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Saturday, November 8, 2014

US air strikes Islamic State convoy in Iraq

Smoke rises after an airstrike from US-led coalition against IS militants in the Syrian town of Kobane, also known as Ain al-Arab, as it is seen from the Turkish southeastern border village of Mursitpinar, Sanliurfa province, on November 8, 2014. (AFP)

US air strikes destroyed an Islamic State convoy near the Iraqi city of Mosul but US officials said today it was unclear whether the group's top commander Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had been in any of the 10 targeted vehicles.

Colonel Patrick Ryder, a Central Command spokesman, said the US military had reason to believe that the convoy was carrying leaders of Islamic State, an al Qaeda offshoot which controls large chunks of Iraq and Syria.

The convoy consisted of 10 Islamic State armed trucks.

"I can confirm that coalition aircraft did conduct a series of air strikes yesterday evening in Iraq against what was assessed to be a gathering of ISIL leaders near Mosul," said Ryder, using another name for Islamic State.

"We cannot confirm if ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was among those present."

Islamic State had been changing its strategy since the air strikes began, switching to lower profile vehicles to avoid being targeted, according to residents of towns the group holds.

A Mosul morgue official said 50 bodies of Islamic State militants were brought to the facility after the air strike.

Mosul, northern Iraq's biggest city, was overrun on June 10 in an offensive that saw vast parts of Iraq's Sunni regions fall to the Islamic State and allied groups.

A month later a video posted online purported to show the reclusive Baghdadi preaching at Mosul's grand mosque.

Earlier today, Al-Hadath television channel said US-led air strikes targeted a gathering of Islamic State leaders in a town near the Syrian border, possibly including Baghdadi.

Iraqi security officials were not immediately available for comment on the report from the station, part of Saudi-owned al-Arabiya television, but two witnesses told Reuters an air strike targeted a house where senior Islamic State officers were meeting, near the western Iraqi border town of al-Qaim.

Al-Hadath said dozens of people were killed and wounded in the strike in al-Qaim, and that Baghdadi's fate was unclear.

Mahmoud Khalaf, a member of Anbar's Provincial Council, also said there were air strikes in al-Qaim. He gave no details.

The US-led coalition carried out air strikes near al-Qaim overnight, destroying an Islamic State armoured vehicle and two checkpoints run by the group, Ryder said.

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Tags:  World  ISIS  US  Syria  Iraq  Air Strike  





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