BAGHDAD: At least 60 people were killed by an Iraqi government air strike on a Sharia court, while car bombs in crowded markets in Baghdad left 47 people dead on Wednesday.
According to reports, 60 people were confirmed dead as Iraqi government launched an air strike on a Sharia court set up by the Islamic State militants in a juvenile prison in Mosul, the office of Maliki’s military spokesman said.
The Islamic State judge who ran the court, which routinely orders beheadings, was among those killed in the northern Iraqi city, the spokesman said. Hospital officials and witnesses said earlier the strike killed 50 people in a prison set up by the Islamic State, making no mention of the court.
Over in Baghdad, car bombs exploded in crowded markets in several Shia districts, killing 47 people, police said.
A roadside bomb killed three Shias who volunteered to fight the Islamic State on a road between the town of Samarra and Mosul, a police official said.
Moreover, in Taji, 20km north of Baghdad, authorities found the bodies of six people who had been handcuffed and shot in the head and chest execution-style, medical sources said.
Meanwhile, Kurdish forces attacked Islamic State fighters near the Kurdish regional capital of Arbil in northern Iraq on Wednesday in a change of tactics supported by the Iraqi central government to try to break the Islamists’ momentum.
The attack – 40km southwest of Arbil – came after the militants inflicted a humiliating defeat on the Kurds on Sunday with a rapid advance through three towns, prompting Iraq’s prime minister to order his air force for the first time to back the Kurdish forces.
“We have changed our tactics from being defensive to being offensive. Now we are clashing with the Islamic State in Makhmur,” said Jabbar Yawar, secretary-general of the ministry in charge of the Kurdish peshmerga fighters.
The location of the clashes puts the Islamic State fighters closer than they have ever been to the Kurdish semi-autonomous region since they swept through northern Iraq almost unopposed in June. Shortly after that lightning advance, thousands of US-trained Iraqi soldiers fled. Kurdish fighters, who boast of their battles against Saddam Hussain’s forces, stepped in as did Iranian-trained Shia militias.
The Islamic State has declared a ‘caliphate’ in swathes of Iraq and Syria that it controls and threatens to march on Baghdad. Islamic State fighters and their militant and tribal allies also hold parts of western Iraq.
Maliki has ordered his air force to help the Kurds in their fight against the Islamic State, which seized an array of weapons including tanks and anti-aircraft guns from the Iraqi soldiers who fled in June.
Maliki was at odds with the Kurds over oil, budgets and land, but both sides put their differences aside, alarmed by the Islamic State’s latest gains - a fifth oilfield and three more towns in the north. The group also reached Iraq’s biggest dam.
Yawar confirmed the Kurds had re-established military cooperation with Baghdad.
“The peshmerga ministry sent a message to the Iraqi defence ministry requesting the convening of an urgent meeting on military cooperation. The joint committees have been reactivated,” Yawar said by telephone.
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