Baghdad, April 23 (IANS) Seven Islamic State (IS) militants were killed in an airstrike during an operation in the eastern province of Diyala of Iraq, Iraqi military said.
The incident took place when an Iraqi security force conducted a search campaign to hunt down the extremist IS militants in the mountainous area of Himreen in the northern part of the province, Saad al-Shammari from the Iraqi army told Xinhua on Wednesday.
During the operation, the force fought a fierce clash with IS militants, who blew up a roadside bomb near the troops, leaving five security members wounded, al-Shammari said.
Afterwards, the militants fled the scene, while Iraqi helicopter gunships chased them deep into the mountainous area and bombed their hideouts, killing seven of the militants, he added.
Despite repeated military operations against the remnants of IS militants, the extremist militants are still hiding in Himreen mountain range which extends in the three provinces of Diyala, Salahudin and Kirkuk.
Earlier, the Iraqi Joint Operations Command said in a statement that a total of 135 IS militants have been killed in Iraq during the period between Jan. 1 to April 15 through 1,060 anti-IS operations by the Iraqi security forces.
It said that up to 88 security members and 82 civilians were also killed by the extremist militants during the same period.
The security situation in Iraq has been improved since Iraqi security forces fully defeated the extremist IS militants across the country late in 2017.
However, IS remnants have since melted in urban areas or resorted to deserts and rugged areas, carrying out frequent guerilla attacks against security forces and civilians.