U.S. Army AH-64 Apache attack helicopters have gone into action in Iraq for the first time in support of the slow-moving advance on Mosul but were being kept out of the ongoing siege of Fallujah, where increasing reports of abuses and killings of Sunni refugees have emerged.
Baghdad government spokesman Saad al-Hadithi said an investigation had begun of charges that the Popular Mobilization Forces, the Shiite militia backed by Iran that has joined the Iraqi Security Forces encircling Fallujah, had gone on a killing spree against Sunnis fleeing the city 40 miles west of Baghdad, Reuters reported.
The investigators "are following up on the violations and a number of arrests have been made. Strict orders were issued to protect civilians," Hadithi said.
The government of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi authorized the use of the helicopters for the plan to retake northwestern Mosul, but there were no immediate plans to use the gunships in Fallujah, said Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman.
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