Iraqi Air Force Bombs Islamic State Positions in Syria

An image made available by Jihadist media outlet Welayat Raqa on June 30, 2014, allegedly shows a member of the IS (Islamic state) militant group parading in a street in the northern rebel-held Syrian city of Raqa. AFP PHOTO / HO / WELAYAT RAQA === RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - …

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced on Friday that Iraq’s air force conducted its first strikes against Islamic State positions in Syria.

“A statement from al-Abadi says the attacks targeted the towns of Boukamal and Husseibah and came in response to bombings in Baghdad that have been claimed by IS and linked to the militants’ operations in Syria,” reports the Associated Press. “An Iraqi air force commander says the airstrikes were carried out with F-16 warplanes at dawn on Friday and ‘were successful.’ The commander says they were conducted on the orders of the prime minister. He spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.”

CNN received confirmation from a Joint Operations Command spokesman that the airstrikes were “coordinated with the Damascus government.”

The airstrikes come as Iraqi forces are pushing deeper into Mosul, the Islamic State’s stronghold on Iraqi soil. The Associated Press reports the Iraqis have taken full control of the city’s airport and a military base on the southwestern edge of the city. AP reporters on the front lines report seeing wounded and dead Iraqi troops, which suggests the fighting has grown more intense.

The area of Mosul now in contention is described as difficult territory to reclaim from ISIS, due to narrower streets, older buildings, and a huge captive civilian population.