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Several civilian and ISF casualties from complex attack south of Shirqat

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On the morning of 9 July, an IED detonated against a group of civilians travelling on foot near the water project in Shat al-Jidr Village, located south of Shirqat along the eastern banks of the Tigris River. Three civilians were killed including the operator of the water project, and four others were wounded. Another IED detonated against an ISF vehicle responding to the area, wounding three ISF members and two PMF members. Conflicting reports claimed IS members fired 1-3 mortar rounds during or immediately after these events, but further confirmation is required. It is somewhat possible that a third ineffective IED detonation contributed to such reporting.

IS activity is historically common in areas along the Tigris River Valley between Shirqat and Baiji. Occasional upticks in activity are commonly suppressed by significant security responses, particularly in established IS staging grounds along the Makhul Mountains. Complex and coordinated IED attacks are also far from unprecedented in suburbs of Shirqat. The 9 July attacks stand out as the latest indicator that IS militants are currently prioritizing well-planned sophisticated attacks over greater numbers of simple attacks in active environments of the Northern Region. Since the beginning of July, at least 21 IS-initiated attacks were reported in the Northern Region. Approximately half, at least 10 incidents, occurred as part of four distinct sets of complex or coordinated attacks.

As opposed to isolated simple attacks, complex and coordinated attacks have a greater likelihood of producing casualties and gaining much sought after media attention. This was highlighted by the headlining 4 July coordinated attacks in southern Salah ad Din Province, which killed at least seven security personnel and civilians. The willingness of IS militants to target civilians in the deadly 9 July attacks was undoubtedly enhanced by the GoI affiliations of the targeted individuals.

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