Thursday, April 3, 2014

Musings On Iraq Security Report March 2014

Iraq saw a considerable increase in casualties in March 2014. While the number of attacks has remained relatively the same since January the number of dead and wounded reached their highest marks last month. That was largely due to an increase in fighting in Anbar and Salahaddin, which have become two hotbeds of insurgent activity. More importantly the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) is becoming bolder, and it along with the Naqshibandi and its Military Councils are moving into the areas surrounding the capital known as the Baghdad belts. The insurgents are establishing bases there, which are then used to launch attacks into the city of Baghdad and the south. It is only a matter of time before the bombings in Baghdad turn to street fighting.

The press reported 995 security incidents in March 2014. That averaged out to 32.0 attacks per day, which was slightly below February’s 33.6 per day and January’s 32.6. Still, the numbers were all relatively the same over the previous three months. What has changed is that the number of fatalities has steadily increased. In January there were 1,379, followed by 1,275 in February and 1,607 in March. Those averaged to 44.4 deaths per day in January, 45.5 in February, and 51.8 in March. The number of wounded has followed a similar pattern. There were 2,634 injured in January, 2,526 in February, and 2,898 in March for averages of 84.9, 90.2, and 93.4 per day respectively. Civilians have been the major victims accounting for 60.3% of the dead and 73.1% of the wounded so far this year.

Security Incidents In Iraq 2014

ISF & Sahwa
& Asayesh/
ISF & Sahwa
423 + 70 + 2
627 + 45
518 + 58 + 2
705 + 93 + 3
567 + 48 + 2
631 + 57 + 1
1,508 + 176 + 6
1,963 + 195 + 4

A major indicator of increased casualties is the use of car bombs. This is a specialty of ISIS, which according to the Institute for the Study of War has been able to establish car bomb factories in Anbar, northern Babil in Jurf al-Sakhr, the upper Diyala river valley, and the Zaab area of Salahaddin. In January there were 93 car bombs, 15 of which were used by suicide bombers, followed by 100 in February, 27 being suicide car bombs, and 98 in March, 25 of which were used by suicide bombers. These vehicles are launched in waves in Baghdad, which sees the vast majority of them. Often times they are coordinated with attacks across Iraq. For instance on March 6 there were eleven car bombs across Babil, Baghdad, Ninewa and Wasit leaving 47 dead and 100 wounded. The next day five were set off in Anbar, Baghdad, Ninewa and Salahaddin with 7 killed and 30 wounded, followed by eight in Anbar, Baghdad, and Salahaddin killing 40 and wounding a further 108 on March 15, ten on March 18 in Anbar, Babil, Baghdad, Salahaddin and Wasit with 24 dead and 63 injured, and five in Diyala, Salahaddin, and Kirkuk with 15 fatalities and 66 wounded on March 21. The deadliest single incident was on March 9 when a suicide car bomb was detonated in Hillah killing 50 and wounding 160. In total 347 died and 918 were wounded by car bombs in March. These incidents showed the strength and capabilities of ISIS. They are the only insurgent group that is capable of carrying out attacks across the length of the country, especially into southern Iraq, which saw its first wave of car bombs in several months in March. At the same time, these explosions don’t explain why there were more casualties last month.  

March 2014 Car Bombs In Iraq
Hit – Anbar
Ramadi – Anbar, Kirkuk – Tamim

MosulNinewa, Samarra – Salahaddin
Ramadi – Anbar, Shaab – Baghdad, Shula – Baghdad, Sadr City – Baghdad, Karrada – Baghdad
2 in Hillah – Babil, Iskandariya – Babil, Meshahda – Baghdad, Amil – Baghdad, NahdaBaghdad, KarradaBaghdad, Tarmiya – Baghdad, Ghaziliya – Baghdad, Baaj – Ninewa, Taj al-Din - Wasit
Outside Ramadi – Anbar, Albu Diab - Anbar, Ghaziliya – Baghdad, Baaj – Ninewa, Tuz Kharmato – Salahaddin
3 in RamadiAnbar, Qahira – Baghdad
HillahBabil, Tal Afar – Ninewa
Ramadi – Anbar, Habaniya - Anbar

Tikrit – Salahaddin
Hit – Anbar, AsriahSalahaddin
RawaAnbar, Nahda – Baghdad, Zayouna – Baghdad, Sadr City – Baghdad, South of MosulNinewa, Bashwana – Ninewa
Shula – Baghdad
Haditha – Anbar, Amin – Baghdad, Hurriya – Baghdad, Shula – Baghdad, Sadr City – Baghdad, Qahira – Baghdad, Amil – Baghdad, Tikrit – Salahaddin
West of Ramadi – Anbar, Hammam al-Alil – Ninewa, Mosul to Baghdad highway – Ninewa
Ramadi – Anbar
Hit – Anbar, 2 in HillahBabil, Haswa – Babil, Mahmudiya – Baghdad, Ghaziliya – Baghdad, Bab BaghdadKarbala,  Baiji – Salahaddin, Hay al-Sinai – Wasit, Jinsiya – Wasit
Mosul – Ninewa, Northeast of Mosul – Ninewa, Tuz Kharmato – Salahaddin
AdhimDiyala, Tikrit – Salahaddin
Road to Kirkuk – Diyala
Saidiya – Baghdad, 2 in Mosul - Ninewa
Shaab – Bahgdad, Saidiya – Baghdad, Tikrit – Salahaddin
MosulNinewa, Shirqat – Salahaddin
Adhamiya – Baghdad, Amiriya - Baghdad
Zawba – Anbar
RamadiAnbar, Dora - Baghdad, Abu Ghraib – Baghdad
Amiriya Fallujah – Anbar, Jurf al-Sakhr – Babil, MosulNinewa



The real cause of March being the deadliest month of 2014 was the fighting in Anbar and Salahaddin. There were 213 incidents in Anbar last month resulting in 343 killed and 622 wounded. That was almost double the number of dead seen in the previous two months, which was 184 each. Despite the provincial government’s claims Ramadi has seen the most fighting in recent weeks. It accounted for 71 of the incidents in March. That was followed by 42 incidents in Fallujah. However many of those were government artillery and mortar fire that killed 122 and wounded 400 civilians. That meant that the government was responsible for 35% of the deaths and 64% of the injuries in Anbar. Insurgents have also been active in the surrounding areas such as Haditha with 10 incidents, Hit and Garma with 9 each, and Amiriya Fallujah, Khalidiya, and Qaim with five each. The security strategy in Anbar appears to have largely failed. The army has mostly remained on the outskirts of Fallujah leaving fighting there to allied tribes and the police. In Ramadi the security forces have tried and failed to take the same neighborhoods such as 60th Street and Malab. At the same time the insurgents are carrying out running battles in the surrounding areas doing hit and runs on the ISF and tribes keeping them off balance. Salahaddin has been the other governorate, which has taken off with insurgent attacks recently. There were 166 attacks in January, 186 in February, and 181 in March. The difference was that deaths went from 235 in January to 272 in February and then jumped to 368 in March. March 4 saw the deadliest incident when ISIS stormed the city council building in Samarra with five suicide bombers, which resulted in 73 deaths and 53 wounded. Salahaddin is the home to several insurgent groups such as ISIS, Naqshibandi, and Ansar al-Sunna. They appear to be carrying out a two pronged strategy. One is to scare and intimidate the local security forces and government officials. The other is to terrify the general public. The ISF and Sahwa accounted for 145 of the dead and 179 of the wounded, while civilians were 223 of the killed and 284 of the injured. Militant operations were also across all parts of the governorate with 56 attacks in Tikrit, 34 in Shirqat, 20 in Baiji, 19 in Samarra, 17 in Tuz Kharmato, 6 in Sulaiman Bek, 5 in Balad, and in a variety of other locations. 

Violence By Province In Iraq March 2014

240 incidents
184 killed
487 wounded
173 incidents
184 killed
437 wounded
213 incidents
343 killed
622 wounded
23 incidents
8 killed
50 wounded
34 incidents
93 killed
207 wounded
38 incidents
115 killed
259 wounded
261 incidents
564 killed
1,200 wounded
218 incidents
390 killed
928 wounded
245 incidents
425 killed
1,004 wounded
4 incidents
3 killed
1 wounded
7 incidents
6 killed
7 incidents
7 killed
Dhi Qar
2 incidents
1 killed
1 wounded
1 incident
1 killed
4 wounded
1 incident
1 killed
70 incidents
156 killed
150 wounded
65 incidents
72 killed
138 wounded
71 incidents
113 killed
159 wounded
2 incidents
5 killed
5 wounded
1 incident
4 killed
15 wounded
3 incidents
2 killed
2 incidents
2 killed
1 incident
1 killed
1 incident
1 killed
185 incidents
183 killed
197 wounded
184 incidents
206 killed
277 wounded
180 incidents
192 killed
260 wounded
1 incident
1 killed
166 incidents
235 killed
389 wounded
186 incidents
272 killed
442 wounded
181 incidents
368 killed
463 wounded
50 incidents
37 killed
151 wounded
71 incidents
40 killed
85 wounded
52 incidents
29 killed
102 wounded
6 incidents
4 killed
8 wounded
2 incidents
2 killed
3 wounded
5 incidents
9 killed
14 wounded

Babil was another province that saw more insecurity in March. There were just 23 incidents there in January, going slightly up to 34 in February, and then 38 in March. However casualties went from 8 killed and 50 wounded in January to 93 dead and 207 injured in February to 115 fatalities and 259 wounded in March. Almost all of the violence is concentrated in the northern section of Babil where ISIS has been able to set up bases. Jurf al-Sakhr especially sees the vast majority of attacks. In February the security forces unsuccessfully tried to clear the area. In March ISIS launched a series of retaliatory attacks such as on March 6 when three car bombs went off in Hillah and Iskandariya that left 17 dead and 38 wounded. Then on March 9 a suicide car bomb in Hillah killed another 50 and wounded 160. Three more car bombs were used on March 18 in Hillah and Haswa. The security raid seemed to have backfired, and is now leading to more death and destruction in the province.

ISIS’s operations in northern Babil is part of the groups attempt to move into the Baghdad belts. It recently held a military parade in Abu Ghraib, which is only a few miles from the capital city. In 2006 the United States discovered a cache of what was then known as Al Qaeda in Iraq documents, which detailed its plans for the capital. That included establishing bases and supply networks in the surrounding provinces and areas of Baghdad governorate to launch operations into the city. That was a reason why 3 of the 5 Surge brigades in 2007 were sent to the Baghdad belts, because without breaking up those networks the capital could never be secured. ISIS appears to be following almost the same script now. It has gained freedom of operation in Anbar and across the Syrian border. It has virtual control over Mosul in Ninewa and the surrounding area. It is establishing bases in Diyala, Salahaddin, Babil, and now in Baghdad province itself. For now it is only carrying out car bombings, IEDs, and drive by shootings in that last governorate, but it is probably only a few months away from launching dedicated armed attacks within the capital city itself. When that starts it will open up the possibility for other insurgent groups to join it in assaulting Baghdad or increasing their operations in other areas because the ISF is so spread out it will leave large gaps in its coverage. That problem is already being seen. The only positive that can be drawn from the current situation is that the three provinces in Kurdistan and the eight in the south are largely untouched. Otherwise the center of the country is heading towards greater instability and violence over the coming months.


Agence France Presse, "Iraq attacks kill nine, one month before elections," 3/30/14
- "Iraq officials say bombings kill 12 people," 3/18/14
- "Iraq suicide bombing death toll rises to 50," 3/10/14
- "Seven dead in Baghdad area attacks," 3/14/14

AIN, "Car bomb goes off in Haditha," 3/15/14
- "Car bomb targets Anbar Operations Command," 3/7/14
- "Civilian killed, 2 others injured western Ramadi," 3/1/14
- "Urgent…8 IP Elements killed, wounded southern Mosul," 3/16/14
- "Urgent…12 Persons killed, wounded eastern Mosul," 3/26/14
- "Urgent…20 Persons Killed, wounded in Tikrit," 3/15/14
- "Urgent..Car bomb targets electoral center in Anbar," 3/7/14
- "Urgent…Human casualties due to Nahdha explosion hit 15 deaths, injuries," 3/6/14

Alsumaria, "14 killed, 59 injured in bombings Renaissance and the Karrada neighborhood and Baghdad's Amil," 3/6/14
- "The killing of an imam and injuring four people, the outcome of the explosion of a booby-trapped car in Saidiya south of Baghdad," 3/24/14

Associated Press, "Bombings, clashes in Iraq kill at least 42," 3/6/14
- "Suicide bomber uses Iraq police humvee in attack," 3/8/14

Aswat al-Iraq, "1 soldier killed, 3+ wounded south of Mosul," 3/13/14
- "4 persons killed, 26+ wounded in Touzkhormatoo," 3/7/14

Buratha News, "14 martyrs and 59 injured in bombings in Nahda and the Karrada neighborhoods in Baghdad's Amil," 3/6/14
- "The death of two people and a child by a car bomb in eastern Mosul," 3/24/14
- "The end of the events of Samarra, the martyrdom and wounding 125 people, mostly displaced people from Anbar," 3/4/14
- "Four Martyrs and six wounded, and the collapse of the bridge is part of a suicide bombing that targeted a gathering of army western Anbar," 3/13/14
-"Martyrdom and wounding 29 people in a car bombing in Tuz," 3/21/14
- "Wounding four civilians and a policeman in a car bombing in downtown Tikrit," 3/25/14

Al Forat, "2 injured policemen died, says Baiji Health Department," 3/12/14
- "4 policemen killed, 3 others injured in Baiji car bombing," 3/18/14
- "6 IA soldiers killed, injured in car bombing southern Mosul," 3/13/14
- "10 deaths, injuries in car bombing hits central Tikrit," 3/11/14
- "Car bomb explodes in eastern Mosul," 3/31/14
- "Car bomb goes off downtown Ramadi," 3/8/14
- "Sahwa leader's convoy targeted central Ramadi," 3/10/14
- "Security forces regain control over Salah al-Din PC entirely; 37 killed&injured," 3/4/14

Independent Press Agency, "Killing and injuring nine soldiers and a civilian by a roadside bomb north of Baghdad," 3/6/14

Iraq Times, "dead and wounded by a car bomb at a gathering of 27 army south of Ramadi," 3/8/14
- "The death of a policeman and wounding 12 in a car bombing north of Tikrit," 3/12/14
- "Martyrdom and wounding 10 elements of the army and police by a car bomb," 3/23/14
- "Martyrdom and wounding nine civilians by a car bomb east of Tikrit," 3/26/14
- "martyrs and wounded by a car bomb in western Baghdad's Ghazaliya," 3/7/14
- "martyrs and wounded by a car bomb near a popular market in the city of Adhamiya," 3/28/14
- "martyrs and wounded by a car bomb north of Kut," 3/18/14
- "martyrs and wounded in two car bombs targeting 30 families celebrating Nowruz festival in Kirkuk," 3/21/14
- "people dead and injured in the bombing of a bridge in Rawa, 39 which occurred yesterday in Anbar," 3/14/14
- "people were injured by a car bomb in Sadr City 9," 3/13/14

Al Jazeera, "Baghdad rocked by deadly car bombings," 3/15/14
- "Deaths in attack on Iraq police patrol," 3/30/14
- "Deaths in suicide bombing in Iraq," 3/9/14
- "Gunmen seize city council in Iraq's Samarra," 3/4/14
- "Iraqi capital hit by series of blasts," 3/5/14

Al Mada, "Council declares Babylon killing and wounding seven people simultaneous bombings amid Hilla," 3/18/14
- "Killed five people and wounded by a car bomb north east of Mosul," 3/20/14
- "Killing and injuring at least 11 people in two bombings, one of them a suicide bomber tried to storm a police station west of Mosul," 3/4/14
- "Killing and injuring six people, half of them soldiers in car bomb detonation in eastern Mosul," 3/31/14
- "Killing and injuring ten people in a second bombing in Sadr City in eastern Baghdad," 3/5/14
- "Killing and wounding 12 people in a car bomb south of Baghdad Saidiya," 3/25/14
-"Killing and wounding 12 people in a car bomb targeting a checkpoint south of the capital," 3/18/14
- "Killing and wounding 19 people and the destruction of a vital bridge in the center of Ramadi by a suicide bombing ," 3/30/14
- "Killing and wounding four members of the police in car bomb detonation in Mosul," 3/4/14
- "Killing and wounding seven people in bombing north of Baghdad," 3/25/14
- "Person injured by a roadside bomb near a primary school north of Kut," 3/6/14
- "Three killed in bomb detonated west of Mosul," 3/6/14

Mansoor, Peter, Surge, My Journey with General David Petraeus and the remaking of the Iraq War, Yale University Press, 2013

Al Masalah, "5 soldiers killed and wounded by a roadside bomb in Amiriyat Fallujah," 3/31/14
- "Killing 7 and injuring 10 roadside bombs north of Wasit," 3/18/14
- "Killing 20 civilians and wounding 67 with a series of explosions that rocked Baghdad," 3/15/14
- "Killing three soldiers and wounding 5 in suicide bombing that targeted a checkpoint in Ramadi," 3/16/14
- "Killing two soldiers and wounding eight in bomb explosion in eastern Mosul," 3/26/14

NINA, "/6/ soldiers killed, northwest of Hilla," 3/31/14
- "12 People Killed and Wounded in explosions in Babylon and Wasit," 3/18/14
- "13 Civilians Killed and Wounded in a Car Bomb in al-Ameen Area South of Baghdad," 3/15/14
- "15 people, including security elements killed and wounded, north of Baquba," 3/22/14
- "16/civilians wounded south of Kirkuk, and clashes near Hamrin Mountains," 3/21/14
- "Abortion of car bomb attack on the headquarters of the federal police south of Mosul," 3/13/14
- "BREAKING NEWS . 10, members of army killed and wounded in central Ramadi," 3/8/14
-"BREAKING NEWS. 17 people killed and wounded in a roadside car bomb explosion north of Karbala," 3/18/14
- "BREAKING NEWS. 33 civilians killed in a series of car bomb blasts in Baghdad," 3/5/14
- "Breaking news..A car bomb, an explosive device exploded alternately in central Tikrit," 3/21/14
- "Breaking News..A Car Driven by a Suicide Bomber Targeted an Army Force in Central Ramadi," 3/3/14
- "Breaking explosions resulted from a sticky and other explosive device and killed and wounded 13 civilians," 3/27/14
- "Breaking News..Seven Policemen Killed and Wounded in a Suicide Attack North of Ramadi," 3/7/14
- "BREAKING NEWS. Six members of security forces killed and wounded in center of Ramadi," 3/5/14
- "Breaking News..Two soldiers killed, four others wounded in a car bomb south east of Fallujah," 3/29/14
- "A car bomb explosion, east of Ramadi," 3/10/14
- "A car bomb explosion near the house of a coalition's leader west of Baghdad," 3/7/14
- "Car bomb goes off in Central Baghdad," 3/13/14
- "Car bomb kills three policemen, injures four others," 3/8/14
-"Four car bomb go off in Hilla," 3/6/14
- "The Number of Wounded in a Car Bomb Southeast of Kirkuk Rose to 20 Civilians," 3/3/14
- "A policeman killed and wounding five others, including two soldiers, west of Anbar," 3/12/14
- "Six civilians killed and wounded in a car bombing in Mosul," 3/24/14
- "A soldier killed and a child wounded in Mosul," 3/24/14
- "Three police killed, seven others wounded in a car bomb explosion in Baiji," 3/12/14
- "Two people injured, north east of Baquba," 3/21/14
- "Two soldiers wounded west of Anbar province," 3/18/14

Radio Nawa, "Wounding at least 12 civilians in a car bombing in downtown Tuz," 3/21/14

Al Rafidayn, "26 killed in the explosion of bombs and car bombs in Iraq, terrorism," 3/6/14

Al Rayy ,"The death of one soldier and wounding five others in a suicide bombing that targeted a gathering of the army in central Ramadi," 3/17/14
- "The death of two members of the Peshmerga north of Mosul," 3/20/14
- "Five people were injured in eastern Baghdad bombing," 3/13/14
- "Interior announces the death and injury of 29 people proceeds of the five car bombs in Wasit, Karbala, Babil," 3/18/14
- "Martyrdom and wounding 20 people double bombing in Tikrit," 3/22/14
- "Martyrdom and wounding 20 people in the proceeds of a bomb explosion in Sadr City," 3/15/14
- "Martyrdom and wounding four soldiers by a car bomb and foil a suicide bombing west of Mosul," 3/9/14
- "The martyrdom of two in suicide bombing targeting the Iraqi army in Baghdad," 3/30/14
- "Urgent…a car bomb explosion in Dora district of southern Baghdad," 3/30/14

Salaheddin, Sinan, "Separate Bombings in Iraq Kill at Least 20," Associated Press, 3/5/14

Yacoub, Sameer, "Iraq: Bombs Kill at Least 8 People in Baghdad," Associated Press, 3/13/14
- "Iraq Officials Say Bombings Kill 15 People," Associated Press, 3/18/14
- "Police: Iraq President’s Guard Kills Journalist," Associated Press, 3/22/14
- "Wave of Attacks Across Iraq Kills 28 People," Associated Press, 3/21/14

Xinhua, "Iraqi forces free hostages held in Iraq's Samarra," 3/4/14

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