Airstrikes kill 12 in Baghdad and Basra


Twelve suspected insurgents have been killed in airstrikes on Baghdad and the southern Iraqi city of Basra, the US and British military said on Friday.


An unmanned US military drone fired on a group of gunmen carrying self-propelled grenades and mortars in Baghdad’s Sadr City district late Thursday. Six were killed, the US military said.


Armed drones are routinely used for long air patrols over the capital. They rely on their sensors to pick up militant activity during the night and insurgents do not have air defenses capable of shooting down the slow-moving aircraft.


Sadr City is a principal stronghold of the Mahdi Army militia of cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Iraqi government troops supported by the US military have been fighting to gain control of the district of 2.5 million people for nearly two weeks.


Meanwhile, the British military said a coalition helicopter hit a group of gunmen in the Hayaniyah district of central Basra overnight.


“They were positively identified as an active mortar team,” British military spokesman Tom Holloway said.


The southern port city was the scene of fierce combat when Iraqi government forces launched a weeklong offensive against Shiite militias last month. British forces also took part in the fighting. (AP)