An Iraqi military aircraft was downed in northeastern Kirkuk and all crew members were killed, Iraqi Joint Operations Command said in a statement yesterday (March 16). The Cessna 208 Caravan single-engine turboprop crashed on Wednesday while hovering near the town of Hawija, 210 kilometers (130 miles) north of Baghdad. ISIS issued its own statement saying it shot down an Iraqi military plane with a 57mm anti-aircraft gun.
The single turbo-propeller plane was on a 'reconnaissance and combat mission' over territory held by IS militants in northern Iraq, said the spokesman Brigadier General Yahya Rasool. The ISIS-affiliated Amaq news agency announced the aircraft was a Cessna Caravan and posted a still picture purporting to show the downed plane. A CNN military analyst added that the photo also appears to show an AGM-114 Hellfire missile and that the plane wreckage shows markings consistent with the Iraqi military.
Iraqi forces have been making gains against the jihadists in recent months as they seek to reclaim territory seized by IS during a major offensive in 2014. Hawijah, like other IS bastions across Iraq, is increasingly isolated as federal, Kurdish and tribal forces slowly close in. The pressure has mounted on anti-IS forces to flush the jihadists out of the Hawijah area after a chemical attack was launched from the nearby village of Bashir last week. On Feb. 17, two Iraqi army pilots died in a helicopter crash in the western province of al-Anbar, an incident which IS claimed responsibility.
The IS-affiliated Aamaq news agency claimed it had shot down the aircraft, posting a video of a plane falling to the ground and militants gathering around the wreckage. The authenticity of the video could not be independently verified by the AP.
The video shows a plane falling to the ground amid cheers from insurgents, while another clip shows the wreckage of what is said to be the Iraqi plane and human body parts scattered around it.