BAGHDAD — An Iraqi army airstrike in the militant-held northern city of Mosul on Wednesday killed 60 fighters from the extremists Islamic State group, Iraq’s state television reported.
The claim could not be independently verified and the area was inaccessible to most media.
According to the report, which cited unnamed intelligence officials, the dawn strike targeted a downtown Mosul prison that was being used by Islamic State members as a religious court and detention facility.
The TV said 60 militants were killed in the strike and about 300 people who were in the militants’ custody were set free. The report did not say if there were other casualties besides the militants and did not say who freed the prisoners or how.
Sunni extremists from the al-Qaida-breakaway Islamic State group seized Mosul, Iraq’s largest second-largest city, in a blitz offensive in June that also captured large swaths of the country’s north and west. The militant onslaught plunged Iraq into its worst crisis since the withdrawal of U.S. troops in 2011.
The group has since imposed a self-styled caliphate in territory it controls in Iraq and Syria, imposing the militants’ harsh interpretation of Islamic law.
Iraqi government forces and allied Sunni tribal militiamen have been struggling to dislodge the militants from the area they captured, but with no apparent progress.
A Mosul resident, speaking on condition of anonymity fearing for his own safety, told The Associated Press over the phone that families of the prisoners rushed to the site to help their kin after the airstrike.
“The prison was partly damaged in the airstrike,” he said, adding that he did not know if there were casualties.