The Latest: Parked car bomb kills 10 in Baghdad neighborhood
BAGHDAD (AP) — The Latest on the conflict in the Iraq and the battle to retake the IS-held city of Mosul (all times local):
Iraqi police say a parked car bomb has exploded in Baghdad’s northwestern neighborhood of Hurriyah, killing at least 10 and wounding 34.
The bombing, which hit a popular fruit and vegetable market in a commercial street of the predominantly Shiite neighborhood, was the fifth such explosion in the capital on Sunday. The day’s casualty toll from the attacks in Baghdad now stands at 17 dead and over 60 wounded.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to brief reporters.
— Brian Rohan in Baghdad
Iraqi officials say a wave of bombings in predominantly Shiite neighborhoods have killed at least seven people in the capital, Baghdad, and wounded over 30.
They say improvised explosive devices killed three people and wounded 10 at a popular market in the Shaab neighborhood in northern Baghdad. Another two explosions at traders’ markets in the Topchi and Zataria areas killed four and wounded 16. A fourth bomb, planted in a microbus in the poorer Sadr City district, caused no deaths but wounded six.
The attacks come just a day after an Islamic State suicide bomber targeted an aid station for Shiite pilgrims, killing at least seven and wounding more than 20. No one claimed immediate responsibility for Sunday’s bombings, but the Sunni extremist group often targets Iraq’s Shiite majority, which it views as apostates deserving of death. Attacks in the capital have been rare since last summer.
The officials — police and hospital authorities — spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to brief reporters.
— Brian Rohan in Baghdad
Iraqi military officials say an army helicopter has crashed in the central province of Salahuddin due to a technical malfunction.
They say Sunday that the two pilots of the helicopter, which went down the previous evening, were missing. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to brief reporters.
-- Qassim Abdul-Zahra in Irbil, Iraq
Turkey’s president is warning that the country could respond if an Iraqi Shiite militia “terrorizes” the Iraqi-Turkmen town of Tel Afar, near Mosul.
The state-run Anadolu agency reported that Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters Saturday that his government will be closely monitoring the behavior of the militias, collectively referred to as the Popular Mobilization Units or Hashd, and will seek to safeguard the rights of ethnic Turkmens in Iraq.
“Tel Afar is an entirely Turkmen town . if Hashd al-Shaabi starts terrorizing it, then our response will certainly be different,” Erdogan said.
The use of government-backed Shiite militias is a sensitive issue in the ongoing battle to retake the city of Mosul from the Islamic State group. Militia commanders have said that their forces will not enter Mosul but will instead focus on surrounding towns like Tel Afar.
Spokesmen for Iraq’s state-sanctioned Shiite militias say that some 5,000 fighters have joined their push to encircle the county’s second largest city of Mosul and cut off Islamic State fighters there.
Karim al-Nuri of the umbrella group for the militias, known as the Popular Mobilization Units, and Jaafar al-Husseini, a spokesman for unit member the Hezbollah Brigades, said Sunday that a total of some 15,000 Shiite fighters were participating in the battle.
The Iraqi military confirmed the figures, which, including army units, militarized police, and special forces bring the total number of anti-IS fighters in the offensive to over 40,000.
The U.S. military estimates IS has 3,000 to 5,000 fighters inside Mosul and another 1,500-2,500 in the city’s outer defensive belt. The total number includes around 1,000 foreign fighters.