Tuesday, January 6, 2015

2014 Deadliest Year In Iraq Since Civil War Period


Unsurprisingly 2014 ended as one of the deadliest years since the civil war period of 2005-2008 in Iraq. Violence was high in the first half of the year, and then exploded during the summer offensive. Fortunately, by the winter attacks were going down as the Iraqi forces rallied and started to retake lost territory.

Musings On Iraq counted 10,209 security incidents during the year. That averaged out to 27.9 per day. 2014 was a year of two halves however. From January to June there were an average of 31.8 attacks per day with over 900 incidents each month. In July there was 937, but then the numbers slowly began to drop. In the second half of the year the number of average attacks per day went down to 24.1. That was a sign that the insurgents had lost the initiative and had been thrown on the defense in several areas of the country.

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
2,880
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
206
510
NOV
593
1,831
3,035
Dec 1-7
137
323
476
Dec 8-14
156
233 + 166
444 + 1,113
Dec 15-21
133
377
340
Dec 22-28
161
558
432
Dec 29-31
91
117
233
DEC
678
1,774
3,038
2014
10,209
24,725
37,970


The center of the country witnessed the most violence as usual. (See Chart 1) Salahaddin had the highest number of attacks with 2,288, almost matched by Baghdad’s 2,278. After that Anbar had 1,912, Ninewa 1,390, Diyala 919, Babil 624, Kirkuk 573, Basra 119, Karbala 28, Wasit 26, Qadisiyah 24, Maysan 13, Dhi Qar 7, Najaf 5, Muthanna 2, and Irbil 1. Salahaddin was the base for several insurgent groups such as the Baathist Naqshibandi and the Islamic State. They were carrying out a concerted effort to undermine the security forces there at the start of the year, and then became one of the main battlefronts in Iraq after the summer. Baghdad has always been a favorite target of insurgents who were attempting to stoke sectarian tensions, and undermine the government. Anbar was where open fighting started at the very end of 2013. Ninewa was very similar to Salahaddin where insurgents focused upon Mosul and the surrounding areas going after the security forces, government officials, and the tribes to prepare for the summer. Diyala, Babil and Kirkuk had longtime militant bases in places like the Hamrin Mountains, Jurf al-Sakhr and Hawija, which were used to launch operations into the surrounding areas. Basra surprisingly had the sixth most attacks. IS launched some car bombs into the province, but there was a lot of other violent activities there likely done by gangs and militias. The rest of the south saw sporadic attacks, but were largely saved from the chaos going on in the rest of Iraq.


Musings On Iraq recorded 24,725 killed and 37,970 wounded. That was by far the highest amount for any organization tracking violence in Iraq. Iraq Body Count’s year end figure was 17,073. That included civilians, police, sahwa, and militiamen, but not the army or peshmerga. The United Nations had 12,282 deaths and 23,126 injured, while the Iraqi government reported, 15,538 fatalities and more than 22,000 wounded. Musings On Iraq uses Iraqi and international press reports, and is no way comprehensive. There are plenty of incidents that do not get covered. The Iraqi and Kurdish government also stopped reporting on Iraqi Security Force (ISF) and peshmerga losses when the summer offensive stared. Towards the end of the year however, the Peshmerga Ministry did release some figures on its casualties from after June.

The number of deaths by province largely followed the number of attacks in each. (See Chart 2) Salahaddin had 5,725 fatalities, Baghdad 5,160, Anbar 4,881, Diyala 2,130, Babil 1,507, 874 in Kirkuk, 200 in Karbala, 128 in Basra, 42 in Wasit, 18 in Najaf, 15 in Maysan, 10 in Irbil and Qadisiyah each, 8 in Muthanna, and 6 in Dhi Qar.


June was the deadliest month with 4,172. Deaths remained high for the following four months with an average of 2,414 deaths each. Then the figures dropped with 1,831 in November and 1,774 in December the lowest amount of the year. 

Civilians were the main casualties in Iraq. (See Chart 4 & 5) 17,098 died during the year, with another 26,590 wounded. The army and police had 6,152 deaths and 6,757 injured, the peshmerga 895 killed and 4,034 wounded, the Asayesh, 8 dead and 13 wounded, and the sahwa 570 killed and 576 injured. Again, these figures show the lack of reporting by government agencies for losses amongst the security forces. The difference between the number of peshmerga dead and wounded was more than four fold. Conversely, the numbers for the ISF’s fatalities and injured were almost the same. Usually there are twice or more injured as killed in wars pointing to a lack of information being shared by the authorities.


The ISF was a large cause of casualties with its indiscriminate shelling and air strikes. (See Chart 6 & 7) Most of this occurred in Anbar, and especially in Fallujah, which was taken by insurgents in December 2013. In that governorate 1,688 people were killed and 4,124 wounded by government artillery, and another 67 died and 124 were injured by aircraft. That accounted for 35% of the total dead and a whopping 61% of the wounded. Artillery was also used against civilians in Salahaddin, 90 killed and 104 wounded, to a lesser extent in Kirkuk, 6 dead and 9 wounded, and Babil, 3 dead and 12 injured. Air strikes were deployed more in Salahaddin, 176 fatalities and 132 wounded, and Ninewa, 140 dead and 194 injured, and Kirkuk, 76 dead and 116 wounded, along with Babil 39 dead and 6 injured, and Diyala, 7 fatalities. The Iraqi government was roundly criticized for these tactics, because much of it was indiscriminate and killing innocents. Prime Minister Haider Abadi twice said that these practices would end, but it never did and continues to the present day.


The U.S. led coalition and the Syrian Air Force also killed a number of people in Anbar and Ninewa from October to December. (See Chart 8) In total 55 died in Anbar and another 24 in Ninewa with 108 wounded and 13 injured in those two provinces respectively. In July, the Syrian government twice bombed targets along the Anbar border with 13 fatalities and 17 injured.

Vehicle borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) have been a major tool of the Islamic State and mark its rise and fall during the year. From January to May there were 91.6 car bombs per month. This was a sign that IS was preparing for its summer offensive. Surprisingly this type of attack declined in the following months with an average of 53.1 from June to December. In fact, by the end of the year, it appeared that IS’s networks were thoroughly disrupted as there were only 21 VBIEDs in December, the fewest since 2012 with only one car bomb wave lasting three days from December 9-11. A further sign that IS had lost its capabilities was the fact that southern Iraq, which had been a favorite target to stir sectarian divisions, was not attacked at all during November and December. Instead VBIEDs were increasingly used in military operations in Anbar and Salahaddin against the ISF.

Car Bomb Attacks In Iraq 2014
Month
# of Car Bombs
Dead
Wounded
Jan
94
353
1,000
Feb
104
310
938
Mar
96
389
931
Apr
79
337
859
May
85
298
706
Jun
58
265
877
Jul
42
259
585
Aug
58
261
733
Sep
60
346
882
Oct
74
599
1123
Nov
59
401
909
Dec
21
91
214
TOTAL
830
3,909
9,757

By the end of the year the insurgents continued to hold large swaths of central and northern Iraq. Most of Ninewa, Salahaddin, and Anbar, along with the southern section of Kirkuk, the top of Babil, and part of eastern Diyala remained under militant control. The Kurds were pushing down from northern Ninewa along the western edge having moved into Sinjar by December. They also cleared the northeast of Diyala in Jalawla and Sadiya with the help of militias. In Salahaddin the Iraqi forces, militias, and allied tribes had freed the Tuz Kharmato district in the west and was in the process of clearing the southern district of Balad. They had also moved into the northwestern Baiji district. In Babil the major IS base of Jurf al-Sakhr had been freed and the insurgents dispersed to the north. In Anbar however the ISF and tribes have consistently lost ground. By December the government forces had regained their initiative after being routed during the summer. The amount of territory to be regained however remained substantial.

SOURCES

Iraq Body Count

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, “Iraq Endures One Of Its Deadliest Years,” 1/1/15

UNAMI, “United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI),” UNAMI Facebook, 1/1/15

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