Thursday, July 9, 2015

Heavy Fighting In Four Of Iraq’s Provinces During Start Of July 2015


There were a high number of security incidents in Iraq during the first week of July. That was due to heavy fighting in Anbar and Salahaddin. The Islamic State (IS) also launched large attacks upon the Kurds in Kirkuk and Ninewa, and continued its terrorist campaign in Baghdad as well. The violence during the week kept casualties high in Iraq.

The press reported 162 attacks in Iraq from July 1-7, 2015. The real number is always much higher. That was the same amount as the last full week of June. Those were the highest amounts of weekly attacks since the middle of May.

Baghdad and Anbar had the most incidents, as they have been the main focus of the Islamic State for the last year. The capital province had 56 attacks, while Anbar 42. After that there were 29 in Salahaddin, 15 in Ninewa, 10 in Kirkuk, 5 in Diyala, 4 in Babil, and 1 in Basra.

The press reported 436 fatalities and 725 injuries during the week. The real figures are much higher as the government has been withholding its losses and underplaying attacks to maintain the population’s morale. The dead were made up of 4 Sahwa, 7 Peshmerga, 48 Hashd al-Shaabi, 49 members of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), and 328 civilians. The wounded consisted of 12 Sahwa, 36 Peshmerga, 64 Hashd, 53 ISF, and 560 civilians. That was a total of 1,161 casualties, the highest since May 15-21 when there were 1,350. The increase in losses was mostly due to fighting in Anbar where 216 were killed and 287 wounded, and continued terrorist attacks in Baghdad leading to 112 deaths and 282 injured. After those two there were 48 dead in Salahaddin, 31 in Ninewa, 13 in Diyala, 9 in Kirkuk, and 7 in Babil.

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
420
549
May 15-21
124
963
387
May 22-28
108
341 + 1,499
348
May 29-31
38
66
164 + 646
MAY
578
2,416 + 1,499
1,898 + 646
Jun 1-7
132
431
476
Jun 8-14
126
522 + 405
394
Jun 15-21
141
365
373
Jun 22-28
162
306
474
Jun 29-30
61
122
189
JUN
622
1,804
2,012
Jul 1-7
162
436
725

Violence In Iraq July 2015 by Province
Province
Violence
Anbar
42 Incidents
216 Killed: 17 ISF, 19 Hashd, 180 Civilians
287 Wounded: 16 ISF, 20 Hashd, 251 Civilians
23 Shootings
1 Suicide Car Bomb
1 Car Bomb
4 Mortars
2 Rockets
1 Suicide Car Bomb Destroyed
18 Car Bombs Destroyed
Babil
4 Incidents
7 Killed: 7 Civilians
15 Wounded: 15 Civilians
3 IEDs
Baghdad
56 Incidents
112 Killed: 3 Hashd, 4 Sahwa, 13 ISF, 92 Civilians
282 Wounded: 6 Hashd, 12 Sahwa, 28 ISF, 236 Civilians
14 Shootings
28 IEDs
5 Sticky Bombs
5 Car Bombs
1 Mortar
Basra
1 Incident
1 IED
Diyala
5 Incidents
13 Killed: 2 Hashd, 11 Civilians
22 Wounded: 22 Civilians
2 Shootings
2 IEDs
1 Car Bomb
Kirkuk
10 Incidents
9 Killed: 3 Civilians, 6 Peshmerga
33 Wounded: 1 Civilian, 32 Peshmerga
9 Shootings
1 IED
Ninewa
15 Incidents
31 Killed: 1 Peshmerga, 30 Civilians
4 Wounded: 4 Peshmerga
9 Shootings
3 Suicide Car Bombs Destroyed
3 Car Bombs Destroyed
Salahaddin
29 Incidents
48 Killed: 5 Civilians, 19 ISF, 24 Hashd
82 Wounded: 9 ISF, 35 Civilians, 38 Hashd
10 Shootings
7 IEDs
8 Suicide Car Bombs
1 Rocket
10 Suicide Bombers Killed
2 Suicide Car Bombs Destroyed
5 Car Bombs Destroyed

Car Bombs In Iraq, June 2015
Date
Location
Dead
Wounded
Jul 1
Riyahah, Salahaddin
1
Jul 2
Nukhaib, Anbar
Fatah & Tal Abu, Salahaddin
9
12
Jul 3
Jul 4
Baya x2, Baghdad
Baiji x2, Salahaddin
20
22
Jul 5
Amil & Dora, Baghdad
Baladrooz, Diyala
16
55
Jul 6
Jubba, Anbar
New Baghdad, Baghdad
11
11
Jul 7
Baiji x3, Salahaddin
10
35
Totals
16
66
136

 

During the week IS unleashed another round of vehicle borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs). There were 16 during the week with another 32 destroyed before reaching their targets. The main targets were Salahaddin with 8, Baghdad with 5, Anbar with 2, and Diyala with 1. Another 19 were destroyed in Anbar, 7 in Salahaddin and 6 in Ninewa. The reported losses were 66 killed and 136 wounded, but there were probably many more that did not get in the press. There was a decided dip in these types of attacks in the last half of June after IS used up its stocks, but it is apparent now that they have manufactured more of these devices.

Anbar has become the focal point of the Islamic State, the government and the Hashd after the fall of Ramadi last month. Baghdad’s joint forces seem to be in disarray however over how to proceed. While the ISF with the backing of the United States said that Ramadi should be taken first, the Hashd decided that Fallujah would be their target. Each has followed their own path attempting to surround the two towns and cut off IS supply lines in places like Saqlawiya, which is to the northwest of Fallujah. The ISF are also waiting for police and tribal fighters to be trained by the Americans to provide a holding force for after Ramadi is taken. Only a small fraction of recruits has gone through the U.S. program meaning that the attack upon the city is still some time off. The U.S. is helping with planning for the assault and wants the ISF to be in the lead with the Hashd only playing a supporting role in the surrounding towns. That’s the reason why they have chosen to focus upon Fallujah instead. Members of the Hashd and their spokesman are constantly talking about the coming battle to liberate Fallujah, but when pressed they say that could be weeks to months away. The lack of a unified command highlights the problems Baghdad is having in the war against IS. It doesn’t have real command over all of its forces leading to the current contradictory announcements being made in Anbar. That has played into IS’s hands giving it more time to entrench itself into Ramadi and lay down its defenses. If the city was moved upon in May it could have been taken quicker and with less casualties.

Another example of this problem was shown at the end of June when Hashd forces were accused of abuses in Nukhaib. On June 29, a Hashd unit was burning houses in that town and attacked the home of a prominent sheikh. The Anbar council demanded that the government remove this force from the province. That probably didn’t happen as the premier lacks real authority over these forces that follow their own commanders instead.

The operation to take Garma to the east of Fallujah continues to make little progress. That operation was started in the middle of May and surrounded the center of the town weeks ago, but has not been able to penetrate it since then.

Finally, the new focus upon Anbar has led to a new round of government shelling and air strikes that have caused a huge amount of civilian casualties. Fallujah, Saqlawiya, Ramadi, Sijar, and Niamiya were all hit during the week leading to 157 killed, 72% of the total, and 244 wounded, 85% of the total. Prime Minister Haider Abadi promised to end these practices when he first took office, but that never happened.

Baghdad has become a major target of the Islamic State since the end of 2014. There has been a dramatic increase in attacks there as a result. July was no exception. Premier Abadi has been keeping ISF units in Baghdad to try to secure the capital, but that has not worked. The insurgents have been able to hit every part of the province. That ranges from the outer towns like Abu Ghraib to the center of the city in places like Karrada to the east like New Baghdad. The result is that Baghdad regularly leads the country in attacks and has some of the highest casualties.

Attacks In Baghdad Jul 1-7, 2015
North: 2 – 1 IED, 1 Sticky Bomb
Outer West: 2 – 1 Mortar, 2 Shootings
Outer North: 3 – 3 IEDs
West: 3 – 1 IED, 1 Sticky Bomb, 1 Shooting
Outer East: 5 – 2 Shootings, 3 IEDs
Center: 6 – 1 Car Bomb, 2 IEDs, 2 Sticky Bombs, 1 Shooting
Outer South: 8 – 6 IEDs, 1 Sticky Bomb, 1 Shooting
South: 11 – 3 Car Bombs, 8 IEDs, 1 Shooting
East: 15 – 1 Car Bomb, 6 Shootings, 4 IEDs, 3 Kidnappings, 1 Burning
(“Outer” areas refer to towns outside main city)

In Kirkuk province, which had been quiet for weeks IS launched a massive assault on July 6. It attacked eight towns, seizing at least three of them for a time being before being turned back by the Peshmerga and Coalition air strikes. 6 Peshmerga were killed and 32 wounded in the fighting. Combat in the north is completely different from the rest of the country. The two sides mostly face each other along a set battle line with trenches. The Kurds also have close cooperation with the west, which has allowed it to quickly call in aircraft. The result is that IS attacks are regularly defeated.

Likewise in Ninewa IS was probing the Kurdish lines with attacks upon seven different places at the start of July including Mosul Dam and Sinjar. That included six car bombs that were destroyed.

Major fighting over Baiji continued in Salahaddin. 50-60% of the refinery there remains under IS control. Government forces seemed like they were making better headway in the neighboring town, but on July 4 IS attacked with two suicide car bombs and an infantry assault that allowed it to seize four neighborhoods and force the ISF and Hashd to retreat. IS launched several other car bombs in the area before and afterward against the joint forces. Baiji is really a diversionary operation for IS. It already achieved its two main goals there. One was to distract Baghdad in May from its main target, which was the taking of Ramadi. The other was to destroy the refinery, which it largely did last month. The continued clashes there are meant to tie down ISF and Hashd units, while its main focus remains Anbar.

SOURCES

AIN, "3 SVBIEDs target ISF, PMU in Baij, kill 10 fighters, wound 35 others," 7/7/15
- "Car bombs kill 11 in Baghdad at end of Ramdan fast," 7/5/15

Alsumaria, "Dead and wounded in a suicide bombing targting a gathering of the federal police and popular crowd west of Baiji," 7/2/15

Gordon, Michael and Schmitt, Eric, “Iraqi Forces Plan Offensive to Retake Ramadi From ISIS,” New York Times, 7/6/15

Al Mada, "Detonated two car bombs and dismantled six booby-trapped houes in the process of clearing the road between Baiji and Tikrit," 7/2/15
- “The joint forces begin the Battle of Anbar besiege Fallujah and Daash pulls its military councils from the city,” 7/7/15

Al Masalah, “Nouri: the popular crowd will not back down from the liberation of Anbar,” 7/7/15
- “Popular crowd: Daash will not be long in Anbar,” 7/7/15
- "Six martyrs and 29 injured in Baghdad bombing," 7/4/15

Morris, Loveday, “Iraqi militias vow to push Islamic State from Fallujah, site of tough U.S. battle,” Washington Post, 7/8/15

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, "Bombings Kill 19 People In, Around Baghdad," 7/5/15

Radio Free Iraq, “29 June 2015,” Daily Updates from Anbar, 6/29/15

Al Rayy, "A car bomb driven by a suicide bomber in the Nukhaib district on the border between Anbar and Karbala," 7/2/15
- "High number of vicims in explosion in Nairiyah, security services investigating the incident," 7/6/15

Reuters, "Car bombs kill 11 in Baghdad at end of Ramadan fast," 7/4/15
- "ISIS target Iraq's Haditha town with vehicle bombs," 7/6/15
- “Islamic State suicide bombers strike in Iraqi refinery town,” 7/5/15

Shafaq News, "17 casualties of the security forces and PMU in a suicide attack northeast of Baiji," 7/2/15
- "ISIS progress in two neighborhoods after a suicide attack killed soldiers, "7/5/15
- "New deployment of Iraqi forces and ISIS in Baiji after Sunday's attacks," 7/6/15

Sotaliraq, "Injury to an element of the army blown up by a suicide bomber targeting a tank in Baiji," 7/1/15


6 comments:

Kagekatsu said...

It seem that unless the ISF can form some type of coherent command and logistics structure that can react and adapt to ISIS forces on the ground, it really starts to look like ISIS will never be dislodged from its holdings in Iraq. Do you believe that to be the case, that their victory over Iraq and the Coalition is starting to appear inevitable?

Joel Wing said...

I don't think IS will ultimately be victorious but they will be around for a very long time for some of the reasons you mention.

Kagekatsu said...

As an insurgent force or as the protostate entity that they presently are?

The regular Iraqi army is still years away from returning to its fighting capacity prior to the U.S. withdrawal, and the militias will undoubtedly be competing for influence. Combined with gridlock in Baghdad, the Kurds unwilling to move beyond their territory and Shia/Sunni tensions excerbated by both ISIS and the militias, it's starting to appear that ISIS has permanently established itself as the protector of Iraqi Sunnis, which makes it even more difficult to dislodge them from the country.

If the conflict continues well into the next decade, do you believe the West will consider destroying ISIS is simply not worth it and elect to contain it, allowing them to succeed in establishing a permanent state?

Joel Wing said...

The Obama admin is only trying to contain IS right now waiting for the next administration to take office.

Kagekatsu said...

With the candidates from both parties likely to adopt a hawkish stance against ISIS (Barring Bernie Sanders pulling off the impossible), are we going to see an escalation of U.S. military power in the region following Obama? More usage of SpecFor on the ground, increased air strike capacity, etc.

Joel Wing said...

Right now all the candidates are just posturing. One said he was willing to send in ground troops. You can't really tell until they're elected what they will do.