Kirkuk (IraqiNews.com) An Islamic State senior commander was killed along with a companion when warplanes bombarded their vehicle in southwestern Kirkuk, sources said as operations press on to clear the province from the last militants’ strongholds.
Alsumaria News quoted the source saying that Abu Karim al-Iraqi, who led Islamic State’s elite “special unit”, was killed along with a companion while driving their vehicle near al-Riyad region., an area close to Hawija, Islamic State’s last bastion in the province.
The so-called “special unit” is mostly composed of Iraqi nationals, and is tasked with combat raids, according to the source.
Earlier on Monday, Iraqi military media said Iraqi forces advanced towards al-Rashad as part of the second phase of operations to liberate Hawija, which launched Friday.
The first phase of operations launched on September 24th, and managed to retake eastern Shirqat, an Islamic State haven in neighboring Salahuddin province.
Parallel operations were launched late September targeting IS havens in western Anbar.
On Sunday, military media said joint forces recaptured 28 villages around Hawija with a few hundreds of militants killed since the launch of operations.
A wide-scale campaign launched with the backing of a U.S.-led coalition in 2016 to recapture areas occupied by IS since 2014, when the militants declared a self-styled “caliphate” rule in Iraq and neighboring Syria based in Iraq’s Mosul.
Iraqi government, coalition and paramilitary forces recaptured Mosul, the group’s former capital, and the neighboring town of Tal Afar early July and late August.