Clashes as IS enter western Iraqi town

Forces of so-called Islamic State have launched an attack in Iraq on a town in western Anbar province in an apparent attempt to divert attention from the government’s offensive on Mosul.

The mayor of Rutba described the Islamic State (IS) assault on his town from three directions as “fierce”.

Imad Meshaal spoke of clashes in the centre between IS and security forces.

Kurdish Peshmerga forces have meanwhile carried out fresh attacks to the north-east of Mosul which is occupied by IS.

In a joint offensive to retake Iraq’s second city launched a week ago, the Peshmerga are closing in on Mosul from the north and east while government forces approach from the south.

Kurdish forces say they carried out new attacks on Sunday morning on IS positions near the town of Bashiqa.

Rutba appeal

Mayor Meshaal called on Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to send military reinforcements to Rutba to “save the situation”.

Rutba was taken by IS in June 2014, but then recaptured by government-backed forces four months ago.

As the pressure builds on IS in and around Mosul, the group has been counter-attacking with suicide bombers.

On Friday, IS attacked the city of Kirkuk, 170km (105 miles) south-east of Mosul, leaving at least 35 people dead and 120 wounded.

The attack on Rutba, some 90 miles (150km) from Iraq’s western border with Jordan, is unlikely to have much effect on the offensive for Mosul, says the BBC’s Middle East analyst Sebastian Usher.

But it is another reminder of the threat IS still poses in Iraq, just as with the attacks on Kirkuk, much closer to Mosul, our analyst says.

Source: BBC