Following the twin bombings at a funeral ceremony in Asdira village (located 9km southeast of Al-Shirqat) on April 12th, Iraqi Forces launched an operation at Makhoul on April 18th to search for terror elements still hiding in the mountain range.
The operation unofficially dubbed “Revenge of the Martyrs” was a direct response to the attack in Asdira which resulted in 26 deaths. Units from Brigade 51 of the Popular Mobilization Forces(known as Salahuddin Brigade), Brigade 36 (known as Black Tigris, based in southern Nineveh), the 91st Brigade of Iraq Army 16th Division, the Special Tactics Regiment, Federal Police, and Iraq Army Aviation partook in extensive searches which lasted 24 hours. The operation resulted in the killing of 11 terrorists, including the ISIS commander directly responsible for the Asdira bombings.
During the searches, Iraqi Forces were also able to destroy 4 weapons caches and 6 tunnels. Iraqi Forces carried out their scouting operation to summits such as Mount Naml and Mount Khannukh. Of the 6 tunnels that were targeted by Iraq Army Aviation, one of them contained 8 terrorists hiding out to avoid capture. The forces also encountered 3 other terrorists with suicide belts who were eliminated before they could do any damage to the units.
At the conclusion of the operation, it was reported that 1 soldier from the 91st Brigade of the 16th Division was killed in action after coming in contact with an improvised explosive device. A vehicle from the Popular Mobilization Forces was also damaged after striking an improvised explosive device. No casualties were reported from the incident. It should be noted that Makhoul and Hamrin mountain ranges have experienced minimal activity from ISIS, which is handled by routine searches by Brigades 51 and 88 respectively. Makhoul in particular overlooks the Baiji Refinery, which can become vulnerable if the area is left unchecked.
April has seen a drop in terror activity, after Federal Police conducted a major operation around western Kirkuk which resulted in the killing over 100 ISIS last month.