The Latest: UNHCR soon to have shelters for 150,000 people

AP News
Posted: Oct 24, 2016 11:35 AM
The Latest: UNHCR soon to have shelters for 150,000 people

BAGHDAD (AP) — The Latest on developments in Iraq as the battle for Mosul enters its second week (all times local):

6:20 p.m.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi says the UN will soon have enough shelters for 150,000 people who might flee from Mosul and surrounding areas during the Iraqi army's campaign to capture the city from the Islamic State group.

Grandi said Monday during a news conference in Jordan that 7,500 people have already fled the outskirts of the city, while another 1,000 Iraqis crossed into Hassakeh in northeastern Syria.

He commended Jordan for hosting refugees while blasting the international community's failure to solve the Syria conflict.

When asked about the 80,000 Syrian refugees stranded on Jordan's border, Grandi said the UN is close to a deal with Jordan to resume aid after eight months of delivery being cut off.


4:50 p.m.

Turkey says it is participating "in a multi-faceted way" in the operation to retake Mosul from the Islamic State group, a claim denied by Iraq's prime minister.

Iraq has objected to the presence of some 500 Turkish troops who are training Sunni Arab and Kurdish forces at a base near the northern city, saying they are there without permission. Turkey has refused to withdraw them, and insists it will play a role in the Mosul offensive.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Monday that the Turkish troops have killed 17 IS militants with artillery and mortars since the start of the operation and 700 before it began a week ago.

He says four Turkish F-16 fighter jets are part of the U.S.-led coalition, but said the details of their participation are to be hashed out by the Turkish military and other coalition members.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi says claims that Turkish troops have taken part in the operation are "baseless and untrue," and again called on the Turkish troops to withdraw.


3:30 p.m.

Iraqi officials say a series of small bombings in Baghdad have killed 11 civilians and wounded 35.

The attacks on Monday targeted passing vehicles and commercial areas. No one claimed responsibility, but the Islamic State group frequently targets security forces and Shiite neighborhoods in the Iraqi capital.

Iraq is waging a massive offensive aimed at driving IS out of the northern city of Mosul. The extremist group has launched recent attacks far from the front lines, in the northern city of Kirkuk and the western town of Rutba, and many fear they will also target Baghdad.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to release information.

— Sinan Salaheddin in Baghdad


1:35 p.m.

Iran says Turkey should get permission from Iraq's government to participate in the operation to take back Mosul from the Islamic State group — a statement with which Tehran waded into a dispute over the presence of Turkish troops in northern Iraq.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said on Monday that "it is not acceptable at all if a country, under the pretext of combating terrorism or any other crimes, tries to violate the sovereignty" of another country.

Some 500 Turkish troops stationed at a base near Mosul are training Iraqi Sunni and Kurdish forces that are taking part in the offensive, which began a week ago.

The Shiite-led government in Baghdad says the Turks are there without permission and has ordered them out. Turkey has refused, insisting it play a role in the offensive to retake Mosul, a Sunni-majority city. Shiite-majority Iran is a close ally of the Baghdad government.


11:05 a.m.

The U.S.-led coalition says airstrikes destroyed five Islamic State vehicles and killed a "significant" number of militants amid coalition efforts to help Iraqi forces repel an attack on the western town of Rutba.

Col. John Dorrian, a spokesman for the coalition, said on Monday that IS fighters had infiltrated the town in the latest in a series of "spoiler attacks" to divert attention from the northern city of Mosul, where Iraq is conducting a wide-scale offensive.

He says the Iraqi forces "responded and continue attacking the enemy with coalition air support," adding that "operations are ongoing."

Iraqi Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool, the spokesman for the Joint Military Command, says IS attacked Rutba on Sunday, but that the situation there "is completely under control," and IS militants have no presence inside the town.

The IS-run Aamaq news agency posted a video online that it said showed fighters attacking a military position on Sunday north of Rutba, which is hundreds of kilometers (miles) from Mosul, in the western Anbar province.


9:50 a.m.

The U.S.-led military coalition says it has "definitively determined" that it did not conduct an alleged airstrike in the Iraqi town of Daquq that killed civilians last week during the battles for Mosul.

Col. John Dorrian, a U.S. military spokesman, said on Monday that the coalition had notified the Iraqi government of its findings and that Baghdad was carrying out an investigation.

Human Rights Watch has also called for an investigation into the attack, which happened on Friday and which the New York-based group says targeted the women's section of a Shiite mosque in Daquq, killing more than a dozen people.

Daquq Mayor Amir Khodakram told The Associated Press on Saturday that the airstrike killed at least 17 civilians. He said it wasn't clear who carried out the strike. HRW says residents believed it was an airstrike because of the extent of destruction and the sound of planes overhead.


9:10 a.m.

Iraqi special forces have begun shelling Islamic State positions near Mosul in the latest phase of a massive operation to retake the militant-held city.

Maj. Gen. Haider al-Obeidi says the shelling began early on Monday northwest of Bartella, a historically Christian town 15 kilometers (9 miles) to the east of Mosul. Iraqi special forces retook Bartella last week.

The campaign to retake Mosul comes after months of planning and involves more than 25,000 Iraqi troops, Kurdish forces, Sunni tribal fighters and state-sanctioned Shiite militias. It is expected to take weeks, if not months, to drive IS out of Iraq's second largest city, which is still home to more than a million people.


8:55 a.m.

A rights group is urging a probe into a suspected airstrike in northern Iraq that killed at least 13 during last week's battles for Mosul.

Human Rights Watch said on Monday that the explosion struck the women's section of a Shiite mosque in the town of Daquq and appeared to have been caused by an airstrike.

Residents believe it was an airstrike because of the extent of the destruction and because planes were heard flying overhead. It happened on Friday amid a large Islamic State assault on the nearby city of Kirkuk.

The U.S.-led coalition battling IS and the Iraqi air force are the only parties known to be flying aircraft over the country. Both are engaged in the massive operation to take the Islamic State-held city of Mosul.