Air raid destroys huge ISIS car bomb plant in Iraq

Iraqi Shiite fighters stand at the site of a car bomb on March 12, 2015 in a suburb of Tikrit during a military operation to retake the city from ISIS. (File Photo: AFP Photo)

An air strike in Iraq completely levelled one of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria militant group’s largest car bomb factories on Wednesday in a massive explosion heard for kilometers (miles), officials said.

The strike hit a facility at the entrance to the town of Hawijah in northern Iraq that was used to rig vehicles with explosives for bombings that are one of ISIS’ deadliest tactics, they said.

The facility, which included tanks, Humvees and large quantities of explosives, was “the biggest factory in Iraq and Syria”, an Iraqi colonel said.

The officers said the blast caused heavy ISIS casualties but also killed and wounded civilians.

Mohammed Khalil al-Juburi, the deputy head of the Kirkuk province security committee, confirmed details of the attack, and also said it caused major casualties among both ISIS and civilians.

An AFP journalist heard the huge explosion in Kirkuk, 55 kilometers (34 miles) away.

Mobile phone photos obtained by AFP that were said to show the site of the explosion picture damage on a massive scale.

They show a huge field of debris -- cinderblocks, metal roofing, the twisted remains of vehicles -- that stretches as far as the eye can see.

Iraqi officials said the strike was carried out by U.S.-led anti-ISIS forces, an assertion backed by a statement the coalition issued saying that it bombed an ISIS “VBIED (vehicle-born improvised explosive device) facility” near Hawijah.

ISIS spearheaded an offensive that overran swathes of Iraq last June, and it also holds major territory in neighboring Syria.

Hawijah is one of the jihadist group’s strongholds in the north.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:44 - GMT 06:44