Kirkuk (IraqiNews.com) Seven Islamic State leaders, including a top security chief, were killed as U.S.-led Coalition jets bombarded the group’s holdout, southwest of Kirkuk, a local source said.
“Coalition jets bombarded an IS location, where several leaders were there, in Hawija,” the source told AlSumaria News. “Preliminary information indicate death of around seven leaders including member in charge of securing the group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.”
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the source added that the airstrike left several vehicles and tactic units of the group destroyed.
Earlier on the day, the Defense Ministry’s War Media Cell said 557 IS militants were killed, while more than 100 villages and regions were liberated during the first phase of offensives in Hawija.
The Joint Operations Command announced, Sunday, conclusion of the first phase of operations to recapture Hawija, the group’s holdout in southwestern Kirkuk.
Launched last week, the operation managed to take over al-Zab river region, the northern part of Makhoul mountains and several villages west of Tigris River.
Brig. Gen. Yahia Rasoul, spokesman of the Iraqi Joint Operations Command, said previously that the number of Islamic State members in Hawija falls between 800 and 1500.
Hawija and other neighboring regions, west of Kirkuk, have been held by IS since mid-2014, when the group emerged to proclaim an Islamic “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria.