Airstrikes hit 76 ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria

The targets included a factory where militants reportedly made car bombs in addition to a ‘large ISIL units near Kirkuk’

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The anti-ISIS coalition carried out 27 airstrikes against 76 Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) targets on Saturday, an official with the coalition said.

The targets included a factory where militants reportedly made car bombs in Tal Afar in addition to “large ISIL units near Kirkuk,” Deputy Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS Brett McGurk said in a tweet.

Earlier on Saturday, McGurk confirmed the death of Abu Maliki, a chemical weapons specialist with ISIS in Iraq who once worked for Saddam Hussein, in a coalition airstrike.

The air raid carried out last Saturday near Mosul took out Abu Malik, whose training “provided the terrorist group with expertise to pursue a chemical weapons capability,” the military said in a statement, according to Agence France-Presse.

Malik had worked at a chemical weapons production plant under Saddam’s regime and later forged an affiliation with Al-Qaeda in Iraq in 2005, before joining ISIS, according to Central Command.

“His death is expected to temporarily degrade and disrupt the terrorist network and diminish ISIL’s ability to potentially produce and use chemical weapons against innocent people,” it said using another acronym the group is known by.

U.S. officials had not publicly referred to Malik previously as a key figure.

There has been no sign that the IS group possesses a major chemical weapons arsenal. But there have been allegations the militants have employed chlorine gas, which is classified as a “choking agent,” though not as lethal as nerve agents.

Abu Malik, also known as Salih Jasim Mohammed Falah al-Sabawi, had been “involved in operations to produce chemical weapons in 2005, and planned attacks in Mosul with AQI (Al-Qaeda in Iraq),” said a defense official.

“Based on his training and experience, he was judged to be capable of creating harmful and deadly chemical agents,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“We know ISIL is attempting to pursue a chemical weapons capability, but we have no definitive confirmation that ISIL currently possess chemical weapons,” the official said.

The U.S.-led coalition has carried out more than 2,000 air raids against the IS group in Syria and Iraq since August 8, including some bombing runs that targeted senior militants.

[With AFP]

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