ISIS Kills Five, Including Commander, in Attack on Eastern Iraq

ISIS eager to show it remains a force on border with Iran as well as with Syria

An ISIS attack Monday in eastern Iraq, between Diyala and Salahuddin Provinces, sparked a protracted battle and left at least five Iraqi troops dead and another five wounded.

Iraq made much of successfully repelling the attacks, but the number of ISIS attackers is unclear. Among those killed was a regimental commander, identified as Col. Khalid Naji Wassak.

ISIS was declared defeated as far back as 2017, but the group remains able to carry out attacks. Only last week they carried out multiple attacks in Syria, killing at least 15 fighters.

ISIS remained a substantial force on the Syrian side of the border, even after their nominal defeat, and has reemerged from the desert to carry out attacks of opportunity. In recent weeks those attacks have become increasingly substantial.

At its peak, ISIS controlled a substantial territory spanning much of Syria and parts of eastern Iraq. The United States and allies went after the group aggressively, attempting to remove them from the area and end their regional influence.

With designs on ending US military presence in the country, Iraq has time and again insisted that they are more than able to handle ISIS attacks on their own. Monday’s repelling of the ISIS attack in the east shows that even where they are weakest, Iraq does seem to have the capacity to cope with ISIS offensives.

Though no longer holding a serious amount of territory, Monday’s attack shows once again how determined ISIS is trying to prove itself a serious force, and one ready and willing to face Iraqi security forces head-on. Iraq, of course, has had years building up a military to handle such threats.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.