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IRAQ WARS
Moscow says US 'pretending' to fight IS in Iraq
by Staff Writers
Moscow (AFP) Oct 10, 2017


Iraq recovers bodies of plane crew shot down by IS
Kirkuk, Iraq (AFP) Oct 10, 2017 - Iraqi forces have found the bodies of two of the crew of a plane shot down by the Islamic State group last year, the air force said on Tuesday.

The Cessna 208 Caravan was downed over the northern town of Hawija, a former jihadist bastion which was retaken by government forces last week.

"The bodies of two of the crew killed in the crash of their Cessna Caravan in Hawija in March 2016 have been found," the air force said.

"The jihadists had hidden the bodies of Brigadier General Ali al-Ubudi and Major Mohammed al-Shikhli," it said, adding that a search was under way for the body of the third crew member, Colonel Mohammed Abdel Kassar.

IS said it used anti-aircraft artillery to down the plane which had been on a bombing run against Hawija on March 16, 2016.

It released footage showing its fighters celebrating around the downed aircraft and the remains of its crew.

In its combat version, the Cessna 208 can be used to launch laser-guided Hellfire missiles.

Troops and militia overran Hawija on Thursday, recapturing the last major population centre held by IS in Iraq apart from a stretch of the Euphrates Valley next to the Syrian border.

Fighting is still going on in the countryside around the town, however, as troops attempt to retake some 60 villages still held by the jihadists and reach Kurdish lines to the north and east.

Kurdish forces came under attack on Tuesday near the town of Dibis, northwest of the provincial capital Kirkuk, an officer told AFP.

"Some jihadists walked up waving a white flag then attacked our fighters, killing one of them," the Kurdish officer said.

He said the Kurdish peshmerga fighters responded, killing eight jihadists and capturing three.

Moscow accused the US on Tuesday of reducing air strikes against the Islamic State group in Iraq to let jihadists into Syria and fight the Russian-backed Syrian army, claims the Pentagon denied.

Russian military spokesman Igor Konashenkov said the Syrian regime was attempting to push the jihadists out of eastern Deir Ezzor province, but that arrivals from Iraq were boosting their numbers.

"The US-led coalition, pretending to fight IS, largely in Iraq, sees all this but continues allegedly active measures against IS in Syria for some reason," he said.

"The continuing arrival of terrorists from Iraq raises serious questions about the anti-terrorist objectives of the US air force and the so-called 'international coalition.'"

The US-led coalition sharply reduced its strikes on Iraq in September, as Syrian forces were beginning to retake Deir Ezzor, Konashenkov said in a statement.

"Is this change in approach from the US and the coalition a bid to cause maximum disruption to the Syrian army, backed by the Russian air force, as it seeks to free Syrian territory to the east of the river Euphrates?" he asked.

Pentagon spokesman Colonel Rob Manning flatly denied the Russian claims and pointed to online tallies that show no let up in the bombardment of IS targets in Iraq or Syria.

"That's absolutely false," Manning said.

"We remain committed to killing ISIS and denying them safe havens and the ability to carry out strikes in the region or globally."

On Monday, the US-led coalition conducted seven strikes against IS targets in Iraq, a military website showed.

Manning also urged "all forces" to focus their efforts on beating IS.

Over the past month, Moscow has repeatedly accused the US of hindering the Russian-backed Syrian army offensive in the east of the country.

Russia has been flying a bombing campaign in Syria since 2015, when it stepped in to support President Bashar al-Assad's rule and tipped the conflict in his favour.

IRAQ WARS
Young Iraqi given shot at governor's job after internet challenge
Karbala, Iraq (AFP) Oct 9, 2017
Inspired by a Canadian internet user, 27-year-old Iraqi Alaa Ibrahimi has just spent a week completing an unusual challenge - living the life of the governor in his home province. The radio journalist reached out to Karbala regional boss Aqil Tourihi on Facebook after seeing Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau let a law student trail him for a day following a Twitter request. When To ... read more

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