22 killed in Iraq airstrikes, PM firm on political process
At least 22 people were killed and 36 others wounded in airstrikes carried out by Iraqi aircraft on two cities in Iraq`s northern and western provinces, security sources said Wednesday even as Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki vowed Wednesday to go ahead with the roadmap of the political process.
Baghdad: At least 22 people were killed and 36 others wounded in airstrikes carried out by Iraqi aircraft on two cities in Iraq`s northern and western provinces, security sources said Wednesday even as Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki vowed Wednesday to go ahead with the roadmap of the political process.
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.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Maliki vowed Wednesday to go ahead with the roadmap of the political process, rejecting any attempt by political rivals to form a government of national salvation to deal with the country`s deteriorating security situation.
"Despite the cruelty of the battle against terrorism, we will remain faithful to the will of the people in promoting the democratic experiment and in the protection of the political process," Maliki said during his weekly televised speech.
"We will attend the first session of the Council of Representatives in line with the constitutional requirements," Maliki said referring to the first session of the newly-elected parliament, which has to be convened within 15 days after the federal court ratifies the final result of the elections.
On June 16, the Iraqi federal court ratified the results of the April 30 parliamentary elections for all the Iraqi provinces, marking the first step toward forming the new Iraqi government.
Maliki ruled out the calls by some political rivals, including the Sunni Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi and the Shiite secular Ayad Allawi, for Maliki`s government to quit and form a government of national salvation to confront a Sunni militant offensive that has overrun large parts of the country, according to Xinhua.
"It is no secret for all Iraqis the dangerous goals behind calls for the formation of a national salvation government. This is an attempt by those who disrespect the constitution in order to eliminate the democratic experiment and circumvent the constitutional requirements," Maliki said.
However, Maliki called on the Iraqi political blocs to "put aside the differences and to unify our efforts to start a new page of serious dialogue".
A statement of the office of Vice President Khudair al-Khzaie, a Shiite, said that "the presidency is committed to the political and democratic path of the political process of the country as well as constitutional timings".
The presidency will issue a decree during the next two days, calling on the new parliament to hold its first meeting, the statement said.