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'Islamic State' chief targeted in airstrikes, says Iraqi military

Fresh airstrikes have killed at least 13 commanders of the notorious militant group, the military said in a statement. But the army stopped short of confirming the militant leader's presence at the targeted house.

Iraqi warplanes carried out strikes on a house where Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who heads the "Islamic State" militant group, was believed be to meeting with other commanders, the Iraqi military said in a statement on Monday.

 The military said F-16s targeted the house on Saturday in western Iraq. It published the names of 13 commanders of the militant group, although al-Baghdadi failed to make the list.

The statement comes amid local news reports that the "Islamic State" chief had been injured over the weekend and attempted to flee to the militant group's stronghold in Syria.

Meanwhile, an Iraqi security spokesman said forces on the ground prevented around 200 militant fighters from fleeing Tal Afar.

"This was an attempt by Daesh to open a breach, flee to the Syria border and exfiltrate some leaders and fighters," spokesman Ahmed al-Assadi told AFP news agency, referring to the group by its Arabic-language acronym.

Backed by a US-led coalition, Iraq's army launched a campaign in October to liberate the city of Mosul, where al-Baghdadi announced the creation of a so-called caliphate from a historic mosque in the city nearly three years ago.

The "Islamic State" rose to international notoriety in 2014, when it launched a brutal campaign to expand its territorial dominion and occupied large swathes of land in Iraq and Syria.

The campaign culminated in the militant group gaining control of Mosul, Iraq's third-largest city, effectively allowing it to seize more than $400 billion from the central bank.

ls/rc (Reuters, AFP)

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