BAGHDAD, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- Five Islamic State (IS) militants were killed Thursday in airstrikes in Iraq's central provinces of Salahuddin and Diyala, provincial security sources said.
Mohammed Khalil al-Bazi, from Salahuddin provincial police command, told Xinhua that "an Iraqi helicopter gunship bombarded in the morning an IS hideout in Makhoul Mountain range, in north of the town of Baiji, which is located about 200 km north of Iraqi capital Baghdad."
A paramilitary tribal force, from the villages of Ziwya and Mesahag near Baiji, rushed to the location of the devastated IS hideout and found three bodies of militants, who are believed to be involved in kidnapping and killing of civilians and Iraqi security forces, al-Bazi said.
In a separate incident, two IS members were killed when another helicopter gunship pounded their hideout in al-Waqif orchards in northeast of Baquba, some 65 km northeast of Baghdad, Sadiq al-Husseini, head of security committee of Diyala's provincial council, told Xinhua.
The bombardment in al-Waqif area came as part of an operation conducted by the Iraqi security forces in the morning aimed at hunting down the extremist IS militants in the area, al-Husseini said.
The security situation in Iraq has been dramatically improved after Iraqi security forces declared they had fully defeated the extremist IS militants across the country late in 2017.
However, groups of extremist militants melted or regrouped in urban or in deserts and rugged areas, and have been carrying out attacks against the security forces and civilians despite operations from time to time to hunt them down.