Iraqi forces kill 8 ISIS members with Kornet rocket in disputed Makhmour

The ministry said the Islamic State members were riding motorcycles on Mount Qarachokh of Makhmour district.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraq’s defense ministry on Monday said a security forces detachment killed eight Islamic State operatives with a Kornet rocket on a mountain in the disputed Makhmour district.

“The Da’esh [ISIS] members were intending to attack one of the regiment’s points that blocked the way to the mountain,” a defense ministry statement said. It indicated that “the target had been taken care of and eight ISIS [fighters] had been killed by a Kornet missile.”

Makhmour is located in an area disputed by the Federal Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Region, some 60 kilometers southwest of Erbil. Following the liberation of Mosul, Islamic State militants gathered in surrounding disputed and vulnerable areas, which included Makhmour and Qarachokh Mountain.

The security void in areas between territory protected by Iraqi troops and Kurdish Peshmerga forces sometimes reaches up to 20 kilometers deep. The rugged, barren terrain that is often seen in such areas has been a haven for Islamic State fighters who use it as a base from which to plan and launch attacks in surrounding settlements and towns.

Members of the extremist group have recently carried out a series of terrorist attacks on both the Peshmerga and Iraqi forces in such areas in or near other disputed territories, killing dozens. This has led to some Kurdish villagers nearby to request additional protection from Peshmerga forces.

Read More: After ISIS attacks, villagers in Kurdistan Region call for security outpost

Officials from Kurdistan, along with civilians in the disputed territories, have often called for a long-term joint security plan between Erbil and Baghdad to fill the often deadly security gaps. So far, however, Baghdad has not meaningfully addressed the issue.   

On Friday, four Iraqi policemen were killed in an attack by an Islamic State suicide bomber wearing an explosive vest in the town of Baiji, northwest of Tikrit, the capital of Salahuddin province.

To counter the terrorist organization’s activity, the Iraqi and Peshmerga forces, with the support of the international anti-ISIS coalition, have increased operations.

The Iraqi Ministry of Defense on Saturday released a video recording showing airstrikes on Islamic State sleeper cell positions in the Diyala province portion of the Hamrin mountain range. 

Read More: Iraqi warplanes shell ISIS hideout in Diyala’s Hamrin area, kill all occupants 

Iraqi F-16 fighter jets raided one of the terrorist group’s hideouts on the mountain near Lake Hamrin in Diyala. The operation took place on Thursday. 

The ministry wrote in a statement published on its Facebook page that forces had carried out the strikes in coordination with the Joint Operations Command, which coordinates both Iraqi police and military, and hit “Da’esh gangs targets,” using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State.

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany