BAGHDAD, July 7 (Xinhua) -- Three Islamic State (IS) militants were killed on Saturday in an airstrike on an IS hideout in Iraq's eastern province of Diyala, provincial security sources said.
A joint police and army force, backed by helicopter gunships, raided an IS hideout in Himreen area, leaving three IS militants killed after a clash, Lt. Gen. Mezhir al-Azzawi, commander of the security forces responsible for military operations in Diyala, told Xinhua.
Separately, a policeman was killed and two others wounded when IS militants attacked a security checkpoint at Susa area east of the provincial capital Baquba, located some 65 km northeast of Baghdad, Maj. Alaa al-Saadi, from Diyala Operations Command, told Xinhua.
Earlier in the day, the police told Xinhua that a policeman was shot dead by a sniper at a checkpoint near Baquba, while IS militants reportedly attacked a village in the northern part of neighboring Salahudin Province in the early morning, killing a villager, kidnapping another, and wounding three others.
The incidents came three days after a major offensive was launched by the security forces, backed by warplanes and helicopter gunships, to hunt down the extremist militants in the rugged area in the provinces of Diyala and Salahudin.
On June 30, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, also the commander-in-chief of Iraqi forces, pledged to hunt down IS militants across Iraq after recent attacks and abductions by the terrorist group.
"We will chase the remaining cells of terrorism in their hideouts. We will kill them, and we will chase them everywhere, in the mountains and the desert," Abadi said.
The latest deterioration in security put the Iraqi government under fire for failing to stop the repeated attacks by IS militants on security forces and civilians, as well as the kidnapping of dozens of people at fake checkpoints on a main road between Baghdad and Kirkuk.
On Dec. 9, 2017, Abadi officially declared full liberation of Iraq from the IS. However, small groups of IS militants have since regrouped in rugged areas, carrying out attacks against security forces and civilians from time to time.