Six Iraqi paramilitary forces killed in ambush near Mosul
MAKHMUR, Iraq – Six Iraqi paramilitary forces were killed and more than 30 others wounded in an ambush on a desolate road south of Mosul, security forces said Thursday.
Unidentified assailants on Wednesday night attacked a convoy of mainly-Shia Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) who were going on leave and therefore unarmed, the security forces’ media centre said.
“Six fighters were killed and 31 more were wounded and transferred to the Qayyarah hospital,” the statement said.
The attack took place on the road between Mosul and the town of Makhmur, areas that Iraqi troops and allied paramilitary units recaptured from the Islamic State group (ISIS) in 2017.
“It’s the first attack of its kind after the liberation,” Rezkar Mohammad, a local official in Makhmur, told AFP.
“The area is vast and open, and we already warned forces here that it hadn’t been totally cleared,” he said.
Iraqi forces had deployed in the area in pursuit of the attackers, Mohammad said.
Iraqi police sources told Reuters that three buses carrying the PMF fighters who were coming from Mosul were attacked and surrounded by the militants until military helicopters intervened to force the attackers to flee.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the killings but an unnamed official with the PMF told The Associated Press that Islamic State militants were behind the attack.
Baghdad declared victory against ISIS in late 2017 but jihadist sleeper cells still mount hit-and-run attacks against military positions, particularly in Iraq’s north and west.
Security forces have also warned that ISIS fighters could slip across the porous border from neighbouring Syria to escape a blistering US-backed assault on their final redoubt there.
(AW and agencies)