BAGHDAD, March 8 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Wednesday that Iraq will continue striking the Islamic State (IS) militants in neighboring countries to protect Iraqi cities.

"I respect the sovereignty of other states, and won't hesitate to strike the positions of terrorists in the neighboring countries. We will keep fighting them," said Abadi in the city of Sulaimaniya in Iraq's northern semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan.

"I say, we want to protect Iraq and its citizens and we want cooperation with the neighboring countries, because there (in neighboring countries) are terrorists send car bombs to Baghdad and other Iraqi cities to carry out terrorist acts," Abadi said in a televised speech.

On Feb. 24, Abadi announced that he had ordered airstrikes against positions of IS militants inside Syria in retaliation for deadly bomb attacks in Baghdad.

"We are determined to chase terrorism that tries to kill our sons and citizens wherever it is located. We gave orders to the air force command to conduct airstrikes against the terrorist Daesh (IS group) in Husaybah (IS-held Iraqi border town) and Albu Kamal inside Syrian territories, as they were responsible for recent terrorist bombings in Baghdad," according Abadi's announcement.

Abadi went to Kurdistan region late on Tuesday after he made a surprise visit to the security forces and met with top military commanders in the battleground city of Mosul, just hours after the troops dislodged IS militants from the main government complex in the old Mosul city center.

Abadi's comment in Sulaimaniya came as the Iraqi security forces, backed by anti-IS international coalition, are conducting a major offensive to drive out IS militants from their last major stronghold in and around Mosul.