Iraq Loses Two Valued Snipers in the fight against IS

In the recent battle of Hawija, in northern Iraq, Iraqi security forces and Paramilitary forces lost two marksmen in the fight against the so-called Islamic State. Both of these snipers were very effective in the counter insurgency war that Iraq has been waging for the previous several years, and their loss is being expressed all over Iraqi social media. Both were killed within days of the other. Both of these snipers had a fair amount of success on the battlefield, but due to their enormous presence on social media, it might be argued that this appearance is almost as useful as any battlefield victory in lifting the spirit of the security forces and PMU fighters that are continuing the fight against the insurgency.

Al Mokdad al-Seady was a captain in the Iraqi Emergency Response Brigade (ERB) and was recently seen all over Iraqi social media with a bolt action .50 BMG HSR Cyclone precision rifle in the fight against the so-called Islamic State. The Hoplite published a post about the use of the HSR Cyclone in Iraq, mainly significant because it appears that this is the first recorded operational use of the commercial precision rifle. Soon afterwards, I got in touch with Captain al-Seady, and was looking forward to talking more with him about the long range shooting he was involved in but unfortunately he was killed before we could have any in-depth conversations. In addition to the HSR Cyclone, he was seen on occasion with a Remington M24 and an M4A1 carbine.

al-Seady was killed on October 4th when he entered a booby-trapped house in Hawija. The IEDs in the building were either remotely triggered, or victim operated when his team entered the house.

Abu Tahsin al-Salhi gained popular fame early on in the fight against the so-called Islamic State, especially after Western news organizations began highlighting his casual talk about sniping IS fighters on a daily basis. Unlike al-Seady, al-Salhi was in a Popular Mobilization Unit or PMU, which is comprised of Iraqi citizens in a quasi-military organization to supplement security forces. But similar to al-Salhi, his rifle of choice was an anti-material rifle, an Iranian AM50 chambered in 12.7x108mm.

Apparently he received marksmanship training in the Soviet Union during times when Iraq and the Soviets enjoyed closer relations. al-Salhi was involved in numerous historic conflicts such as early fighting in Lebanon. Although he was in Saddam’s army during the 2003 invasion, he surrendered at the conclusion of hostilities and appears to have joined a PMU unit then, and served in that capacity when the so-called Islamic State invaded Iraq in 2014.

al-Salhi was killed on September 29th 2017, during the battle of Hawija, while advancing towards enemy positions along with eight other PMU fighters.

This video made him particularly well known over the internet-

This is the most recent video clip released on the fighter.

Much thanks to Ameer F. for helping provide the information for this post.





Miles

Infantry Marine, based in the Midwest. Specifically interested in small arms history, development, and usage within the MENA region and Central Asia. To that end, I run Silah Report, a website dedicated to analyzing small arms history and news out of MENA and Central Asia.

Please feel free to get in touch with me about something I can add to a post, an error I’ve made, or if you just want to talk guns. I can be reached at miles@tfb.tv


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  • Blurb

    RIP you glorious Fremen menschen.

  • Landru

    RIP fighters against evil.

    • Geoff

      So, we are “fighting” ISIS, yet simultaneously funding, arming and helping Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Israel, all of whom then arm, fund and help ISIS to fight against the only sane and stable leader in that region (Assad).
      Meanwhile we import millions of hostile invaders into our lands.

      Gee, it’s almost as if our foreign and domestic policies are controlled by foreign interests.

      • Humpy

        Israel does not fund ISIS!

      • TwoThirtyGr

        I must have missed the part where Assad was a sane and stable leader.

        • TalbotFarwell

          He’s saner and more stable than ISIS. I’d rather deal with a secular Arab nationalist strongman than a bunch of bloodthirsty Islamist butchers and rapists, even if they are CIA-backed Islamist butchers and rapists.

  • Ben Rogers

    RIP

  • ActionPhysicalMan

    These were men of action – I hope they are enjoying Vahalla or Fólkvangr.

    • Brett baker

      Wrong religion, dude.

      • TheNotoriousIUD

        Maybe they were big Zeppelin fans…

        • Brett baker

          But they weren’t from the land of ice and snow, of the midnight sun….

      • ActionPhysicalMan

        Only one religion can be real. Who’s to say that the Norse weren’t the ones who were right?

        • Matt Taylor

          Who says only one religion can be real? That is a humanistic concept in which we apply our rules to those who live far outside the confines of humanities small mindedness.

          • ActionPhysicalMan

            You are correct, I wasn’t even comfortable with my first sentence. I was working from the notion that the dead men and Mr. Baker likely did not have a pan theistic belief system and was speaking to that mindset. If I’d have known you were out there, I would have been more careful.The important point was that I posit that those fellows could be in Vahalla regardless of their faith. Unless, of course, Odin has criteria other than the nature of their death which I didn’t think he did. Obviously I could be wrong about that too:-)

          • Matt Taylor

            The joys of the unknown. Of course there is the belief that Asatru/Troth/Heathenism/etc. is the only legitimate belief structure. Following Heimdall’s classification of man and such this could definitely be the case. Then you would see warriors across the land battling and feasting in Valhal/Folkvangr awaiting Ragnarok.

            That would be a sight to see. I saw a painting once of modern soldiers providing fire support and cover fire for berserkers/einherjar melee assaulting a fire giant. That is a pretty cool mental image.

          • Brett baker

            I Don’t recall the line, “There is no God but God, Allah is his name,and Mohamed is His prophet” in the Sagas. Although, personally, I wish the ancestors had been victorious against the goat****** cults expansion into Europa.

          • QuadGMoto

            Logic. Specifically, the Law of Noncontradiction.

            “Two contradictory claims cannot both be true at the same time and in the same way.”

        • pvw20

          Now you’ve done it

        • Plot twist, none of them are real.

  • Brett baker

    At least there’ll be others to keep up the fight.

  • Joe

    To lose one’s life fighting those IS monsters is a better death than most.
    Thank you, gentlemen, for your sacrifice.

    • Haulin’ Oats

      Do you realize Abu Tahsin al-Salhi is very likely responsible for the deaths of Americans in the 1st gulf war and 2nd bush war?

      • neoritter

        Doesn’t really say what he did between Saddam’s fall in ’03 and now. The PMUs weren’t formed until 2014 and those are government backed. His time as a soldier in Iraq, he was doing his duty under his government. Now if he joined some of the insurgents between ’03 and now, that’s a different story.

      • Martin Grønsdal

        Well, he was serving in the Iraqi military, and the US was at war with Iraq.

      • BFG-9000

        Well, as somebody said, war makes strange bedfellows.

      • iksnilol

        So?

        • Haulin’ Oats

          So… why are we expressing sympathy for a probable enemy of the USA. This is akin to feeling sad for the demise of stallin, hitler, or the USSR.

          • iksnilol

            But Stalin, Hitler or the USSR didn’t fight ISIS.

            I wouldn’t call the guy an enemy of the USA if he defended himself against an illegal invasion by the USA more than a decade ago. What’d Theodore Roosevelt say about patriotism? That it means to stand by the country and what it stands for, not presidents, officials or what have you not. I feel that’s a thing the army bootlickers forget. They tarnish what their country stands for by supporting things that go against their countries ideals.

          • Evan

            If by “defending himself from an illegal invasion” you mean “acting as an unlawful combatant against people there to help”, you’d be spot on, but I suppose anti-American conspiracy theories are more fun than history or reality, right?

          • Giolli Joker

            Regardless of points of views, if you are in an Army (Saddam’s Iraqi Army at the time) you’re a soldier, not an unlawful combatant.

          • Evan

            That is true. But I have a hard time buying that these guys were regular Iraqi soldiers, then disappeared for a decade or more, then out of nowhere joined these various terrorist groups and became infamous snipers. I suspect they did some very shady things in between.

          • micmac80

            LOL no one invading other country has any right to call others unlawful combatants , special as the Invasion itself was Unlawful .

          • Martin frank

            LOL, there to help? By brutally killing hundreds of thousands of you, destroying your infastructure, cluster bombing your children, and forcefully removing your government, but were just here to “help” ! help what, fix a problem you just created?

          • Evan

            Because uneducated people are now taught a crock of you know what about “moral equivalence” and similar nonsense. These savages fought IS on behalf of Iran, and we’re certainly evil men by any reasonable metric, but hey, killing Americans who are there to help you is just fine, because SOCIALJUSTICE or something. I’m disgusted with this lionizing of terrorists too.

      • Denis Deeborn

        2nd Bush war? You sir are ignorant and yet another example of CNN/MSNBC brainwashed idiots……Guess you don’t know what real research is or you figure us veterans who actually served over there just lied right?…………………..GFY

  • d_grey

    Inna lilahe wa Inna ilaihi raji’un

  • ZuluHotel

    Beware of old men in a profession where most die young.

  • John

    There is another sky,
    Ever serene and fair,
    And there is another sunshine,
    Though it be darkness there;
    Never mind faded forests, Austin,
    Never mind silent fields –
    Here is a little forest,
    Whose leaf is ever green;
    Here is a brighter garden,
    Where not a frost has been;
    In its unfading flowers
    I hear the bright bee hum:
    Prithee, my brother,
    Into my garden come!

    –Emily Dickinson

  • Gabriel Owens

    War sucks

  • Arie Heath

    Rest In Peace

  • RicoSuave

    For them the war is over. RIP.

  • NH Guy

    Before you shed too many tears for Abu Tahsin al-Salhi just remember he killed many Americans in Iraq. That he may have eliminated lots of ISIS thugs doesn’t change my hatred for him.

    • MeaCulpa

      So you hate him for killing American soldiers? But that was his job and the American soldiers was in Iraq and not Idaho so that hardly reflects poorly on him.

      • NH Guy

        Yes, yes I do. I’m not a fan of anyone on the other team, especially one who killed my guys.

        • ActionPhysicalMan

          I wonder what portion of veteran soldiers hate their opponents. I have read the writings of several who didn’t. Many of those soldiers were very accomplished at war so I am not talking about those that weren’t in the thick of it.

          • Andrew

            I don’t. There are people I hate more than my wartime enemies.

        • iksnilol

          Funny you say that when y’all treat war as some game by sending people randomly to die in random corners of the world.

          A wise saying from the Balkans: don’t cry about landmines after running in a known minefield.

          • NH Guy

            I don’t care what a f’ing Russian troll thinks.

          • Andrew

            Y’all? I thought you were an out-of-towner.

          • iksnilol

            It’s a really handy contraction.

          • Andrew

            Indeed it is.

    • Dan

      Remember also many Americans invaded a country of very little threat to us and killed many Iraqis under order to kill Americans. What’s your point? That’s what war is.

      • NH Guy

        I’m not going to re litigate the Iraq War. So what’s your point? I know g-d damn well what war is. You may not have agreed with it, but it was OUR guys this SOB killed.

        • More identity politics…

          • NH Guy

            Identity politics? Are you on crack?

        • Evan

          A bunch of Omega males without the balls to serve may like making snarky comments about how the savages are somehow our moral equivalents, but those of us who actually pack the gear know better.

          • MeaCulpa

            Yes, only the people who has been in the Army (or perhaps the Navy’s army) should have the right to comment about the morality of war. Makes all the sense, or not.

          • iksnilol

            And you’ve not the balls to kill even half the IS members that he killed, yet you whine about him defeinding against an illegal invasion more than a decade ago.

          • Evan

            I fought in Iraq, which was by no means an “illegal invasion”, but hey, historical revisionism is all the rage, I suppose. These animals are every bit as bad as IS, instead of being terrorists on behalf of the Caliphate, they’re terrorists on behalf of Iran. Big improvement, huh? Savagery is savagery, and anyone who cries over dead Iraqis, regardless of which horrid group of Islamist lunatics they’re fighting for, is a fool.

          • iksnilol

            Considering y’all justified it with 9/11 (which was funded and commited by Saudis) I’d call it illegal.

            But hey, I guess that’s “historical revisionism”.

          • Evan

            That’s how you remember that, huh? I’d suggest doing some research before spouting off ill-informed revisionism.

          • iksnilol

            Oh you mean the nonexistent WMDs?

            That’s a much better justification, comrade 😉

          • Evan

            Please, even the New York Times finally admitted those existed. Strike two.

          • iksnilol

            Literally nobody admitted those existed.

          • Evan

            Everyone knew about them. Leftist media tried their best to avoid mentioning them, but even the NY Times finally admitted it a few years ago. At least six American soldiers were wounded by chemical weapons. Don’t try to talk about subjects that you clearly have no understanding of whatsoever.

          • iksnilol

            Give me proof then. The closest is one black market dealer had some Sarin warheads. Hardly counts as Saddam had WMDs.

          • Iggy

            There were some chemical weapon injuries, but they were covered up because they were done via IEDs using rusty Chem shells left over from the Iran-Iraq war and pool chorine, which hardly meets the robust program that was alleged to exist. And the less we talk about yellowcake the better.

          • int19h

            > and anyone who cries over dead Iraqis, regardless of which horrid group of Islamist lunatics they’re fighting for, is a fool.

            Are you saying that a good Iraqi is a dead Iraqi?

          • Andrew

            Speak for yourself. I “packed the gear”, too. I fought both fronts on behalf of the US for well over ten years. Hostile fire pay for more than a third of that time. I have no illusion of moral superiority, and there are many like me. Everything about war is lame, and there is no war that is not organized murder. When I was younger, I was all super hooah and such, but at this point in life I am not pro-war, and I would not be for invading Iraq if I could do it over. However, if duty calls, I’m down to pound because it is my job. We don’t get to choose our wars, but we do get fed piles of propaganda. Some buy it more than others.

            I would seriously be into wiping out daesh, though. I despise those guys more than NK and Pak combined.

          • Evan

            While I agree that war sucks, I disagree with basically everything else. There is a clear moral difference between us and them. War is not organized murder, it is an often necessary action to achieve geopolitical ends. There are bad people in this world, and they often need bad things done to them. I didn’t like being there anymore than anyone else, but I understand that it had to be done.

            IS/Da’ish is as horrible as anyone else on earth, and they need to be crushed. That doesn’t mean empowering Iran, who aren’t significantly better, is the way to do it. The Baghdad government that these two savages fought for is a puppet of Iran, and as much as I despise IS, I won’t ever mourn the loss of some savage fighting for a slightly different Islamist hell.

          • Andrew

            Brother, I would love to split a handle of Wild Turkey with you. I feel like we would never agree on some things, though. I get less emotional about my enemy than I do about my fallen Brothers. My assignment of blame is different, too.

          • Evan

            The fact that we may not agree on everything (or necessarily anything) but can still fight alongside each other is why this country is worth fighting for to begin with. I’m more of a beer drinker, but I’m always down to share a drink with a fellow veteran.

  • int19h

    Apparently, Abu Tahsin al-Salhi also fought in the Yom Kippur War (not on Israeli side, needless to say), and in the invasion of Kuwait. I’m curious to see if this changes any opinions here.

    • Blurb

      One loses nothing by honoring the valor of one’s enemy.

    • MeaCulpa

      Well if one fights well and adheres to some basic rules of conduct, then one should show them respect when the war is over as a load of allied naval officers did with Von Dönitz (and yes I do know that he was convicted at Nürnberg).

      • ActionPhysicalMan

        There was no “Von” in Karl Dönitz’s name. But yeah, he was convicted of ‘conspiracy to commit war’. Every soldier in every military is guilty of that. Ten years and twenty one days in prison was absurd in his case. They probably did it because he was Hitlers successor for a day or two.

        • MeaCulpa

          Mea Culpa!

        • Brett baker

          Actually, the court wanted to punish Donitz worse, but the U.S. navy intervened, since we had engaged in unrestricted submarine warfare in the Pacific Theatre.

          • MeaCulpa

            If Dönitz should be punished in a “court of law” for waging unrestricted submarine warfare and not assisting the crew of the sunken ship it stands to reason that the allied commanders ordering the attacks on German subs rendering assistance to the crews of stricken ships should be punished, as well as the allied commanders ordering unrestricted warfare on axis shipping not to mention people like bomber Harris. Basically what I’m saying is that the US Navy deserves credit for standing up for Dönitz and that the Russians had the right idea about the trials.

    • Foma Klimov

      Yeah. Makes me like him even more. I really hope he wasted some zionazis. Was trained by the best (us Russians), so he probably did!

    • Dan

      Was he supposed to sit those conflicts out?

      • valorius

        Yes. Any moral man would’ve elected not to fight for the side of evil. Which, in many of these wars in the Middle East, is both sides.

        • Brett baker

          Ummm, That’s why moral men are all in mass graves over there.

          • valorius

            I’d rather die a good man than live as an evil man. It’s just that simple.

    • Roy Rapoport

      I was two when the Yom Kippur War happened, when my country was attacked. I’m Israeli. He fought for my enemy back then.

      Soldiers fight on the side they’re on. What he did toward the end of his life was fight for the right side, when he could have sat out the whole thing.

      I’m perfectly comfortable calling him a hero and being saddened by his death.

    • valorius

      There are no good guys in any of these middle eastern fights.

    • wicapiwakan

      He was a soldier. He fought where and when he was told to, like any other soldier.

      Unless there’s evidence of some sort of warcrime or misdeeds he carried out, he was just a soldier.

  • Ryfyle

    They died Killing evil. Far better than most deaths.

  • ByeBye

    After seeing this eulogy , I’ll never visit your blog again. Always thought there was something fishy about Miles and his love of Pakistan.

    • Lol, Pakistan? This post is about Iraq. Completely wrong part of the world buddy.

      • Evan

        Not really, there’s only one country (Iran) that separates them, and both are rife with Islamist savagery. It was certainly inappropriate to eulogize a couple of savages who almost certainly killed Americans just because they happened to be fighting a common enemy at the time of their deaths. And your bio up there says you’re an 03? Didn’t you lose any friends to the paynim in Iraq? I was an 03 myself, and I know I did. Just because the savages are all fighting each other doesn’t mean that the ones on the slightly less bad side are some kind of laudable heroes.

        • My Section Leader- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JlZEzJMeaVI

          Our first battalion KIA- http://thefallen.militarytimes.com/marine-lance-cpl-christopher-o-grant/6568528

          Motor T KIA that my section QRF-ed to- http://thefallen.militarytimes.com/marine-lance-cpl-caleb-l-erickson/6568555

          And a friend who took his life-http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/dispatch/obituary.aspx?pid=175977053

          Don’t you dare lecture me on losing Marines on a combat deployment, or from the after effects thereof.

          I’m sorry that you see mere human beings from another part of the world as savages. I truly am.

          • Evan

            If you deployed to Iraq, how can you see them as anything BUT savages? They live like animals and treat each other with sheer barbarism.

          • jason larose

            Just stfu for real ..u have no clue

          • Evan

            I was there, dummy. I didn’t get my ideas from whatever nonsensical conspiracy website you’ve been reading. I got my ideas from firsthand experience. Ask just about anyone who was there, who had to deal with these cretins. At least 90% of us will tell you that they’re irredeemable wretched savages.

          • Andrew

            Count me as the 10% that see them as humans. And don’t get it twisted; I have a drawer full of black bracelets.

          • Evan

            How? How do you see them as human in the same way civilized people are? I’m not asking to be belligerent, I seriously fail to understand.

          • Andrew

            Dude, those savages darn near invented civilization. I see them as human because they are the same species as me. They eat rice and bread just like I do. They get cancer and pneumonia and die just like I will. Or maybe they will be shot and agonize knowing that that collapsing lung is bad news. They are made of blood, bone, skin just like me. Their family will cry tears, just like I do for Soldiers that lost their lives.

            I left a lot of blood, sweat, and tears in Balad, Baghdad, Ramadi, Tikrit, Mosul, etc. For what? Fighting for peace is like $&@%ing for virginity. No matter how hard you try, you can’t kill enough to make peace.

          • jason larose

            Seems like u watched that American sniper Chris Kyle movie to many times

          • Andrew

            I’m sorry for your losses.

        • Andrew

          Iraq and Pakistan are very different. I would support invading the latter more than the former, hindsight being what it is.

  • Andrew

    War is so wasteful. RIP.

  • valorius

    Trillions of dollars down the middle-eastern money hole, and thousands of lives lost. For what?

    Sad.

  • ties

    Looks more like Syria

  • Evan

    Good riddance. Just because they were fighting against savages doesn’t mean they weren’t savages themselves. I wonder how many Americans that old man killed.

    • iksnilol

      If any, I hope they were like you. Because God knows we don’t need more folks like you.

      • Evan

        Yeah, because pointing out the savagery of others somehow puts me on their level, huh? Aren’t you some kind of Bosniac? How would you feel if people started singing the praises of Radko Mladic? Because this is more or less the exact same thing.

        • iksnilol

          No. No it isn’t. Ratko was a war criminal. Ethnic cleansing is nowhere near the same level as taking potshots at American invasion troops.

          Besides, y’all right wing types do often sing praises to the Serbs. “Remove kebab” and all.

          • Evan

            So you have a problem with ethnic cleansing, but these savages are OK in your book? Have you actually no idea whatsoever what’s going on in Iraq? Do you realize why the overwhelming majority of Sunnis prefer IS to the Baghdad government which is run by Shias bent on revenge?

            By the way, these animals were unlawful combatants the entire time – war criminals, like you said.

            I have Serbian friends, and they don’t sing Ratko’s praises. Fighting Islam is always laudable, but mass slaughter of civilians is not.

            You are clearly out of your depth here. I’d suggest doing some unbiased reading about the Iraq war and putting down the conspiracy nonsense, because you have been dead wrong on literally everything you’ve said, and you’re making a fool of yourself.

          • iksnilol

            Then you’ve not met the Serbs I’ve met.

            I think you should ease up on tje Alexei Jones subscription.

          • Mr. Privilege

            Ratko was awesome. So was Arkan. It’s a shame we had to put our weight behind NATO and couldn’t let them finish the job they started. Now we get to wear the great badge of “honor” of helping to establish the fist Islamic state on European soil since the fall of the limp-dick Ottoman Empire. Our Muslim “friends” really remembered how we stuck out our neck for them in the Balkans when they bestowed upon us that wonderful gift of 9/11. Serves us right for siding with Muslims and stabbing our Christian Serb brothers in the back like that. Bottom line – never trust a Muslim.

    • jason larose

      America sent little boys to the middleast so they can protect “MUH freedommmzzz”…what a joke

      • Evan

        Yeah, because a nice glass of Kool-aid and a silly Internet meme take the place of the slightest understanding of geostrategy. Good work, Beavis.

  • some one

    The Rifle used by the young guy is SteelCore Desigs HSR Cyclone. I didn’t see the name in the article.

  • RAE Industries

    Ditto to Zulu and Joe!

  • Andrew

    Re read your post. Try to be objective about it and view it as if someone else wrote it. Your 17 year old desire to be the one that metes out justice is as savage as the enemy’s. We have mental biases that make it hard to see our own faults, and these biases get manipulated by propagandists.

    They get enhanced by dehumanizing our enemies. Have we ever fought people before, or is it always redcoats, savages, huns, krauts? Killing is easier to justify and control if you strip away the humanity. We focus our zealous youthful idealism on our enemies’ wrongdoing and ignore our own.

    When you and I were kids, we were malleable and impressionable. All young people are; its a feature of the way our brains develop. Another bias is that opinions formed in youth are deep seated. Most people won’t change beliefs aquired in their teens and early twenties, no matter how much evidence is presented. This is why religion is such a worthless topic of discussion.

    People make mistakes. In this case the mistake was further destabilizing a region. We made Iraq worse, not better, and believing otherwise will not bring or brothers back. And it is an undeniable fact that most if them would be alive today had we all simply stayed home.

    I, too used to believe we were the good guys at all times and the enemy was an animal, but I examined the evidence at hand, like a third party would, and came to a more moderate stance. And that stance is that OIF was a mistake, and that our enemies are people, too. I’ll do it again, though. Soon, probably.

  • jonp

    Troll on this sight? Don’t you guys ever take a break from Pokemon?

  • neoritter

    Prior to ’03 he was a soldier in a recognized country’s military. He can’t be faulted for doing is duty to his country. What you quoted does not fill in the gaps between ’03 and ’14. Unless it’s in the video you just posted, but that looks like the one from the article.