The U.S.-led coalition aimed a new series of airstrikes at Islamic State group targets Sunday, with 13 strikes in Iraq and three in Syria, Reuters reported, citing a Defense Department statements. The latest wave of airstrikes comes on the heels of an announcement by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel that as many as 1,300 more U.S. troops are headed to Iraq next month to train Iraqi forces in the Anbar area and north of Baghdad.
“Their mission will be to train, advise and assist Iraqi security forces,” Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, told reporters at a briefing this week. “This deployment is part of the additional 1,500 troops that the president authorized in November.”
Bomber, fighter and other aircraft were deployed Sunday in four areas near Sinjar in northern Iraq, where the militant group formerly known as either ISIL or ISIS has been active for months. The coalition attacks destroyed Islamic State buildings, tactical units and vehicles. Other Iraqi cities with related targets included Tal Afar, Ramadi, Mosul and Baiji, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials said in a statement.
According to the statement, the “destruction of ISIL targets in Syria and Iraq further limits the terrorist group’s ability to project terror and conduct operations.”
Coalition partners in the airstrikes in Iraq encompass Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Netherlands and the U.K., while coalition partners in the airstrikes in Syria include Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the Pentagon said.
Two senior Islamic State group leaders were killed by American-led coalition airstrikes in Iraq during the past week, according to an unnamed U.S. official cited by the Associated Press. The airstrikes killed a key deputy of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the extremist group formerly known as ISIS, as well as one of the group’s military chiefs. Also killed was a third militant, identified as a mid-level leader, AP said.