MOSUL, Iraq — The Latest on developments in Iraq:
Despite clinging to only a sliver of territory in Mosul, Islamic State militants managed to launch a counterattack Friday that reversed days of Iraqi army territorial gains in just a matter of hours. It’s a setback that underscores the fragility of the Iraqi security forces despite years of U.S.-led coalition training as well as the instability likely to follow the city’s liberation.
The surprise attack illustrated the resilience of the extremists who, though controlling less than a square kilometer (half-mile) of territory, have maintained the ability to conduct both conventional military counterattacks and insurgent strikes.
The Pentagon says U.S.-led coalition airstrikes have killed a total of 603 civilians since the air campaign against the Islamic State group was launched in 2014.
The report released on Friday says coalition strikes between April 19 and May 23 that were assessed during the month of May killed 119 civilians.
The report says nearly half of all those civilian deaths occurred in or near Mosul, but did not further specify locations. The coalition defines a credible casualty assessment as one that “more likely than not” resulted in civilian deaths.
The report added that in each case “all feasible precautions were taken and the decision to strike complied with the law of armed conflict.”
Allegations of civilian casualties have spiked in Iraq and Syria in recent months as military operations against IS in Iraq’s Mosul and also Syria have accelerated.
An Iraqi officer says a “major” Islamic State group counterattack is taking place along the northern edge of Mosul’s Old City.
The attack has pushed Iraqi Army forces back some 75 meters (82 yards) and is threatening recent gains in other Old City fronts, he says.
The officer said the attack was launched just after noon Friday and estimated it was carried out by 50 to 100 IS fighters.
A doctor at a medic station said he received more than a dozen wounded Iraqi soldiers.
Both men spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
Iraqi security forces have retaken almost all of Mosul — Iraq’s second largest city — from IS militants who overran it in 2014.
While IS-held territory shrunk to less than one kilometer squared, the group continues to remain capable of launching counterattacks against Iraqi forces and insurgent attacks deep inside government-held territory.
By Susannah George in Mosul.
The U.N.’s migration agency says it has suspended some operations in two camps near the embattled Iraqi city of Mosul that host nearly 80,000 displaced Iraqis due to security concerns.
The International Organization for Migration announced Friday the temporary suspension at the Qayara air strip emergency site and the Haj Ali camp amid sporadic violence and gunfire.
IOM spokesman Joel Millman said local staffers were instructed to stay home and not enter the camps following a curfew and restrictions on movement imposed by Iraqi authorities.
He said six water-tanker trucks sent by the Ministry of Displacement and Migration were prevented from entering the Haj Ali camp, where temperatures have reached the low 50s Celsius (122 Fahrenheit) in recent days.
Government forces are trying to oust Islamic State fighters from Mosul.
This item has been corrected to indicate that IOM says some, not all, operations at the camps are suspended.