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Airstrikes target Iraqi troops in north

Attacks follow heavy bombing of Mosul


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KALAK, Iraq (CNN) -- Coalition airstrikes targeted Iraqi troops along a ridge in northern Iraq near a Kurdish-controlled area Friday, after launching overnight attacks on the nearby city of Mosul.

CNN correspondent Ben Wedeman, about six to nine miles [10 to 15 kilometers] from the ridge, reported hearing four large explosions "on the horizon, on the ridge or behind the ridge."

Wedeman said his contacts reported "a significant military buildup" in the area where the airstrikes took place.

It was the second straight day that coalition warplanes bombed the Iraqi buildup along the ridge, which includes artillery pieces and tanks, Wedeman said.

Kalak is on the Great Zab River about 28 miles [45 kilometers] southeast of Mosul, near the demarcation line between Kurdish-controlled areas and territory under the control of the Iraqi regime.

Mosul, near strategically important oil fields, took a heavy pounding overnight, Wedeman said. Nightscope video from Arabic-language television channel Al-Jazeera showed repeated flashes from bomb blasts.

Mosul is the largest northern city under Iraqi control.

A day earlier, U.S. forces led by 1,000 paratroopers secured the Harir airfield in northern Iraq. The airfield quickly became a hub of activity, with C-130 and C-17 cargo planes arriving, unloading cargo and taking off again.

The planes were bringing in tanks, armored personnel carriers, troops and artillery as the U.S.-led coalition begins its march from the north to choke off loyalists to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein around Baghdad.

EDITOR'S NOTE: CNN's policy is to not report information that puts operational security at risk.


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