On the evening of 25 February, a group of 10 IS militants on foot infiltrated Mulawatha area, located along the western outskirts of Mosul City. The gunmen raided a home, abducted the son of the Khamsa Tulul Village Mukhtar and his cousin. The insurgents subsequently shot and killed the abducted individuals on the outskirts of the area. The 25 February attack was significant with regards to its location. IS gained some headlines as it conducted multiple deadly raids along the western periphery of Mosul City and the Badush corridor between mid-December and mid-January.
Significant security responses encouraged shifts back to typically more active areas in suburbs of Qayyarah, including a very lethal raid on 15 February resulting in the execution of five members of a family. Security forces remained proactive along western approaches to Mosul in the weeks that followed in an attempt to counter assessed increased IS infiltration and increased attack intent associated with the loss of the organization’s last core holdings in eastern Syria. This included the interdiction of a vehicle borne IED on 17 February, and an ambush that killed five insurgents on 20 February in areas of the Badush Sub-District.
These positive measures of performance for ISF and significant IS losses were expected to at least temporarily degrade IS capabilities in the vicinity of Mosul. Instead, the 25 February incident demonstrated the elusive nature of an IS cell specializing in murder and intimidation operations based somewhere along the Badush corridor. The specific area affected by the attack was very proximate to Atshana Mountain, a historically active IS staging ground that hosts regular operations and airstrikes. As such, this raid potentially reflected IS intent to gain a relatively easy tactical victory in response to recent losses. Additional upticks in security operations are likely in associated areas over the near-term.