Iraqi government forces repel multiple ISIS attacks

Sunday 18/06/2017
Pushback. A member of the Iraqi forces fighting ISIS inside a building in Mosul’s western al-Shifa district, on June 12. (AFP)

London- Iraqi government forces and Kurdish peshmerga fighters said they had repelled attacks from Islamic State (ISIS) forces in several areas in northern Iraq as the militants slowly lose control of their stronghold in Mo­sul.
The first attack, June 10 in Shirqat, south of Mosul, led to the death of 24 ISIS militants and 14 members of the Iraqi armed forces, Sunni tribal fighters as well as ci­vilians, Iraqi security sources told Reuters.
Peshmerga forces said they re­pelled an ISIS attack on the night of June 13 in Tuz Khurmatu, 75km south of Kirkuk. Two peshmerga fighters were killed during that at­tack, peshmerga commander Ab­dullah Bor told the media outlet Rudaw. Bor said ISIS militants had also targeted the Iraqi Army and militiamen from the predominate­ly Shia Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) in the area.
Earlier that day, the PMF an­nounced retaking all areas west of Mosul from ISIS except the town of Tal Afar, 50km west of Mosul, near the Syrian border.
On June 14, Iraqi forces repelled an attack by more than 100 mili­tants, many of whom wore suicide vests, in Danadan district south of the Old City of Mosul.
“Terrorists came from the Old City and attacked our forces using mortars and sniper shots. They managed to temporarily seize some buildings but we forced them to retreat after shelling their posi­tions,” an unnamed Iraqi federal police officer told Reuters.
ISIS claimed in a statement that it killed 40 federal police officers but security officials told the Associat­ed Press (AP) that 11 federal police officers and four civilians had been killed.
The latest ISIS attack was one day after Iraqi forces announced the capture of Zanjili district, north of the Old City, where some 200,000 civilians remain.
Many civilians have been killed in the crossfire during fighting for control of Mosul. Although ISIS members are known to fire at peo­ple trying to escape, civilians have also been killed because Iraqi and allied forces have been relying on the use of heavy weapons, human rights groups warned.
The US military said it increased the number of investigators look­ing into reports of civilian casual­ties in anti-ISIS coalition strikes in Iraq and Syria.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the use of artillery-delivered white phosphorous by the US-led coali­tion in Iraq and Syria was endan­gering civilians.
“No matter how white phospho­rus is used, it poses a high risk of horrific and long-lasting harm in crowded cities like Raqqa and Mo­sul and any other areas with con­centrations of civilians,” said Ste­phen Goose, arms director at HRW. “US-led forces should take all fea­sible precautions to minimise civil­ian harm when using white phos­phorus in Iraq and Syria.”
HRW said: “White phosphorus fragments can exacerbate wounds even after treatment and can enter the bloodstream and cause multi­ple organ failure. Already-dressed wounds can reignite when dress­ings are removed and they are re-exposed to oxygen.”
Adding to the long list of miser­ies those fleeing Mosul are facing, more than 750 displaced residents suffered food poisoning — with hundreds hospitalised — following iftar at the Hassan Sham U2 camp, about 20km east of the city.
Amnesty International repeated its call for Iraqi authorities to find the whereabouts of at least 643 men and boys, reportedly abduct­ed by PMF militias last year from Saqlawiya in Anbar province.
“The abductions happened dur­ing military operations to retake Falluja and surrounding areas from the control of the armed group call­ing itself the Islamic State. Their families have lived in agony ever since, uncertain whether their loved ones are safe or even still alive,” Amnesty International said in a statement.
A political battle is brewing be­tween Iraq’s central government in Baghdad and the semi-autono­mous Kurdistan Regional Govern­ment (KRG) in Erbil.
Hoshiyar Zebari, senior adviser to Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Masoud Barzani, told Reuters that “there is no going back” on a decision to have a refer­endum in September on the seces­sion of the region from the rest of Iraq.
The Iraqi central government, however, insists such a decision should involve all Iraqis and not just those in the Kurdish-majority region.
“All Iraqis must have a say in de­fining the future of their nation. No single party can determine the future of Iraq in isolation from the other. Any decision on this is­sue must be taken in consultation with other parties and safeguard national consensus,” Iraqi govern­ment spokesman Saad al-Hadithi told the AP.
Neighbouring Turkey, which nor­mally enjoys good relations with Barzani, also criticised the KRG’s decision about the referendum.
“There are sufficient problem areas in our region and we don’t think it is right to create new prob­lem areas,” Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said.