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Complex attack near Iranian border results in heavy ISF and civilian casualties

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On the night of 9 October, IS militants using sniper fire targeted police personnel manning Ishbiliya Checkpoint, located on the road between Mandali and the Sumar Border Crossing Point near the Iranian border in eastern Diyala province. ISF returned fire, but two civilians were killed. An IED subsequently detonated against an ISF patrol responding to the attack. The detonation initiated an ambush likely involving the same gunmen using sniper fire. At least four ISF members were killed, and two other ISF members were wounded, along with four civilians travelling on the road. Other sources cited conflicting totals of 4-6 ISF fatalities including a police lieutenant colonel, two civilian fatalities, and seven civilians and security personnel wounded.

IS has regularly demonstrated the capability to conduct complex attacks in Diyala province using similar means. While certainly not insignificant, most attacks tend to result in relatively moderate casualties. The 9 October complex attack stands out as one of the deadliest attacks in the province thus far in 2019. Its lethality was only matched by an abnormally effective IED attack against a bus transporting PMF personnel on 19 May, which killed seven PMF fighters and wounded 26 others. The latest attack was boldly sited in an area along the Iranian border amongst heightened security measures supporting the Arba’een pilgrimage. These characteristics promote the 9 October complex attack as a prominent example of well-planned attacks expected in the leadup to this religious event.

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