Iraq war update as of the 22th of October, 2016

Kirkuk: Starting from Aljazeera and their reports  that security forces in Iraq are battling for a second day with ISIL gunmen who attacked the northern city of Kirkuk, after an assault that appeared aimed at diverting attention away from a major military push to retake Mosul, the armed group’s last remaining stronghold in the country.

Fighters armed with assault rifles and suicide vests struck government buildings, police stations and a power plant on Friday, killing dozens of security forces and civilians.

Kurdish Peshmerga fighters took control of Kirkuk in 2014, after the Iraqi army withdrew from the region, fleeing an Islamic State advance through northern and western Iraq.

Kurdish leaders say they will never give up the ethnically mixed city, to which they, as well as Turkmen and Arabs, lay claim. Arabs complain that Kurds have since flooded to Kirkuk to tilt the demographic balance the other way.

 

  • Qaraqosh, Mosul

Iraqi army troops on Saturday stormed into a Christian region that has been under Islamic State control since 2014 as part of U.S.-backed operations to clear the entrances to Mosul, the militants’ last major city stronghold in Iraq.

A military statement said Iraqi units entered the center of Qaraqosh, a mainly Christian town about 20 kms (13 miles) southeast of Mosul, and were carrying out mop-up operations across the town.

Further action was under way to seize a neighboring Christian village, Karamless, also known as Karemlash in the Syriac language. The region’s population fled in the summer of 2014, when Islamic State swept in.

Earlier this week, Iraqi special units also captured Bartella, a Christian village north of Qaraqosh.

A U.S. military official estimated there were fewer than a couple of hundred Islamic State fighters in Qaraqosh.

The bloody battle for Mosul took a deadly turn Friday as cowardly jihadists executed at least 284 innocent people.

ISIS militants rounded up men and boys from villages near the northern Iraqi city and shot them before dumping their corpses in a mass grave using a bulldozer, CNN reported, citing an Iraqi intelligence source.

The barbaric move followed a dire and eerily prescient warning from the United Nations about the lengths that the militant group would go to as Iraqi forces close in on the ISIS stronghold.

Fighting intensified Friday in the northern Iraqi town of Bartella, about 9 miles south of Mosul, a city of 1.5 million.

Gunfire erupted and more than a dozen cars strapped with explosives were set off before a cautious calm enveloped the historically Christian town.

  • Turkey and Iraq:

The Turkish military said on Friday it had killed 12 Kurdish militants in southeast Turkey and another six in air strikes in northern Iraq, while also targeting their allied fighters in northern Syria.

Twelve of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) guerrillas were “neutralized” on Thursday in the Cukurca district of Hakkari province, near the Iraqi border, the army statement said.

In northern Iraq, the Turkish air strikes hit the Avashin Basyan region, killing six PKK fighters and destroying four targets on Thursday, it added.

In another statement on its operation to drive Islamic State and the Kurdish YPG militia away from the border in northern Syria, the army said it fired on 40 Islamic State and six YPG targets on Thursday, leaving them ‘incapable of maneuver’.

On Wednesday night, Turkish air strikes pounded YPG fighters and allied fighters in northern Syria and the army said it killed between 160 and 200 combatants.

Rudaw.net reported Turkey and Iraq have reached an agreement ‘in principle’ regarding the involvement of Turkish forces in the military offensive in Mosul, though the details remain to be agreed upon, the US defense chief said.

“That will have to obviously be something that the Iraqi government will need to agree to and I think there’s agreement there in principle,” US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter told reporters. “But now we’re down to the practicalities of that … and that’s what we’re working through.”

  • USA ,Iraq and Turkey :

US Secretary of Defense Carter was in Ankara on Friday to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.The Turkish government said its forces would participate in the operation on the liberation of Mosul, however, Iraqi authorities claim they had not given their consent for this participation.

“Turkey does not fight against Daesh, it fights for its interests and extension on influence,” Abadi said during the Islamic forum in Baghdad, as quoted by Rudaw news agency.

Turkey’s assistance could also be non-military, Reuters reported a senior US defense official saying.

Turkey has a training base and heavy weapons in Iraq’s Bashiqa region, where it has been training the 3,000-strong Nineveh Guard militia which it wants to participate in the Mosul operation. To date none of these forces have fought in the operation, which began on Monday, and Turkish jets have not carried out any airstrikes on ISIS targets in Mosul in coordination with the US-led coalition.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter arrived in Iraq Saturday to meet with his commanders and assess the progress in the opening days of the operation to retake the northern city of Mosul from Islamic State (ISIS) militants.

His unannounced visit comes two days after a U.S. service member was killed outside Mosul, underscoring the risk that American troops are taking as they advise Iraqi forces in the fight. And it comes on the heels of meetings Carter had with Turkish leaders in Ankara Friday when he announced there “is an agreement in principle” for Turkey to play a role in the battle to retake Mosul, and that friction between Turkey and Iraq can be worked out.

According to FoxNews, the U.S. estimates there are between 3,000 and 5,000 ISIS fighters in the Mosul area, but some of the top leaders have likely fled the city. A key factor will be how long those mid-level commanders stay in the city, or if they decide to leave.

Sources, Aljazeera, Reuters,Rudaw.net, CNN, Fox News.

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