Qaim – Iraqi air forces killed 20 Islamic State members in western Anbar on Sunday, including the masterminds behind recent deadly bombings in Baghdad and Basra, military media reported Tuesday.
The Joint Operations Command said the strike targeted an important meeting by IS leaders in the city of al-Qaim, a major Islamic State stronghold near the borders with Syria held by the group since 2014. Those killed included an “emir” of the Islamic State’s so-called “Baghdad State”, his chief boob-trapping experts and a suicide bombers’ commander.
A booby-trapped vehicle parked near the location of the meeting, as well as a stack of explosive devices prepared for transfer to a safer destination, also exploded in the strike, according to military media.
Islamic State had claimed responsibility for the late Friday bombings in Baghdad and Basra which left at least 90 casualties, including security members.
A recent report by Sputnik news agency said IS members were bringing down their flags from Qaim and apparently evacuating the city to western Anbar deserts.
In April, Qutri al-Obeidi, a leader with the paramilitary al-Hashd al-Shaabi troops said IS members were evacuated from Rawa town towards Qaim after the leaders ordered the fighters, along with their families, to leave due to intensified airstrikes.
Anbar’s western towns of Annah, Qaim and Rawa have been held by the extremist group since 2014, when it emerged to proclaim a self-styled Islamic Caliphate.
Fighter jets from the Iraqi army and the international coalition have also regularly pounded IS locations in the province. The Iraqi government is expected to aim at those strongholds once the Mosul battle is concluded.