By: Aaron Reese and ISW Iraq Team
A joint force of Iraqi Police, Iraqi Army, and Popular Mobilization Units containing Iraqi Shi’a militias reportedly launched an operation to retake villages in the Mansuriyah sub-district, north of Muqdadiyah. Badr Organization leader Hadi al-Ameri claimed that attack was launched from four axes, affirming his involvement in the operation. This operation is likely intended to clear ISIS from its remaining stronghold in Diyala northwest of Muqdadiyah. A separate attack by ISF and PMUs recaptured the Sudur irrigation dam from ISIS, a longstanding ISIS stronghold between Diyala and southern Salah ad Din. ISIS control of the dam has begun to cause a water crisis in Balad Ruz, Diyala. Residents of Balad Ruz had protested recently on January 18, demanding the recapture of the dam. The Anbar Operations Command additionally launched an operation to clear villages southeast of Fallujah. An additional report suggested that Peshmerga and PMUs had killed an ISIS commander in Ninewa, north of Shirqat. Peshmerga and IA have recently begun to attack ISIS from east of the Tigris near this position. Although difficult to verify, this would be the first suggestion of PMU activity this far north. ISIS is still likely the dominant military power in southern Ninewa, but there have been indications that ISIS control of local villages has begun to slip. ISIS executions across Ninewa are also further indications that ISIS is feeling pressured by internal resistance in the province.