Activists: At least 860 dead from US-led Syria strikes
BAGHDAD (AP):US-led coalition airstrikes against the Islamic State group and other extremists in Syria have killed more than 860 people, including civilians, since they began in mid-September, a monitoring group disclosed yesterday.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the vast majority of those killed, 746 people, were Islamic State militants, while another 68 were members of al-Qaida's Syrian affiliate known as the Nusra Front. At least 50 civilians, including eight children and five women, also have been killed in the airstrikes, the group said.
In Baghdad yesterday, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi shook up the country's military, relieving 26 army officers from their command, retiring 10 others and appointing 18 new commanders.
A statement posted on the official website of the prime minister's office said the changes were ordered "as part of efforts to reinforce the work of the military on the basis of professionalism and fighting graft in all its forms".
The statement did not elaborate, but a government official said the shake-up followed the findings of a probe carried out by an investigator appointed last month by al-Abadi on corruption in the military.
Under Iraq's constitution, al-Abadi, like Nouri al-Maliki before him, holds the post of General Commander of the Armed Forces. But it was al-Maliki, now a vice-president, who had tightly controlled the military during his eight-year rule, with several elite units taking their orders directly from him.