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Iraqi Army launches offensive against Islamic State, 51 people killed in onslaught

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

At least 51 people were killed on Sunday, most of them Islamic State (IS) terrorists, in clashes, air strikes and gun battles across Iraq, security sources said.

In Anbar province, the army artillery pounded IS positions in Saggara area near the city of Haditha, some 200 km northwest of Baghdad, and left 26 IS terrorists killed, a provincial security source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

Meanwhile, the security forces and allied Sunni militias repelled sporadic attacks by IS terrorists on military positions in three villages and Alous area near the IS-held city of Heet, some 160 km west of the capital, killing 15 IS rebels, the source said.

At least 10 people were killed and 19 others wounded in air strikes by Iraqi aircraft on several districts in the IS-seized city of Fallujah, some 50 km west of the Iraqi capital, the source added.

Since March 2, security forces and thousands of allied Shiite and Sunni militias have been involved in Iraq’s biggest offensive in order to recapture from IS terrorists the northern part of Salahudin province, including Tikrit and other key towns and villages.

The security situation in Iraq has drastically deteriorated since June last year, when bloody clashes broke out between Iraqi security forces and IS terrorists.

The IS took control of the country’s northern city of Mosul and later seized swathes of territories after Iraqi security forces abandoned their posts in Nineveh and other predominantly Sunni provinces.

Iraq has been witnessing some of the worst violence in years. Terrorism and violence have killed at least 12,282 civilians and wounded 23,126 others in 2014, according to a UN report.

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Iraq lifts ban on international flights to Kurdish airports

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Haider al-Abadi issues a statement lifting ban of international flights on international airports. IANS
Haider al-Abadi issues a statement lifting ban of international flights on international airports. IANS
  • Iraq lifts the ban on international flights to Kurdish airports
  • Prime minister, Haider al-Abadi issues a statement
  • He also talked about security o the airports

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Tuesday lifted a ban on international flights to two airports in Erbil and Sulaimaniyah in the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan.

A statement by his office said Abadi signed a decree to lift the ban after receiving positive response from the Kurdish local authorities “to restore the federal authority in the two airports in accordance with the Constitution of Iraq”.

Also Read: US Backtracks on Iraqi, Kurd Cease-fire Claim

Abadi made the announcement during his meeting with the officers of the regional Interior Ministry who were working at the two airports, Xinhua news agency cited the statement as saying.

He also said that a new security directorate will be established to protect the airports in the Kurdish region and it will be under command and control of the federal Interior Ministry.

All the regional airports and border crossings will be linked directly to the main control system in Baghdad, similar to what is done in the other Iraqi airports and crossing, the statement said.

He also talked about the security of airports.

The passports and national ID offices and the employees at the airports of Erbil and Sulaimaniyah will also be linked to the federal Interior Ministry, it added.

Tensions rose between Baghdad and the region of Kurdistan after the Kurds held a controversial referendum last September to approve the independence of the Kurdistan region and the disputed areas.

The Iraqi government later imposed the flights ban on the Kurdish region as part of a package of punitive measures that also included blocking all the border crossings outside the federal control.

The ban on international flights on the region’s international airports of Erbil and Sulaimaniyah forced passengers to apply for an Iraqi visa to transit through Baghdad and Basra international airports to go or leave the Kurdish region.

The independence of Kurdistan is opposed not only by the Iraqi central government, but also by other countries as it would threaten the territorial integrity of Iraq and undermine the fight against the terror group Islamic State.

Iraq’s neighbouring countries, especially Turkey, Iran and Syria, fear that the Iraqi Kurds’ pursuit of independence threatens their own territorial integrity by inspiring the Kurdish population in those countries to seek independence. IANS