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IS inflicts heavy PMF causalities during an ambush south of Makhmour

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At approximately 17:45 on 6 March, IS militants ambushed a PMF convoy comprised of 3-4 buses transporting nearly 120 off-duty members of the 15th Turkman PMF Brigade on a rural road between one village south of Makhmour Town and another village in western Kirkuk Province. At least seven PMF fighters were killed and 30 others were wounded according to security sources. The convoy travelled to Mosul City earlier in the day to resolve pay issues, and was travelling back to Kirkuk during the ambush. Multiple officials denounced the conditions surrounding this attack and associated leadership failures.

This incident ranks amongst the deadliest ambushes seen following the conclusion of major anti-IS operations in 2017. Unlike many historic events that were assessed to involve detailed attack planning, the 6 March attack was indicative of a hastily planned attack. IS skillfully exploited opportunistic circumstances surrounding a non-recurring movement of off-duty PMF personnel. The Qarah Chogh Mountains to the north host a historically prominent IS safe haven extending from Makhmour towards Kirkuk Province. Successive sets of major security operations, CF strike activity, and recently invigorated priorities to improve cooperation between Iraqi and Kurdish forces, have degraded but not eliminated associated threats.

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