Bloody battle in northern Iraq

US forces have killed at least 27 Iraqis after attacking groups attempting to drive out foreign troops and security forces loyal to Baghdad's Washington-imposed government in Tal Afar.

    Scores of Tal Afar civilians have been caught up in crossfire

    Doctors in Tal Afar, a town west of Mosul, confirmed on Wednesday that a further 70 people have been wounded during the latest offensive into the town. Fighting continues and the toll is expected to rise.

    Dr Rabya Khalil, the general director of health in Iraq's northern province of Ninawa, told Aljazeera his medics was unable to reach all the wounded.

    "We sent ambulances, medical teams and medical supplies but unfortunately the Iraqi national guardsmen prevented them to enter the town. This is a shameful action and unacceptable act as how wounded could be evacuated to hospitals.

    Doctor's plea

    "We call on the Iraqi government to intervene to prevent such violation of human rights. It was a slaughter that should not have taken place.

    "All the casualties were Iraqis. Residents of Tal Afar resisted occupation forces which carried out this attack to punish them", he added.

    But a US military statement said the attack came after US troops and Iraqi police "were repeatedly attacked by a large terrorist element that has displaced local Iraqi Security forces throughout recent weeks".
       
    "These attacks by terrorist groups included rocket-propelled grenades, small arms fire, mortars and roadside bombs … resulted in civilian casualties." 
       
    Previous skirmish

    On Saturday, Iraqis and US forces battled in Tal Afar for several hours in clashes that killed at least 13 people.

    An army helicopter made a forced landing after coming under fire, and a Stryker vehicle sent to seal off the site where the helicopter came down was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade.
       
    The past few days have seen a surge in attacks and clashes in Iraq that pushed the official Pentagon US death toll for the war to above 1000.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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