Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Musings On Iraq Security Report April 2014


Insurgents ramped up their operations as April progressed in anticipation of Iraq’s parliamentary elections. The Iraqi Security Forces’ counter measures were effective in reducing the number of attacks when voting started on April 28. Still the month ended as tied for costliest of the year so far.

There were 999 security incidents in April 2014 in Iraq. That was basically the same as January’s 1,012, February’s 945, and March’s 996. For the year the average number of attacks per day has stayed steady with 32.6 in January, 33.7 in February, 32.1 in March, and 33.3 in April. April’s violence was spread across twelve of Iraq’s eighteen provinces. Baghdad had the most with 215. It has had more than 200 attacks per month since the beginning of the year. It was followed by Salahaddin with 204, the most so far in 2014. Ninewa was third with 186 in line with the preceding months, and Anbar was fourth with 181. Attacks there have gone up and down with 240 in January, 173 in February, and 213 in March. Babil has seen an increase in attacks recently. In January there were only 27 incidents there. In February the security forces tried to clear the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) out of the northern section of the province and failed. Since then the number of clashes has increased with 41 in February, 40 in March, and 49 in April. ISIS also launched car bombs in Maysan, Muthanna, and Wasit. The south remains largely untouched by terrorism however. Najaf for example has not seen a single attack this year, and Qadisiyah only 1 in January, Muthanna 2 overall, and Dhi Qar and Karbala 4 each. Basra has seen limited violence with only 34 incidents so far, but many of those appear to be local issues and not connected to the insurgency. Wasit is the only southern governorate to get touched by insurgents, and even then there’s only been 20 attacks there in the last four months.

While attacks have remained relatively stable the number of casualties has steadily increased. At the beginning of the year there were 1,379 killed, followed by 1,274 in February, 1,606 in March, and 1,456 in April for a total of 5,715 for the year. That averaged out to 44.4 deaths per day in January, 45.5 in February, 51.8 in March, and 48.5 in April. The number of wounded has seen a much steeper climb. There were 2,634 in January, 2,526 in February, 2,901 in March, and 2,905 in April for 10,966 overall. The averages show the jump in injured much more sharply with 94.9 injured per day in January, 90.2 in February, 93.5 in March, and 96.8 in April. Overall that made the last month tied with March for the most average casualties seen so far.

Insurgents have also changed tactics since the beginning of the year. For the first two months there were roughly the same number of shootings as bombings. In January there were 470 gunfire incidents and 514 bombings. In February there were 444 shootings and 466 bombs. Then in March militants started launching more bombings with 579 compared to 419 shootings, and then 581 bombs in April with only 374 shootings. In April that averaged out to 12.4 gunfire incidents and 19.3 bombings per day. Car bombs are by far the deadliest form of attack, but those have remained at the same level for the year with 78 in January, 73 in February and March each, and 75 in April. The same was true for suicide bombings until April. From January to March there were 43-45 per month, but then that jumped to 65 in April. That was because the security measures before the elections included banning vehicle traffic. The insurgents adapted by having suicide bombers go after voting centers since they couldn’t get any cars close enough. In Ninewa for example, there were 4 suicide attacks upon voting centers in Mosul on April 30, and another in Baiji, Salahaddin. The numbers are slightly misleading, because a single well placed car bomb or suicide attack can leave behind a huge human toll. The increasing use of explosives rather than small arms largely accounts for why deaths and injuries have gone up over the last two months.

The Iraqi forces were able to curtail insurgent operations by the end of April in time for the voting (AFP)

A more detailed breakdown of April showed that the insurgents picked up their operations with ever more costly results at the beginning of the month, but then were not able to maintain that level by the end. In the first week there were an average of 34.0 attacks per day, 37.0 deaths, and 78.5 wounded. The next week security incidents went down to 31.8, but were deadlier at 51.7 fatalities per day, and 92.2 injured. That reached a peak from April 15-21 when there were 35.8 incidents per day leading to 58.0 killed and 112.2 wounded. Then things changed as preparations for the elections were made and attacks dropped to 32.2 per day in the 3rd week with 49.5 dead and 106.2 wounded. For the last two days of the month that covered the general balloting there were 30.5 attacks, 41.0 deaths, and 89.5 wounded. The overall numbers are still too high for any country, but show that the government was able to curtail at least some of the militant’s activities.


Security Incidents In Iraq Jan-Apr 2014

Attacks
Killed
Wounded
Gunfire
Bombs
Car Bombs
Suicide Bombs
Jan
1,012
1,379
2,634
470
514
78
45
Feb
945
1,274
2,526
444
466
73
43
Mar
996
1,606
2,901
419
579
73
43
Apr
999
1,456
2,905
374
581
75
65
Total
3,952
5,715
10,966
1,707
2,140
299
196

Avg Security Incidents Per Day In Iraq Jan-Apr 2014

Attacks
Killed
Wounded
Gunfire
Bombs
Car Bombs
Suicide Bombs
Jan
32.6
44.4
94.9
15.1
16.5
2.5
1.4
Feb
33.7
45.5
90.2
15.8
16.6
2.6
1.5
Mar
32.1
51.8
93.5
13.5
18.6
2.3
1.3
Apr
33.3
48.5
96.8
12.4
19.3
2.5
2.1
Total
32.9
47.6
91.3
14.2
17.8
2.4
1.6

Security Incidents In Iraq By Province Jan-Apr 2014

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
Anbar
240 Incidents
184 Killed
487 Wounded
173 Incidents
184 Killed
437 Wounded
213 Incidents
343 Killed
627 Wounded
181 Incidents
271 Killed
555 Wounded
Babil
27 Incidents
11 Killed
51 Wounded
41 Incidents
110 Killed
260 Wounded
40 Incidents
117 Killed
269 Wounded
49 Incidents
89 Killed
197 Wounded
Baghdad
252 Incidents
557 Killed
1,187 Wounded
204 Incidents
363 Killed
851 Wounded
233 Incidents
384 Killed
947 Wounded
215 Incidents
424 Killed
924 Wounded
Basra
4 Incidents
3 Killed
1 Wounded
7 Incidents
6 Killed
7 Incidents
7 Killed
16 Incidents
15 Killed
1 Wounded
Dhi Qar
2 Incidents
1 Killed
1 Wounded
1 Incident
1 Killed
4 Wounded
1 Incident
1 Killed
-
Diyala
70 Incidents
156 Killed
150 Wounded
65 Incidents
72 Killed
138 Wounded
71 Incidents
113 Killed
159 Wounded
70 Incidents
117 Killed
233 Wounded
Karbala
-
2 Incidents
5 Killed
5 Wounded
1 Incident
4 Killed
15 Wounded
1 Incident
3 Killed
Maysan
3 Incidents
2 Killed
2 incidents
2 Killed
1 Incident
1 Killed
2 Incidents
6 Killed
17 Wounded
Muthanna
1 Incident
1 Killed
-
-
1 Incident
7 Killed
35 Wounded
Najaf
-
-
-
-
Ninewa
185 Incidents
183 Killed
197 Wounded
184 Incidents
206 Killed
277 Wounded
180 Incidents
192 Killed
260 Wounded
186 Incidents
243 Killed
358 Wounded
Qadisiyah
1 Incident
1 Killed
-
-
-
Salahaddin
172 Incidents
239 Killed
401 Wounded
193 Wounded
283 Killed
466 Wounded
192 Incidents
406 Killed
508 Wounded
204 Incidents
190 Killed
362 Wounded
Tamim
50 Incidents
37 Killed
151 Wounded
71 Incidents
40 Killed
85 Wounded
52 Incidents
29 Killed
102 Wounded
68 Incidents
70 Killed
176 Wounded
Wasit
6 Incidents
4 Killed
8 wounded
2 Incidents
2 Killed
3 Wounded
5 Incidents
9 Killed
14 Wounded
6 Incidents
21 Killed
47 Wounded
 
Security Incidents By Week Apr 2014
Week
Attacks
Deaths
Wounded
Avg
Attacks
Avg
Deaths
Avg
Wounded
Apr 1-7
238
259
550
34.0
37.0
78.5
Apr 8-14
223
362
646
31.8
51.7
92.2
Apr 15-21
251
406
786
35.8
58.0
112.2
Apr 22-28
226
347
744
32.2
49.5
106.2
Apr 29-30
61
82
179
30.5
41.0
89.5

The Iraqi Security Forces were able to keep the country relatively safe during the voting period at the end of April. The insurgents tried to get around the security measures and were able to carry off some bombings and mortar fire, but the election pretty much went off as planned. Unfortunately, the ISF has not proven capable of stopping much else by the insurgents, hence the climbing number of dead and wounded. During April there were several offensives launched in Babil, Salahaddin, and other provinces. The problem is that after these operations the ISF left the areas allowing the fighters to move right back in. The commitment of army and police to Anbar has also left large swaths of the country with little to no coverage, and thus allowed the armed factions to expand into new parts of Iraq. History is seemingly repeating itself with 2014 being strikingly similar to 2004 when the insurgency took off in Anbar, then marched towards Baghdad, while the government forces proved incapable of stemming the tide. The next step would be street fighting in Baghdad, which is the goal of several insurgent factions, and appears to be right around the corner.

SOURCES

Abdul-Zahra, Qassim, "Car Bombs in Baghdad, Iraqi Town Kill 34 People," Associated Press, 4/9/14

Al Forat, "Suicide bombing targets electoral center in Salah il-Din," 4/30/14
- "Wasit car bombing kills, injured 27 persons as initial count," 4/21/14

Iraq Times, "34 martyrs and wounded the outcome of the five explosions that hit the city of Kut," 4/9/14
- "A car bomb explosion north of Wasit 29 martyrs and wounded," 4/21/14

Al Mada, "Toll rises in suicide bombing to 22 dead and wounded," 4/30/14

Al Masalah, "3 killed and 39 injured by a roadside bombs north of Samawah," 4/20/14

NINA, "37 killed and wounded the toll of victims of Wasit explosions," 4/9/14
- "Army kills suicide bomber tried to enter a polling station east of Mosul," 4/30/14
- "Five people, including a policeman, killed, three others injured in a suicide bombing in north of Tikrit," 4/30/14
- "Three suicide bombers killed in Mosul," 4/30/14

Salaheddin, Sinan, "Iraq: Separate attacks kill at least 12 people," 4/20/14

4 comments:

Nicasso said...

Hi Joel,

Impressive work again. That is a massive amount of information to trawl through while working as a teacher (friends of mine working in primary schools usually push out 60 hour weeks).
I recorded 1600 deaths in April from about 700 incidents. On the number of incidents I am aware that I am only capturing about half of what goes on, but the high number of fatalities indicates that I am seeing the majority of effective attacks.
Your casualty count is similar to mine, which is reassuring as I thought something was seriously amiss when I looked at the UNAMI and IBC numbers, although I note that UNAMI does not include Anbar.

Regards

Nicasso

Joel Wing said...

Hi Nicasso,

People are obviously going to come up with different counts based upon their sources and what they include and don't. For instance if the ISF launch a security campaign and get into a gunfight with insurgents I don't count that as an attack. I do count the government shelling of Anbar's cities that lead to civilian casualties for example. I don't count insurgents either. Iraq Body Count only includes civilians and police, and not soldiers or insurgent. Iraq Body Count by the way is actually starting a project to go through Iraqi papers in Arabic soon, which lead to increases in their counts because they rely upon English language sources right now.

Volker said...

Thanks so much, Joel. Your blog is really the best source of information about the situation in Iraq. It is so difficult to find good analysis of the situation (and not only the numbers), so I am on regular basis (3- 4 times a week) on your page. Thanks a lot for your impressive and good work.
Berst regards,
Volker

Joel Wing said...

Volker

Thanks so much for reading and the kind words

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