US-backed Iraqi Forces Take Control of Mosul Airport
Iraq said Thursday that its U.S.-backed forces have retaken the airport in Mosul that had been controlled by the extremist Islamic State group since 2014.
In a flash on its screen, state television declared, "The Rapid Response Forces and federal police are fully in control of the airport of Mosul."
Iraqi forces launched a new bid to retake the western areas of Iraq's second-largest city on Sunday after saying in late January they had liberated eastern parts of the city.
Iraqi Lieutenant General Raid Shakir Jaudat said Baghdad's forces, backed by drones and heavy artillery, advanced on the airport from several positions. At first, accounts of the airport takeover said there was little Islamic State resistance, but later there were reports of Iraqi firefights with militants encamped in airport buildings.
One Iraqi special forces officer reported Islamic State fighters targeted Baghdad's fighters with a suicide car bomb and dozens of bombs dropped from drones. The officer said there were at least a dozen casualties, although many were light injuries.
Iraqi takeover of the airport would give its troops access to the city from the southwest and for the first time control of an area along the west bank of the Tigris River.
Mexican Leaders Tell US Cabinet Members About 'Worry and Irritation'
Amid worries about a wall and deportations, Mexican officials expressed their concerns to two visiting U.S. Cabinet secretaries on Thursday.
"We do not agree on the different measures that recently were stated by the government of the United States that affect Mexico,” Interior Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said.
"There exists among Mexicans worry and irritation about what are perceived to be policies that could be harmful for the national interest and for Mexicans here and abroad," Luis Videgaray Caso, the secretary of foreign affairs, said.
The comments were made amid their meetings with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.
Tillerson and Kelly appeared with their two Mexican counterparts before the media at the Secretariat of Foreign Affairs, but took no questions from reporters.
Tillerson, in his statement, said the U.S. and Mexico are "two strong foreign countries that, from time to time, will have differences," but that his talks were "productive and forward-looking."
Kelly emphasized there will be “no mass deportations” and "no use of military force" to round up undocumented migrants under President Donald Trump’s enhanced crackdown on those illegally in the United States.
After Tillerson and Kelly arrived in the Mexican capital, Trump predicted it would be “a tough trip” for his two Cabinet members and added, “we are going to have a good relationship with Mexico and if we don't, we don't."
The two American emissaries also met with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto before heading back home.