'Hideout reduced to ashes'

Iraqi forces airstrike in Diyala kills senior ISIS leader

DIYALA — The Joint Operations Command announced on Tuesday the results of Monday’s airstrike on an ISIS hideout in Diyala, confirming three deaths. The operation, conducted near the Al-Azeem Dam, was part of a reconnaissance mission by the Iraqi forces.

The Joint Operations Command in Iraq coordinates military operations nationwide, integrating elements of the Iraqi Security Forces, including the army, air force, and police, to address security threats such as those from insurgent groups like ISIS.

“Following the airstrike carried out yesterday by F-16 aircraft based on precise intelligence, three bodies were discovered, including one belonging to a senior ISIS leader, as well as destroyed hideouts, criminal evidence, technical and logistical materials, and other items,” the Security Media Cell said in a statement.

ISIS, which had seized large areas in Iraq and Syria and proclaimed a caliphate in 2014, was driven out of Iraq in 2017 by Iraqi forces, the Peshmerga, and a U.S.-led coalition. The group’s final stronghold in Syria fell in 2019 to Kurdish U.S.-backed forces.

“Once again, our air forces have unleashed their fury on terrorism, directing their firepower onto a significant target and reducing it to ashes,” the Joint Operations Command said  in a statement yesterday.

The Joint Operations Command further emphasized the readiness of the Iraqi armed forces to “confront terrorism wherever it may be.”

The recent announcement is a part of ongoing Iraqi warplane attacks against ISIS militant hideouts in the country. Nearly two weeks ago, two Iraqi airstrikes resulted in the deaths of seven ISIS militants, including a senior leader in Salah Al-Din.

In recent months Iraq has faced a surge in militant attacks, as ISIS remnants continue to execute deadly attacks from remote areas and desert hideouts.

On May 14, an army officer and four soldiers were killed in an attack in Salah Al-Din governorate. A week later, a bomb targeted a vehicle carrying five Iraqi army officers near Suleiman Beg, resulting in one death and four injuries. The following day, five family members were killed by an improvised explosive device on the Baiji-Haditha Road in Anbar governorate. Officials confirmed the device was recently planted.

According to a January report by the United Nations, an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 ISIS fighters remain active in Iraq and Syria.

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