On the evening of 20 January, IS militants conducted a complex attack against a Federal Police outpost in Muhammad Shirbak Village, located northwest of Khanaqin in northeastern Diyala Province. The attack was initiated with three rounds of mortar fire that ineffectively impacted in the area. IS gunmen armed with light weapons attacked the outpost, with clashes ensuing lasting over one hour. Two Federal Police members were killed. ISF responded and launched a search operation, though no significant effects were reported.
This incident forms the seventh IS-initiated direct fire incident in the restive Khanaqin District thus far in January. As seen once again, the bulk of attacks target isolated ISF and PMF positions during evening hours. Attack effectiveness was moderate for much of January, with most attacks resulting in no casualties or at least no fatalities. This formed a positive reflection of local defensive capabilities. However, both the 20 January attack and the next most recent attack on 15 January resulted in two fatalities. Attack effectiveness will be important to closely monitor over the near-term. The 20 January attack also forms the first complex attack supported by mortar fire in Khanaqin District since September, and the first indirect fire attack in the district overall since 29 November.