IRAQ: ISIS launches attack in Kerkeslokh (Kirkuk); confusion over supposed U.S. aerial bombing of PMF

KERKESLOKH and ANBAR, Iraq — The Islamic State (ISIS) carried out a three-pronged attack against the Iraqi Federal Police Forces in Hawija, Kerkeslokh (Kirkuk) Province on Monday. During the attack, violent confrontations took place between the two sides that lasted for more than an hour and resulted in the deaths of four members of the Federal Police and the wounding three others.

The Kirkuk Operations Room was forced to send reinforcements to Hawija due to the intensity of the fighting.

Eight mortar shells fell on the positions of the 110th Brigade of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) in the middle of the village of Al-Ma’dan in northeast of Diyala Province. Three shells did not explode. There was no material losses or casualties.

In related news, Kamal al-Hasnawi, a commander of the Al-Abdal Movement, which is a part of the PMF and is close to Iran, stated that the group’s headquarters in Anbar Province was targeted by U.S. warplanes on Sunday.

However, the Anbar Operations Command denied that the PMF had be targeted.

In a public statement, Anbar Operations Commander Qassem Musleh said that, “The reports that the PMF units or headquarters in Anbar or near the Iraqi-Syrian borders were exposed to an American air strike are incorrect.”

Such a raid would not be unheard of though.

On 13 March, U.S. forces launched a series of air strikes on locations of the Iraqi Hezbollah the day after the killing of two U.S. nationals and one Briton in a rocket attack.

“These air strikes were defensive and represent a direct response to the threat posed by Shiite armed groups that continue to attack bases hosting the U.S.-led international coalition forces,” the Pentagon declared in a statement at the time.

The Green Zone in Baghdad, which includes government institutions, foreign embassies, and military bases, has recently witnessed a series of rocket and improvised explosive device (IED) attacks by unknown parties for months.

The U.S. has warned that it will pull out of its embassy in Baghdad if the rockets attacks aren’t stopped.