Up to 36 Islamic State (IS) militants were killed in airstrikes by Iraqi air force targeting IS positions inside neighboring Syria. (AFP photo)
BAGHDAD, April 22 (Xinhua) -- Up to 36 Islamic State (IS) militants were killed in airstrikes by Iraqi air force targeting IS positions inside neighboring Syria, the Iraqi military said on Sunday.
Acting on intelligence reports, the Iraqi F-16 fighter jets pounded the terrorist IS positions, including a meeting site for some IS leaders, leaving 36 terrorists dead, a statement by the Iraqi Joint Operations Command (JOC) said.
Yahya Abdul-Rasoul, spokesman of the JOC, told Xinhua that the attacks were carried out on Thursday, and that intelligence reports confirmed that 36 IS militants were killed and five of IS leaders in the meeting site were among the killed and a sixth was wounded.
Rasoul identified the killed IS leaders that "Abu Islam, Abu Tariq al-Hamdani, Abu Mariam al-Aggawi, Abu Yasir, Abu Jaafar were among the killed and Abu Hussein was wounded with one of his legs cut."
Thursday's airstrikes by Iraqi air force, reportedly, were carried out by order of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who is also the commander-in-chief of the Iraqi forces, aiming at protecting the Iraqi forces near the border with Syria in western Iraq.
"Such airstrikes would help accelerate the elimination of IS gangs in the (Middle East) region after we have eliminated them inside Iraq," according to a statement issued Thursday by Abadi's office.
Previously, the Iraqi air force carried out such preemptive airstrikes against IS militants inside Syria with Iraqi F-16 fighter jets.
On Dec. 9, 2017, Abadi officially declared full liberation of Iraq from IS militants after Iraqi forces recaptured all the areas once seized by the extremist group.