Clashes near Iraq's Mosul base kill 18 IS extremists

Clashes near Iraq's Mosul base kill 18 IS extremists
Clashes between a Turkish-Iraqi force and IS outside Mosul have left at least 18 extremists dead, as Baghdad confirmed special forces are operating in the IS held northern city.
2 min read
08 January, 2016
Iraqi special forces helped win back Ramadi last month from IS fighters [AFP]

Officials say that clashes between a joint Turkish-Iraqi force and Islamic State militants near a training camp outside the northern Iraqi city of Mosul have left at least 18 IS fighters dead. 

The fighting erupted late on Thursday outside the Bashiqa camp, which was at the centre of a controversy last month when Turkey moved troops there to protect Turkish trainers aiding local Sunni fighters hoping to take back Mosul from the Islamic State group.  

Baghdad has demanded that Turkish troops withdraw, describing their presence as a violation of international law. Ankara has pulled some troops out but not all. 

Turkish President Erdogan said on Friday that IS tried to infiltrate Bashiqa, triggering the clashes. Former Iraqi governor Atheel al-Nujaifi, who founded the training camp, said the attack was repelled.

Also on Friday, Iraq said Special Forces in northern Iraq have launched commando-style raids on Islamic State strongholds around Mosul. 

Around half a dozen special forces operations' have taken place inside IS territories since December, Reuters reported, including a number of attacks on Hawija, west of Iraq, over the past few weeks.

Iraq's parliamentary speaker Salim al-Jabouri predicted this is in preparation for a major offensive on IS' Iraq strongholds by the Iraqi army.

It is still unclear which nation these Special Forces are from.

Last month, the United States said it was sending 100 special forces fighters to take part in operations inside IS territories.

However, this was later denied by US-led coalition spokesperson in Baghdad, Steve Warren.

Jabouri did not specify who led the raids into IS territory but did say that Iraqi troops played a role in the operations.

"These operations are bearing fruit... they eliminate the terrorists and free innocents, and for us it represents a positive development," he added.

He denied that this was part of a more general Iraqi offensive on IS, but did say it was dealing "strong blows" to the extremists.