Mosul has been the scene of unrest since the collapse of Baathist authority on 11 April, although the problem has been lawlessness more than ethnic violence: Kurds and Arabs have typically enjoyed good relations in the city, which saw little of the Arabisation imposed by Saddam Hussein’s regime in Kirkuk. US forces shot dead a number of Iraqis during a demonstration on 16 April.

MEK forces in Iraq number about 1,000 troops, equipped by the Baathist regime and used by it for security operations. US Brigadier-General Vince Brooks said at briefing that after some encounters between US and MEK forces, some of the latter were in ‘assembly areas -in non-combat formation’.