Iraqi airstrikes pound IS locations, kill militants in Anbar

Iraqi F16 fighter jet

Anbar ( Iraqi military jets pounded on Saturday Islamic State locations in Anbar, killing an indefinite number of militants, a statement by the Defense Ministry said on Saturday.

The strikes targeted extremists locations in Ain al-Wakhma, destroying an explosives store which contained TNT and C4 used by the group for rockets, the ministry said on facebook.

Also in Anbar, Lieutenant Mohamed al-Dailami, from the army’s Anbar Operations, said Islamic State fighters had begun to erect “invisible berms” at Anbar desert, along the Trebil border crossing with Jordan, He noted that the move comes as both countries prepare to open the crossing for travelers and trade.

“Current operations by the Iraqi forces seek to push terrorist elements away from the international road,” he said, adding that checkpoints and military reinforcements have been supplied to that road.

Islamic State has been holding a number of towns in western Anbar since 2014. Iraqi and international coalition fighter jets have occasionally pounded the group’s pockets there. The government has yet to give orders to security and tribal forces in the province to carry out a ground invasion of those hideouts. A brief security operation, which was not officially declared by the Iraqi government, launched on January 5th and recaptured a few villages in western Anbar before halting again.

Iraqi forces, backed by a U.S.-led military coalition, have been fighting Islamic State militants in several pockets across Iraq, most notably the city of Mosul, where operations since October killed at least 3300 militants and confined the group in the city’s western section.

The group has been reportedly sustaining serious losses in personnel, equipment and finances, and reports say it had been ravaged with divisions and infighting, with some fighters also executed or demoted for escaping the battlefield.

The United Nations’ envoy to Iraq, Yan Kubish, said Thursday that the group’s days in Iraq were “numbered”.

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