In Salahudin province, Iraqi security forces, backed by Shiite militia, captured three villages in the southeastern town of Dujail, some 60 km north of Iraqi capital Baghdad, after fierce battles with IS militants. At least seven militants were killed and five of their vehicles destroyed, a provincial security source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
Iraqi security forces continued attacks against IS positions during the day in and near the towns of Balad, Baiji, Samarra and Dhuluiyah, killing 13 militants and destroying equipment and several vehicles, the source said.
In one of the air strikes, a prominent IS leader and two of his aides were killed when a helicopter gunship destroyed three vehicles with IS members on board in the militants-seized town of Baiji, some 200 km north of Baghdad, the source said, citing intelligence reports.
In the eastern province of Diyala, Iraqi security forces and Shiite militia backed by aircraft carried out an operation in the rural areas near the village of Hunbus, some 110 km northeast of Baghdad. They killed 22 militants, including two group leaders, a provincial security source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
Separately, Mullah Eid, a prominent leader of the IS group, and three of his guards were killed in clashes with security forces and Shiite militia in Qaraghul village on the northwestern edge of Diyala province, the source said, adding that a Shiite militiaman was also killed and seven others wounded in the battle.
The security situation began to drastically deteriorate in Iraq since June 10, when bloody clashes broke out between Iraqi security forces and IS militants. The latter has taken control of the country’s northern city of Mosul and later seized swathes of territories in Nineveh and other predominantly Sunni provinces after Iraqi security forces abandoned their posts.