On February 24th several members of the PMU reportedly came under attack from ISIS on a road from Kirkuk to Hawija in Iraq. It is unclear how many of the Hashd al-Shaabi or Shia militia fighters were killed. The attack comes amidst rumors of attacks on Kirkuk itself.
On the same day as the attack on the PMU, Al-Arabiya notes: “Commander of the second special operations in the Iraqi army, Maj. Gen. Maan al-Saadi, warned ISIS and Peshmerga forces on Friday that the national army will ‘crush’ anyone that approaches the outskirts of Kirkuk.”
I asked counter-terror expert Powel Wojcik to try to quantify the number of recent attacks. “There are 35 unique claims for February alone – Samarra, Tikrit, North Baghdad, Hawijah, southern and south-east Kirkuk, Diyala with January extending to Anbar, a lot or Ramadi, Fallujah, Mosul areas. From 35 February claims, 14 are related to Kirkuk and Hawijah.”
Alex Mello argued in a thread on Twitter on Feb. 25 “Past week was probably the deadliest for ISF since Mosul ended last summer. Ambushes & outpost overruns in Nimrud, Badush, Baaj, out in Rutbah and the massacre in rural Kirkuk, on top of slow burning rural assassination campaign targeting Sunnis leaders and tribal forces.”
I covered the battle for Hawija closely. I wrote about why it was important on Sept. 21, 2017, interviewed the coalition about it on October 1, and wrote a conclusion about it on October 5. After I wrote a thread in October 2017 about how the operation was timed to coincide with Iraq’s desire to take back Kirkuk into federal hands, which means it was rushed.
What follows is an attempt to track and map the recent uptick in attacks.
Attack in Kirkuk’s Musala “neighborhood was directed against an Iraqi counterterrorism convoy,”
Alleged bombing of PMU HQ in Kirkuk
ISIS attack on Khabazah oil field near Kirkuk, two killed; map shows the same
Reports Iraq forces “abandoned” positions.
Hezbollah al-Nujabaa movement at funeral of the “27 martyrs” from HawijaScreen Shot 2018-02-25 at 6.14.13 PM.png
PMU convoy targeted from Hawija to Kirkuk, several killed
East of Hawija near Al-Riyadh ISIS claimed an ambush that killed up to 30 PMU, CNN reported the same. Claims PMU was “lured” into a trap and ISF didn’t coordinate; US embassy condemns attack
PMU forces kidnapped near Hawija
ISOF detains man wanted for assassinating a professor in Kirkuk
Operation against the “white flags” near Tuz
US comments about ISIS presence in Hawija, Daquq
Brigade 56 fighting ISIS near Hawija, footage
Three ISIS killed in villages by PMU near Hawija
“The Major General Anwar al-Danouq was shot dead in the village of Tal Khadija, which is part of the Rashad administrative district and southwest of Kirkuk. Incident took place in one of the farms adjacent to the village.
Federal police op near Hawija against ISIS
ISIS claims it destroyed an electricity transmitter near Hawija
Six ISIS terrorists killed near Hawija
Anti-ISIS ops east of Hawija and Riyadh towns
16 ISIS killed and 2 PMU wounded
Brigade 56 sees action against ISIS in Hawija
“presence of ISIS in Rabza, Marzouk and Al-Arabid”
ISIS claims it killed 2 PMU in Al-Abassi near Hawija
ISIS kills 3 villagers near Hawija
Five villages “purged” of ISIS by PMU near Hawija
9th armored and PMU 2nd brigade aid in operation to clear 25 villages around Hawija
ISIS claims attack on PMU and near Rubaydah al-Asriyah
ISF launch operation for six days to clear ISIS from around Hawija
Map of PMU targets for anti-ISIS operation Hawija
Peshmerga warn ISIS still active in Hawija