IS attack kills 3 Iraqi fighters, wounds 4 Turkish trainers

AP News
Posted: Dec 16, 2015 3:35 PM

IRBIL, Iraq (AP) — Islamic State militants on Wednesday attacked a training camp in Iraq for fighters battling the extremist group, killing three Iraqi Sunni fighters and wounding 10 people, including four of their Turkish trainers, officials said.

The former governor of the northern Ninevah province, Atheel al-Nujaifi, told The Associated Press that the camp in the Bashiqa region near the IS-held city of Mosul came under mortar fire "for hours" on Wednesday and that the shelling was continuing.

Turkey's military said the camp was hit by Katyusha rockets fired by IS militants during a battle with Iraq's Kurdish peshmerga fighters. It said Turkish artillery units fired back at IS targets in retaliation but did not provide further details on the Turkish response.

A total of 10 people were wounded in the attack, including the Turkish soldiers, said the spokesman for the camp, Makhmoud Surchi. More than 1,000 fighters were received training at the camp when it came under attack.

The Iraqi Kurdish regional government issued a statement late Wednesday saying the peshmerga forces repelled several IS assaults and killed over 70 IS fighters "in a major coordinated attack across several fronts" that also included 25 airstrikes by U.S.-led coalition warplanes.

The IS attack came days after Turkey, under intense pressure from Baghdad, was forced to pull out an unspecified number of reinforcements it had sent to the camp, citing threats from the IS group. Turkey had stationed trainers at Bashiqa since last year to help train the Kurdish and Sunni forces, but the arrival of the additional troops earlier this month sparked uproar in Baghdad, which demanded their immediate withdrawal.

Turkey argued that it had sent the reinforcements after receiving intelligence about possible IS attacks on the camp.

A Turkish military statement said the four wounded soldiers were evacuated to a hospital in Turkey near the border with Iraq. None of them were in life-threatening condition, the military said.

In Washington, Colin Kahl, national security adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, condemned the IS attack on the training camp and said the United States was working with its partners in Iraq to confirm the details.

"Now more than ever, it will be important for Iraq and Turkey to accelerate their efforts to de-escalate tensions, ensure dialogue remains constructive, reaffirm support for Iraqi security and sovereignty, and strengthen their cooperation against ISIL," Kahl said, using an alternative acronym for the Islamic State group.


Associated Press writers Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey; Josh Lederman in Washington and Salar Salim in Irbil, contributed to this report.