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Iraqi airstrikes bomb meeting of IS commanders in western Iraq

Editor: zhangrui 丨Xinhua

02-14-2017 06:59 BJT

BAGHDAD, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) -- The Iraqi warplanes struck a house where Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the top leader of Islamic State (IS) group, was said to be holding a meeting with senior IS commanders in Iraq's western province of Anbar, killing some 13 of them with no word for the fate of Baghdadi himself, the Iraqi military said on Monday.

The Iraqi intelligence tracked the movement of Baghdadi's convoy of three-vehicles from neighboring Syria to a village near the town of Qaim, on the border between Iraq and Syria, where the meeting was believed to be held at a house in an orchard, the Joint Operations Command (JOC) said in a statement.

Baghdadi's presence in western Iraq was to meet the Iraqi and foreign senior IS commanders to discuss the collapse of the terrorist group in the eastern side of the city of Mosul in northern Iraq, and to choose his successor in case being killed, according to the statement.

The Iraqi F-16 jet fighters conducted the airstrike on the house during the meeting on Saturday, killing 13 of IS commanders, the JOC said.

The statement released a list of the names of the 13 IS commanders killed in the attack without mentioning the name of Baghdadi himself.

The jet fighters also bombarded three more IS sites in Qaim and the nearby Akashat area, leaving 40 IS militants and 24 suicide bombers killed, the statement added.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, known to his supporters as Amir al-Mu'minin, is the Caliph of the self-proclaimed Islamic State, which announced the establishment of a caliphate on June 29, 2014. The extremist militant group captures some areas in western and northern Iraq as well as part of neighboring Syria.

On Oct. 4, 2011, the United States listed al-Baghdadi as a global terrorist and announced a reward of up to 10 million U.S. dollars for information leading to his capture or death. On Dec. 16, 2016, the United States increased the reward to 25 million dollars equal to the reward being offered for the leader of al-Qaida, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Al-Baghdadi was born in 1971 in Samarra in central Iraq, according to a biography that circulated on Islamic internet forums in July 2013. He obtained a BA, MA and PhD in Islamic studies from the Islamic University of Baghdad.

The IS is an al-Qaida breakaway group, and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was announced to be its leader on May 16, 2010, following the death of his predecessor Abu Omar al-Baghdadi.

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