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Turkey to halt sending troops to Iraq

File photo of Turkish soldiers on guard at a check point Credit: Reuters

Turkey said it would halt further transfers of troops to an area near the Islamic State-controlled city of Mosul in Iraq after Baghdad threatened to appeal to the United Nations to force Turkey to withdraw its soldiers.

Turkey deployed hundreds of forces to a camp near the Mosul in the north on Thursday, calling it a routine rotation in a training programme but angering Baghdad, which said it had been done without consultation.

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US sending 'special targeting force' to Iraq to help fight IS

A 2014 file photo of Islamic State militants driving a captured tank. Credit: Reuters

The United States is sending a "specialized expeditionary targeting force" to help Iraqi forces tackle so-called Islamic State militants.

The Pentagon says the team of "special operators" will also be cleared to take part in raids inside Syria - including hostage rescue and capture missions.

"These special operators will over time be able to conduct raids, free hostages, gather intelligence, and capture ISIL [Islamic State] leaders," US defence secretary Ashton Carter told the House Armed Services Committee.

Coalition air strikes hit 25 IS targets in Iraq and Syria

Coalition air strikes hit 16 targets in Iraq and nine in Syria belonging to the so-called Islamic State militant group, officials have said.

The site of an air strike in Sinjar, Iraq, earlier this month Credit: Reuters

In a statement, the Combined Joint Task Force said five of the Iraq strikes hit around Ramadi, destroying weapons, tactical units and fighting positions, as well as targets in nine other Iraqi cities, including Sinjar, Mosul and Tikrit.

In Syria, the statement added, five strikes near al Hasaka took out two Islamic State vehicles and three buildings, wounding an undisclosed number of militants. Three other strikes hit near al Hawl and one near Mar'a.

Bomber, attack, ground-attack, fighter, and remotely piloted aircraft were all used in the operation.

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Fresh push to recapture Sinjar from Islamic State

Kurdish forces are leading ground efforts to recapture Sinjar. Credit: Reuters

Kurdish forces have launched an offensive to retake the town of Sinjar in Iraq from Islamic State militants, who took control over a year ago and enslaved thousands of its Yazidi residents.

Operation Free Sinjar - which will be backed by US-led airstrikes - aims to cordon off the town, take control of Islamic State supply routes and establish a buffer zone to protect it from artillery, according to a statement from the Kurdish national security council.

Sinjar is of major symbolic and strategic importance, as it sits astride a main highway linking the cities of Mosul and Raqqa - Islamic State strongholds in Iraq and Syria respectively.

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