The Islamic State (IS) group have claimed that an Uzbek militant killed tens of Iraqi security personnel in a suicide bombing north of Miqdadiyah in the Hamrin mountains in Iraq's Diyala Province.
The claim comes amid conflicting reports in the Iraqi press that the Iraqi army and Shi'a militias have made gains against IS in the Miqdadiyah area.
According to the IS announcement, made via jihadi forums and the JustPasteIt website and dated October 29, the militant -- referred to as Abu Zubair Al-Uzbeki -- killed "more than ninety" pro-government forces. The announcement described the forces killed in the attack as "Safavid" and "Rafida" troops. "Safavid" is a term used by IS militants to refer to Iranian forces and the second term, a derogatory word meaning "those who refuse," is a reference to Shi'a militias.
The IS announcement also reports heavy clashes between IS gunmen and "Safavid" militias in the same area, just north of the city of Baquba, amid "Crusader" air strikes (a reference to air strikes by the U.S.-led anti-IS coalition).
There are no mainstream media reports -- at least not yet -- of a large-scale suicide bombing in the Baquba or Miqdadiyah areas of the Hamrin mountains.
However, there have been reports of clashes between IS and Iraqi army forces backed by Shi'a militias in the region, and of gains by the Iraqi army.
The National Iraqi News Agency reported in the evening of October 28 that Iraqi security forces had killed a suicide car bomber near a checkpoint in the Hamrin mountains northeast of Baquba.
The report also claims that the Iraqi army, supported by "fighters of the popular crowd" -- a reference to Shi'a militia -- had killed five IS leaders "north-east of Baquba," including three Saudi nationals.
Kululiraq reports that the Iraqi army had seized four IS-held villages in the Hamrin mountains on October 26, while Al-Shorfa reported that a joint Iraqi army and police force killed an IS leader in Al-Sudour in Diyala Province. These reports were also repeated in the Iranian press (Iran has been keen to promote the successes of the Iraqi army -- which it is supporting -- against IS.)
In addition to recapturing territory in Diyala Province, the Iraqi army's aim in the Hamrin mountains is to disrupt IS supply lines to its militants near Baquba. It is also known that IS militants are operating training camps in the Hamrin mountains, which has been a stronghold of IS and its predecessor Al-Qaeda in Iraq for a number of years.