Fresh US air strikes target IS leaders near Mosul in Iraq
A supposed gathering of Islamic State commanders were attacked by US-led warplanes in an airstrike near the militant-held city of Mosul in northern Iraq on Friday, according to a senior US defence official.
ISIS has been targeted by hundreds of US-led air strikes since August, but Friday’s attack is a significant development in the battle against its leadership.
Ten armed trucks belonging to the group were destroyed in the attack according to spokesman, colonel Patrick Ryder. It has not yet been confirmed whether ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was among those present at Friday’s gathering.
The US-led coalition against Islamic extremists consists of Iraq and other Western and Arab countries.
On 5th July, Al-Baghdadi declared Mosul an Islamic caliphate in his first appearance as the group’s leader. The city, one of Iraq’s largest, was seized in June and strict sharia law has been imposed on its residents since.
As the “supreme leader”, Al-Baghdadi controls the vast areas of territory in Iraq and Syria under ISIS control, and all Muslims are demanded to pledge their allegiance to him.
Al-Baghdadi, is said to have been working as an Islamic preacher when the US invaded Iraq in 2003. He was detained by US forces at Camp Bucca for four years after turning to militancy. He is believed to be in his early 40s and has a $10 million US bounty on his head.
The news comes a day after Pentagon announced to deploy 1,500 extra US troops to Iraq to join the already 1,600 military advisers present in the country in their fight against ISIS.
President Obama also plans to spend $1.6 billion in the training and arming of Iraqi forces, according to White House spokesman Josh Earnest.