BAGHDAD/PARIS, Oct 12 – A booby-trapped drone launched by Daesh militants killed two Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and wounded two French soldiers earlier this month north of the Daesh-controlled city of Mosul, Kurdish officials said on Wednesday.
The drone blew up when Peshmerga fighters tried to lift it after it crashed to the ground, Jabbar al-Yawar, secretary general of the autonomous Kurdish region’s defence ministry, told Reuters. “It seems it was booby-trapped.”
The French newspaper Le Monde reported on Tuesday that the drone had been intercepted in flight on Oct. 2 and exploded near the Kurdish and French soldiers when it hit the ground. It was unclear, Le Monde said, whether the drone was remotely detonated or carried a timed bomb.
Yawar, speaking from Erbil, capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, said the French soldiers had been training Kurdish fighters near the site of the drone crash near the town of Dohuk.
Peshmerga forces plan to take part in a planned U.S.-backed Iraqi military offensive to oust Daesh from Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city and the last urban centre still under Daesh control in Iraq after a series of government offensives to reverse the jihadists’ lightning seizure of territory in 2014.
The U.S.-led coalition against IS includes French, British, Canadian and other Western military contingents.
The two wounded French soldiers were immediately returned to France for medical treatment and one of them was “between life and death”, according to Le Monde. It said other French soldiers were also lightly wounded by the blast but gave no details.
The French Defence Ministry declined comment.
France has about 500 troops in Iraq as part of a U.S.-led coalition The numbers include special forces that have been training Kurdish Peshmerga forces.
In anticipation of the offensive to dislodge them from Mosul, Daesh militants have placed booby traps across the city, dug tunnels and recruited children as spies, according to Iraqi and U.S. officials.