Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Iraq Forces Make Major Advances In Baiji Area


After months of frustration Iraq’s joint forces were able to retake the Baiji refinery and neighboring Siniya, which was an Islamic State stronghold in Salahaddin. Several thousand men were deployed in the operation overwhelming the insurgent defenses, and Iran was said to have played a role in the planning. In Anbar the news was not as good as the government was still stuck clearing many of the same areas. In fact, the two might be related as the United States insisted that many Hashd units withdraw from Ramadi to allow the Iraqi Security Forces to take the lead. Those forces then went to Baiji.

There were 145 security incidents reported in the press from October 8-14, 2015. That was up from 105 the week before, which was the fewest number of any full week of the year. Baghdad was the most violence with 58 attacks, followed by 35 in Salahaddin, 19 in Anbar, 9 in Ninewa, 8 in Diyala, 6 in Babil, 4 in Kirkuk, 2 in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), and one each in Basra, Maysan and Qadisiyah.

Casualties have remained relatively stable the last several months. During the second week of October there were 254 deaths and 388 injuries in the press. The dead were made up of 2 Sahwa, 4 Peshmerga, 11 Hashd, 15 members of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), 35 Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) fighters, and 187 civilians. The injured included 1 Peshmerga, 3 Sahwa, 19 Hashd, 57 ISF, and 308 civilians. Casualties are no longer a good measure of security in Iraq however, because the government is actively suppressing the numbers. For example, despite constant fighting in Anbar and Salahaddin with the on going security operations there officials rarely mention any losses.

Violence In Iraq By Week 2015
Date
Incidents
Dead
Wounded
Jan 1-7
189
466
464
Jan 8-14
172
733
518
Jan 15-21
189
403
528
Jan 22-28
195
492
899
Jan 29-31
91
306
568
JAN
836
2,400
2,977
Feb 1-7
155
408
688
Feb 8-14
177
443
566
Feb 15-21
169
592
383
Feb 22-28
171
391
705
FEB
672
1,834
2,342
Mar 1-7
176
373
595
Mar 8-14
137
398
656
Mar 15-21
146
1,304
505
Mar 22-28
174
273
406
Mar 29-31
72
205
219
MAR
705
2,553 + 4
2,381 + 150
Apr 1-7
127
218
422
Apr 8-14
137
676
542
Apr 15-21
172
729
717
Apr 22-28
163
497
483
Apr 29-30
50
162 + 7
182 + 299
APR
649
2,282
2,346
May 1-7
154
627
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
2,417 + 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
161
435
719
Jul 8-14
140
384
570
Jul 15-21
109
359
597 + 4,024
Jul 22-28
145
527
590
Jul 29-31
53
453 + 8
603
JUL
608
2,166
3,079 + 4,024
Aug 1-7
154
650 + 760
298
Aug 8-14
133
756
640
Aug 15-21
135
345
354
Aug 22-28
136
342
296
Aug 29-31
59
112 + 5
169
AUG
617
2,205 + 760
1,757
Sep 1-7
139
285
352
Sep 8-14
144
368
394
Sep 15-21
123
323
488
Sep 22-28
128
190
258
Sep 29-30
39
106 + 19
147 + 8
SEP
573
1,291 + 314
1,647 + 3,003
Oct 1-7
105
291
398
Oct 8-14
145
254
388

Security by Province Oct 2015
Provinces
Oct 1-7
Oct 8-14
Anbar
12 Incidents
72 Killed: 2 ISF, 70 Civilians
3 Wounded: 3 ISF
4 Shootings
2 IEDs
1 Suicide Bomber Killed
1 Suicide Car Bomb Destroyed
10 Car Bombs Destroyed
19 Incidents
26 Killed: 1 Hashd, 3 ISF, 22 Civilians
28 Wounded: 3 Hashd, 12 Civilians, 13 ISF
5 Shooings
4 IEDs
2 Mortars
1 Artillery
16 Suicide Car Bombs Destroyed
10 Car Bombs Destroyed
Babil
7 Incidents
4 Killed: 1 ISF, 3 Civilians
26 Wounded: 4 ISF, 22 Civilians
5 IEDs
6 Incidents
7 Killed: 2 ISF, 5 Civilians
36 Wounded: 5 ISF, 31 Civilians
1 Shooting
4 IEDs
1 Car Bomb
1 Grenade
Baghdad
48 Incidents
94 Killed: 4 ISF, 90 Civilians
241 Wounded: 13 ISF, 228 Civilians
13 Shootings
24 IEDs
3 Sticky Bombs
24 IEDs
3 Sticky Bombs
2 Suicide Car Bombs
2 Car Bombs
1 Suicide Bomber Killed
58 Incidents
69 Killed: 1 ISF, 1 Hashd, 2 Sahwa, 65 Civilians
196 Wounded: 3 Hashd, 3 Sahwa, 5 ISF, 185 Civilians
16 Shootings
28 IEDs
8 Sticky Bombs
1 Grenade
1 Stabbing
1 Rockets
Basra
3 Incidents
11 Killed: 11 Civilians
30 Wounded: 30 Civilians
1 Shooting
1 Sound Bomb
1 Car Bomb
1 Incident
1 Sticky Bomb
Diyala
4 Incidents
40 Killed: 40 Civilians
75 Wounded: 75 Civilians
1 Shooting
1 Car Bomb
1 Car Bomb Destroyed
8 Incidents
38 Killed: 1 ISF, 1 Hashd, 36 Civilians
58 Wounded: 58 Civilians
2 IEDs
4 Mortars
1 Car Bomb Destroyed
Kirkuk
13 Incidents
10 Killed: 10 Civilians
16 Wounded: 2 Peshmerga, 14 Civilians
5 Shootings
4 IEDs
2 Rockets
4 Incidents
12 Killed: 2 ISF, 10 Civilians
1 Shooting
1 IED
KRG
-
2 Incidents
35 Killed: 35 PKK
2 Turkish Air Strikes
Maysan
-
1 Incident
1 Killed: 1 Civilian
1 Shooting
Ninewa
6 Incidents
49 Killed: 7 Peshmerga, 42 Civilians
3 Shootings
9 Incidents
39 Killed: 4 Peshmerga, 35 Civilians
1 Wounded: 1 Peshmerga
6 Shootings
Qadisiyah
-
1 Incident
1 Killed: 1 Civilian
1 Sticky Bomb
Salahaddin
12 Incidents
11 Killed: 1 ISF, 10 Civilians
7 Wounded: 1 Civilian, 6 ISF
7 Shootings
2 IEDs
1 Mortar
35 Incidents
26 Killed: 6 ISF, 8 Hashd, 12 Civilians
69 Wounded: 13 Hashd, 22 Civilians, 34 ISF
10 Shootings
11 IEDs
1 Suicide Bomber
5 Suicide Car Bombs
11 Suicide Car Bombs Destroyed
7 Car Bombs Destroyed


A new push on Ramadi was recently begun, but almost all of the reported progress were of areas that the joint forces had gone through before. On the positive side, there was more movement into northern Ramadi. That was supported by U.S. air strikes and even artillery from the nearby Habaniya base. By October 10 there were reports that the Anbar Operations Command and government center were just within reach, which is near the center of the city. Sufiya was also reportedly cleared. After that however there was another push into Albu Faraj and it was declared cleared for the second time this month. There were also moves into Albu Gleb for the second time, the Tamim neighborhood of Ramadi for the fourth time, and Zankura for the third time. According to two reports, the U.S. pressured the Iraqi authorities to have some Hashd units withdraw from the offensive so that the ISF and local tribal fighters could take over. That would fit in with continued statements from Obama administration officials and military officers that they want a combined ISF-Sunni force to be the ones to liberate Anbar that might be more acceptable to the population. Many of the Hashd asked to leave were also pro-Iranian so the rivalry between Washington and Tehran also played a role. This poses a dilemma however as one of the major drawbacks of the current push is a lack of manpower. That’s the reason why the government can’t hold these towns outside of Ramadi and Fallujah and have to continually go through them again and again. The Hashd withdrawal will only make this situation worse.

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History Security Operations In Anbar Oct 8-14, 2015
Albu Faraj
Albu Gleb
Fallujah
Ramadi
Aug 20 operation
Oct 4 operation
Oct 9 Fallujah Univ operation
Jul 26 Tamim operation
Sep 13 operation
Oct 7 cleared

Jul 30 Tamim cleared
Oct 4 east cleared
Oct 8 operation

Sep 18 Tamim operation
Oct 5 Albu Faraj bridge operation


Oct 8 Tamim operation
Oct 6 cleared


Oct 9 Ceramics factory & traffic police station cleared
Oct 8 road cleared


Oct 10 Anbar Ops Cmd & Government Center attacked
Oct 13 operation



Oct 14 cleared




Rashad
Saqlawiya
Sufiya
Thar Thar
Zankura
Jul 16 cleared
Jul 15 Mahamd to Saqlawiya cleared
Aug 1 operation
Sep 19 cleared
July 22 Zankura Bridge cleared
Jul 27 cleared
Jul 15 residential area cleared
Oct 9 cleared
Sep 26 Thar Thar to Jeraishi cleared
Aug 22 cleared
Jul 29 operation
Jul 19 cleared

Oct 9 northeast of Lake Thar Thar operation
Oct 3 operation
Sep 11 operation
Jul 20 Saqlawiya road cleared


Oct 7 cleared
Oct 11 cleared
Jul 21 Technical Inst cleared


Oct 10 operation

Jul 23 residential area cleared




Jul 25 operation




Jul 29 operation




Aug 4 mostly cleared




Aug 26 residential are operation




Sep 3 residential are cleared




Oct 12 residential area op




Oct 13 Lakes village cleared





IS operations in Babil have been at a very low level since it lost its base in Jurf al-Sakhr at the end of 2014. During the week however a car bomb went off in Mahmudiya that killed 3 and wounded 17.

That compared to Baghdad that got a rare break from Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIEDs). Instead there were 8 sticky bombs, 16 shootings, and 28 IEDs that caused the majority of the 69 killed and 196 wounded from October 8-14. By district, the east remained the main target of IS with 16 incidents, followed by 14 in the South and 14 in the North, 7 in the west, 6 in the center and one in an unknown location. In the east not all of the violence was due to the Islamic State. 4 bodies were dumped in the area for example that were probably the work of vigilantes or Hashd related groups. There were also two shootings and a grenade tossed at a house that could have been done by anyone, and a kidnapping that was committed by a gang. On the other hand, there were five IEDs on businesses that showed the work of the insurgents. The vast majority of incidents across the province however look to be the work of IS.

Violence In Baghdad Oct 8-14, 2015
Center: 6 - 3 Sticky Bombs, 3 IEDs
East: 13 – 1 Kidnapping, 1 Grenade, 1 Sticky Bomb, 4 IEDs, 6 Shootings
Outer East: 3 – 1 Shooting, 2 IEDs
North: 8 – 1 Kidnapping, 1 Stabbing, 1 IED, 2 Sticky Bombs, 3 Shootings
Outer North: 6 – 1 Kidnapping, 1 Shooting, 4 IEDs
South: 6 – 1 Shooting, 5 IEDs
Outer South: 8 – 1 Kidnapping, 1 Sticky Bomb, 3 Shootings, 4 IEDs
West: 5 – 1 Rockets, 1 Sticky Bomb, 3 IEDs
Outer West: 2 – 2 IEDs
Unknown: 1 – 1 Shooting

Turkey carried out another series of air strikes upon the Kurdistan Regional Government during the week. Ankara reported that those bombings led to the death of 35 PKK fighters

The Islamic State continued with its executions in Ninewa. 38 people feel victim to the Islamists during the week in Mosul and Qayarah. That included 3 captured Peshmerga, a former candidate for the Mutahidun list, and two local mayors.

The government’s forces finally had a major breakthrough in the Baiji district. Starting on October 12 a major offensive was launched in that area with a reported 13,000 fighters. Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force commander General Qasim Suleimani was reportedly involved in the planning of the operation, and Badr head Haid Ameri was said to be in charge. According to Al Mada the impetus for the new drive was due to elements of the Hashd being frustrated at being excluded from Ramadi by the Americans. The large attacking force was able to quickly overcome IS’s defenses and take the refinery and Siniya, which was an insurgent stronghold, and had been contested for months. Siniya for example, was said to have been freed five times before. Taking the town would be a real victory, because it’s the surrounding areas like those that continue to threaten Baiji and the refinery. Likewise sections of the huge Baiji facility had switched hands for more than a year. In May IS destroyed most of the refinery after it took Ramadi making it useless. The damage is so severe that it may never be repaired. That’s the irony of the situation because Baiji holds no strategic significance anymore. In fact, IS has consistently used it to draw away forces from Anbar where its main focus has been. Some mention that Baiji is important to move on Mosul, but that is months away, and the joint forces could have surrounded the area and taken it whenever Ninewa was in the cards. The real test now is whether the joint forces can hold the district, which is predicated upon clearing out the towns like Siniya, which the joint forces appear to be doing. That will determine the ultimate fate of the area.

Finally, IS continued with its car bomb campaign, which began in July. During the second week of October there were a total of 51 VBIEDs compared to 18 the week before. Of those 51, only 6 hit their targets, while the other 45 were destroyed. Most of these car bombs are neutralized by anti-tank missiles before they reach their targets, but air strikes have also been helpful. Anbar had the most VBIEDs with 26. The Baiji offensive drew 23 car bombs. There was also the car bombing in Babil mentioned before, and another defused in Diyala. These attacks will likely remain at this pace for the next several months.

Car Bombs In Iraq, October 2015
Date
Location
Dead
Wounded
Oct 1
Oct 2
Oct 3
Hurriya & Kadhimiya x2, Baghdad
Ramadi & Rashad, Anbar – 7 destroyed
29
74
Oct 4
Subhait, Anbar – 1 destroyed
Oct 5
Husseiniya, Baghdad
Zubayr, Basra
Khalis, Diyala
Bawih, Diyala – 1 destroyed
63
124
Oct 6
Oct 7
Ramadi, Anbar – 3 destroyed
Totals
6 – 12 Destroyed
92
198
Oct 8
Oct 9
Garma, Anbar – 2 destroyed
Oct 10
Tarmiya, Salahaddin
Husaiba, north of Ramadi & Thar Thar, Anbar – 15 destroyed
3
10
Oct 11
Albu Jilab, Anbar Univ, Ramadi, Anbar – 8 destroyed
Baquba, Diyala – 1 destroyed
Oct 12
Mahmudiya, Babil
Baiji x4, Salahaddin
North of Ramadi, Anbar – 1 destroyed
3
30
Oct 13
Baiji & Siniya, Salahaddin – 8 destroyed
Oct 14
West of Baiji & Siniya, Salahaddin – 10 destroyed
Totals
6 – 45 Destroyed
6
40


SOURCES

AIN, "Daash frustrated and destruction of 12 car bombs in Anbar," 10/11/15

Alsumaria, "Abrams tanks destroyed seven car bombs by Daash and progressing into west Baiji, 10/14/15
- "Special Forces and popular crowd arriving at entrance west Baiji," 10/14/15

Al Mada, "Combined forces of the government close to clearing the government complex in the center of Ramadi," 10/10/15,
- "Foiled ten Daash suicide car bombs north of Ramadi," 10/10/15
- "Killing and wounding 13 people including soldiers in explosion of a suicide car bomb attack north of Baghdad," 10/10/15
- "Mahmudiya bombing toll rises to 20 dead and wounded," 10/12/15

Al Masalah, "80 terrorists killed in military operations," 10/9/15

Naji, Jamal and Van Heuvelen, Ben, "Revived security forces advance on Ramadi," Iraqi Oil Report, 10/10/15,

New Sabah, “13 thousand fighters join the security forces in Baiji in preparation for the final battle of liberation,” 10/12/15
- "Security file," 10/11/15
- "Security file," 10/12/15

NINA, "/17/ elements of Daash killed, and 6 car bombs detonated in Baiji," 10/13/15
- "Federal Police And PDF Advancing Toward Siniah In Baiji To Free It," 10/13/15

Al Rayy, "Bombing a car bomb and killing 8 terrorists in the northern axis," 10/12/15

Shafaq News, "Killed dozens of terrorists as security forces continue their advance against their strongholds in operations," 10/10/15
- “Report: Soleimani supervised Baiji battles and then left to Syria,” 10/15/15

Sotaliraq, "Fahadawi: security forces less than 2 km from the headquarters of the Anbar Operations Command," 10/10/15,
- “The popular crowd are busy fighting in Baiji and stationed near Fallujah after its removal from the liberation of Ramadi,” 10/10/15
- "Security forces repel three suicide attacks by Daash in Ramadi," 10/11/15

Xinhua, "49 PKK rebels killed in Turkey, Iraq," 10/11/15


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