A senior Iraqi military officer and seven of his bodyguards have been killed following clashes with Daesh fighters that took place in the Sunni Arab-majority province of Diyala in eastern Iraq.
Brigadier Haider Ali Agha Al-Haideri, the commander of the Iraqi Security Forces' (ISF) 110th Brigade, was killed after Daesh fighters engaged his unit in the Imam Ways district near the provincial capital of Baquba, a city renowned amongst US military personnel as being a dangerous hotspot for US occupation forces several years ago.
According to the Amaq news agency, closely linked to the Daesh extremist group, the brigade commander was killed, along with other field officers in addition to four other troops, in an ambush set up by Daesh militants east of Baquba.
Ties to Shia jihadists
Al-Haideri is not only a member of the ISF, but is also a senior member of the Iran-backed Shia jihadist group known as the Badr Organisation. Badr used to operate a militia and death squad called the Badr Brigade, before being absorbed into the Iraqi federal police and military units.
Badr is controlled by former cabinet member and current senior commander in the Shia-dominated Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) Iraqi paramilitary group, Hadi Al-Amiri.
In the 1980s, Hadi Al-Amiri fought alongside Iranian forces loyal to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini against his own country, then under the rule of former dictator Saddam Hussein. Since then, he has been a very close ally of Tehran.
According to sources cited by Al Jazeera, not only did Daesh kill these Badr jihadists who are formally part of the Iraqi military chain of command, but they also captured other Badr militants and killed them before withdrawing from the area.
Turkey's state-owned Anadolu confirmed the story, and reported Iraqi provincial police Captain Habib Al-Shimmari as saying that Daesh fighters withdrew not long after reinforcements arrived to comb the area for the militants.
Daesh's successful ambush comes despite Diyala's provincial authorities beginning a security operation last week to prevent Daesh infiltration from neighbouring Kirkuk province.
The militant group's ambush against the Iran-sponsored Shia jihadists suggests serious intelligence failures are still occurring in Iraq, despite the ongoing operation to dislodge Daesh from Mosul hundreds of kilometres away to the northwest.
Since the Mosul operation began on 17 October 2016, Daesh have launched numerous raids and devastating surprise attacks across Iraq, including the Kurdish-controlled and oil-rich city of Kirkuk, as well as Qayyarah south of Mosul and as far afield as Rutbah in Anbar province near the Syrian border.
Meanwhile, and despite heavy backed from the US-led Coalition and Iran, Baghdad has failed to achieve the goal of purging Mosul from Daesh by the end of 2016, set by Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi himself.
The Iraqi premier now estimates it will take a further three months to recapture Mosul, with experts warning that the taking of Iraq's second city will not end the Daesh threat.