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IS executes three abductees and emplaces IEDs against responders in Makhoul Mountains

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On the afternoon of 6 February, IS gunmen abducted three brothers from Musahak Village while they were searching for truffles along the Makhul Mountains, north of Baiji. Additional reporting identified the abductees as two graduates and one student from Tikrit University. On 7 February, according to unnamed security sources, IS called family members and told them to retrieve their sons alive in Shaykh Ali area. On the morning of 8 February, responding security forces discovered the bodies of the three abductees who were executed with gunshot wounds. Multiple IEDs were reportedly emplaced around the bodies in an apparent attempt to target responding personnel.

As seen with the abduction and quick execution of two individuals near Balad on 6 February, the latest attacks represent a departure from the bulk of abductions since late December where IS prioritized ransoming individuals for threat finance purposes. It remains possible that this shift was influenced by IS intent to quickly retaliate against the significant losses sustained during the major security operations in Kirkuk and Salah ad Din provinces between 5-6 February. The IS propaganda machine is also active attempting to mitigate these events, releasing highly inflated casualty reports that four SWAT members were killed, and multiple others were wounded during the operation north of Shirqat.

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