BAQUBA, Iraq, Jan. 1 (Xinhua) -- A local leader of Islamic State (IS) group and two of his aides were killed Monday in an airstrike in Iraq's eastern province of Diyala, a provincial security source told Xinhua.
The Iraqi aircraft bombarded an IS hideout near a village named Sansal, some 45 km northeast of the provincial capital Baquba, destroying the hideout and killing the three militants, the source said on condition of anonymity.
Meanwhile, the security forces and paramilitary Hashd Shaabi fighters carried out a search campaign looking for suspects and weapons into houses and farms in al-Nedah area in northeast of Baquba, which itself located some 65 km northeast of the Iraqi capital Baghdad,
Despite repeated military operations in Diyala province, remnants of IS militants were still hiding in rugged areas near the border with Iran in eastern the province, as well as the sprawling areas extending from western part of Diyala to Himreen mountainous area.
Dozens of IS militants fled their former bases in Salahudin province and Hawijah area in west of Kirkuk after the Iraqi forces cleared these areas from the extremist militants during anti-IS offensives in the past few months.
On December 9, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi officially declared full liberation of Iraq from IS militants after Iraqi forces recaptured all the areas once seized by the extremist group.
However, small groups of IS militants resorted to deserts and rugged areas looking for safe havens but the security forces are hunting them down from time to time.