BAGHDAD, Nov. 18 (Xinhua) -- Five militants of the extremist Islamic State (IS) group were killed in an airstrike in Iraq's eastern province of Diyala, the Iraqi military said Thursday.
The Iraqi army's helicopter gunships carried out the airstrike during a reconnaissance and search operation in Diyala province, the media office of the Iraqi Joint Operations Command said in a brief statement.
The operation came as the Iraqi army, police, and paramilitary Hashd Shaabi forces launched a joint offensive that began on Wednesday morning to track down IS militants in rugged areas near the town Udheim in northern Diyala, and the orchards near Abu Sayda and al-Abbara areas in the eastern province.
The mountains and vast rugged areas north of the Iraqi capital Baghdad have witnessed intense activities of the IS militants during the past months despite repeated military operations to hunt them down.
The security situation in Iraq has been improving since the Iraqi forces defeated IS in 2017. However, IS remnants have since melted into urban centers, deserts and rugged areas, carrying out frequent guerilla attacks against security forces and civilians. Enditem