Defence minister sacked as Iraqi forces retake Mosul town

Defence minister sacked as Iraqi forces retake Mosul town
Iraqi MPs on Thursday remove Khaled al-Obeidi from office over corruption allegations as the Iraqi army gears up for an assault on Islamic State's de facto capital, Mosul.
2 min read
25 August, 2016
Iraqi lawmakers voted to impeach Defence Minister Khaled al-Obeidi over corruption allegations, forcing him out of office as the army pushed Islamic State [IS] militants from a key Mosul town on Thursday.

Obeidi lost a no confidence vote by 142 votes to 102 in a secret ballot, while 18 abstained, two members of parliament told AFP.

A bitter feud had erupted earlier this month between Obeidi and Parliament Speaker Salim al-Juburi, the highest-ranking Sunni politician in Iraq.

Obeidi was questioned in parliament over corruption allegations to which he answered with accusations of his own implicating Juburi and several MPs.

Juburi moved quickly and agreed to have his immunity lifted so that he could be investigated, only for a special integrity court to drop the case hours later.

Meanwhile, Iraqi forces backed by coalition airstrikes on Thursday pushed IS out of Qayyarah, a northern town considered strategic for any future offensive against the militant's last stronghold of Mosul.

"We control all parts of the town and managed, in very limited time, to root out Daesh [IS]," Lieutenant General Riyadh Jalal Tawfik, who commands Iraq's ground forces, told an AFP reporter in Qayyarah.

The commander said engineering units were now clearing the town, which lies about 60 kilometres [35 miles] south of Mosul, of unexploded ordnance and booby traps.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi issued a statement hailing what he said was a key step towards reclaiming Mosul, IS's de facto Iraq capital and the country's second city.

"Our heroic forces achieved a big victory, an important step towards the liberation of Mosul," Abadi said.

"I present my congratulations to the Iraqi people for the liberation of the strategic town of Qayyarah and neighbouring areas," he said.

The operation to retake Qayyarah was launched on Tuesday and led by Iraq's elite counter-terrorism service.

Iraqi forces had already recaptured a nearby air field and Qayyarah is expected to be become one of the main launchpads for an assault on Mosul in the coming weeks or months.

Agencies contributed to this report