Kirkuk (IraqiNews.com) Ten Islamic State members died when fighter jets from the U.S.-led international coalition pounded their vehicle southwest of Kirkuk, according Kurdish intelligence officials.
Kurdistan’s Counter-Terrorism Department said the strike targeted IS members boarding a vehicle on a road linking al-Riyadh and Hawija, both regions still under Islamic State control.
Those killed included Ammar (Abu Nabil) Hassan, a senior Islamic State leader which the department, however, did not identify in terms of ranking within the extremist group.
Since emerging in 2014 to proclaim a self-styled “Islamic Caliphate”, IS members have held areas in southwestern Kirkuk, where thousands of civilians had to flee the group’s rule to refugee camps in the province and neighboring cities. Local officials have repeatedly urged the government to hasten with security efforts to liberate IS-held regions in Kirkuk, but the Iraqi government is currently employing its full military power in the six-month-old campaign to retake Mosul, IS’s biggest stronghold in Iraq. It is expected that the government will launch further offensives against IS havens across Iraq once the campaign in Mosul concludes.
IS has executed dozens of civilians in Kirkuk for either attempting to flee areas under its control or for collaborating with security forces.