On the early morning hours of 15 April, suspected IS gunmen wearing military uniforms abducted two individuals in Bi’r al-Malih Village, located east of Baaj Town in western Nineveh Province. The abductees were said to be ISF and PMF members, or otherwise tied to security forces in the area. The Shammar Tribe denounced the abduction of two of its members and shortfalls in security provisions in a statement on social media.
Multiple sectors of western Nineveh were recently affected by a spike in IS infiltration from Syria as insurgents attempted to link up with counterparts in different areas of Iraq. Examples included an incident on 10 February involving an insurgent errantly detonating an explosive belt while infiltrating Baaj Town. More recently on 24 March, five insurgents were killed by security forces while infiltrating an area southeast of Sinjar.
The 15 April abductions stood out as the first instance of a deliberate IS-initiated attack in Baaj District thus far in 2019. It is somewhat possible that the abductees may be recovered during security operations or following a ransom payment. However, it is more likely that the individuals were quickly executed, with confirmation pending recovery of the corpses. This event illustrates the potential for renewed IS threats in suburbs of Baaj and Sinjar accessible to the Jazeera Desert as IS cells reconstitute following the loss of Syria.