Iraq Forces Shell IS Near Mosul 10/24 06:11
Iraqi forces shelled Islamic State positions outside Mosul on Monday as
fighting to retake the extremist-held city entered its second week and a rights
group urged a probe into a suspected airstrike that hit a mosque, killing over
a dozen civilians.
BARTELLA, Iraq (AP) -- Iraqi forces shelled Islamic State positions outside
Mosul on Monday as fighting to retake the extremist-held city entered its
second week and a rights group urged a probe into a suspected airstrike that
hit a mosque, killing over a dozen civilians.
The purported airstrike in northern Iraq struck the women's section of a
Shiite mosque on Friday in the town of Daquq amid a large Islamic State assault
on the nearby city of Kirkuk. That assault was meant to distract the Iraqi
forces and their allies from the massive operation around Mosul, the country's
second largest city.
Human Rights Watch said Daquq's residents believe the attack was an
airstrike because of the extent of the destruction and because planes could be
heard flying overhead. The New York-based watchdog said at least 13 people were
The U.S.-led coalition and the Iraqi military, which are waging the
offensive to drive IS from Mosul, are the only parties known to be flying
military aircraft over Iraq.
Col. John Dorrian, a U.S. military spokesman, said the coalition had
"definitively determined" that it did not conduct the airstrike that killed
civilians in Daquq, and had shared its findings with the Iraqi government,
which is carrying out its own investigation.
"The Coalition uses precision munitions and an exhaustive process to reduce
the possibility of civilian casualties and collateral damage because the
preservation of civilian life is (of) paramount importance to us," Dorrian said.
Iraqi Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool, the spokesman for the Joint Military Command,
confirmed the Iraqi government was investigating the attack. He declined to say
whether Iraqi or coalition planes were flying in the area at the time of the
The strike in Daquq, around 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of Kirkuk, took
place as dozens of IS militants attacked several government and security
compounds in and around the city of Kirkuk, some 170 kilometers (100 miles)
southeast of Mosul. The assault lasted for two days and killed at least 80
people, mainly security forces.
IS launched a similar attack on the western Iraqi town of Rutba, hundreds of
kilometers (miles) away from Mosul, on Sunday. Rasool said the situation there
"is completely under control," and IS militants have no presence inside the
Dorrian, the coalition spokesman, said "Iraqi forces continue to attack the
enemy with coalition air support" in Rutba and that "operations are ongoing."
He says coalition airstrikes have destroyed five Islamic State vehicles and
killed a "significant" number of militants in the town, which is hundreds of
kilometers (miles) from Mosul.
The IS-run Aamaq news agency posted a video online that it said showed
fighters attacking a military position on Sunday north of Rutba.
Over the past week, Iraqi and Kurdish forces have been battling IS in a belt
of mostly uninhabited towns and villages to the north, east and south of Mosul,
pushing to within 9 kilometers (5 miles) of the city.
On Monday, Iraqi special forces began shelling IS positions before dawn near
the town of Bartella, said Maj. Gen. Haider al-Obeidi. Bartella, a historically
Christian town 15 kilometers (9 miles) to the east of Mosul, was retaken by
Iraqi special forces last week.
Shortly afterward, a convoy of special forces advanced toward the village of
Tob Zawa, encountering roadside bombs and trading heavy fire with the
militants. Loudspeakers on the Humvees blared Iraqi patriotic music as they
pushed toward the village.
The campaign to retake Mosul comes after months of planning and involves
more than 25,000 Iraqi troops, Kurdish forces, Sunni tribal fighters and
state-sanctioned Shiite militias. It is expected to take weeks, if not months,
to drive IS out of Iraq's second largest city, which is still home to more than
a million people.
The militants captured Mosul in the summer of 2014, when they swept across
much of northern and western Iraq. IS has suffered a series of setbacks over
the past year, and Mosul is its last major urban bastion in Iraq.