Iraqi air force attacks Islamic State position inside Syria

Iraqi warplanes carried out a raid Sunday targeting Islamic State (IS) group commanders in eastern Syria, in the second such strike on the militants since mid-April, the premier’s office said.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered the “painful strike” that targeted “a meeting of IS commanders south of Al-Dushashiya in Syrian territory”, a statement said.

The announcement came days before national elections in Iraq, in which Abadi hopes to secure a second term as prime minister, the Associated Press reported. In his campaign he has frequently highlighted his role in overseeing the defeat of the extremist group.

Abadi last month said he would “take all necessary measures if they threaten the security of Iraq,” referring to the militants who just three years ago overran a third of Iraq.

F-16 fighter jets were used in the early morning strike and the raid was “successful”, the spokesman of Iraq’s security media centre, General Yehya Rassoul, told AFP.

The security media centre later published a video showing an explosion in the building apparently targeted by the planes, in the middle of an avenue of trees.  

Dushashiya is in a desert region of Syria’s Hasakeh province, where a US-backed Kurdish-led alliance is fighting IS.

“After receiving information on the target in co-operation with Syria’s government and in co-ordination with coalition forces, F-16s from the Iraqi air force led strikes against a command post of IS, 10 kilometres from the Iraqi border inside Syria,” said General Mohammed al-Askari, an adviser to Iraq’s defence ministry.

“This attack took place following a meeting of several Daesh commanders who were planning terrorist operations on Syrian or Iraqi territory,” he said, using an Arab acronym for IS.

‘Completely destroyed’

The target “was completely destroyed and all the officials there were killed,” he said, without giving a death toll.

Askari also said Iraq hosts a centre that co-ordinates military activity with Iran, Russia and Syria “against IS”.

“This is not the last strike in Syria. They will continue, in relation to the activities of Daesh.”

A week ago, Abadi told the media that Iraq would carry out air strikes against IS outside the country’s own borders.

On 19 April, Iraq said it had carried out an air raid against IS in Syria that killed 36 IS fighters, near the town of Hajin in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor.

Iraq declared victory in December against IS. The militants still control pockets of desert along the border with Syria.

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