A flight of American F-15 Eagle Strike fighter jets struck and destroyed three remote Islamic State bases in the mountainous region of Iraq. Another strike pounded a cave complex in Nineveh.
Defense Department officials stated that the airstrikes were carried out in coordination with the Iraqi government. The ISIS bases were in Wadi al-Shai, an area in Kirkuk Province located in the northern part of the country.
The ISIS mountain training areas were 16 miles west of the city of Tuz Khurmatu in a densely vegetated terrain in rural Kirkuk. They were characterized by the U.S.-led Operation Inherent Resolve coalition as a “summer camp.”
“The Iraqi Security Forces have tactical overmatch against ISIS; airstrikes help destroy ISIS targets in terrain difficult to reach by standard vehicles,” Colonel Myles B. Caggins III, spokesman for the coalition, said in a statement. “Blowing up ISIS hideouts in bucolic locations ultimately results in security in cities and villages.” He added that Iraqi Security Forces are still conducting post-strike assessments to measure the damage.
Caggins also posted on Twitter a video of the airstrike on the Nineveh cave. He said the strike killed four terrorists. He also tweeted that the killing or capture of ISIS leaders has left “their lowly terrorist followers dazed & disillusioned.” With ISIS leaders being targeted and “neutralized,” the Islamic State has been forced to hide in rural, austere areas.
Since the U.S.-led coalition cleared the last of the ISIS strongholds out of most of Iraq in March of last year, the terror group has been forced to retreat into the mountains where it has been reorganizing, training, and building up forces for hit and run attacks. While ISIS has been forced into hiding, officials state that it remains a dangerous foe that continues to carry on an insurgency against the government.
U.S. and Iraqi officials have encouraged civilians to report ISIS activity to authorities. “Each Coalition precision airstrike is conducted at the request of the Government of Iraq to help achieve a permanent defeat of Daesh,” Caggins added.
Just last month, a coalition strike in Syria killed one of the top three leaders of ISIS, Mutaz Numan Abd Nayif Najm al-Jaburi, also known as Hajji Taysir. In August 2019, the State Department had offered a $5 million reward for information that would lead to Jaburi and two other high-level ISIS leaders.
“The Coalition and our partners will continue to maintain relentless pressure on the terrorist organization,” U.S. Central Command said Saturday in a released statement. “In addition to military operations, the Coalition has significantly disrupted and degraded ISIS propaganda operations, finance, and human trafficking networks.”
Now the U.S.is putting its crosshairs on Muhammad Khadir Musa Ramadan, a senior ISIS leader, who is the head of ISIS propaganda and the creator of the graphic videos that the terrorist group has become known for.
“Muhammad Khadir Musa Ramadan is one of ISIS’s longest-serving senior media officials,” a State Department spokesperson said last month. “Ramadan oversees the group’s daily media operations, including the management of content from ISIS’s dispersed global network of supporters.”
A $3 million reward has been placed on his head for any information surrounding him and his whereabouts.