Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Continued Heavy Fighting In Iraq 2nd Week of May 2015


There was more heavy fighting, and an uptick in terrorist attacks in Iraq during the second week of May 2015. In Anbar the government continued to try to gain back territory it lost last month. The battle for control of the Baiji refinery was on going in Salahaddin, while in Baghdad and Diyala there were mass casualty bombings. The Islamic State looks to be trying to counter attack in selected areas and launching more terrorist bombings to make up for its recent losses.

There were 154 attacks reported in the media from May 8-14, 2015. That was the exact same amount as the week before. The actual numbers are always higher. That averaged out to 22.0 attacks per day, which was on par with April’s 21.1. Baghdad continued to be the most violent with 46 incidents. Anbar was next with 36, Salahaddin had 22, Diyala 18, Babil 8, Kirkuk 7, and Najaf 1.

Those attacks led to 419 dead and 549 wounded. The former was made up of four peshmerga, six sahwa, 9 Hashd al-Shaabi, 91 members of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), and 310 civilians. The latter consisted of seven peshmerga, 20 Hashd, 28 sahwa, 110 ISF, and 384 civilians. Salahaddin was the deadliest province with 113 fatalities, followed by 99 in Baghdad, 89 in Diyala, 74 in Anbar, 26 in Ninewa, 13 in Kirkuk, five in Babil, and one in Najaf. Again, the real casualty figures are likely much more than what gets into the press.

Violence In Iraq By Week 2015
Date
Incidents
Dead
Wounded
Jan 1-7
184
434
464
Jan 8-14
170
730
493
Jan 15-21
182
390
515
Jan 22-28
189
466
894
Jan 29-31
90
288
529
JAN
815
2,308
2,895
Feb 1-7
155
380
688
Feb 8-14
170
406
559
Feb 15-21
165
573
364
Feb 22-28
165
371
687 + 386
FEB
655
1,730
2,683
Mar 1-7
172
372
587
Mar 8-14
133
348
656
Mar 15-21
142
1,299
503
Mar 22-28
170
235
406
Mar 29-31
72
205
219
MAR
689
2,459 + 4
2,371 + 150
Apr 1-7
121
212
422
Apr 8-14
133
626
525
Apr 15-21
169
722
714
Apr 22-28
160
483
483
Apr 29-30
50
162 + 7
182 + 299
APR
633
2,212
2,625
May 1-7
154
626
450
May 8-14
154
419
549

Violence In Iraq By Province May 2015
Province
May 1-7
May 8-14
Anbar
34 Incidents
75 Killed: 21 ISF, 30 Hashd, 24 Civilians
103 Wounded: 54 ISF, 49 Civilians
15 Shootings
19 IEDs
1 Suicide Bomber
2 Suicide Car Bombs
2 Mortars
2 Rockets
36 Incidents
74 Killed: 16 ISF, 2 Sahwa, 9 Hashd, 47 Civilians
176 Wounded: 62 ISF, 7 Hashd, 26 Sahwa, 81 Civilians
26 Shootings
14 Suicide Car Bombs
4 Mortars
Babil
-
8 Incidents
5 Killed: 5 Civilians
20 Wounded: 5 Hashd, 15 Civilians
1 Shooting
3 IEDs
2 Sticky Bombs
1 Sound Bomb
Baghdad
68 Incidents
105 Killed: 3 ISF, 1 Sahwa, 101 Civilians
234 Wounded: 7 ISF, 5 Sahwa, 222 Civilians
28 Shootings
28 IEDs
4 Sticky Bombs
1 Suicide Car Bomb
2 Car Bombs
1 Rockets
46 Incidents
99 Killed: 2 ISF, 3 Sahwa, 94 Civilians
218 Wounded: 9 ISF, 2 Sahwa, 207 Civilians
15 Shootings
22 IEDs
1 Sticky Bomb
1 Suicide Car Bomb
3 Car Bombs
1 Mortar
Basra
1 Incident
1 Shooting
-
Diyala
9 Incidents
23 Killed: 3 ISF, 1 Asayesh, 19 Civilians
23 Wounded: 8 ISF, 3 Asayesh, 12 Civilians
4 Shootings
2 IEDs
1 Sticky Bomb
18 Incidents
89 Killed: 10 ISF, 1 Sahwa, 78 Civilians
66 Wounded: 7 ISF, 59 Civilians
7 Shootings
5 IEDs
1 Suicide Bomber
2 Suicide Car Bombs
Kirkuk
9 Incidents
10 Killed: 1 Peshmerga, 1 Hashd, 8 Civilians
17 Wounded: 4 Peshmerga, 13 Civilians
4 Shootings
3 IEDs
1 Mortar
7 Incidents
13 Killed: 4 Peshmerga, 9 Civilians
6 Wounded: 5 Peshmerga, 1 Civilian
4 Shootings
1 IED
Ninewa
11 Incidents
342 Killed: 324 Civilians
5 Shootings
25 IEDs
17 Incidents
26 Killed: 2 ISF, 24 Civilians
2 Wounded: 2 Peshmerga
8 Shootings
20 IEDs
1 Sticky Bomb
Salahaddin
22 Incidents
89 Killed: 79 ISF, 8 Hashd, 2 Civilians
73 Wounded: 54 ISF, 10 Hashd, 9 Civilians
22 Incidents
113 Killed: 61 ISF, 52 Civilians
61 Wounded: 32 ISF, 8 Hashd, 21 Civilians
13 Shootings
1 IED
1 Suicide Car Bomb
1 Car Bomb
1 Mortar

Car Bombs In Iraq May 2015
Date
Location
Dead
Wounded
May 1



May 2
Garma, Anbar
Karrada x2, Baghdad
29
66
May 3



May 4
Baiji Refinery, Salahaddin
3
5
May 5
Garma, Anbar
Karrada, Baghdad
6
13
May 6



May 7
Baiji x2, Dour, Hamrin x2, Salahaddin
57
39
Totals
11
95
123
May 8
Baladrooz & Kanaan, Diyala
22
59
May 9
Karrada, Baghdad
8
30
May 10
Fallujah x3, Anbar
Shaab, Baghdad
Taji & Tarmiya, Salahaddin
23
26
May 11



May 12
Sadoun St & Tahrir Sq, Baghdad
14
37
May 13



May 14
Dulab x9 & Jubba x2, Anbar
6
54
Totals
22
73
206

The Islamic State has been picking up its vehicle borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) and the second week of May was no exception. There were 22 car bombs during the week, double the amount from the previous week. There were 14 successful VBIEDs in Anbar alone with three used in fighting outside of Fallujah on May 10, and then 11 in Dulab and Jubba on May 14. There were four in Baghdad, two of which targeted pilgrims heading towards Kadhimiya for the Imam Kadhim shrine. Finally, Diyala witnessed two mass casualty bombings as well against mosques there. In total, 73 people were killed and 206 injured from these attacks.

In the second week of May government forces continued their drive to retake lost territory in central Anbar. On May 8 central Ramadi was declared secure. Two days later most of Garma was secured, and there were sweeps through Albu Faraj, eastern Sufiya, Thar Thar, and Habaniya Lake. At the end of the week new operations were being launched in Dulab and Baghdadi as well. Finally, there was fighting on the outskirts of Fallujah as well for several days. The Islamic State responded with constant counter attacks in all of those areas, which resulted in the fall of Ramadi during the weekend. That highlighted the precarious security situation in the province. Government forces are simply spread too thin in the area. They can make an advance in one area, and have IS make gains in another. There has been an on going debate that the Hashd al-Shaabi should be deployed to Anbar to help, but some elements have already been deployed there for a few weeks now. From May 8-15, 9 Hashd were killed and 7 wounded in fighting there. The problem is the vast size of the governorate can swallow up forces, and the government is still divided on how much assistance to provide to the tribes and security forces there because there are fears that they are either IS supporters or former insurgents.

In the first week of May there were no reported attacks in Babil. That didn’t mean there was no violence there, but highlights the limits of war reporting in Iraq right now. There are large swaths of the country that get little to no coverage. During the second week of the month there were eight incidents in the province, resulting in 5 killed and 20 wounded. Attacks were a little different form usual. While some incidents were in the north in places like Yusifiya and Mahmudiya where IS has tried to regroup after losing its stronghold of Jurf al-Sakhr at the end of last year, there were others in the center. Hillah was struck twice with a sticky bomb and a sound bomb. This was the first time the provincial capital had been hit since March. Still, security is greatly improved in the province since the fall of Jurf al-Sakhr, and IS has not been able to recover in Babil since then.

Baghdad remained a major target during the week with 46 attacks there. That was actually down from the previous few weeks when there was over nine attacks per day. In the second week of May there was an average of 6.7 incidents per day. IEDs remained the main form of attack with 22, but there were also four mass casualty car bombs, three of which were aimed at pilgrims. That cost the lives of 27 people and wounded another 67. After the summer offensive in 2014 the Islamic State shifted away from sending car bombs to the capital. In the last month that has changed with more VBIEDs being sent there to inflict civilian casualties as IS losses ground on the battlefield. Finally, there has been a large increase in the number of bodies dumped in the capital. In the first two weeks there were a total of 39 bodies discovered, which surpasses the 38 that turned up in all of April. While insurgents might be behind some of these murders the locations of where the bodies were left points towards militias. These extra judicial killings usually correspond with feelings of insecurity spreading. For example, there was a huge jump in these incidents during the summer after the fall of Mosul when there were fears that the capital might fall. The fighting around Ramadi in Anbar led to a wave of displaced arriving in the capital. This led to rumors that some of them were Islamic State infiltrators, and they were subsequently blamed for the increase in terrorist attacks, which could be the motivations behind the latest surge of killings.  

There was a huge jump in casualties in Diyala due to two car bombings there. In the first week of May there were 23 killed and 23 wounded. The next week that jumped to 89 deaths and 66 injured. On May 8 suicide car bombs were set off in Baladrooz and Kanaan near mosques, which killed 22 and injured another 59, 52% of the total casualties for the week. Besides that there were kidnappings, shootings, a few IEDs mostly in the middle of the province, which the government claimed it cleared a few months ago, and a prison break by IS in Khalis in which at least 42 prisoners were able to escape. The situation has gotten so bad that there are weekly complaints in the press by Diyala officials about IS sleeper cells. It appears that the insurgency is still well established there.

In Kirkuk violence remained at a low level, but there has been a spate of extrajudicial killings there. During the 2nd week of May four bodies were found. The week before another four were discovered. These types of incidents have increased over the last month or so. In Hawija in the south IS also executed a family of five. Islamic State regularly carries out executions of people that break its rules or are considered working with the government.

The Islamic State continued to poke Kurdish forces in Ninewa. Throughout the week Sinjar was attacked, but IS was regularly turned back, usually with the help of Coalition air strikes and reportedly suffered heavy casualties. IS also executed 24 people, including 20 employees of the Badush prison on May 13, and blew up part of another Christian church and a mosque in Mosul.

Salahaddin was the other major battlefront with continued fighting for the Baiji refinery. By May 12 it was reported that reinforcements had reached the Baiji area to relieve the beleaguered ISF unit within the facility. The next day several sections of the refinery and two watchtowers were said to be back in government hands. Still, it appeared that the militants were still in control of a large portion of the sprawling refinery. The government also launched an operation in the Hamrin mountains and claimed that it was a success a few days later. This was done to help secure the neighboring Alas and Ajeel oil fields, which IS had attacked recently. The Hamrin area has been an insurgent stronghold for years however and was never cleared even when the Americans were in the country. In fact, the ISF were carrying out sweeps there the month before showing that it is still an unstable part of the province.

SOURCES

Agence France Presse, "Security failures behind Iraq prison break: mayor," 5/10/15

AIN, "Daash gangs executes a family in Hawija," 5/9/15
- "Shock troops reach the outskirts of Baiji refinery with the freeing of the main gates," 5/12/15

Alsumaria, "The security forces and the popular crowd dominate the Hamrin Mountains region and plug the hole in Salah al-Din," 5/12/15,

Al Mada, "Killing and wounding 16 people in bombing in central Baghdad," 5/12/15
- "Killing 27 Daash elements in security operation east of Tikrit," 5/9/15
- "Killing of seven Daash members of Arab nationality and destruction of their camp in Thar Thar," 5/10/15,
- “Violence returns to Diyala .. The escape from the prison was done under the pretext of an “inspection,”” 5/10/15

Naylor, Hugh and Salim, Mustafa, "Prisoners with Islamic State ties escape in eastern Iraq," Washington Post, 5/9/15

NINA, "Daash Blows Up Police Stations, Outer Fence and Cross Of a Church In Mosul," 5/13/15
- "Daash executed (20) of the employees of Badush prison south of Mosul," 5/13/15
- "A pre-emptive operation started by the security forces in Ramadi," 5/10/15

Radio Free Iraq, "08 May 2015," Daily Updates from Anbar, 5/8/15,
- "14 May 2015," Daily Updates from Anbar," 5/14/15,

Rudaw, "Iraqi forces capture three strategic areas in Baiji," 5/13/15,
- "ISIS destroys 200-year-old Ottoman mosque in Mosul," 5/12/15

Saad, Mustafa, "Baghdad Operations announced the killing of two visitors and the wounding of three others in the outcome of the bombing in al-Saadoun," Alsumaria, 5/12/15

Salaheddin, Sinan, "Bombings Kill at Least 8 Outside Iraqi Capital," Baghdad," 5/10/15
- "Suicide attacks on Iraqi Shiite mosques kill 22 worshippers," Associated Press, 5/8/15

Salama, Vivian, "Bombings in Iraqi capital kill at least 15 Shiite pilgrims," Associated Press, 5/12/15

Sarhan, Amre, "30 casualties in Iraqi forces, ISIS seizes Jabbah area in al-Baghdadi District," Iraqi News, 5/15/15

Shafaq News, "5 visitors killed by a car bomb explosion northern Baghdad," 5/10/15

Sotaliraq, "Three dead and 27 wounded as at least nine car bombs blew up west of Ramadi," 5/14/15

Xinhua, "28 killed in bomb attacks, clashes with IS militants in Iraq," 5/10/15

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