Turkish soldier killed in north Iraq after Islamic State fires rockets: army
ISTANBUL: A Turkish soldier was killed and another wounded in northern Iraq on Saturday when rockets fired by Islamic State during clashes with Iraqi Kurdish fighters landed in a base where Turkish troops were deployed, the army said.
NATO member Turkey, part of the US-led coalition against Islamic State, sent troops to northern Iraq in December, citing heightened security risks near Bashiqa, where its soldiers have been training an Iraqi militia to fight Islamist militants. Baghdad objected to the Turkish deployment.
"Islamic State targets identified in the region have been shot back at," the Turkish military said in a statement.
Hurriyet newspaper quoted a later statement saying the army has fired artillery from the camp on Islamic State targets while additional targets have been struck by Turkish warplanes and jets from the US-led coalition.
"Four Islamic State targets have been bombarded by warplanes from the coalition forces. An additional of four targets have been fired at intensely by Turkish warplanes and been destroyed," the statement quoted by the paper said.
Saturday's incident came less than a week after Islamic State militants attacked the Bashiqa military base, triggering a retaliation from Turkey.
The Turkish army said on Saturday the rockets had landed near the Gedu base area. Local sources said this referred to a site on the frontline north of Mosul, near to Bashiqa.
Last week, backed by Kurdish peshmerga fighters and the U.S.-led coalition, Iraqi forces launched an offensive against Islamic State in the Makhmour area, southeast of Mosul, that was touted as the start of a broader campaign to clear areas around the city.
Mosul is by far the largest population centre controlled by the Islamic State militants and has already been cut off on three sides by the Kurdish peshmerga, who are less than 15 km (9 miles) from its northern outskirts at some points along the front line.
Iraqi officials say they will retake Mosul this year. However many question in private whether the army, which partially collapsed when Islamic State overran a third of Iraq in June 2014, will be ready in time.