22 killed in airstrikes on two Iraqi cities

Last Updated 25 June 2014, 10:12 IST

A total of 22 people were killed and some 36 others wounded in airstrikes carried out by Iraqi aircraft on two cities in Iraq's northern and western provinces, security sources said Wednesday.

In the province of Nineveh, unidentified warplanes bombed the municipality building and two adjacent houses in the militant- seized town of Baaj, some 120 km west of the provincial capital Mosul, leaving six people dead and six others wounded, a provincial police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

The source said residents in the town, located near the Iraqi-Syrian border, believed the warplanes belonged to the Syrian air force but could not confirm it.

The Sunni-majority province of Nineveh and its capital Mosul, some 400 km north of Iraq's capital Baghdad, have long been a stronghold of insurgent groups, including Al Qaeda militants, since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

In Salahudin province, Iraqi helicopters carried out airstrikes late Tuesday night on the northern neighbourhoods of the city of Baiji, some 200 km north of Baghdad, leaving 16 people dead , including four from one family, and wounding more than 30 others, most of them women and children, a provincial security source said. 

Earlier, insurgent groups, including those who are linked to the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), an Al Qaeda offshoot, overran the city of Baiji as well as large parts of the province of Salahudin, including its capital Tikrit, some 170 km north of Baghdad.

On Tuesday, a security source from Iraq's western province of Anbar told Xinhua that unidentified aircraft carried out airstrikes on the cities of Rutba, some 120 km east of the Iraqi-Jordanian border, and al-Qaim near the Syrian border, leaving a total of 69 people dead and 144 others wounded.

Residents in both cities believed the warplanes were of the Syrian air force, but this could not be confirmed.

 Over the past two weeks, Iraq has seen a deteriorating security situation when bloody clashes broke out between security forces and Sunni militants, who have seized several key Iraqi cities, and large swathes of territories in Nineveh province and other predominantly Sunni provinces. 

(Published 25 June 2014, 09:54 IST)

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