Thursday, January 16, 2014

Southern Iraq Relatively Quite During December 2013

 
Security in southern Iraq in December 2013 was decidedly different from the rest of the year. First, there were very few attacks and casualties. Second, there were no mass casualty bombings, which has occurred every month since December 2012. The only constant was that Babil province remained a battlefield for insurgents. It appears outside of that governorate the militants were focusing their resources in other parts of the country.

There were very few reported security incidents in southern Iraq in December 2013. There were only 19 attacks in total. That was the second lowest amount for the year with only February with 12, having fewer. For the year there were an average of 26 attacks per month in that region of the country. As with every month with the exception of July, Babil was the center of insurgent activity with 11 attacks, followed by four in Wasit, three in Basra, and one in Karbala. Those led to 22 deaths, 14 of which were soldiers, and two were police. There were also 16 wounded. That was the fewest number of casualties for the year. Previously the lowest figures were seen in February when 25 died and 52 were wounded. The major difference between December and the other eleven months of 2013 was that there were no mass casualty bombings. While 18 bombs went off, ten of those were when ten houses were detonated in Babil’s Jurf al-Sakhr. The rest were small roadside bombs and such aimed at patrols by the security forces. Every month since December 2012, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) has carried out coordinated attacks usually involving car bombs across southern, central and northern Iraq. The goal was three fold, to show that ISIS could reach across the country, to undermine the government, and to ignite the sectarian war by targeting Shiites in the hope that they would become angered and strike back at Sunnis. It also marked ISIS’s return to major operations, and was the longest sustained one they carried out in years. Its end might mean that the group was simply loading up for another round of bombings in 2014 or that it is now focusing upon gaining and holding ground, which is a major goal of its current Soldiers’ Harvest campaign.


Reported Security Incidents In Southern Iraq 2013
Month
# Of Incidents
Province With Most Attacks
Killed
Wounded
Jan
22
Babil 14
46
129
Feb
12
Babil 9
25
52
Mar
21
Babil 12
59
156
Apr
29
Babil 15
52
155
May
21
Babil 12
38
123
Jun
25
Babil 17
38
136
Jul
41
Basra 13
77
210
Aug
38
Babil 27
41
178
Sep
33
Babil 22
118
74
Oct
226
Babil 13
67
89
Nov
29
Babil 14
40
102
Dec
19
Babil 12
22
16

 
The one mainstay of militant activity in December was that Babil had the most security incidents. Most of those were in the northern section of the province in places like Iskandiriya, Musayib, and Jurf al-Sakhr. The Institute for the Study of War believes that the north has become a base of the Islamic State, especially Jurf al-Sakhr. It postulates that this is a center for building car bombs to launch into Baghdad and southern Iraq. ISIS has re-established itself there, and now carries out regular attacks such as roadside bombs aimed at the police and army.


Reported Security Incidents In Babil Dec. 2013
Date
Location
Type of Attack
Killed
Wounded
Madain
Roadside Bomb
1
7
Hillah
IED




IED


Musayib
Sticky Bomb
1

Musayib
2 Rockets


Iskandiriya
Gunfire


12/25/13
?
Gunfire
1 Police

?
Gunfire


Iskandiriya
IED
2
4
Bomb 10 Homes
9 Soldiers


Roadside Bomb
4 Soldiers


Reported Security Incidents In Basra Dec. 2013
Date
Location
Type of Attack
Killed
Wounded
Rumaila
Roadside Bomb


Basra
Bomb


Basra
Gunfire
1 Soldier
1 Soldier

Reported Security Incidents In Karbala Dec. 2013
Date
Location
Type of Attack
Killed
Wounded
12/17/13
Karbala
4 Rockets



Reported Security Incidents In Wasit Dec. 2013
Date
Location
Type of Attack
Killed
Wounded
Al-Hay
Gunfire


Kut
Kidnapping/
Gunfire
1

Kut
Gunfire
1

Kut
Roadside Bomb
1 Police
4,
2 Police



Southern Iraq is a relatively quite part of the country. It has the second fewest attacks after Kurdistan. December was especially so, because it had very few security incidents, and the least amount of casualties of the year. It’s yet to be seen whether this was a temporary lull or whether the insurgency is changing its focus to other activities. The current fighting in Anbar can’t be the explanation, because that didn’t start until the very end of the year. Only time will tell whether the pressure is off the south or whether the Islamic State will pick up its operations there again in the coming months. Either way December was a good time for the south, which includes nine provinces and around 12 million people. It also contradicts the current image of the country that it is coming apart. The vast majority of violence is concentrated in the center of the country with the north and south largely kept out of it. The insurgency is definitely back, and the number of dead and wounded is going up, but more than half the country does not witness the carnage personally. That’s important to remember with all the western press talking about who lost Iraq or the country being on the brink.  

SOURCES

AIN, "2 IEDs exploded northwestern Hilla," 12/9/13
- "Chieftain survives assassination in Wasit," 12/1/13
- "Katyusha rockets hit Musayeb district," 12/17/13
- "MoI: Wasit explosion results 5 deaths, injuries," 12/26/13
- "Urgent…Armed clashes erupt north of Hilla," 12/22/13

Aswat al-Iraq, "1 person killed, 7+ wounded south of Baghdad," 12/5/13

Al Forat, "IED blast kills 4 of IA members north Babel," 12/31/13

Iraq Body Count

Iraq Times, "The death of one soldier and wounding another, fire from unidentified gunmen in central Basra," 12/28/13

Al-Mada, "Four Katyusha rockets fall on different areas in the city of Karbala," 12/17/13
- "Security forces clashed with gunmen from the Al Qaeda North Babylon and kill leaders from Abu Ghraib," 12/26/13

National Iraqi News Agency, "Bomb, targeting British security company, goes off in Basra," 12/8/13
- "BREAKING NEWS 6 Peresons killed, wounded in northern Babil province," 12/29/13
- "A civilian killed northof Hilla," 12/14/13
- "Lawyer assassinated in Kut," 12/11/13
- "Police find a kidnapped child body in Kut," 12/2/13
- "A stun bomb goes off in Basra," 12/21/13
- "Ten houses blown up in Hilla," 12/31/13
- "Two army officers and seven soldiers killed in Babylon," 12/31/13

No comments: