US Targets IS Leaders

US Targets IS LeadersUS Targets IS Leaders

US warplanes attacked a convoy near Mosul in Iraq this weekend in an attempt to kill IS leaders, said a spokesman for US Central Command.

Col. Patrick Ryder, in a statement Saturday, said he could not confirm that top IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was in the convoy. Ryder issued that information in response to news reports indicating the IS leader may have died or been injured, the CNN reported.

"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 IS. Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city is crucial to IS. Besides having material resources, such as Iraq's largest hydroelectric dam, Mosul is the site of one of IS's greatest battlefield victories.

In June, the extremist group overran the city, causing soldiers and police officers to drop their weapons and flee, according to numerous witnesses. IS announced plans to establish a caliphate in Mosul after the takeover. In another airstrike against an IS 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 IS 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 IS casualties from the strike. Al-Qaim became a stronghold for IS, after militants took control in June.

  Car Bombs in Baghdad

Elsewhere in Iraq, car bombs hit four areas of Baghdad, including a busy commercial street, killing at least 21 people, police officials said.

No public claims of responsibility were immediately made. But the attacks come after years of sectarian violence in the country, including some recent Baghdad car bombings that were claimed by IS.

One of Saturday's bombs struck the busy al Sinaa commercial street in central Baghdad, killing at least 10 people and injuring 27 others, Baghdad police officials said.

The other bombs hit predominantly Shia neighborhoods.

One exploded near an outdoor market in eastern Baghdad's Sadr City, killing one and injuring seven others, police said.

Two other bombs exploded outside a fuel station in southwestern Baghdad's al-Amil neighborhood, killing at least seven people and injuring 22 others, according to police.

And a car bomb struck near a restaurant in eastern Baghdad's al-Ameen neighborhood, killing three people and injuring 15 others.