Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Violence And Casualties Remain At Low Level In Iraq 3rd Week of December 2014


Violence in Iraq has remained relatively stable for the last six weeks. Attacks have remained between 120-130 a week with one exception, while the number of dead and wounded have steadily declined. This is a result of the insurgency being put on the defensive and regrouping in many parts of the country. One sign of this change is that there have been fewer and fewer car bombs launched in Iraq. Anbar and Salahaddin are the exceptions with militants continuing to carry out major offensives there. This is a dramatic change from the first half of the year when insurgents had the initiative and were carrying out missions up and down the length of the country.

From December 15-21, 2014 there were 133 reported attacks. That was down from 156 the week before, but in line with the previous four full weeks when there were 137 from December 1-7, 138 from November 22-28, 134 from November 15-21, and 128 from November 8-14. During that period there has been an average of 19.6 attacks per day. That compared to June and July when there was an average of 30.1 incidents. Attacks have been going down since August and now have hit some of the lowest numbers seen during the year, which points to the changing security situation within Iraq. At the start of the year militants were ramping up their operations to prepare for a big summer push. Since then they have only had a few big gains, while steadily losing ground. Coalition air strikes have also been concentrated in certain areas limiting insurgent mobility.

For the third week of December there were 377 killed and 340 wounded. The former was made up of 20 members of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and 357 civilians, while the latter consisted of 32 ISF, 24 peshmerga, and 284 civilians. Baghdad led the way with 159 dead and 192 injured for the week, followed by 77 killed and 24 wounded in Ninewa, and 68 fatalities and 50 injured in Salahaddin. Just like attacks the number of fatalities has been steadily dropping since the summer. For December there has been an average of 44.4 people killed per day. That’s down from 56.2 per day in November, 75.7 per day in October, 72.5 in September, 91.4 in August, 74.1 in July, and 139.0 in June. In Total, Musings On Iraq has counted 9,957 attacks, 23,906 deaths, and 36,928 wounded in 2014.

Violence In Iraq By Week 2014
Date
Incidents
Dead
Wounded
Jan 1-7
244
363
733
Jan 8-14
272
364
676
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
211
306
706
Feb 8-14
229
258
505
Feb 15-21
264
347
703
Feb 22-28
251
374
617
FEB
955
1,285
2,531
Mar 1-7
252
412
702
Mar 8-14
205
323
610
Mar 15-21
216
423
736
Mar 22-27
211
279
580
Mar 28-31
108
169
261
MAR
992
1,606
2,889
Apr 1-7
238
259
550
Apr 8-14
224
362
646
Apr 15-21
241
406
805
Apr 22-28
226
347
744
Apr 29-30
61
82
179
APR
990
1,456
2,924
May 1-7
198
246
483
May 8-14
257
466
752
May 15-21
183
256
426
May 22-28
203
403
810
May 29-31
64
91
131
MAY
905
1,462
2,602
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
62
123
NOV
593
1,687
2,648
Dec 1-7
137
323
476
Dec 8-14
156
233 + 166
444 + 1,113
Dec 15-21
133
377
340
2014
9,957
23,906
36,928

Violence In Iraq By Province Dec 2014
Province
Dec 1-7
Dec. 8-14
Anbar
19 Incidents
84 Killed: 16 ISF, 68 Civilians
58 Wounded: 6 ISF, 52 Civilians
11 Shootings
1 IED
38 Incidents
79 Killed: 28 ISF, 51 Civilians
146 Wounded: 28 ISF, 118 Civilians
22 Shootings
1 IED
3 Mortar
5 Suicide Car Bombs
1 Car Bomb
Babil
5 Incidents
6 Killed: 2 ISF, 4 Civilians
20 Wounded: 4 ISF, 16 Civilians
4 IEDs
1 Car Bomb
2 Incidents
3 Killed: 1 ISF, 2 Civilians
10 Wounded: 2 ISF, 8 Civilians
2 IEDs
Baghdad
44 Incidents
97 Killed: 97 Civilians
262 Wounded: 7 ISF, 255 Civilians
11 Shootings
25 IEDs
1 Mortar
5 Sticky Bombs
2 Car Bombs
38 Incidents
49 Killed: 2 ISF, 47 Civilians
135 Wounded: 16 ISF, 119 Civilians
11 Shootings
18 IEDs
4 Stick Bombs
1 Mortar
3 Rockets
Basra
1 Incident
2 Stun Bombs
1 Incident
Diyala
8 Incidents
8 Killed: 2 Peshmerga, 6 Civilians
10 Wounded: 6 ISF, 4 Civilians
6 Shootings
2 IEDs
18 Incidents
18 Killed: 3 ISF, 1 Sahwa, 1 Peshmerga, 13 Civilians
28 Wounded: 1 ISF, 2 Peshmerga, 25 Civilians
6 Shootings
1 IED
1 Suicide Bomber
3 Mortar
Kirkuk
6 Incidents
18 Killed: 18 Civilians
22 Wounded: 22 Civilians
1 Shooting
3 Mortar
1 Suicide Car Bomb
9 Incidents
7 Killed: 7 Civilians
12 Wounded: 12 Civilians
3 Shootings
50 IEDs
1 Sticky Bomb
1 Mortar
Ninewa
13 Incidents
15 Killed: 1 ISF, 4 Peshmerga, 10 Civilians
6 Shootings
6 IEDs
8 Incidents
7 Killed: 2 ISF, 5 Civilians
5 Wounded: 1 Peshmerga, 4 Civilians
3 Shootings
4 IEDs
Salahaddin
41 Incidents
95 Killed: 22 ISF, 1 Sahwa, 72 Civilians
104 Wounded: 4 ISF, 100 Civilians
24 Shootings
31 IEDs
3 Mortar
1 Suicide Bomber
1 Suicide Car Bomb
40 Incidents
69 Killed: 20 ISF, 49 Civilians
104 Wounded: 25 ISF, 79 Civilians
18 Shootings
11 IEDs
10 Mortar
3 Rockets
2 Suicide Car Bombs
Province
Dec 15-21

Anbar
22 Incidents
38 Killed: 5 ISF, 33 Civilians
28 Wounded: 5 ISF, 23 Civilians
18 Shootings

Babil
8 Incidents
22 Killed: 22 Civilians
27 Wounded: 2 ISF, 25 Civilians
2 Shootings
3 IEDs
1 Sticky Bomb
1 Car Bob
1 Mortar

Baghdad
51 Incidents
159 Killed: 8 ISF, 151 Civilians
192 Wounded: 18 ISF, 174 Civilians
14 Shootings
24 IEDs
5 Sticky Bombs
1 Car Bomb
2 Mortar
1 Rocket
1 Grenade

Basra
1 Incident
1 Wounded: 1 Civilian
1 Shooting

Diyala
10 Incidents
12 Killed: 3 ISF, 9 Civilians
18 Wounded: 1 ISF, 17 Civilians
6 Shootings
2 IEDs
3 Mortar

Kirkuk
3 Incidents
1 Killed: 1 Civilian
1 IED

Ninewa
7 Incidents
77 Killed: 77 Civilians
24 Wounded: 24 Peshmerga
5 Shootings
3 IEDs
1 Car Bomb

Salahaddin
31 Incidents
68 Killed: 4 ISF, 64 Civilians
50 Wounded: 6 ISF, 44 Civilians
19 Shootings
63 IEDs
1 Suicide Bomber
1 Suicide Car Bomb
1 Mortar


Car Bomb Attacks In Iraq Dec 2014
Date
Location
Dead
Wounded
Dec 1



Dec 2
Mahmudiya, Babil

1
Dec 3



Dec 4
Shaab & Sadr City, Baghdad
Shorja, Kirkuk
39
97
Dec 5



Dec 6



Dec 7
Salman, Salahaddin
9
17
1st Wk Totals
5
48
115
Dec 8



Dec 9
Nikhaib, Anbar


Dec 10
Ramadi, Anbar
1
1
Dec 11
Ramadi, Anbar
Dijla & Mutasim, Salahaddin
12
25
Dec 12



Dec 13
Haditha & Ramadi, Anbar
15
33
Dec 14



2nd Wk Totals
7
28
59
Dec 15



Dec 16



Dec 17



Dec 18
Mahmuidya, Babil
Husseiniya, Baghdad
10
25
Dec 19
Samarra, Salahaddin
2
5
Dec 20



Dec 21
Makhmour, Ninewa

4
3rd Wk Totals
4
12
34

There has been a decided decline in the number of vehicle borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) deployed by the Islamic State (IS) in December. There were five the first week of the month, seven the second week, and four in the third. In comparison there were 59 in November and 74 in October. Another difference from previous months is that there has only been one car bomb wave in December from December 9 to 11. Before that there was a VBIED wave every week. IS has plenty of explosives from all the stocks it captured during the summer, so supply is not an issue. Rather it appears that it has lost some of its long time bases such as Jurf a-Sakhr, which might have disrupted its networks and hence led to the current drop.

One place where the insurgents are still on the offensive is in Anbar. Attacks there for the week have been concentrated on three major cities. First Baghdadi and Al-Assad Air Base next by were relentlessly assaulted throughout the week. On December 14, the ISF claimed it had broken the siege there, but there was no let up in fighting. The next day for instance, IS came in from three sides and moved into parts of the town, but were stopped by coalition air strikes. Radio Free Iraq also said that in fact the town was still surrounded despite the announcement the day before. December 20 four villages in the area were cleared however. There were also battles in Ramadi from December 15-19. Next, there were three attempts upon Haditha, which is home to a major dam that IS has focused upon for quite some time now. Sheikh Gazi al-Jigaifi was quoted in Iraq Oil Report as saying that IS had brought in fighters from the Syrian border region and heavy weapons to make another attempt on the city. Finally, on December 15, IS surrounded 5,000 Federal Police and tribal fighters in Wafa near Ramadi. They were eventually forced to withdraw from the town when they ran out of ammunition. This was used as another example by local sheikhs of how Baghdad has been neglecting them by not sending them weapons and supplies they have continuously asked for to battle militants. These claims were supported by the security committee in parliament, which said that the pro-government forces were only capable of defensive operations in the province due to a lack of equipment. December 21, the ISF and tribes retook Wafa showing the back and forth nature of much of the conflict in the province. On the other hand, the long awaited government offensive to retake Hit began on December 11, but has shown no real progress so far. Overall, Anbar is not a priority for Baghdad right now. It is much more concerned with places like Salahaddin, and has sent much of its men and material there rather than to the west. The reasons are many. First, Anbar is overwhelmingly Sunni, and having a combination of ISF and militias retake towns there as has happened in other parts of the country would be much more difficult to swallow by locals although Shiite armed groups have been active there since January. Second, many of the tribes now fighting the Islamic State were with the insurgency earlier in the year. The Albu Nimr for instance, which saw hundreds of its members executed by IS recently was fighting the government back in January, but switched sides when the Islamists became the dominant force in the governorate. That has made the government weary of giving the sheikhs the guns that they have requested out of fear that they might be turned back on the center sometime in the future.

During the week Reuters ran an interesting piece documenting the government, militias, and insurgents’ attempts at the sectarian cleansing of the Baghdad belts area. It quoted a deputy commander in the ISF in Abu Ghraib in western Baghdad province who said that everyone in the area was considered a member of IS. As a result of this attitude the ISF was shelling and bombing towns, while militias were destroying homes to drive people out. The Islamic State has been no less relentless in blowing up houses of members of the security forces and tribes that oppose it. Combined these tactics have displaced approximately 83,000 people, mostly Sunni from the belts area according to the International Rescue Committee. This is a repeat of the previous civil war from 2005-2008 when insurgents, government forces and militias carried out a relentless war of sectarian cleansing throughout central Iraq.

Although the number of incidents in Diyala remains relatively low there is a concerted battle for control of the governorate. During the third week of December Muqtadiya in the center of the province was a continued target of militants who hit it with indirect fire from mortars for several days. IS also seized control of the Rose River, which threatens the water supply of Baladrooz and around 150,000 people. Previously, insurgents had taken control of several dams in a water war within Diyala. The eastern section of the governorate is said to be firmly under militant control. In response, the ISF launched an operation in Sensl and Arab Jabour on December 17, two long time insurgent bases. Militias were also trying to clear the road from Khalis in Diyala to Samarra in Salahaddin under the supervision of Badr leader Hadi Ameri who is a Diyala native. Shiite armed groups were also accused of kidnapping and assassinating two councilmen from Bani Saad who were tortured and found shot in the head. Violence is way down in the governorate from the beginning of the year, but these events showed that the conflict in the area was far from over.

The Kurdish peshmerga and Iraqi army continued to make major pushes in Ninewa. On December 17 the Kurds freed eight towns in the Zummar area with the support of coalition air strikes. This was the start of a peshmerga drive on Mount Sinjar, which had been surrounded by IS for weeks now. The next day they broke through to the mountain, and entered Sinjar itself on December 20. Not to be outdone, the Iraqi army began an attack upon Tal Afar in the far west of the province that day. Tal Afar is a strategic town along the Syrian border that has traditionally been used as a transit point for insurgents to move back and forth between the two countries. After these setbacks there were reports that IS executed several of its fighters for abandoning their posts, which has been matched by other stories of declining morale in Syria as well. Finally, in the aftermath of clearing parts of the Sinjar area Kurdish forces found a mass grave with 70 Yazidi bodies in it executed by the Islamists. These types of sites have been discovered throughout Iraq after militants have been pushed out, and more are going to be found in the future.

Pro- and anti-government forces have continued to go back and forth in Salahaddin. The ISF and militias launched an operation in Balad in the south on December 15. Balad is important to maintain supply routes between central Salahaddin and Baghdad. Insurgents on the other hand, were able to gain control of Baiji after the government claimed it was under its control. The ISF were forced to withdraw from the center of the town to the south, because they were running out of ammunition in the face of IS attacks. On December 20, the ISF moved back into the downtown area, but fighting was still on gong by the end of the week. Militants were also able to launch operations in places like Mutasim and Ishaqi. Members of the security forces have complained about the spread and extent of militant attacks in the province, which have stretched ISF resources. This is despite the insurgents having lost ground in the province.

SOURCES

Abdulrazaq, Hawar, “EXCLUSIVE Video… Peshmerga Closes in on Sinjar,” Bas News, 12/17/14

AIN, “35 ISIL terrorists killed southern Tikrit,” 12/18/14
- “Peshmerga liberates 3 towns of northwestern Mosul,” 12/17/14-

Alsumaria, “Security forces regain control of the main street in Baiji,” 12/20/14
- “Tamimi: Daash cut a major river in Baquba, believes the water serves more than 150 000 people,” 12/20/14
- “The withdrawal of security forces from the center of Baiji to the south,” 12/18/14

Bas News, “Peshmerga Launches Three-Pronged Attack on Sinjar,” 12/20/14

Bennett, Dalton, “Iraqi Kurds push into contested northern town,” Associated Press, 12/21/14

Al Forat, “4 areas liberated of ISIL in Samarra city,” 12/21/14
- “ISF declares liberating Albo-Sewof area of ISIL,” 12/16/14
- “ISF declares liberating Wafa’a area of ISIL,” 12/21/14
- "Scores of terrorists killed in west of Iraq," 12/15/14
- “Wide security operation conducted to liberate Balad district,” 12/15/14

Habib, Mustafa, “Low Supplies, Political Disputes In Anbar: Not Long Now Before Extremists Take Over,” Niqash, 12/18/14

Iraq Times, "Martyrdom and wounding seven police recruits by tank bomb explosion in Samarra," 12/19/14
- "Ten martyrs and injured toll car bomb explosion south of Baghdad," 12/18/14

Al Mada, “Popular crowd proceed with military campaign to link Diyala with Samarra sources confirm: the work is done under the supervision of Ameri,” 12/19/14
- “Security Committee: coalition will not break in Anbar…and volunteers waiting arms,” 12/21/14

Al Masalah, “Broad attack Iraqi forces to liberate the towns of Yathrib,” 12/19/14

Naji, Jamal and Van Heuvelen, Ben, “Anbar overwhelmed by insurgent attacks,” Iraq Oil Report, 12/18/14

NINA, “/4/ Villages near al-Bahgdadi western Anbar,” 12/20/14
- "/9/ Elements of the IS killed in clashes with security forces south of Tikrit," 12/14/14
- "/16/ Elements of the popular mobilization killed and wounded in clashes with the IS elements in Tekrit," 12/15/14
- “Daash surround a federal police regiment and mobilized fighters west of Ramadi,” 12/15/14
- “Four elements of Daash killed in northeast Baquba,” 12/17/14
- “Liberation of Aldolab county northwest of Heet,” 12/15/14
- “Peshmerga liberated /8/ villages south of Sinjar and closed a road to supply the IS,” 12/17/14
- “Security Force Lift The Siege On Baghdadi Area in Western Anbar,” 12/14/14

Parker, Ned and Rasheed, Ahmed, “Special Report: Inside Iraq’s ‘killing zones,’” Reuters, 12/17/14

Radio Free Iraq, “15 December 2014,” Daily Updates from Anbar, 12/15/14
- “16 December 2014,” Daily Updates from Anbar, 12/16/14
- “20 December 2014,” Daily Updates from Anbar, 12/20/14

Radio Nawa, "Discovery of a mass grave containing 70 bodies of executed Yazidis by Daash in Sinjar," 12/20/14

Al Rayy, “A joint force of the army and the Peshmerga waging a massive offensive on Tal Afar to recover it form Daash,” 12/20/14
- “Nine Daash members killed in security operation southeast of Fallujah,” 12/17/14
- “Salahuddin operations: security forces imposed control fully over all of Baiji,” 12/16/14

Reuters, “Two local Iraqi officials killed execution style after kidnap,” 12/16/14

Rudaw, "Car bomb near Makhmour front wounds four Peshmerga," 12/21/14
- “Kurdish official: ISIS executed own militants to stop more desertions,” 12/21/14
- “Peshmerga retake Sinune, tighten noose around ISIS,” 12/19/14

Sadiq, Hoshmand, “Peshmerga Forces Enter Sinjar Town,” Bas News, 12/20/14

Salaheddin, Sinan, "Iraq PM drops lawsuits against journalists," Associated Press, 12/18/14

Al-Salhy, Suadad, “Iraqi army to raid ISIL fighters’ ‘hub’,” Al Jazeera, 12/17/14

Shafaq News, "Fighting renewed in the liberated areas north of Tikrit," 12/15/14
- “Iraqi army and Peshmerga free villages of Tal Afar,” 12/21/14
- “Peshmarga liberate Tal al-Ward villages in Kirkuk after expelling ISIS terrorists,” 12/15/14
- “Seven villages south of Tikrit liberated , army moves slowly toward Yathrib center,” 12/21/14

Shafiq, Mohammed, “Brigade’s commander, Army free four areas and killed 30 Daash south of Tikrit,” Alsumaria, 12/20/14

Solomon, Erika, “Iraqi Kurds retake besieged Mt Sinjar,” Financial Times, 12/18/14
- “Isis morale falls as momentum slows and casualties mount,” Financial Times, 12/19/14

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