee are down about a quarter over the past three months from the same period in 2012, when Mitt Romney was the nominee.


Nigerian parents reunite with 21 girls freed by Boko Haram

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — Joy, jubilation and dancing erupted Sunday when a group of Nigerian parents were reunited with 21 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram 2 ½ years ago and freed in the first negotiated release organized by the government and the Islamic extremist group.

The girls were hugged and embraced by their parents when they were presented by the government, according to video obtained by The Associated Press.

“I never expected I will see my daughter again and I pray that those girls still left behind, that God will bring them out safely the way our own daughter came out alive,” said a mother of one of the released girls, Raha Emmanuel, in the Hausa language.

The girls were released Thursday and flown to Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, but it’s taken days for the parents to arrive. Most arrived Sunday after driving hours over potholed roads slowed by military checkpoints and the danger of attack by the insurgents, said community leader Tsambido Hosea Abana.

The parents came from the remote northeastern town of Chibok, where nearly 300 girls were kidnapped on April 2014 in a mass abduction that shocked the world. Dozens of schoolgirls escaped in the first few hours but after last week’s release, 197 remain captive. The government says negotiations are continuing to win their freedom.


China launches manned mission to experimental space station

BEIJING (AP) — China launched a pair of astronauts into space Monday on a mission to dock with an experimental space station and remain aboard for 30 days in preparation for the start of operations by a full-bore facility six years from now.

The Shenzhou 11 mission took off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on the edge of the Gobi Desert in northern China at 7:30 a.m. (2330 GMT) aboard a Long March-2F carrier rocket.

It will dock with the Tiangong 2 space station precursor facility within two days, conduct experiments in medicine and various space-related technologies, and test systems and processes in preparation for the launching of the station’s core module in 2018.

Space program commander-in-chief Gen. Zhang Youxia declared the launch a success at 7:46 a.m. (2346 GMT). Defense Minister Fan Changlong then read a congratulatory message from President Xi Jinping calling for China’s astronauts to explore space “more deeply and more broadly.”

Premier Li Keqiang and propaganda chief Liu Yunshan visited the Beijing control center to congratulate staff. It is the sixth time China has launched astronauts into space and the duration will be the longest by far.


Turkish-backed Syrian opposition captures Dabiq from IS

BEIRUT (AP) — Turkish-backed Syrian opposition forces captured the symbolically-significant town of Dabiq from the Islamic State group on Sunday as government forces reversed recent rebel advances in the center of the country.

Though only a small town of marginal strategic importance in northern Syria, Dabiq has figured centrally in IS propaganda. Citing Islamic lore, the extremist group claims it will be the stage for an apocalyptic battle between Crusaders and an army of the Muslim caliphate that will herald doomsday.

Meanwhile, southwest of Dabiq, Syrian government forces pounded rebel-held districts in the contested city of Aleppo, culminating in a devastating airstrike on a residential building in the Qaterji neighborhood late in the evening that killed at least 25 people, according to the Civil Defense search-and-rescue outfit. Spokesman Ibrahim Alhaj said some families remain trapped under the rubble.

The Qaterji attack brought the death toll to 49 from strikes on opposition-run eastern Aleppo on Sunday, according to Al Haj.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights group, which monitors the conflict through local contacts, put the toll from the Qaterji attack at no less than 15 civilian fatalities, and Sunday’s tally for the eastern portion of the city at 31 civilians.


Randy Travis stuns crowd, sings at Hall of Fame induction

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Country singer Randy Travis found his distinctive voice three years after a life-threatening stroke and sang “Amazing Grace” during his induction Sunday into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

The Grammy-winning baritone singer battled back from the stroke in 2013 to sing again during the medallion ceremony in Nashville, Tennessee. He was inducted along with fiddler Charlie Daniels and record producer Fred Foster.

Fellow artists including Kris Kristofferson, Dolly Parton, Alan Jackson, Brad Paisley, Garth Brooks and more honored the three inductees with musical tributes.

But it was Travis’ singing that brought a stunned silence and tears to the crowd after years of rehabilitation and therapy to regain his voice.

Mary Davis-Travis, his wife, spoke about the numerous procedures and surgeries to save his life and a six-month stay in the hospital after a viral infection caused his stroke.


Kershaw helps Dodgers blank Cubs 1-0 in NLCS Game 2

CHICAGO (AP) — Clayton Kershaw pitched seven sparkling innings, Adrian Gonzalez homered and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Chicago Cubs 1-0 on Sunday night to tie the NL Championship Series at a game apiece.

Kershaw retired his first 14 batters and allowed just two hits in first outing since he pitched three times in the NL Division Series, including a two-out save in Game 5 on Thursday night in Washington. He struck out six and walked one in the best playoff start of his illustrious career.

The Dodgers needed a clutch pitching performance after their heartbreaking 8-4 loss in the series opener, and their ace left-hander stepped up. Kenley Jansen then got six outs for his third save of the playoffs.

Game 3 is Tuesday night in Los Angeles, with Cubs right-hander Jake Arrieta facing Dodgers lefty Rich Hill.

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