Thursday, November 19, 2015

IS Tries To Make Up For Battlefield Losses With Terrorist Attacks In Iraq


As the Islamic State has been thrown onto the defensive and is losing ground in Iraq it has attempted a new wave of mass casualty bombings. That was seen during the second week of November 2015. On the government’s side its forces continue to push into Ramadi, while the Kurds finally freed the Sinjar area, which was followed by destroying Arab homes. At the same time, the Tuz Kharmato district in Salahaddin exploded in fighting between the Peshmerga, Hashd and local Turkmen pointing to possible conflicts that might emerge when the insurgency is defeated.

There were 120 attacks reported in Iraq from November 8-14, 2015. That was the third lowest amount of security incidents this entire year. Violence across the country has been at a relatively low level for the last two months. That’s because the Islamic State is on the defensive leading to a reduction in the number of operations it’s able to carry out.

During the week there were 54 incidents in Bahgdad, 21 in Ninewa, 19 in Salahaddin, 11 in Anbar, 6 in Diyala, 3 in Babil, Basra and Kirkuk each, and 1 in Najaf. There are always more incidents then get reported, but they are still the best indicator of security in Iraq right now.

Those attacks left 265 fatalities and 354 wounded, which were the highest number of casualties for a month. The dead consisted of 1 Sahwa, 12 Hashd al-Shaabi, 47 Peshmerga, 64 members of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), and 141 civilians, while the wounded were 4 Hashd, 32 ISF, 53 Peshmerga, and 264 civilians. By province, there were120 killed in Ninewa, 94 in Baghdad, 40 in Salahaddin, 4 in Diyala, 2 each in Babil and Basra, and 1 each in Anbar, Kirkuk and Najaf. The relatively high number of dead and wounded despite the low number of attacks showed that IS was able to carry out a number of high casualty bombings during the week.


Violence In Iraq By Week 2015
Date
Incidents
Dead
Wounded
Jan 1-7
205
466
464
Jan 8-14
176
733
518
Jan 15-21
193
403
528
Jan 22-28
197
492
899
Jan 29-31
91
306
568
JAN
862
2,400
2,977
Feb 1-7
159
408
688
Feb 8-14
178
443
566
Feb 15-21
175
592
383
Feb 22-28
178
391
730
FEB
690
1,834
2,367
Mar 1-7
186
373
595
Mar 8-14
156
398
656
Mar 15-21
170
1,304
505
Mar 22-28
186
273
406
Mar 29-31
76
205
219
MAR
774
2,553 + 4
2,381 + 150
Apr 1-7
130
218
422
Apr 8-14
140
674
531
Apr 15-21
175
729
717
Apr 22-28
167
497
483
Apr 29-30
51
162 + 7
182 + 299
APR
663
2,280
2,335
May 1-7
159
627
450
May 8-14
161
420
549
May 15-21
128
963
387
May 22-28
115
341 + 1,499
348
May 29-31
38
66
164 + 646
MAY
601
2,417 + 1,499
1,898 + 646
Jun 1-7
133
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 + 58
189 + 106
JUN
623
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
193 + 260
203 + 400
JUL
608
2,158
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
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
144
254
389
Oct 15-21
142
208
279
Oct 22-28
129
216
366
Oct 29-31
49
110
116 + 1
OCT
569
1,079
1,549
Nov 1-7
125
186
316
Nov 8-14
120
265
354

Security by Province Nov 2015
Provinces
Nov 1-7
Nov 8-14
Anbar
26 Incidents
9 Killed: 2 Civilians, 7 ISF
45 Wounded: 1 Hashd, 10 Civilians, 34 ISF
11 Shootings
3 IEDs
2 Mortars
19 Suicide Bombers Killed
24 Suicide Car Bombs Destroyed
11 Incidents
1 Killed: 1 Sahwa
3 Shootings
12 Suicide Bombers Killed
17 Suicide Car Bombs Destroyed
Babil
4 Incidents
3 Killed: 3 Civilians
12 Wounded: 12 Civilians
4 IEDs
3 Incidents
2 Killed: 2 Civilians
2 Wounded: 2 Civilians
2 Shootings
1 IED
Baghdad
47 Incidents
58 Killed: 1 Sahwa, 3 ISF, 54 Civilians
156 Wounded: 1 ISF, 155 Civilians
14 Shootings
22 IEDs
3 Sticky Bombs
1 Suicide Car Bomb Destroyed
54 Incidents
94 Killed: 2 Hashd, 5 ISF, 87 Civilians
263 Wounded: 3 Hashd, 19 ISF, 241 Civilians
12 Shootings
28 IEDs
7 Sticky Bombs
4 Suicide Bombers
1 Suicide Car Bomb
Basra
-
3 Incidents
2 Killed: 2 Civilians
2 Shootings
1 Sound Bomb
Diyala
7 Incidents
8 Killed: 2 Hashd, 2 Civilians, 4 ISF
4 Wounded: 4 Civilians
3 Shootings
1 IED
6 Incidents
4 Killed: 1 ISF, 1 Hashd, 2 Civilians
3 Wounded: 3 ISF
2 Shootings
1 IED
1 Suicide Car Bomb Destroyed
Kirkuk
6 Incidents
9 Killed: 1 ISF, 3 Civilians, 5 Peshmerga
16 Wounded: 4 ISF, 12 Peshmerga
3 Shootings
4 Suicide Bombers
1 Car Bomb
3 Incidents
1 Killed: 1 Peshmerga
2 Wounded: 2 Civilians
1 Shooting
1 IED
1 Sticky Bomb
Ninewa
14 Incidents
70 Killed: 7 Peshmerga, 63 Civilians
30 Wounded: 4 Civilians, 26 Peshmerga
5 Shootings
1 IED
1 Car Bomb
2 Mortars
4 Suicide Bombers Killed
1 Suicide Car Bomb Destroyed
21 Incidents
120 Killed: 23 Civilians, 45 Peshmerga, 52 ISF
53 Wounded: 53 Peshmerga
7 Shootings
2 IEDs
8 Suicide Bombers
1 Suicide Car Bomb
1 Mortar
1 Rockets
22 Suicide Bombers Killed
9 Suicide Car Bombs Destroyed
Salahaddin
21 Incidents
29 Killed: 3 Civilians, 12 ISF, 14 Hashd
53 Wounded: 24 ISF, 29 Hashd
7 Shootings
53 IEDs
3 Suicide Bombers
1 Suicide Car Bomb
1 Mortar
14 Suicide Bombers Killed
22 Car Bombs Destroyed
19 Incidents
40 Killed: 6 ISF, 9 Hashd, 24 Civilians
31 Wounded: 2 Hashd, 10 ISF, 19 Civilians
11 Shootings
3 IEDs
10 Suicide Bombers Killed
2 Suicide Car Bombs Destroyed
1 Car Bomb Destroyed


In Ramadi the government offensive continued to push forward. The 8th Brigade Headquarters on the west side was taken on November 9, the Anbar Emergency Directorate Building was cleared on November 13, and the train station the next day. A new effort to move into the center of the city was also announced on November 13 as well. This is the fourth month of the operation, and it seems like the city might finally fall in the coming weeks or months. The problem as ever will be whether it can be secured afterward. With most of the surrounding areas constantly changing hands that goal may be unattainable right now.

Baghdad has four other campaigns going on in Anbar. Two are to secure its remaining outposts in the western portion of the province. One is in Hit where a new operations was announced on November 9, the third since August. Albu Hayat in the Haditha district was the other, which was declared cleared for the second time in November, but fighting has never stopped there. The third is in Garma in the east, which was re-started on November 13 after it was called off on October 25. Garma was originally attacked in March. After quick progress it stalled and was never able to clear the city center. Since then the joint forces have been caught up going through the surrounding areas again and again. The fourth is in Fallujah, which started in the middle of July the same time as Ramadi. It has been stalled for weeks now. Fallujah was assaulted because of demands from the Hashd when Baghdad wanted to focus upon Ramadi. It has hurt both operations because it spreads the join forces too thin over a wide section of central Anbar, and that’s seen in the fact that the surrounding towns are constantly changing hands. 

Despite the heavy fighting across Anbar there was only one reported casualty during the second week of November, a Sahwa that was killed. That compared to the government claiming it killed 708 Islamic State fighters during the same period. That’s a glaring example of the war propaganda going on. Hundreds of IS fighters are reported killed each week, while the government suppresses the vast majority of its losses, which are likely quite high.

After IS lost Baiji in Salahaddin in October it has responded by picking up its terrorist attacks in Baghdad. During the week there were 4 suicide bombings and a car bombing against civilian targets in the east and north concentrating on Shiite areas to increase sectarian tensions. All together those attacks led to 32 dead and 82 wounded, which was roughly one third of the total casualties during the week. The fact that IS has only been able to launch a few large bombings after Baiji fell raises questions about its intentions and capabilities. It could be that the group is weakened due to all of the pressure it is facing in both Iraq and Syria that it cannot do anymore. On the other hand, since Baiji was used as a diversionary front by IS to draw away the government’s attention from Anbar it could be that its loss is not that important to the group’s overall strategy. It seems that it could be a combination of both that IS is weakened and that Baiji was not that crucial.

By sector, southern Baghdad had the most incidents with 21. The week before the north and east had the most attacks. IS is active in many of the southern suburbs and rural towns, as well as in northern Babil.

Violence in Baghdad Nov 8-14, 2015
Center: 6 – 1 Suicide Bomber, 1 Kidnapping, 1 Shooting, 3 IEDs
East: 8 – 1 Suicide Car Bomb, 1 Stabbing, 2 Shootings, 3 Suicide Bombers, 3 IEDs
Outer East: 2 – 1 IED, 1 Sticky Bomb
North: 7 – 2 Kidnappings, 2 Sticky Bombs, 5 IEDs
Outer North: 3 – 1 Beheading, 2 IEDs
South: 15 – 1 Sticky Bomb, 6 Shootings, 8 IEDs
Outer South: 6 – 1 Sticky Bomb, 2 Shootings, 3 IEDs
West: 5 – 1 Shooting, 2 Sticky Bombs, 2 IEDs
Outer West: 1 – 1 IED
Unknown: 1 – 1 Robbery

In previous weeks there was a jump in attacks in Diyala, which has now leveled off. During the fall IS was launching car bombs nearly ever week in the governorate, and then at the end of October it was firing mortars into the Abu Saida area. The mortars have ended, and there was only one vehicle borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) in the last month.

In the Mosul area IS continued with its executions. It killed 39 people from November 8-14. That included one university professor, three Peshmerga, 10 Yazidis, and 22 police. Two mass graves were also discovered. One was with 30 guards from Badush Prison and the other had 30 soldiers. Those people were probably killed months ago if not in 2014 after Mosul fell.

In western Ninewa the Kurds finally got their act together and freed the Sinjar area. The operation was started on November 12 and ended the next day. 16 Peshmerga were reportedly killed and 41 wounded. Taking back the district had been held up for months because of disputes between the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing the People’s Protection Units (YPG), and independent Yazidi groups. The KDP had historically been in control of the district, but abandoned it without a fight in 2014. The PKK and YPG moved in afterward to try to protect the Yazidis there, while members of that community began breaking away from KDP hegemony to form their own groups as well. Despite these differences all the sides held a meeting and came to an agreement that they would try to stay out of each others way during the offensive. In total, around 7,500 Kurdish fighters took part with the active support of two dozen U.S. Special Forces who called in close air support. There were said to be around 700 IS fighters in Sinjar, but they barely put up a fight, fleeing instead, which explains why it only took one day to retake the area.

As soon as the fighting was over two major issues emerged. First, the KDP agreed that each fighting force could fly their flag during the attack, something they had protested about before. Then, on November 13 Kurdish President Massoud Barzani gave a speech saying that only the Kurdish flag would fly over Sinjar, and denied that any forces other than the Peshmerga were involved in the victory. Then reports emerged that angry Yazidis were burning and looting the homes of Arabs in the district that they accused of being IS sympathizers. Barzani was quick to use this against his rivals by accusing the PKK of being behind the angry Yazidi. Needless to say the political struggle over Sinjar is far form over.

In Salahaddin the joint forces were still trying to clean up Baiji and the surrounding area. On November 14 the thermal plant in Baiji was freed. 90% of the Makhoul Mountains to the northeast were said to be cleared as well, even though the entire area was declared secured on October 27. Going through these areas is very important because these were the bases IS used to threaten Baiji.

In Tuz Kharmato fighting broke out between the Peshmerga and Hashd. Things started off when a Hashd convoy was stopped at a Peshmerga checkpoint, which led to an argument and then gunfire on November 12. A wounded Hashd was taken to a hospital where Kurdish Asayesh stopped his compatriots from entering. That led to another gunfight at the facility. Hashd elements then attacked the headquarters of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and Change headquarters. Things escalated even more as reinforcements began to arrive from Baghdad, Kurdistan, and the surrounding areas, and local Turkmen began joining in. Several ceasefires were negotiated only to fall apart each time. By November 14, 15 people were reported dead and 60 stores and 100 houses were destroyed as well. The conflict immediately became ethnosectarian with emphasis upon Shiites, Kurds and Turkmen being attacked in statements to the press and social media. Tuz has been a flashpoint for years. The Kurds wish to annex part of the district as part of the disputed territories, which is opposed by Baghdad and pro-Iranian Hashd groups. The Turkmen are split between Shiite factions that looked towards Shiite Arab parties and their militias, and the Hashd to protect them, while Sunnis have been open to the insurgency. After the district was cleared last year the Kurds and Hashd set up their own spheres of influence and have often clashed. This time things got out of control very quickly.

There were 32 car bombs during the second week of November. Only two reached their targets in Baghdad and Ninewa. Anbar had the most VBIEDs with 17, followed by 9 in Ninewa, 3 in Salahaddin, and one each in Baghdad and Diyala. The current car bomb campaign started in May, and appears to be another way IS has responded to it being on the defensive. It is both using them to repel government operations, and to terrorize the public since it can’t seize any more territory right now.

Car Bombs In Iraq, November 2015
Date
Location
Dead
Wounded
Nov 1
Subhait, Anbar – 1 destroyed
Obied, Baghdad – 1 destroyed
Rabia, Ninewa – 1 destroyed


Nov 2
Balad, Salahaddin – 1 destroyed


Nov 3
Dibis, Kirkuk
West of Ramadi, Anbar – 5 destroyed
Leine, Salahaddin – 1 destroyed

3
Nov 4
Hardan, Ninewa
Adil & Rashad, Anbar – 9 destroyed
1
15
Nov 5
Zankura, Anbar – 1 destroyed
Siniya, Salahaddin – 7 destroyed


Nov 6
Baiji, Salahddin
Albu Faraj & Jeraishi, Anbar – 4 destroyed
Sukker, Salahaddin – 13 destroyed
7
20
Nov 7
Albu Hayat – 9 destroyed


Totals
3 – 53 Destroyed
8
38
Nov 8
Sadr City, Baghdad
Albu Hayat, Anbar – 1 destroyed
Mkeshivh, Salahaddin – 1 destroyed
6
21
Nov 9
Albu Faraj, Anbar – 1 destroyed
Samarra, Salahaddin – 2 destroyed


Nov 10



Nov 11



Nov 12
Fallujah, Anbar – 6 destroyed
Sinjar, Ninewa – 6 destroyed


Nov 13
Niamiya & Subhait, Anbar – 7 destroyed


Nov 14
Sinjar, Ninewa
Albu Faraj, Anbar – 2 destroyed
Mandali, Diyala – 1 destroyed
Harden, Ninewa – 3 destroyed
2
23
Totals
2 - 30 Destroyed
8
44


SOURCES

Agence France Presse, “Yazidis burn Muslim homes in Iraq’s Sinjar: witnesses,” 11/15/15

Alsumaria, "Anbar operations announcing repulsing two suicide attacks north of Ramadi," 11/14/15
- "Found a mass grave containing the remains of 30 police from Badush prison west Nineveh," 11/8/15
- "Video: More than 90% of Makhoul hills under control of security forces," 11/11/15

Arraf, Jane and Dyer, Geoff, "Iraqi Kurds launch offensive against Isis in Sinjar," Financial Times, 11/12/15

Coles, Isabel, "Kurdish forces seize Iraq's Sinjar town from Islamic State," Reuters, 11/13/15

eKurd, “Iraqi Kurdistan News in brief – November 13, 2015,” 11/13/15

Gordon, Michael and Callimachinov, Rukmini, “Kurds Retake Strategic Highway in Iraq’s North From ISIS,” New York Times, 11/12/15

Iraq Oil Report, “Multiple dead in Kurd-Hashid fight in Tuz,” 11/13/15

Al Mada, "Anti-terrorism force controls Ramadi train station," 11/14/15
- "Cessation of military operations in Garma," 10/25/15
- "Found Daash leaders killed in military operation east of Fallujah," 11/13/15
- "Frustration in Mkeshivh and the destruction of seven cars, including a car bomb," 11/8/15
- "Security forces carried out a massive operation in west Anbar and progressing in the Hit vicinity," 11/9/15
- "Security forces "stuck" in the liberated areas north-west of Anbar," 11/9/15
- "Security forces struck the "Hole" area and the freeing of the thermal power station," 11/14/15

Mamoun, Abdelhak, "Joint forces cleanse Albu Hayat area west of Ramadi, kill 40 ISIS elements," Iraqi News, 11/3/15
- "Peshmerga launches military operation in Sinjar under Barzani's supervision," Iraqi News, 11/12/15

Al Masalah, "Entire area of Albu Hayat freed in Anbar," 11/11/15

McLear, Paul, “Kurds Assault ISIS in Sinjar, With Eyes on Mosul,” Foreign Policy, 11/12/15

New Sabah, "Security file," 11/13/15

NINA, "15 Suicide Bombers Of Daash Enter Sinjar, Kill And Wound Dozens Of Peshmerga," 11/14/15
- "BREAKING NEWS. The liberalization process of Ramadi starts from three axes," 11/13/15- "Breaking News..The security forces raised the Iraqi flag over Anbar Emergency Directorate in Ramadi," 11/13/15
- "Federal Police Chief: Makhoul Mountains in Baiji Fully Cleansed," 10/27/15
- "Peshmerga kill three suicide bombers of Daash northwest of Mosul," 11/14/15

Osgood, Patrick, Tahir, Rawaz, “Sinjar operation begins,” Iraq Oil Report, 11/12/15

Rudaw, “President Barzani: only Kurdish flag will fly over Shingal: thanks US,” 11/13/15

Shafaq News, "A double suicide bombing causes casualties eastern Baghdad," 11/8/15
- "ISIS attack repelled west of Tikrit and a leader arrested in Diyala," 11/9/15
- "Security forces repel an attack by 6 car bombs driven by suicie bombers south of Fallujah," 11/12/15

Sotaliraq, "Anbar operations: the destruction of a car bomb driven by a suicide bomber and killing 10 Daash in international airstrikes," 11/9/15
- "Combined forces repel a suicide attack by Daash in Garma by Fallujah," 11/13/15
- "Element of the popular crowd killed and wounded a policeman in squelching a suicide attack on a checkpoint east of Baquba," 11/14/15
- “Salahuddin Council highlights the continued burning of houses in Tuz and police chief heads committee to control security,” 11/14/15
- "Security forces found a mass grave of dozens of former soldiers west of Mosul," 11/9/15
- "Security forces repel a suicide car attack west of Ramadi," 11/8/15

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