As the Islamic States loses more ground in Iraq it has reverted to high profile terrorist attacks and raids to keep itself in the headlines and promote an image of constant victory. One such operation was an all day assault upon Abu Ghraib in western Baghdad province. The insurgents seized several buildings, and successfully brought food back to Fallujah from which the raid was launched.
Al Mada talked with an Iraqi security source that gave a detailed breakdown of the Abu Ghraib assault. The operation consisted of six Islamic State detachments. It started at 5 am with five suicide bombers, three of which were Saudis, and one Chinese on the 24th Brigade headquarters in Abu Ghraib. Four of the bombers were killed, but the fifth reached its target blowing a hole in the concrete barriers outside of the brigade’s base. The second and third IS units with about 20 men then attacked supported by RPG fire and two trucks with heavy cannons. IS was also able to occupy the Customs Department building. While the attack upon the army base claimed the day’s headlines it appeared that the target was actually a grain silo. As Mustafa Habib reported in Niqash, the fighters were able to take grain back from the silo to Fallujah, which was where the assault originated from. The Iraqi forces eventually killed most of the attackers and drove the rest back to Fallujah, while sustaining around 50 casualties themselves.
IS has lost the ability to seize more territory in Iraq, and is launching Abu Ghraib type operations in response. Such raids gain international headlines, and maintain the group’s image of always being on the offensive and enduring the international coalition arrayed against it. This one actually appeared successful. IS was able to get through the porous cordon around Fallujah, attack Abu Ghraib, and bring grain back. The last was especially important because there have been stories of starvation within Fallujah. The Iraqi forces have surrounded that city for more than two years, and has an operation to retake it going on right now, but didn’t appear to stop the IS fighters getting in and out. More of these type of attacks and mass casualty bombings can be expected in the future as IS is transitioning back to being more of a terrorist/insurgent force as it loses more and more on the battlefield.
Agence France Presse, "Baghdad market blasts 'kill at least 24' as IS claims attack," 2/28/16
Habib, Mustafa, “The Fight For Fallujah: Why Can’t The Iraqi Army Win In Anbar’s Etremist Capital?” Niqash, 3/8/16
Al Mada, “A security source reveals details to Al Mada on how six Daash detachments’ attack on Abu Ghraib was thwarted,” 2/28/16
Reuters, "Militants launch largest attacks in months on Baghdad outskirts," 2/28/16