- AP News
- Abc News
Fighting flared across Iraq on Sunday as government and Kurdish forces stepped up efforts to dislodge Isis fighters from strongholds in Fallujah and around Mosul.
The Iraqi army, backed by special forces, Shia militias and coalition air power, deployed around the northern, western and southern approaches to the Sunni city of Fallujah. The city was taken by Isis in January 2014, months before the militant group’s rapid assault across Iraq.
Isis forces responded to the assault on the outskirts of Fallujah with suicide bombs to the north and a counter-attack in the south of the city that was repelled by helicopter gunships. Isis is also trying to retake the town of Hit, further north-west in the province of al-Anbar, which it lost this year.
In the campaign, launched a week ago, Iraqi forces have taken much of the territory encircling Fallujah, according to military officers cited by agencies.
While Sunni tribesmen have joined the forces seeking to oust Isis, Iranian backing for the Shia government in Baghdad has sparked concerns among Iraqi Sunnis, who fear reprisals as Shia militias spearhead the central government’s military advance into Isis areas.
Residents have already claimed that Shia militias torched farms and mosques after retaking the city of al-Karmah, close to Fallujah, over the weekend.
On Saturday Sunni parliamentarians condemned a visit by Major General Qassem Soleimani, head of foreign military operations for Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, to paramilitary forces fighting alongside the Iraqi army near Fallujah. They said Mr Soleimani’s visit would stoke sectarian tensions, undermining claims that the drive against Isis was a national endeavour.
Iran has defended its intervention, saying Mr Soleimani is in Iraq at the request of the elected government to “fight terrorists”.
The US-led coalition is also helping a Kurdish offensive against villages about 20km east of Isis’s Mosul stronghold in northwestern Iraq. The Kurdish Regional Security Council said about 5,500 Peshmerga troops took part in the dawn offensive around Khazir on Sunday.
- 中国城市步行评价报告出炉 四川巴中位居第一
- ‘Human guinea pigs’: ISIS conducted ‘Nazi-style’ chemical experiments, docs
- Indonesia eyes joint anti-ISIS patrols with Philippines & Malaysia
- ISIS sex slave survivor demands recognition of Yazidi genocide in tearful homeco
- 每天听一点新闻 第196期：朝韩在菲武装地带会谈
- ’Merkel's fault': Poland's ruling party leader blames Germany for EU refugee cr
- ISIS destroys ancient artefacts as campaign against Syrian heritage sites contin