On 2 January, elements of the 20th and 16th Iraqi Army Divisions launched a largescale security operation for IS sleeper cells and explosive remnants of war along the Badush Mountains, Atshana Mountains, and multiple other areas west and south of Mosul. ISF destroyed an unspecified number of tunnels and hideouts, cleared nine IEDs and other devices, and arrested an unspecified number of suspects. Limited reporting citing a Nineveh Police officer claimed ISF arrested 15 IS members including a number of leaders while attempting to infiltrate Badush from the Jazeera Desert.
The specific impact of this operation was unclear given the prevalence of arrests affecting individuals said to possess varying degrees of IS affiliation. However, potentially as a form of retaliation, IS boldly exploited these conditions to conduct a deadly raid while posing as ISF conducting an operation in an area west of Mosul. On the evening of 2 January, suspected IS gunmen wearing military uniforms, broke into a home in Tal Asfur Village, located in the Badush Sub-District. The gunmen shot and killed three brothers after separating the men and women. The victims were said to be civilians, with any government or security affiliations initially unclear. An IS claim was not initially seen, but will be updated when released.
Continued shift in targeting to suburbs west of Mosul:
IS murder and intimidation operations in Nineveh continue to be defined by raids targeting local mukhtars, PMF commanders, ISF informants, and other individuals with security affiliations. This targeting campaign is intended to incrementally improve IS freedom of movement as a long-term priority. IS militants have conducted at least two raids in Nineveh per month since October, representing persistent capabilities despite regular security operations affecting relevant IS staging grounds. See more in the full report.