Monday, August 25, 2014

Large Drop In Fighting In Iraq 3rd Week of August, 2014


For the last two weeks of August 2014 there was a decided decline in the number of security incidents reported in the press. The third week of the month saw the fewest acts of violence and a corresponding drop in casualties. In Baghdad for example there was a large reduction in dead and wounded because there were hardly any car bombs, while Kirkuk saw hardly any attacks. This all point to the fighting in Iraq settling into a rough stalemate

From August 15-21, 2014 there were only 150 incidents mentioned in the media. This was the lowest of the year surpassing the previous nadir of 170 seen in the middle of June. Before that there were 265 incidents from August 1-7, and then 178 from August 8-14. Casualties have gone down as well. In the first week of the month there was a yearly high 951 killed due to heavy fighting and massacres by the Islamic State (IS). That went down to 709 the second week. The third week there was 348 deaths made up of 4 Sahwa, 17 Peshmerga, 44 members of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and 283 civilians. That was the lowest since 256 fatalities from May 15-21. The number of injured has gone up and down in August from 885 the first week to 1,152 the second week, the most of 2014, and then 499 the third week. That last figure was made up of 9 Sahwa, 17 Peshmerga, 95 ISF, and 378 civilians. The weekly numbers are always below the actual figures. Who knows how many people have been killed in insurgent held territories. Likewise Baghdad and Irbil have stopped openly reporting on the casualties for their forces since the fall of Mosul. Still the overall trend is that violence is going down in the middle of August, as there are fewer militant advances.

Security Incidents In Iraq Aug 1-21, 2014
Incidents
Dead
ISF
Sahwa
Peshmerga
Dead
Civilian Dead
Wounded
ISF
Sahwa
Peshmerga Wounded
Civilian Wounded
Gunfire
Bombs
Car Bombs
Suicide Bombers
265
951
126 ISF
19 Sahwa
56 Peshmerga
750
885
218 ISF
7 Sahwa
23 Peshmerga
637
124
104
17
7
178
709
26 ISF
10 Sahwa
217 Peshmerga
456
1,152
74 ISF
4 Sahwa
542 Peshmerga
532
84
106
17
25
150
348
44 ISF
4 Sahwa
17 Peshmerga
283
499
95 ISF
9 Sahwa
17 Peshmerga
378
70
62
7
4

Violence In Iraq 2014
Date
Incidents
Dead
Wounded
Jan 1-7
244
363
736
Jan 8-14
272
364
683
Jan 15-21
205
358
616
Jan 22-28
236
305
618
Jan 29-31
57
93
237
JAN
1,014
1,483
2,890
Feb 1-7
204
296
700
Feb 8-14
226
258
505
Feb 15-21
264
346
703
Feb 22-28
251
374
618
FEB
945
1,274
2,526
Mar 1-7
253
412
702
Mar 8-14
206
324
612
Mar 15-21
216
423
736
Mar 22-27
211
279
580
Mar 28-31
110
168
271
MAR
996
1,606
2,901
Apr 1-7
238
259
550
Apr 8-14
223
362
646
Apr 15-21
251
406
786
Apr 22-28
226
347
744
Apr 29-30
61
82
179
APR
999
1,456
2,905
May 1-7
198
246
483
May 8-14
257
469
752
May 15-21
183
256
426
May 22-28
204
407
817
May 29-31
63
90
132
MAY
905
1,468
2,610
Jun 1-7
224
588
1,021
Jun 8-14
227
658
887
Jun 15-21
170
729
564
Jun 22-28
170
720
775
Jun 29-30
56
127
236
JUN
877
2,822
3,483
Jul 1-7
200
511
622
Jul 8-14
211
577
625
Jul 15-21
225
398
1,000
Jul 22-28
223
549
801
Jul 29-31
65
162
230
JUL
924
2,197
3,278
Aug 1-8
265
951
885
Aug 9-14
178
709
1,152
Aug 15-21
150
348
499

Security Incidents In Iraq By Province Aug 15-21, 2014
Province
Security
Incidents
Dead
Wounded
Types of
Attack
Anbar
25
87
5 ISF
82 Civilians
151
3 ISF
5 Sahwa
143 Civilians
8 Shootings
2 IEDs
1 Car Bombs
Babil
13
16
3 ISF
13 Civilians
45
5 ISF
40 Civilians
6 Shootings
3 IEDs
3 Suicide Car Bombs
2 Sticky Bombs
Baghdad
36
65
11 ISF
54 Civilians
141
31 ISF
110 Civilians
16 Shootings
12 IEDs
2 Car Bombs
2 Sticky Bombs
1 Suicide Car Bombs
Basra
4
4
4 Civilians
-
4 Shootings
Diyala
17
36
11 ISF
16 Peshmerga
9 Civilians
23
3 ISF
10 Peshmerga
10 Civilians
10 Shootings
3 IEDs
Karbala
1
-
-
2 IEDs
Kirkuk
4
3
1 ISF
2 Civilians
11
1 ISF
10 Civilians
1 Shooting
4 IEDs
Ninewa
7
89
89 Civilians
-
3 Shootings
2 IEDs
Qadisiyah
2


2 IEDs
Salahaddin
41
48
13 ISF
4 Sahwa
1 Peshmerga
128
52 ISF
4 Sahwa
7 Peshmerga
22 Shootings
18 IEDs
3 Sticky Bombs


In the last month or so fighting in Anbar has been concentrated in two areas. On the government’s side it is attempting to clear Ramadi and the surrounding countryside. In the second week of August a new military offensive was started there. The security forces have said they have been successful in clearing the sector, but previous claims in Anbar have always been fleeting. For insurgents they continue to attack Haditha with its strategic dam. The ISF has been able to hold out despite being surrounded, and has started some attacks to relieve the pressure on the area. Finally 25 tribes met on August 15 calling for a new Sahwa, backed by Baghdad. Some were organized into a unit to defend Haditha. August 20 the Defense Ministry said it would accept 5,000 tribal fighters into the army, while the Interior Ministry would pay for 10,000 in a new Awakening. The sheikhs and Anbar officials are worried that the central government will repeat what it did before, which is to take in a few tribesmen as police and soldiers, while keeping the majority as irregulars that can be discarded in the future. The numbers by the Defense and Interior ministries show this is exactly what Baghdad is doing once again. The government needs to make a better effort to reach out and support these offers from the tribes if it wants to turn around security in the province, which has seen open fighting since January leading to 85% of it falling into insurgent hands.

In terms of reported violence there were 25 incidents in the 3rd week of August in Anbar, which was just about the same as the previous week’s 30. 87 people were killed and 151 were wounded. As usual most of these were the result of indiscriminate shelling by the government on Fallujah, Garma, and Rawa, which cost the lives of 69 civilians and 119 wounded.

Casualties From Government Shelling In Anbar Aug 1-21, 2014
Date
Location
Dead
Wounded
Aug 1
Fallujah
3
13
Aug 2
Fallujah
6
9

Garma
3
11
Aug 3
Fallujah
8
14
Aug 4
Fallujah
11
19
Aug 5
Fallujah
6
13

Garma
2
4
Aug 6
Fallujah
7
35

Garma
2
7
Aug 7
Fallujah
9
23
WK
TOTALS
-
57
148
Aug 8
Fallujah
4
7

Garma
3
7
Aug 9
Fallujah
3
8

Garma
1
9
Aug 10
Fallujah
7
12
Aug 11
-
-
-
Aug 12
Fallujah
6
10

Garma
3
5
Aug 13
Fallujah
2
8
Aug 14
-
-
-
WK
TOTALS
-
29
66
Aug 15
Fallujah
7
18

Garma
7
11
Aug 16
Fallujah
9
14
Aug 17
Fallujah
6
11

Garma
2
7
Aug 18
Fallujah
6
13

Garma
6
4
Aug 19
Fallujah
5
15

Garma
2
3
Aug 20
Fallujah
11
8

Garma
3
5

Rawa
-
2
Aug 21
Fallujah
5
8
WK
TOTALS
-
69
119

The situation in Babil has largely remained the same for 2014. The ISF and militias continue to launch operations to clear Jurf al-Sakhr with little affect. On August 17 new Babil Operations Command head General Abdul Hussein Mahmoud claimed that insurgents in the area were surrounded and that the security forces were fully in control of the situation. The next day the army suddenly withdrew from a section of Jurf al-Sakhr claiming it was a tactical withdrawal. The pattern has been for IS to either move into neighboring Anbar during such offensives or defend their bases. For the third week of August there were 13 incidents leading to 16 deaths and 45 wounded. IS was able to launch three suicide car bombings on Iskandiriya on August 18 and 19 leading to one death and 16 wounded.

Attacks and deaths in Baghdad saw a large decline from the second to third week of August. Security incidents went from 46 in August 8-14 to 36 in August 15-21, the number killed dropped from 108 to 65, and the injured decreased from 259 to 141. One of the main causes was that there was no car bomb wave in the third week unlike the previous two. There were only three such attacks, one on a bridge in Yusifiya on August 17 with no casualties, and then two on August 20 in Husseiniya and Palestine Street killing 11 and wounding 30. Bodies continued to be dumped in the capital as well. A total of 14 were found in seven different locations. Two were stabbed, but the rest were discovered bound or handcuffed and shot hallmarks of militias.


Car Bombs In Baghdad Aug 1-21, 2014
Date
Location
Dead
Wounded
Aug 1
Sadr City
16
25
Aug 2
-
-
-
Aug 3
-
-
-
Aug 4
-
-
-
Aug 5
-
-
-
Aug 6
Sadr City x2, Ur x2, New Baghdad x2
47
117
Aug 7
Kadhimiya
16
37
Aug 8
Sadr City
2
7
Aug 9
-
-
-
Aug 10
-
-
-
Aug 11
Diyala Bridge
4
8
Aug 12
Karrada & Zafaraniya
17
44
Aug 13
New Baghdad, Baya, Amil
18
43
Aug 14
-
-
-
Aug 15
-
-
-
Aug 16
-
-

Aug 17
Yusifiya
-
-
Aug 18
-
-
-
Aug 19
-
-
-
Aug 20
Husseiniya & Palestine St
11
30
Aug 21
-
-
-
Total
18
131
301


Bodies Dumped In Baghdad Aug 1-21, 2014
Date
Location
Bodies Found
Aug 1
-
-
Aug 2
-
-
Aug 3
-
-
Aug 4
Kadhimiya
2
Aug 5
East & ?
5
Aug 6
Zafaraniya & Obeidi
3
Aug 7
-
-
Aug 8
Rasheed
4
Aug 9
Obeidi & ? x2
8
Aug 10
Fudhliya
1
Aug 11


Aug 12
Abu Dishr
1
Aug 13


Aug 14


Aug 15


Aug 16
Ghaziliya
2
Aug 17
Sadr City, Zafaraniya, North
5
Aug 18


Aug 19


Aug 20
Shurta Rabia
1
Aug 21
Zayouna & ?
6
TOTAL
18
38

 
Kurdish forces continue to try to retake the Jalawla area of Diyala province. In early August the town fell to IS in an offensive that caught the Peshmerga off guard. Since then they have been reinforced with fighters from Turkey’s Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and are being supported by some Army air strikes as well. Together they claimed to have pushed the insurgents out of five villages in neighboring Sadiya, and one village in the Jalawla district. In the meantime IS was said to be blowing up mosques and other buildings in the area. The combined Kurdish fighters with central government support could bring together the necessary force to deal the insurgents another setback if they are able to retake Jalawla, which has historically been a hotbed for militant attacks. 

Kirkuk had hardly any incidents reported in the third week of August. There were only 4 in the press with 3 deaths and 11 wounded. Those were some of the lowest figures for the year. One of the leaders of the Obeidi tribe offered to help fight the insurgency if he received assistance from Baghdad and Irbil. Anwar al-Asi refused to pledge allegiance to IS in his village south of Kirkuk city, and was attacked for it forcing him to flee to Sulaymaniya. Other tribes might be fighting the militants already. This is another opportunity for the authorities to find local allies who will help them secure the province.

In Ninewa the Islamic State was dealt its first major loss since their summer offensive started when it lost Mosul Dam. Again combined Turkish, Syrian and Iraqi Kurds along with a unit of the Golden Division from the Iraqi army supported by American air strikes led to IS withdrawing from the facility on August 17. At the same time, on August 15 IS was able to take Kojo. It gave the Yazidi residents three days to convert to Islam, and when none did they were massacred with at least 84 killed. Like in Sinjar, the women of the village were taken away probably to become wives of the Islamist fighters. The initial losses in Ninewa has led to some soul searching amongst Kurds about the Peshmerga who had an image of invincibility before. In fact, they proved over stretched when they took over the disputed territories after the fall of Mosul, too lightly armed, and inexperienced having not had any serious fighting since the 1990s. The presence of foreign Kurdish fighters has also led to some political attacks by pro-Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) media sources claiming that the Turkish PKK and its Syrian People’s Protection Units (YPG) were trying to take over Sinjar and stopping military operations. The KDP has seen the PKK as a rival before and was trying unsuccessfully to usurp its strength in Syria before the fighting in Iraq started. The on-going crisis has not stopped these partisan attacks from occurring in the press. For the week there were only 7 incidents reported in Ninewa resulting in 89 killed, mostly the Yazidis from Kojo and no wounded. Again with all the clashes there the actual casualties were probably much higher.

Salahaddin remains a main battlefront. There were 41 attacks reported, the most of any province from August 15-21 with 48 deaths and 128 wounded. There was fighting all across the middle of the governorate in places like Dhuluiya, Samarra, Shirqat, Tuz Kharmato, Dujail, and Baiji. August 19 the ISF and militias made another ill conceived attempt on Tikrit that fell soon after Mosul, which failed again. The attacking force came in from three sides, but IEDs laid across the roads and heavy gunfire made them withdraw. Several local tribes are fighting insurgents in the province, but few are receiving government support. Tribes in Dujail called on Baghdad to arm them so that they could fight on August 17. The Jabour tribe has been battling militants from almost the beginning. Like in Anbar, the central authorities need to provide not only arms and supplies, but also guarantees to these tribesmen if they want to win the fight here.

Southern Iraq saw sporadic violence. There were four shootings in Basra leading to four deaths. Three of those were dumped bodies in Basra city. Two IEDs went off in Karbala and Qadisiyah respectively with no casualties. No one was held responsible for these attacks. They could have been the result of criminals, militias, inter Shiite disputes such as followers of Mohammed Hassani Sarkhi or other groups.

SOURCES

Agence France Presse, “Iraq jihadists destroy Shiite mosque, execute muezzin,” 8/15/14
- “Iraq Sunni Tribes Take Up Arms against Jihadists,” 8/15/14

AIN, “ISIL elements withdraw from Sa’diya villages,” 8/16/14

Alsumaria, "Found the body of a man shot and dumped north of Baghdad," 8/17/14
- "Killing and wounding 10 people, including women and children, in the fall of mortar shells in Fallujah," 8/21/14
- "Killing and wounding 19 people in the fall of mortar shells in Fallujah," 8/20/14
- "Killing and wounding 20 people including a woman and five children in the fall of mortar shells in Fallujah," 8/19/14
- “Source: tactical withdrawal of army troops from the north of Babylon Fadiliyah,” 8/18/14
- "Two unidentified bodies found in Baghdad," 8/20/14

Buratha News, “Clans south of Tikrit, calling on the government to arm them to defend the country and the people to repel Daash terrorist attacks,” 8/17/14
- “Defense and Interior agree on the appointment of 15 thousand volunteers from Anbar tribes,” 8/20/14
- "Found six unidentified bodies in eastern Baghdad," 8/21/14
- "A suicide bombing targeting a military checkpoint northern Babylon, without damage or casualties thankfully," 8/19/14

Fayaq, Nuwar, “PKK Wants to Form Sinjar Canton,” Bas News, 8/15/14

Al Forat, "2 suicide bombing attacks in northern Babel," 8/18/14
- “Peshmirga forces liberated Islahi village in Diyala from ISIL,” 8/17/14
- “Security forces liberate Shamiya district in Ramadi,” 8/17/14
- “Terrorists of ISIL defeated in Jurf al-Sakher,” 8/17/14

Haaretz, “Middle East updates/Kurdish forces retake Iraq’s largest dam,” 8/17/14

Iraq Times, "34 martyrs and injured in the explosion of a car bomb on Palestine Street in eastern Baghdad," 8/20/14
-"Martyrdom of two soldiers and wounding 12 others in the blowing up of a bridge north of Jurf al-Sakhr," 8/17/14

Al Mada, "Found the bodies of two unidentified men dumped stabbed to death in western Baghdad," 8/16/14
- "Found three unidentified bodies in eastern Baghdad," 8/17/14
- "Killing and injuring seven persons in sticky bomb detonation north of Baghdad," 8/20/14

Al Masalah, "Martyrdom of one civilian and wounding eight others in bombs in Alexandria, north of Babylon," 8/18/14

National Iraqi News Agency, “An army force and the sons of the tribes entered the northern neighborhood of al- Haqlaniyah district in Haditha,” 8/15/14
- "Unidentified body found in southeast of Baghdad," 8/17/14

Radio Free Iraq, “15 August 2014,” Daily Updates from Anbar,” 8/15/14
- "16 August 2014," Daily Updates from Anbar, 8/16/14
- "17 August 2014," Daily Updates from Anbar, 8/17/14
- "18 August 2014," Daily Updates from Anbar, 8/18/14
- “19 August 2014,” Daily Updates from Anbar, 8/19/14
- "20 August 2014," Daily Updates from Anbar, 8/20/14
- "21 August 2014," Daily Updates from Anbar, 8/21/14

Al Rayy, "Martyrdom and wounding 17 people in explosion of two car bombs in northern Babil," 8/18/14

Rudaw, “PKK Sets Conditions for Assistance and Military Missions on Mount Shingal,” 8/15/14

Shafaq News, “Army withdraws from Tikrit and loses its position,” 8/19/14

Sly, Liz, "Islamic State fighters kill dozens of Yazidi villagers," Washington Post, 8/16/14

Soguel, Dominique, “With Islamic State threatening region, can Iraq’s peshmerga turn the tide?” Christian Science Monitor, 8/18/14

Solomon, Erika and Dombey, Daniel, “PKK ‘terrorists’ crucial to fight against Isis,” Financial Times, 8/15/14

van den Toorn, Christine, “How the U.S.-favored Kurds Abandoned the Yazidis when ISIS Attacked,” Daily Beast, 8/17/14

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