John Ray

Diplomatic Correspondent

John Ray is Diplomatic Correspondent for ITV News. He was formerly Middle East Correspondent and was the first Western TV journalist to report from inside Syria's borders at the start of the war.

  1. John Ray

IS held Mosul Dam 'like terrorists with nuclear weapon'

I have been speaking to General Mansour Barzani, head of Kurdish Peshmerga Special Forces.

He told me that the Islamic State seizure of Mosul Dam was like terrorists possessing a nuclear weapon, such was the potential destructive potential if the dam had been breached.

Whilst they controlled the area IS had killed many men and kidnapped many women, General Barzani said.

He also thanked the US for their air support but said that the Peshmerga still needed more heavy weapons from the West.

  1. John Ray

Evidence of ferocious fighting at liberated Mosul Dam

Credit: ITV News

We have arrived at Mosul Dam.

Victorious Kurdish Peshmerga forces told us that the fighting to retake the dam was tough and that Islamic State militants defending it were "brave and well armed."

Around the dam there is a great deal of evidence of a ferocious fight. At the gates of the compound there are piles of spent cartridges from high calibre weapons. There are burnt out vehicles used by the Jihadists across the area.

Several buildings entirely collapsed after being hit by US airstrikes; looks like precision targeting by the Americans.

For all the destruction around the dam, the structure itself seems to be fully intact - I've only seen one crater from a missile in the road along the top of the dam.

On the way we've past 15 miles of wrecked cars and smashed up buildings, evidence of the fierce three day fight here.

The area appears to be in complete control of Kurdish Peshmerga. We also saw some Shia militia fighters from Iraq.

  1. John Ray

Russians are hearing a very different story about MH17

Vladimir Putin still enjoys support in the Russian polls. Credit: Reuters

The people of Russia are getting a very different narrative in the aftermath of the Malaysia Airlines disaster, and it is one wrapped in a great deal of anti-western sentiment.

Of course there is sympathy for the victims of the downed plane. But there is a lot of sympathy, too, for the pro-Russian separatists.

Vladimir Putin's poll ratings are pretty much untouched - they are still sky high - and there is one irony in all of this. He for years has been telling the Russian people that they are an isolated nation surrounded by a sea of enemies.

That has become a self-fulfilling prophecy, and that is also what makes this a very dangerous moment.

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