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IS gunmen reportedly behead five cattle herders near Kirkuk

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On what was likely the early morning hours of 8 October, six IS militants conducted a raid in Nabtaz village of Yaychi sub-district, located in a rural area west of Kirkuk city. The insurgents beheaded five cattle herders before withdrawing unscathed. It is unclear if the individuals had any security affiliations, or if they were targeted due to more tenuous justifications. This incident was initially difficult to confirm amongst limited reporting, underscoring established practices by official security outlets to avoid mention of significant security setbacks.

The 8 October incident stands out for the indiscriminate murder of five civilians, representing the deadliest IS raid against civilians in Kirkuk province thus far this year, and the deadliest in the Northern Region since a raid near Mosul on 9 May. It is very possible that the brutality of this attack was influenced by IS intent to conduct a statement-level attack detracting from the sixth phase of Operation Will of Victory. The latest phase was decisively focused in historically active environments of Kirkuk province including the general area affected by the 8 October attack.

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