Iraq Tal Afar offensive stepped up

Iraqi and US forces have stepped up their offensive against rebels in the northern town of Tal Afar, while tightening security on the nearby Syrian border, Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari has said.

    Preparations for the Tal Afar offensive started on Thursday

    "Iraqi security and coalition forces continue to eliminate terrorists and foreign fighters in Tal Afar and they will continue to pursue this endeavour to the end," al-Jaafari said in a statement on Friday.

      

    "We are taking additional measures to ensure security and stability in Tal Afar and to restore its people's rights," he added.

      

    Al-Jaafari also said that the government had decided to ramp up security controls along the border with Syria: "We have tightened security on the border between (the northern province of) Nineveh and Syria."

      

    The US military had announced on Thursday that US-led forces were preparing to launch a military offensive to root out fighters from Tal Afar, where entire neighbourhoods are in the hands of rebel groups.

     

    Around 215 fighters have been killed or captured in Tal Afar by US-led forces during the past eight days, according to US military statements.

      

    "The Iraqi government and humanitarian agencies have established temporary housing, food and medical care for those citizens" displaced due to the unrest in Tal Afar, al-Jaafari said. 

     

    Spate of killings

      

     

    Around 215 fighters have been
    killed or captured in Tal Afar

    Meanwhile 12 Iraqis, including seven policemen, were killed and 15 others wounded in separate rebel attacks on Friday, including a roadside bomb that targeted a US convoy in Baghdad, security sources say.

    Two policemen, including an officer, were killed as they came under fire in the Jamiaa neighbourhood of west Baghdad, an interior ministry official said, adding that four others were wounded in the attack.


    In Baquba, 60km northeast of Baghdad, two other policemen were killed when they came under fire in the centre of the town, local police said.

    An Iraqi soldier was also wounded by gunshots in a market in Baquba, police added.

    Two Iraqis, including a woman, were killed and a man was wounded as a car bomb exploded on a highway in the restive southern Baghdad district of Dura, police said.

    The car bomb had targeted a US army convoy, police added.

     

    Mosque damaged

    Also in Dura, a Shia mosque in the mainly Sunni neighbourhood was partially destroyed in an overnight explosion, an interior ministry official said.

    "Unknown gunmen planted explosives around the mosque, which resulted in destroying a large part of the building, while all contents went up in flames," the official said.


    "Unknown gunmen planted explosives around the mosque, which resulted in destroying a large part of the building, while all contents went up in flames"

    Unnamed official,
    Iraqi Interior Ministry

    Four others, including three police commandos, died as a

    roadside bomb hit their patrol in Al-Alam neighbourhood of central Baghdad, the interior ministry official said.

      
    Nine other people were wounded, the same official added.

    In Baiji, 200km north of Baghdad, a colonel in the disbanded Iraqi army was shot dead as he drove along the main northern road, local police said.

    Meanwhile, a man was killed and his son wounded when a roadside bomb hit their car as they travelled north of Baghdad, police said.

    Police also found six bodies dumped in a water purification plant south of Baghdad, the same official said, adding that they had all been handcuffed, blindfolded and shot from close range.

    SOURCE: AFP


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