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Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 Hornets depart after refueling with a KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron, Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014, over IraStaff Sgt. Perry Aston/The Canadian Press

Canadian warplanes have bombed a bunker operated by Islamic State militants in northern Iraq, Canada's Defence Minister says.

The air strikes, Canada's fourth since joining a U.S.-led coalition about three weeks ago, took place in the desert near Kirkuk.

Two CF-18 fighters dropped four 907-kilogram bombs "on an ISIL fighting position" on Tuesday evening, Iraq time, according to Rob Nicholson.

He says these attacks are helping cripple the fighting capacity of the jihadis, also referred to as the Islamic State of Syria and the Levant (ISIL).

"These significant strikes have denied the enemy the use of this position and has further extended the security buffer between ISIL and Iraqi security forces," Mr. Nicholson said.

A separate statement from U.S. Central Command said over the past few days 13 coalition air strikes near Kirkuk have destroyed two Islamic State fighting positions, seven staging areas, one mortar position and an IS bulldozer and front-loader.

Coalition forces have been bombing IS targets in Iraq since August and extended the campaign to Syria in September, although Canada's participation is currently limited to Iraq.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said he is open to expanding the combat mission to bombing Islamic State militants in Syria, but only if these strikes are not interpreted as a war against the Syrian government.

Canada's previous three air strikes against militants in Iraq targeted a warehouse used to make explosives near Mosul, a piece of artillery near Beiji and construction equipment Ottawa said was being used to divert water from the Euphrates river.

Canadian fighter, surveillance and refuelling aircraft have flown a total of 80 sorties since joining U.S.-led air strikes against Islamic State militants in Iraq.

Mr. Nicholson says the air strikes are destroying the Islamic State militants' source of cash, citing U.S. State Department damage assessments that say at least 22 of the oil refineries held by the group have been levelled. "Illicit oil sales are a substantial source of revenue for ISIL," Mr. Nicholson said. "This means that since the air campaign began, ISIL's refining capacity has been reduced by at least 11,000 barrels a day."

"Let there be no doubt that air strikes have significantly diminished the capacity of ISIL to fund its military operations," he said.

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