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Heavy PMF casualties from IED attack in remote area west of Samarra

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At around noon on 14 February, an IED detonated against a truck transporting fighters from the 313th and 314th Saraya al-Salam PMF Brigades during an operation in a remote area of the Tharthar desert described as being located 47km southwest of Samarra. Eight PMF members were killed, and 1-7 were wounded based on conflicting reports. Amongst the fatalities was a PMF battalion commander, Hussein Atiyah. Limited reporting stemming from a single ISF source claimed eight PMF members were killed and seven were wounded from the detonation of two IEDs against a PMF convoy. Although plausible, confident confirmation of two devices affecting as many as two vehicles was not seen. Two daisy-chained IEDs is also possible. In any event, released images depicted the catastrophic destruction of the affected vehicle.

This incident forms the deadliest roadside IED attack on a national basis since a highly effective set of coordinated IED attacks in April 2018 that killed 21 individuals and wounded a number of others. Several factors likely shaped the very high effectiveness of the 14 February incident. The device affected several individuals crammed inside a single vehicle that was likely unarmored, or at least thin-skinned underneath. Given the very rural location and moderate security presence in the affected area, it is unclear how long the device had been emplaced. It is certainly plausible that the catastrophic effects sustained during this incident involved a high-yield legacy device specifically designed to target armored vehicles.

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