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.


    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 [email protected]