Additional information was released regarding the previously reported attack north of Baghdad on 19 March. The incident is now assessed to have involved an IED attack as opposed to an ambush, killing two ISF soldiers and wounding six others. ISF responded to the explosion and discharged small arms fire towards the affected area, likely contributing to the initial conflicting reports of an ambush involving small arms fire. The Baghdad Operations Command also verified that the incident was the result of an IED detonating against ISF patrol during a search operation.
IS later claimed responsibility, citing that an IED detonated against an ISF foot patrol, killing four ISF soldiers including an officer and wounding four others. It is unclear whether the IED was a legacy device or was recently emplaced following accurate information concerning an impending search operation, which allowed IS militants to withdraw and avoid decisive engagement. The associated IS claim is unable to provide further clarity, as it is not uncommon for the organization to disingenuously claim effective legacy IED detonations. Northern approaches to the capital through Tarmiyah and Taji have historically proven very active, with IEDs and direct fire attacks forming the mainstay of reporting. That being said, this event forms the most lethal attack in the outer Baghdad Belt thus far in 2019.