Iraq air strikes kill nine suspected of deadly IS attack

Iraq air strikes kill nine suspected of deadly IS attack
Iraq's air force has killed nine terrorists, who are believed to be responsible for the attack on the Hawi al-Azim military base.
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11 soldiers were killed in the Hawi al-Azim attack [Getty]

Iraqi air strikes on Saturday killed nine suspected "terrorists" implicated in a deadly Islamic State group attack on an army base earlier this month, the military said.

The 21 January attack, which killed 11 soldiers in Hawi al-Azim in the eastern province of Diyala, was the deadliest claimed by the jihadists in Iraq this year. 

In a statement released late Saturday, the military said it had "identified the exact whereabouts in Hawi al-Azim of the terrorist group which perpetrated this criminal act".

"Three precision strikes by Iraqi F-16s have so far killed nine terrorist elements," the statement said, adding that the mission was still underway.

IS overran large swathes of Iraq and neighbouring Syria in 2014, declaring a new "caliphate" for Muslims, before Baghdad declared victory in late 2017 after a grinding campaign.

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But a low-level insurgency by the jihadists has persisted, flaring up particularly in rural areas north of Baghdad around the city of Kirkuk, and in the eastern provinces of Diyala and Salaheddin.

The base attack coincided with a brazen prison break attempt over the border in Syria that has triggered days of clashes between IS fighters and Kurdish forces backed by US-led coalition troops and aircraft.

The fighting in and around Ghwayran prison in the northeastern city of Hasakeh has killed at least 270 people, including around 189 jihadists, 74 Kurdish-led fighters and seven civilians, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group.