BAGHDAD, May 22 (Xinhua) -- A total of five Islamic State (IS) militants were killed on Sunday by the Iraqi military forces in a rural area north of the capital Baghdad, the military said.
Two IS militants were killed after the forces spotted them in a truck near a bridge north of Lake Tharthar in the western part of Salahudin Province, the media office of the Iraqi Joint Operations Command (JOC) said in a statement.
Later on, an army aircraft was called in for two airstrikes that destroyed the truck, according to the JOC statement.
The aircraft conducted another airstrike on a vehicle loaded with explosives in the same area, killing another IS militant, the statement added.
A separate JOC statement said an army force, backed by helicopter gunships, was dispatched to the site of the airstrikes and killed two IS militants wearing explosive belts.
The force also destroyed a house and a vehicle of the IS militants, and a nearby tunnel containing a large number of explosives, the statement added.
Moreover, the Iraqi security forces captured 21 suspected IS militants in the provinces of Nineveh, Anbar, Diyala, and Kirkuk, the JOC said in a third statement.
Over the past few months, Iraqi security forces have conducted operations against the extremist militants to crack down on their intensified activities.
The security situation in Iraq has been improving since the defeat of the IS in 2017. However, the IS remnants have since melted into urban centers, deserts and rugged areas, carrying out frequent guerilla attacks against the security forces and civilians.