At least six ISIS militants were killed in a joint operation between Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service (ICTS) and US-coalition forces near Makhmour on Monday, November 30. The operation targeted a cave on Mount Qarachogh, 60km (27mi) southwest of Erbil. Three of the militants were killed by direct fire, while three were killed by coalition airstrikes. One member of ICTS was injured in the operation. The mountainous area around Makhmour has become a refuge for ISIS militants following their territorial losses in mid-2017. The operation came on the same day as an attempted IS attack against Iraqi Security Forces in the village of Azi Kend, near Makhmour Mountain. No casualties were reported.
Further operations against ISIS militants are likely in northern Iraq over the near to medium term.
Although Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi claimed victory over the Islamic State (IS) in December 2017, the group retains a degree of freedom of movement in parts of the country, particularly in western and northern Iraq. IS militants continue to carry out attacks, notably against security forces. High-profile attacks often prompt equally significant security responses, including enhanced checkpoint operations and more proactive operations, with resulting effects on transit.
Those in northern Iraq are advised to remain vigilant for militant activity and adhere to any instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments.
The security environment in Iraq remains complex. Although travel is possible in some areas with proper security protocols in place, other areas should be considered strictly off-limits. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to all travel.