Dozens of IS leaders reported killed in Iraq

Dozens of IS leaders reported killed in Iraq
The US-led international alliance has killed Islamic State leaders during airstrikes in the northern Ninevah province, according to military sources.
3 min read
28 January, 2016
The US led international coalition has been targeting IS in Iraq [Getty]
The US-led international alliance killed a number of senior leaders in the Islamic State group during raids on Wednesday night and Thursday morning on IS-controlled areas in the northern province of Ninevah, according to Iraqi military sources.

The air raids targeted IS sites and military headquarters and were reportedly a prelude to the upcoming battle to liberate Mosul from the militants.

"The coalition carried out a morning air raid on the headquarters of the organisation in the south district of Mosul, killing a senior commander and 22 others who were with him," a prominent Iraqi military source told The New Arab.

According to the source, those killed were predominantly non-Iraqi.

Media reports have quoted Iraqi government sources reporting nine US aircraft carried out raids on a military base in Tal Afar, west of Mosul airport, killing three IS leaders.

"The US air raid relied on intelligence and monitoring of Niama, who was high-level military commander in charge of IS' recent offensives in the towns north and east of Mosul," said Sheikh Mohammad al-Hamdani, a member of Mosul's tribal council.

Hamdani added that a statement from the Iraqi defence ministry was expected to be released shortly.

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The leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, Hassan Ribawar, told The New Arab that the bombing also targeted the towns of Bashiqa and Bahzany, north of Mosul, killing 14 IS militants and injuring around 13 others.

The Kurdish leader also said that the coalition air raids destroyed tunnels used by IS north-west of Kirkuk.

"The alliance's intensification of airstrikes on IS is a prelude to the battle to liberate Mosul and a war of attrition against the organisation," Ribawar said.

In June 2014, Islamic State group militants seized Mosul, subjecting residents to a reign of brutality.

Another major Iraqi city, Ramadi, fell in May 2015 but local Iraqi forces - backed by coalition air support and troop training - recaptured the town at the end of last month in what was seen as a major blow for the extremist group.

Earlier this month, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said the liberation of Mosul was key to defeating the Islamic State group, and hinted at an intensified upcoming military campaign.

"While I cannot give you specifics, I can tell you these [US] forces have already established contact with new forces that share our goals, new lines of communication to local, motivated and capable partners, and new targets for airstrikes and strikes of all kinds," Carter said.

On Wednesday, Human Rights Watch said that Iraqi security forces and pro-government militias committed possible war crimes during 2015 in their fight against IS by unlawfully demolishing buildings in recaptured areas and "forcibly disappearing" residents.