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IS conducts lethal coordinated attacks in northern Diyala and southern Salah ad Din provinces

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On the night of 31 July, IS militants conducted a lethal set of coordinated attacks that killed at least nine Kurdish and Iraqi security personnel in northern Diyala and southern Salah ad Din provinces. At around 23:00 on 31 July, IS militants using sniper fire targeted Qala Joint Checkpoint, located on Kalar Road in northern Khanaqin district, northern Diyala province. Two Asayish members were killed, with one identified as a local commander, and two others were reportedly wounded.

IS militants simultaneously fired four mortar rounds that impacted in the vicinity of Kulajo village, located approximately 4km north of the checkpoint. As many as six civilians were wounded as a result. Shortly following this attack, an unspecified number of residents vacated the village towards Kalar town as a temporary precautionary measure. An IED subsequently detonated against Kurdish Counter-Terrorism Group (CTG) personnel travelling in a vehicle responding to the attack against the checkpoint. The detonation reportedly killed two CTG members and wounded four others.

On the evening of 31 July, IS militants attacked a checkpoint in the Sayyid Gharib area, located near Highway 1 in an area between Balad and Dujail in southern Salah ad Din province. At least five security personnel were killed including two policemen from what was likely the 8th Diyala Emergency Police Battalion, and three PMF members from the 26th Abbas PMF Brigade. Between 2-4 others were wounded. Additional casualty refinements are possible amongst conflicting accounts, including some reports citing six fatalities. Most reporting suggested all the casualties were sustained at the checkpoint, though it is possible that some casualties involved an ambush affecting responding security personnel.

These developments reflect an ongoing pattern identified earlier in July involving IS prioritizing the conduct of sophisticated well-planned attacks as opposed to greater numbers of simple attacks. In doing so, IS likely intends to conserve valuable resources in response to persistent pressures from security forces, while simultaneously promoting conditions to maximize media coverage of its activities and continued operational relevance as an insurgent organization.

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