UNITED STATES, Nov 9 – U.S. warplanes attacked a convoy near Mosul in Iraq this weekend in an attempt to kill ISIS leaders, said a spokesman for U.S. Central Command. Col. Patrick Ryder, in a statement Saturday, said he could not confirm that top ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was in the convoy. Ryder issued that information in response to news reports indicating the ISIS leader may have died or been injured.
“I can confirm that coalition aircraft did conduct a series of airstrikes yesterday evening in Iraq against what was assessed to be a gathering of ISIL leaders near Mosul, destroying a vehicle convoy consisting of 10 ISIL armed trucks,” Ryder said, using another acronym for ISIS. Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, is crucial to ISIS. Besides having material resources, such as Iraq’s largest hydroelectric dam, Mosul is the site of one of ISIS’s greatest battlefield victories
In June, the Sunni Muslim extremist group overran the city, causing soldiers and police officers to drop their weapons and flee, according to numerous witnesses. ISIS announced plans to establish a caliphate, or Islamic state, in Mosul after the takeover. In another airstrike against an ISIS stronghold, at least 15 people were killed and 31 were wounded when planes hit the town of Al-Qaim, in Anbar province, on the border with Syria, a witness said Saturday.
The town is 286 kilometers (178 miles) from Mosul. The strike hit a market near an ISIS checkpoint in the town, according to the resident who cannot be named for safety reasons. The resident, who went to a local hospital after the strike and saw the wounded, did not know whether there were any ISIS casualties from the strike. Al-Qaim became a stronghold for ISIS, the Sunni Muslim extremist group, after militants took control in June. U.S. officials in Washington declined comment Saturday when CNN asked whether coalition or U.S. forces carried out the airstrike.