BAQUBA, Iraq, June 28 (Xinhua) -- A total of 23 suspected Islamic State (IS) militants were killed Wednesday in airstrikes and clashes with Iraqi security forces in Iraq's eastern province of Diyala, a local official and a provincial security source said.
Iraqi aircraft bombed IS hideouts earlier in the day outside the town of Abu Seida in the northeast of Diyala's provincial capital city of Baquba, which located some 65 km northeast of Baghdad, Mohammed al-Timimi, the mayor of the town, told Xinhua.
The airstrikes left at least 20 IS militants killed, including three of the group's leaders, Timimi said, citing intelligence reports.
Meanwhile, acting on a tip-off, the government-backed Sunni tribal fighters ambushed two local leading figures of IS militants near the town of Shirween, some 45 km east of Baquba, and shot them dead, a provincial security source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
Also in the province, Iraqi soldiers killed another suspected IS militant in Mekheisa village, about 20 km northeast of Baquba, the source said.
The extremist IS militants frequently attack the urban areas of the province using the sprawling rugged area in northwestern Diyala, which also extends to the main IS redoubt in Mteibijah at the provincial border line with the neighboring Salahudin province.
The incident came as Iraqi security forces, backed by the anti-IS international coalition, were simultaneously conducting a major offensive to dislodge IS militants from their major stronghold in western Mosul in northern Iraq.