Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Islamic State’s Leadership Losses In Iraq And Syria


Since the Islamic State’s (IS) startling charge across northern and central Iraq in the middle of 2014 the group has faced a steady loss of manpower. That has come from fighting against pro-government forces and increasingly from Coalition air strikes. Not only has it lost many rank and file fighters, but also some of its top commanders and officials. This steady loss is depriving the organization of its leadership, and could be isolating Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Every week brings new news of a top IS member being killed in Iraq. Those include several field commanders and senior IS members. On January 22 for example, the police director in Anbar’s Haditha said that a Coalition air strike had killed IS’s Wali or governor for Anbar, Abu Anas Samarraie. He was responsible for the mass executions of hundreds of members of the Albu Nimr tribe that started in October. Two days later the Kurdistan Security Council named twenty-three IS leaders that had recently been killed in fighting with the peshmerga in Ninewa. More importantly there are increasing reports of senior officials within IS being eliminated. Those include Abu Muslim al-Turkmani. He was a member of the Shura Council the highest body within the Islamic State, the head of the provincial council with responsibilities for running operations in Iraq, and was said to be one of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s top two deputies. He was from Tal Afar in Ninewa, and a former Special Forces and intelligence officer under the Baathist regime with connections with Saddam Hussein and Izzat al-Duri. Another was Abu Ali al-Anbari who was from the Mosul area. He was Baghdadi’s other top deputy along with Turkmani. He was in charge of Syria, and a member of IS’s security council. Abu Muhanad al-Suedawi and Abu Ahmed Alwani who were believed to be heads of the Military Council, and Turki al-Benali a member of the Sharia Council have also been killed. The latter enforces and administers religious law, and runs the police and courts. Baghdadi has reportedly increasingly delineated power to his field commanders to govern the territory that it has conquered. This has not only occurred because IS needs to administer large tracks of land, but also because Baghdadi’s ability to communicate with his minions has become limited due to his need to constantly be on the move to avoid detection. The elimination of these cadre then deprives IS of not only its ability to carry out military operations but govern, which is an essential element of Baghdadi’s wish to create a state.

The Islamic State’s manpower is being degraded every day. Many of the common fighters can always be replaced, but the loss of its top leadership takes a far heavier toll upon the organization. The death of Baghdadi’s two top lieutenants for example, deprives the organization of not only valued aides, but years of experience as well. It further isolates Baghdadi, and makes his job of running IS and all the land that it now controls that much harder. It is also a necessary step in the eventual elimination of the group.

SOURCES

Abbas, Mushreq, “Decentralization of powers weakens IS,” Al Monitor, 1/20/15

Barrett, Richard, “The Islamic State,” Soufan Group, November 2014

Bas News, “Kurdistan Security Council Names Dead IS Leaders,” 1/24/15

Rudaw, “Iraqi army shelling of Fallujah kills 10 civilians,” 1/22/15

Monday, January 26, 2015

Iraq’s Insurgents Picking Up Attacks In New Year


Iraq’s insurgents continued to carry out a high level of activity in the third week of January 2015. Security incidents went down from August to December, but have picked up since then. On the other hand, pro-government forces were on the offensive in Diyala, Ninewa and Salahaddin for the week. In the second half of 2014 the security forces, militias and peshmerga regained the initiative and began retaking lost territory, while the insurgency cooled off as it usually does at the end of the year. Now Iraq may be witnessing both forces simultaneously launching attacks throughout the center of the country.

From January 15-21, 2015 there were a reported 181 security incidents. That was up from January 8-14 when there were 172, but on par with the first week of the month, which had 184 incidents. That averaged out to 25.5 attacks per day. In comparison, in December there were 21.8, 19.7 in November, and 23.9 in October. Baghdad saw the most violence with 44 attacks, followed by 41in Anbar, 40 in Salahaddin, 23 in Ninewa, 11 in Diyala and Kirkuk each, six in Babil, three in Basra, and two in Maysan. If this trend continues early 2015 could see the same level of attacks as during the height of the summer offensive.

This violence led to 390 people losing their lives and another 515 wounded. Those were at the same levels as the previous two weeks, and higher than December. So far there has been an average of 74.0 deaths per day in the new year. In the previous month there were 57.2. January 15-21 saw 88 members of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), 15 Sahwa, 27 peshmerga, and 260 civilians die, along with 38 ISF, 41 Sahwa, one peshmerga, and 435 civilians wounded. Broken down by province Ninewa had the most deaths with 105, then Salahaddin with 87, Baghdad with 67, Diyala with 64, Anbar with 49, Babil with 11, five in Kirkuk, and one each in Basra and Maysan.

Violence In Iraq By Week Jun. 2014-Jan. 2015
Date
Incidents
Dead
Wounded
Jun 1-7
228
612
1,020
Jun 8-14
234
1,889
890
Jun 15-21
179
803
759
Jun 22-28
203
733
777
Jun 29-30
59
127
236
JUN
901
4,172
3,701
Jul 1-7
203
526
651
Jul 8-14
214
577
628
Jul 15-21
230
444
1,009
Jul 22-28
224
589
801
Jul 29-31
66
163
230
JUL
937
2,299
3,319
Aug 1-8
269
1,122
885
Aug 9-14
179
710
1,152
Aug 15-21
150
354
499
Aug 22-28
156
523
798
Aug 29-31
59
125
289
AUG
813
2,834
3,623
Sep 1-7
168
616
751
Sep 8-14
156
433
722
Sep 15-21
166
620
749
Sep 22-28
153
395
573
Sep 29-30
47
112
252
SEP
690
2,176
3,047
Oct 1-7
170
451
687
Oct 8-14
188
532
875
Oct 15-21
156
449
770
Oct 22-28
159
345
592 + 1,230
Oct 29-31
68
570
227
OCT
741
2,347
3,151 + 1,230
Nov 1-7
153
601
828
Nov 8-14
128
420
593
Nov 15-21
134
283
464
Nov 22-28
138
321
640
Nov 29-30
40
206
510
NOV
593
1,831
3,035
Dec 1-7
137
323
476
Dec 8-14
156
233 + 166
444 + 1,113
Dec 15-21
133
377
340
Dec 22-28
161
558
432
Dec 29-31
91
117
233
DEC
678
1,774
3,038
Jan 1-7
184
434
464
Jan 8-14
172
731
493
Jan 15-21
181
390
515

Violence In Iraq By Province, Jan. 2015
Province
Jan 1-7
Jan 8-14
Anbar
43 Incidents
129 Killed: 23 ISF, 30 Sahwa, 76 Civilians
146 Wounded: 45 ISF, 101 Civilians
30 Shootings
1 IED
2 Suicide Bombers
2 Suicide Car Bombs
3 Mortars
3 Rockets
28 Incidents
58 Killed: 8 ISF, 1 Sahwa, 49 Civilians
106 Wounded: 1 Sahwa, 105 Civilians
19 Shootings
1 IED
1 Mortar
1 Rocket
Babil
6 Incidents
13 Killed: 2 ISF, 11 Civilians
44 Wounded: 4 ISF, 40 Civilians
2 Shootings
4 IEDs
1 Sticky Bomb
5 Incidents
10 Killed: 5 ISF, 1 Sahwa, 4 Civilians
31 Wounded: 31 Civilians
1 Shooting
1 IED
1 Suicide Car Bomb
Baghdad
40 Incidents
58 Killed: 6 ISF, 52 Civilians
147 Wounded: 1 ISF, 146 Civilians
12 Shootings
31 IEDs
5 Sticky Bombs
1 Car Bomb
43 Incidents
60 Killed: 4 ISF, 4 Sahwa, 52 Civilians
167 Wounded: 8 ISF, 8 Sahwa, 151 Civilians
17 Shootings
19 IEDs
3 Sticky Bombs
1 Suicide Bomber
1 Mortar
Basra
3 Incidents
4 Killed: 4 Civilians
1 Wounded: 1 Civilian
1 Shooting
1 IED
-
Diyala
11 Incidents
13 Killed: 2 ISF, 11 Civilians
23 Wounded: 1 ISF, 22 Civilians
8 Shootings
3 Mortars
9 Incidents
25 Killed: 25 Civilians
17 Wounded: 17 Civilians
5 Shootings
3 IEDs
2 Mortars
Kirkuk
6 Incidents
1 Mortar
17 Incidents
4 Killed: 2 Peshmerga, 1 Asayesh, 1 Sahwa
15 Wounded: 11 Peshmerga, 3 Asayesh, 1 Civilian
11 Shootings
10 IEDs
Maysan
1 Incident
1 Killed: 1 Civilian
1 Wounded: 1 Civilian
1 Shooting
-
Ninewa
30 Incidents
119 Killed: 16 ISF, 4 Peshmerga, 99 Civilians
3 Wounded: 3 Peshmerga
20 Shootings
7 IEDs
2 Suicide Car Bombs
33 Incidents
392 Killed: 2 ISF, 12 Peshmerga, 26 Asayesh,
     8 YPG, 344 Civilians
7 Wounded: 5 Asayesh, 2 YPG
30 Shootings
1 Suicide Car Bomb
Qadisiyah
1 Incident
1 Sticky Bomb
-
Salahaddin
43 Incidents
97 Killed: 23 ISF, 74 Civilians
99 Wounded: 84 ISF, 15 Civilians
17 Shootings
9 IEDs
3 Sticky Bombs
1 Suicide Car Bomb
1 Mortar
34 Incidents
181 Killed: 44 ISF, 137 Civilians
150 Wounded: 15 ISF, 135 Civilians
12 Shootings
23 IEDs
3 Suicide Bombers
6 Suicide Car Bombs
1 Car Bomb
4 Mortars

Province
Jan 15-21
Anbar
41 Incidents
49 Killed: 2 ISF, 14 Sahwa, 33 Civilians
198 Wounded: 7 ISF, 38 Sahwa, 153 Civilians
25 Shootings
2 IEDs
12 Suicide Car Bombs
6 Mortars
Babil
6 Incidents
11 Killed: 1 ISF, 10 Civilians
35 Wounded: 3 ISF, 32 Civilians
1 Shooting
3 IEDs
1 Sticky Bomb
1 Car Bomb
Baghdad
44 Incidents
67 Killed: 4 ISF, 1 Sahwa, 62 Civilians
197 Wounded: 9 ISF, 3 Sahwa, 185 Civilians
11 Shootings
24 IEDs
4 Sticky Bombs
1 Motorcycle Bomb
3 Mortars
Basra
3 Incidents
1 Killed: 1 Civilian
Diyala
11 Incidents
64 Killed: 2 ISF, 11 Peshmerga, 51 Civilians
16 Wounded: 16 Civilians
6 Shootings
4 IEDs
1 Suicide Car Bombs
Kirkuk
11 Incidents
5 Killed: 5 Civilians
2 Shootings
1 Sticky Bomb
Maysan
2 Incidents
1 Killed: 1 Civilian
1 Shooting
1 Stun Bomb
Ninewa
23 Incidents
105 Killed: 60 ISF, 16 Peshmerga, 29 Civilians
1 Wounded: 1 Peshmerga
15 Shootings
18 IEDs
Salahaddin
40 Incidents
87 Killed: 19 ISF, 68 Civilians
68 Wounded: 19 ISF, 49 Civilians
19 Shootings
23 IEDs
2 Suicide Car Bombs
2 Grenades
1 Mortar


Car Bombs In Iraq Jan. 2015
Date
Location
Dead
Wounded
Jan 1
Habaniya, Anbar


Jan 2



Jan 3



Jan 4
Sadoun St, Baghdad
Outside Samarra, Salahaddin

5
Jan 5
Anaz, Anbar
4
7
Jan 6



Jan 7
Ayathiya x2, Ninewa
4
3
Totals
6
8
15
Jan 8
Yusifiya Babil
Berhewa, Ninewa
Samarra x5, Salahaddin
47
45
Jan 9
Mount Sinjar x2


Jan 10



Jan 11
Baiji Refinery & West of Samarra, Salahaddin
1
3
Jan 12



Jan 13



Jan 14



Totals
11
48
48
Jan 15
Baquba, Diyala
Tarmiya, Salahaddin
3
21
Jan 16
Rahaliya, Anbar
Hweish, Salahaddin
23
1
Jan 17



Jan 18



Jan 19
Ramadi, Anbar
Mahmudiya, Babil
3
15
Jan 20
Abu Risha, Albu Ghanim, Nikhaib, Ramadi x7, Anbar
5
35
Jan 21



Totals
16
34
72


After a slight lull the number of vehicle borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) went up during the week. There were 16 successful attacks across Anbar, Babil, Diyala and Salahaddin. That left 34 people dead and 72 wounded. Almost all of these car bombs were used in tactical attacks upon the security forces and militias, often in conjunction with infantry assaults. Many more VBIEDs have been used, but were destroyed before reaching their targets.

Anbar continued to be threatened by insurgents who control the majority of the province. During the week militants were active throughout the breadth of the governorate attacking Ramadi six out of seven days, Garma to the northeast of Fallujah four times, Baghdadi to the northwest of Hit three times, Amiriya Fallujah to the east by the Babil border and Haditha in the west two times each, the Walid border point, and several other towns. January 20 saw the heaviest fighting with a suicide car bomb followed by an infantry assault on Nikhaib, a suicide truck bomb in Albu Ghanim, an attack upon Abu Risha with a suicide car bomb, followed by an attack on the town that got into Sheikh Abu Risha’s compound and was able to destroy some of his buildings, and then an attack upon Ramadi’s Howaz district with seven suicide car bombs, mortar fire, and another infantry charge. Despite all the activity IS has made no real headway in Anbar since October. It is still intent upon trying to take the remaining major cities, but has failed to make much progress so far.

Government forces are still trying to clear the small towns on the outskirts of IS controlled cities in the province. Many of these places have changed hands over and over again for the last year. For example on January 15 a security operation was launched in Albu Hayat. Two days later the village was said to be freed, but then on January 21 another sweep was started there. Unfortunately this has been the pattern for the last year. Every major offensive launched by the ISF and tribes has stalled with no real progress being made.

The Iraqi army has continued with their indiscriminate shelling of Fallujah. The city was hit six out of seven days. That killed 22 people and wounded 81, which were roughly 40% of the total casualties for the governorate. This artillery and mortar fire has no real effect upon the security situation in the city, yet the ISF has been carrying it out since the city fell taking a huge civilian toll.

Casualties Government Shelling In Anbar Jan. 2015
Date
Location
Dead
Wounded
Jan 2
Fallujah
20
30
Jan 3
Fallujah
3
9
Jan 5
Fallujah
4
16
Jan 6
Fallujah
4
11
Total
-
31
66
Jan 9
Fallujah
3
9
Jan 10
Fallujah
3
14
Jan 11
Fallujah
3
7
Jan 12
Fallujah
11
20
Jan 13
Fallujah
13
18
Jan 14
Fallujah
13
17
Total
-
46
85
Jan 15
Fallujah
4
7
Jan 16
Fallujah
3
6
Jan 17
Fallujah
4
17
Jan 18
Fallujah
2
25
Jan 19
Fallujah
6
19
Jan 20
Fallujah
3
7
Total
Fallujah
22
81


In previous weeks the Islamic State was threatening Muqtadiya in central Diyala. This caused a major displacement from the area. From January 15-21 there were only two attacks there however. On January 21, the ISF finally launched a much expected operation there. IS still has many bases in Diyala’s east, and is now attempting to move into the center of the province for the first time in several months. It’s yet to be seen whether it will have any success or whether the government forces will be able to push them back.

In January both the IS and peshmerga have been carrying out operations in Ninewa. The insurgents attacked Sinjar four times, Mosul Dam, Bartella, Bashiqa, and the Tal Afar area from January 15-21. The Islamic State has also continued with its executions and intimidation tactics in the territory it controls. On January 15 four members of the Jabour tribe were killed in Qayara, and six houses belonging to judges were blown up in Tal Afar. The next day five women were executed in Mosul, and then thirteen young men were hung for watching a soccer game in the city. Then on January 17 eleven homes of police were detonated in Qayara, and 60 members of the ISF were shot in the Mosul area on January 20. The peshmerga have been slowly been taking back territory in Ninewa. On January 21 they freed several villages in the west and are threatening to cut IS’s supply lines to Syria. After the shock of losing Sinjar the Kurds have gone on the offensive and taken back several small and large towns in the province. IS appears to be ramping up its own operations now in an attempt to gain some of this territory back.

A similar situation is playing out in Salahaddin. Despite recent gains by pro-government forces IS is still able to attack throughout most of the governorate. On January 15 it attacked a checkpoint in Tarmiya in the south by Baghdad with a suicide car bomb. January 16 it hit a militia base in Hweish with another VBIED and the Baiji refinery. January 18 it attacked Yathrib in the southern Balad district, and Dujail in the north on January 21. The ISF and militias are still trying to consolidate their recent gains in Balad. On January 15 for instance, it cleared Nibai for the second time. They also launched new security operations during the week in Sayid Gharaib, Albu Nisan and Sur Nash. The situation in Salahaddin is much like Ninewa. IS still controls large swaths of the province, but has been losing areas and is now trying to gain back some of the momentum.

SOURCES

Alsumaria, "The killing five members of Daash in armed clashes south of Tikrit," 1/21/15
- "The outcome of the bombing in central Baquba a boy killed and 13 wounded," 1/15/15

Al Forat, "Anbar: ISF& volunteers completely liberate Albu Hayat from ISIL," 1/17/15
Al Forat, "ISIL terrorists execute 4 men of Jabour tribe in Nineveh," 1/15/15
- "Tikrit: ISF, volunteers entirely liberate Nibai area from ISIL," 1/15/15

Kurd Press, "IS shoots 60 Iraqi forces in Nainawa: PUK official tells Kurdpress," 1/20/15

Al Mada, "16 people injured in car bombing central Baquba," 1/15/15
- "Daash blows up six houses belonging to judges in Tal Afar," 1/15/15
- "Killing and wounding at least 13 people in a car bomb south of Baghdad," 1/19/15

Mamoun, Abdelhak, "Anbar police repels ISIS' deadliest attack in Ramadi," Iraqi News, 1/21/15

Mamuzini, Hazhar, "IS Hangs 13 Youths in Mosul For Watching Soccer Game," Bas News, 10/18/15
- “Peshmerga Forces Take Control of Mosul – Tel Afar Road,” Bas News, 1/22/15

Al Masalah, "A suicide car bomb blast in Tarmiya," 1/15/15

NINA, "/3/ people killed and /6/ others wounded in the east and south of Fallujah," 1/16/15
- "4 Security Elements Killed, 7 Others Injured In Clashes With Daash In Balad," 1/18/15
- "The IS elements blew up /11/ homes belonging to officers and volunteers in Nineveh police raining centers," 1/17/15
- "The IS executed five women in Mosul," 1/16/15
- "Two of awakening killed, 13 others wounded, including a police, in a suicide attack north-east of Ramadi," 1/20/15

Radio Free Iraq, "15 January 2015," Daily Updates from Anbar, 1/15/15
- "17 January 2015," Daily Updates from Iraq, 1/17/15
- "18 January 2015," Daily Updates from Anbar, 1/18/15
- "19 January 2015," Daily Updates from Anbar, 1/19/15
- "20 January 2015," Daily Updates from Anbar, 1/20/15

Al Rayy, "Martyrdom and wounding 21 police officers and tribal fighters in suicide bombing east of Ramadi," 1/20/15
- "Martyrdom and wounding a number of elements of the popular brigades coming from Karbala by a suicide attack in the area of Rahaliya," 1/16/15
- "Protection Force at Baiji refinery repel an attack by Daash and kill a number of them and burn two of their vehicles," 1/16/15

Sarhan, Amre, "Joint forces kill 16 ISIS elements southern Tikrit," Iraqi News, 1/15/15

Shafaq News, "Diyala police chief: Our forces besiege the terrorists north of Muqdadiyah," 1/21/15
- "ISIS controls Abu Risha's host place and a suicide bombing in Nikhaib," 1/20/15