Iraqi government forces are seen near the Falahat village west of Fallujah on June 27, 2016. (Xinhua/AFP)
BAGHDAD, June 30 (Xinhua) -- Hundreds of Islamic State (IS) militants were killed in a series of airstrikes targeting their convoys early Wednesday when they fled Iraq's Fallujah, a provincial security source said on Thursday.
Dozens of IS vehicles were hit in airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition and the Iraqi air force south of Fallujah, 50 km west of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.
The IS vehicles were attempting to flee to the desert southwest of Fallujah, the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
The source could not give an exact number of vehicles nor human casualties, but American media reports cited a preliminary estimate of at least 250 suspected dead militants and at least 40 destroyed vehicles.
Also on Wednesday, coalition and Iraqi airstrikes hit a convoy of 50 IS vehicles as they headed to the desert west of the provincial capital city of Ramadi, 110 km west of Baghdad, destroying all the vehicles and killing dozens of IS militants, the source said.
Apparently, the convoy near Ramadi had fled Fallujah earlier and headed toward the IS-held town of Qaim near the Iraqi-Syrian border, the source added.
Another convoy of 60 suspected IS vehicles was struck in Jazirat al-Khaldiyah, northwest of Fallujah, leaving all the vehicles destroyed and all occupants dead, the source said.
The militants in the convoy had fled their stronghold in Fallujah earlier and were heading toward the desert near Tharthar Lake, north of Ramadi, before being hit, the source added.
The latest heavy IS casualties came after security forces and allied paramilitary Hashd Shaabi units recaptured Fallujah on June 26, following a month of intense battles.
Government troops and allied militias have been fighting for months to reclaim key cities and towns from IS militants in the province of Anbar, as militants attempted to approach Baghdad after seizing most of the province.
Iraq has witnessed intense violence since the IS took control of parts of its northern and western regions in June 2014.
Many blame the current chronic instability, cycle of violence, and the emergence of extremist groups such as the IS group on the United States, which invaded Iraq in March 2003 under the pretext of seeking to destroy weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the country. The war led to the ouster and eventual execution of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, but no WMD was found.