A Syrian Air Force Sukhoi-24 over Raqqa. File photo: AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The Syrian air force conducted a number of airstrikes against ISIS positions in Raqqa and along the Syrian-Iraqi border based on intelligence gathered by the four countries of Russia, Syria, Iran, and Iraq.
Iraq’s Joint Command released a statement Saturday afternoon claiming that the airstrikes targeted areas where “prominent terrorists” in ISIS-held Raqqa, Abu Kamal in Deir ez Zor, and al-Dashisha village close to the Iraqi border, were present.
The Iraqi air force carried out airstrikes inside the Syrian border in late February for the first time since the emergence of ISIS in Iraq in 2014.
The Joint Command listed five targets for Saturday’s Syrian airstrikes, destroying what it said were command and control centers of the extremist group where ISIS suicide bombers and hit-and-run operatives were based.
“Based on the intelligence from the [Iraqi] intelligence agency and the federal investigation, and through the four-membered committee for intelligence sharing, the Syrian air force carried out a series of airstrikes that targeted ISIS positions in Raqqa, Abu Kamal, and Dashisha village close to the Iraqi border,” the Iraqi statement said, making reference to the Baghdad operation room were the four countries share intelligence.
It also said that a French ISIS operative of Algerian origin was killed. He was named as Abu Bakir bin al-Habib al-Hakim, military commander for the extremist group in Raqqa.
Hakim was formerly among the ranks of al-Qaeda and its Syrian branch Nusra Front, the statement detailed.
In al-Dashisha village close to the Iraqi border, the airstrikes targeted a gathering of ISIS suicide bombers of different nationalities.
The suicide bombers were trying to enter Iraq from the Syrian side but “the airstrike killed many of them,” the statement added.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered airstrikes against ISIS positions in February inside Syria for the first time since the country started to fight against the extremist group in 2014.
Abadi said that the February attack was against those who “were responsible for the recent terrorist attacks in Baghdad.”
Abu Kamal is located on the border in Syria’s Deir ez-Zor governorate on the Euphrates River.
Iraqi forces deployed about 3,000 troops to fight ISIS in the western province of Anbar near the Syrian border in October last year.
The deployment was in the far west of the province, the largest by area. The Iraqi army, supported by Shiite and pro-government Sunni fighters, regained control of Anbar’s capital city Ramadi in late 2015.
On July 3, 2016, ISIS carried out its deadliest attack ever in coordinated bombings that killed more than 300 people, culminating in a suicide truck bomb targeting Baghdad’s district of Karrada.