Officials from the regime of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un have said that their country’s military now has the ability to create nuclear warheads that can fit on missiles—missile engineered to reach the U.S. Officials in the U.S. however aren’t necessarily buying the new claims about North Korea’s “world-level strategic weapon,” pointing to the fact that the country frequently exaggerates—or completely fabricates—information about its regime and military. A Joint Chiefs of Staff official said that despite “clever video editors and spinmeisters,” DPRK has “not gotten as far” as they claim in developing the technology, telling a D.C. forum, “They are years away from developing this capability.”

However, as The Washington Post notes, the prospect of the North Korean military creating a missile-sized nuke may not be that far off according to some experts. An expert for the International Crisis Group, Daniel Pinkston, told the paper, “I think they probably have a small device that they can put on a missile, but as far as actually using it goes, no one has been able to demonstrate anything" ... Discuss

After a series of “heavy clashes” with government forces in Syria, ISIS militants have reportedly seized as much as a third of the Syrian town of Palmyra. Palmyra, situated in central part of the country, is a known for its ancient ruins, which are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Thousands of years ago, Palmyra was an important caravan stop for travelers. According to UNESCO, “From the 1st to the 2nd century, the art and architecture of Palmyra, standing at the crossroads of several civilizations, married Graeco-Roman techniques with local traditions and Persian influences.” ISIS has been known to destroy ancient artifacts and historical sites as part of the group’s goal to create a unified Muslim caliphate in Iraq and Syria. Just a few days ago, ISIS militants took control of Ramadi—the capital city of Anbar province in Iraq—displacing thousands of civilians. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Syrian government forces are still fighting ISIS for control of the rest of Palmyra ... Discuss

According to the AP, as many as 500 civilians have been killed during ISIS’ takeover of the Iraqi city of Ramadi. At least 8,000 people have been displaced during the fighting and the invasion of the radical Islamist militants. American officials have deployed 32 airstrikes in the region in recent weeks, targeting ISIS, and have promised to help try to take back the large city. Despite a televised plea from the country’s Prime Minister, there are reports that local security forces abandoned their bases during the battle, leaving weaponry and military equipment behind ... Discuss

The Islamic State (ISIS) launched a full-scale attack on security forces in the Iraqi city of Ramadi, according to several news sources. The assault, which began yesterday and continues today, includes suicide bombings by militants dressed as Iraqi soldiers.

As of Friday afternoon, ISIS “seized the main government headquarters in Ramadi, and raised their black flag before setting fire to the compound,” reported The New York Times.

More from the Times:

The Islamic State’s capture of the government quarter, even though it was too early to declare that the entire city had fallen, represents a significant setback in the Iraqi government’s long fight to defend Ramadi, the capital of the sprawling western desert province of Anbar.

As ISIS fighters advanced on Friday there were reports of mass executions. Sheikh Omar Shihan al-Alwani, a tribal leader whose men have been fighting ISIS there, said that more than a dozen families had been killed in his area of Ramadi, and an estimated 50 policemen and tribal fighters.

A South Korean intelligence agency is reporting that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un recently orchestrated the public execution of the country’s longtime Defense Minister. The spy’s report said that the high-ranking official recently fell asleep in a meeting led by Kim, and did not adequately carry out orders. Intelligence indicates that on April 30, Kim gathered a large audience to watch as Hyon Yong-chol was brutally executed with massive anti-aircraft guns. Hyon was seen as one of Kim’s top officials, and recently represented the country at a summit in Moscow. As the BBC notes, the high rate of executions in the country—at least one official every week—could point to increasing instability among leadership ... Discuss

Just months after the founder of the secular blog “Free Mind” was murdered in the streets by Islamic extremists armed with machetes, another Bangladeshi blogger has been hacked to death. Ananta Bijoy Das also wrote for the blog, which identifies itself as a “congregation of freethinkers, rationalists, skeptics, atheists & humanists of mainly Bengali and South Asian descent.” Das is the third anti-religious-extremism blogger to be murdered in the country in recent months. As Buzzfeed notes, though the nation’s government is officially non-religious, the population is largely Muslim, and the country’s main Islamist political party was formally banned by courts two years ago. Das was known as an advocate of science and was critical of religious fundamentalism. Like the other victims—who were also critical Islam and extremism—he was hacked to death in a public street ... Discuss