SULAYMANIYAH, Iraq – Coalition warplanes struck Iraqi positions in northern Iraq on Monday and pounded Baghdad-controlled military targets on southern routes toward the capital, officials and witnesses said.
U.S. soldiers and Kurdish fighters took the town of Dibagah, near the site of a U.S. friendly fire incident that killed 17 Kurdish fighters and a translator, on Sunday. But nearby, a strategic crossroads between the cities of Mosul and Kirkuk remained a no-man's land.
Iraqi soldiers held higher positions above the crossroads and the Kurds were holding back as U.S. planes hit Iraqi positions Monday. U.S. Navy officers said 60 combat and combat support aircraft flew missions off the USS Roosevelt late Monday, striking dozens of tanks and artillery positions across northern Iraq.
At Khazer, due east of Mosul, Iraqis held a position west of a strategic bridge they lost to the Kurds last week, and the Kurds pulled back east of the bridge to clear the way for airstrikes.
In the front line town of Chamchamal, 20 miles east of Kirkuk, witnesses reported explosions Sunday night.
Kurdish fighters based in Chamchamal were sending military convoys into stretches of land recently abandoned by Iraqi troops, said Omar bin Abdul Aziz, a reporter for the independent newspaper Hawlati.
In the south of the Kurdish autonomous region, Kurdish military commander Mola Bakhtiyar said coalition airplanes and missiles struck Iraqi front line positions guarding northern routes to Baghdad, as well as military garrisons in the oil-rich Khaneqin area, including Marwari, Sadi and Jelowla.