The Latest: US denies coalition struck Iraqi mosque
AP Photo/Adam Schreck
BAGHDAD (AP) — The Latest on developments in Iraq as the battle for Mosul enters its second week (all times local):
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.
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.
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.
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