US soldier dies of wounds from bombing in Iraq

Iraqi military forces (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)
Iraqi military forces (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

BARTELLA, Iraq (AP) — The Latest on the campaign to retake the Iraqi city of Mosul from the Islamic State group (all times local):

9 p.m.

The U.S. military says an American soldier has died from wounds sustained in a bombing in northern Iraq.

Central Command said the soldier died on Thursday, without providing further information. It did not say where the explosion took place, but said it was caused by an “improvised explosive device,” or roadside bomb.

A massive Iraqi operation was launched earlier this week to drive the Islamic State group from the northern city of Mosul. More than 100 U.S. soldiers are embedded with Iraqi forces, and hundreds more are playing a support role in staging bases.

If the soldier died while taking part in the offensive it would mark the first known American casualty in the battle to take back Mosul.

___ 8:30 p.m.

Qatar’s foreign minister says Iraqi officials have offered assurances at a conference in Paris that “sectarian forces” won’t be given a chance to commit “atrocities” as government forces fight to take Mosul from the Islamic State group.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdurrahman Al Thani spoke after meeting his German counterpart in Berlin on Thursday.

He says he wants to “reaffirm the position of the Iraqi government to guarantee the safety of the civilians there, and not to give a chance for any sectarian forces to repeat the same atrocities committed in Fallujah and Tikrit.”

Iraqi security forces earlier retook those two cities from IS.

The Qatari diplomat says that the Iraqi government “gave those assurances, and we hope that the implementation on the ground will be realized.”

___

7:15 p.m.

Britain’s Defense Secretary Michael Fallon says the British military is launching cyberattacks against the Islamic State group in support of the offensive against militants in the Iraqi city of Mosul.

Fallon says he “can confirm we are using offensive cyber for the first time in this campaign.” He was responding to a question in London on Thursday.

He didn’t go into any further detail but the admission is a sign of how some officials are tentatively opening up about the use of hacking on the battlefield.

In 2012, a U.S. general raised eyebrows by acknowledging the use of cyberattacks against insurgents in Afghanistan.

Last month, Der Spiegel reported that the German army hacked into an Afghan telecommunications firm as part of an operation to help free a kidnapped aid worker.

___

5:30 p.m.

A senior military commander says Iraqi special forces have driven Islamic State militants out of a town east of Mosul.

Lt. Gen. Talib Shaghati said the town of Bartella, about 15 kilometers (nine miles) from the edge of Mosul, is “important” for the massive operation to retake the IS-held city.

Iraqi forces were facing stiff resistance in the town shortly before Shaghati spoke, however.

The pre-dawn offensive marked the entry of Iraq’s vaunted special forces into the Mosul operation. The U.S.-trained force is expected to lead the way into the city in the coming days or weeks.

The Mosul operation is the largest operation launched by Iraqi forces since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. It is expected to take weeks, if not months.

___

5 p.m.

An Iraqi court has issued an arrest warrant against the former governor of Ninevah province, accusing him of facilitating the entry of unauthorized Turkish forces into northern Iraq.

The Judiciary Council said on Thursday that a complaint against Atheel al-Nujaifi was submitted by three lawmakers from Ninevah province in late 2015, shortly after the Turkish troops were deployed to a base north of the provincial capital, Mosul. It said the investigation concluded on Tuesday, when two eyewitnesses from inside the camp testified in court.

The presence of some 500 Turkish troops in Iraq has increased tension between the two neighbors.

Baghdad says the troops are there without permission and has called on them to withdraw. Ankara has refused, and insists it will play a role in the ongoing military operation to recapture Mosul from Islamic State militants.

___

2:15 p.m.

France’s foreign minister is warning that up to a million people might try to flee the fighting in the Iraqi city of Mosul, and says authorities must check each one to make sure Islamic State extremists aren’t escaping among the civilians.

Jean-Marc Ayrault also stressed that the long-awaited, multi-pronged battle for Mosul is only one piece of the campaign against IS, and that the international community must think about “the next step” — notably, the IS stronghold of Raqqa in Syria. Ayrault was speaking to journalists after a conference on the Mosul situation in Paris on Thursday

Ayrault said “hundreds of thousands, if not a million” people might try to flee Mosul as Iraqi forces battle to take it back from extremist control. France is part of the U.S.-led military coalition helping with the Iraqi operation

___

1:15 p.m.

An officer in Iraq’s special forces says Islamic State militants deployed nine suicide car bombs as troops advanced to the town of Bartella outside the IS-held northern city of Mosul.

Lt. Col. Muntadhar al-Shimmari told The Associated Press on Thursday that one bomb hit a Humvee and that eight others were detonated by troops before they could reach their targets.

Al-Shimmari didn’t give a casualty figure, but another officer said five soldiers were wounded. The officer spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release information.

Iraq on Monday launched the long-awaited military operation to retake Mosul which fell into the hands of IS more than two years ago.

— Qassim Abdul-Zahra in Bartella, Iraq

___

12:15 p.m.

Iraqi special forces have entered a town near Mosul hours after joining a massive operation to retake the Islamic State-held city.

An Associated Press reporter traveling with the elite force says they entered the town of Bartella from the east on Thursday after a heavy gunbattle that saw IS militants unleash a number of suicide truck bombs. It was not immediately clear if there had been any casualties.

The long-awaited operation to retake Mosul began Monday and is expected to take weeks, if not months.

IS captured Iraq’s second largest city when it swept across the country in the summer of 2014. The group has suffered a string of defeats over the last year, and Mosul is its last urban bastion in Iraq.

___

11:45 a.m.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi says the battle to oust Islamic State extremists from Mosul is going “more quickly than we thought.”

Al-Abadi spoke in a video transmission Thursday to a diplomatic meeting about Mosul in Paris about stabilizing Iraq’s second-largest city. He didn’t provide details about the fighting.

Al-Abadi said that “our forces have started to move forward to free this city which was taken by IS over two years ago. The fighting forces are currently pushing forward toward the town more quickly than we thought, and more quickly certainly than we established in our plan of campaign.”

Authorities have said they expect the battle to take weeks or even months.

___

11 a.m.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is vowing to protect civilians displaced by the battle to oust Islamic State extremists from Mosul, and to respect the human rights of the region’s diverse population.

Al-Abadi spoke by video transmission Thursday to a conference in Paris aimed at forming a stabilization plan for Mosul after the multi-pronged battle for Iraq’s second-largest city.

He says the government is “providing support for internally displaced people,” and opening humanitarian corridors amid the ongoing military operations. “We will not allow any violations of human rights,” he said.

He stressed that the battle is led by Iraq and not a foreign invasion, though it has military support from a broad U.S.-led coalition. He also praised the diverse nature of today’s Iraqi forces, including Kurdish peshmerga, saying “we are closer to full unity, showing complete determination to vanquish terrorism.”

Al-Abadi said “pockets of resistance” remain but residents of the region have largely welcomed the advancing Iraqi forces.

___

10 a.m.

Islamic State militants have unleashed at least four suicide car bombs against Iraqi special forces as they advanced on the militant-held town of Bartella east of Mosul.

One of the car bombs exploded after being shot by a tank. It was not immediately clear if anyone was killed or wounded in the attacks.

Iraqi special forces charged into battle early Thursday, joining a massive operation to retake the IS-held city of Mosul. The fighting is concentrated in largely uninhabited villages on the outskirts of the city.

It’s not clear when Iraqi forces will reach the city itself, and the operation is expected to take weeks, if not months.

___

6:30 a.m.

An Iraqi general says special forces have joined the Mosul offensive with a pre-dawn advance on a nearby town held by the Islamic State group.

Gen. Maan al-Saadi says the elite Counterterrorism Forces advanced on the town of Bartella with the aid of U.S.-led coalition airstrikes and heavy artillery on Thursday, the fourth day of a massive operation to retake Iraq’s second-largest city.

The special forces are expected to lead the way into the city itself, where they will face fierce resistance in an urban landscape where IS militants are preparing for a climactic battle.

The offensive is the largest operation launched by Iraqi forces since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. It is expected to take weeks, if not months.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s