IRBIL, Iraq, Dec 17, (Agencies): Islamic State militants on Wednesday attacked a training camp in Iraq for fighters battling the extremist group, killing three Iraqi Sunni fighters and wounding 10 people, including four of their Turkish trainers, officials said. The former governor of the northern Ninevah province, Atheel al-Nujaifi, told The Associated Press that the camp in the Bashiqa region near the IS-held city of Mosul came under mortar fire “for hours” on Wednesday and that the shelling was continuing.
Turkey’s military said the camp was hit by Katyusha rockets fired by IS militants during a battle with Iraq’s Kurdish peshmerga fighters. It said Turkish artillery units fired back at IS targets in retaliation but did not provide further details on the Turkish response. A total of 10 people were wounded in the attack, including the Turkish soldiers, said the spokesman for the camp, Makhmoud Surchi. More than 1,000 fighters were received training at the camp when it came under attack.
The Iraqi Kurdish regional government issued a statement late Wednesday saying the peshmerga forces repelled several IS assaults and killed over 70 IS fighters “in a major coordinated attack across several fronts” that also included 25 airstrikes by US-led coalition warplanes. In Washington, Colin Kahl, national security adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, condemned the IS attack on the training camp and said the United States was working with its partners in Iraq to confirm the details. “Now more than ever, it will be important for Iraq and Turkey to accelerate their efforts to de-escalate tensions, ensure dialogue remains constructive, reaffirm support for Iraqi security and sovereignty, and strengthen their cooperation against ISIL,” Kahl said, using an alternative acronym for the Islamic State group.
Meanwhile, US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter visited Arbil on Thursday for talks with Iraqi Kurdish officials on the war against the Islamic State group, an AFP journalist said. Iraqi Kurdish forces are a key US partner in the war against IS, which overran large parts of Iraq last year. Carter met with Iraqi Kurdish leader Massud Barzani during the visit to Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region. Carter had travelled to Baghdad the previous day.