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Elite Iraqi forces retook a town on the eastern edge of Mosul on Thursday while Kurdish peshmerga fighters opened a new front in the offensive to wrest back the jihadists' last bastion in Iraq. France and Iraq were co-chairing the meeting on the future of Mosul, which observers have warned could raise even greater humanitarian and interconfessional challenges than the massive military operation to retake it. In some areas, the Iraqi advance was met by a trickle of civilians fleeing both the fighting and the jihadists who ruled them for two years, but the feared mass exodus from Mosul had yet to materialise.
US software colossus Microsoft on Thursday reported a slip in quarterly profit but still topped expectations due to rising demand for offerings in the internet cloud. Microsoft posted a net profit of $4.7 billion, down four percent from a year earlier, on revenue that remained essentially flat at $20.5 billion. Microsoft shares jumped more than five percent to $60.46 in after-market trades that followed release of the earnings figures.