Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Security In Iraq, Jan 1-7, 2018


The start of the new year did not change the improved security situation in Iraq. The number of incidents creeped up, but were still low compared to much of 2017, and there were relatively few casualties. 

During the 1st week of January 2018 there were 71 incidents recorded. That was the highest amount since 79 reported from November 15-21. That was mostly due to an uptick in activity by the Islamic State in Baghdad with 26 incidents and Diyala with 15. After that there were 9 incidents in Kirkuk, 7 in Ninewa, 6 in Anbar, 5 in Salahaddin, 2 in Basra, and 1 in Babil. Still this was the 20th full week with less than 100 incidents dating back to August. 2017.

Security Incidents In Iraq By Province Jan 1-7, 2018
Babil 1
Basra 2
Salahaddin 5
Anbar 6
Ninewa 7
Kirkuk 9
Diyala 15
Baghdad 26

Casualties remained very low. During the week, there were 50 deaths and 66 Wounded. 20 of the fatalities were from a mass grave discovered in Ninewa leaving just 30 violent deaths during the week. The dead were made up of 1 Hashd al-Shaabi, 4 members of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), and 45 civilians. The injured consisted of 10 Hashd, 13 ISF, and 43 civilians. Baghdad had the most casualties with 71, followed by 26 in Ninewa, 10 in Kirkuk, 9 in Diyala, 9 in Anbar, and 3 in Babil.

Casualties In Iraq By Province Jan 1-7, 2018
Babil 3 (3 Wounded)
Anbar 9 (2 Killed, 7 Wounded)
Diyala 9 (5 Killed, 4 Wounded)
Kirkuk 10 (3 Killed, 7 Wounded)
Ninewa 26 (26 Killed)
Baghdad 71 (14 Killed, 45 Wounded)

There were 6 incidents in Anbar during the week. Half of those were in the Qaim district in the west along the Syrian border and the other three were in the center of the province. There was a car bomb aimed at a sheikh’s house in Albu Diab that wounded a guard. Another sheikh’s house near Ramadi had a grenade thrown at it. The rest were IEDs and sticky bombs. In total, there were just 2 fatalities and 7 wounded. Attacks upon tribal leaders are important because it was one of the main ways the Islamic State made its comeback after 2008 by eliminating local leaders and intimidating tribes.

Babil had just one incident, an IED that hit 3 Hashd. That occurred in Jurf al-Sakr in the northwest of the province, which has become a favorite target of the militants. According to Iraqi News, IS members are infiltrating from nearby Amiriya Fallujah and Jazeera in Anbar into Jurf to carry out attacks, which are now happening nearly every week having increased in the second half of 2017.

The capital province has seen the best security since 2003. During the first week of January however, there was a decided uptick in incidents. For months now incidents have ranged between the teens to the 20s. January 1-7, there were 26, the most since the week of July 22-28. There were no mass casualty bombings, but IS has increasingly been hitting shops and markets to cause as many civilian casualties as possible. Of the 12 IEDs, half of them blew up around those types of locations. During the week 14 people died, and 45 were wounded. Baghdad has always been the number one terrorist target of the insurgents, so if this trend continues it could be a sign that IS has rebuilt its networks in Baghdad.

The war against the Islamic State created a security vacuum in Basra as many units of the Iraqi forces were sent north to fight. There have been constant tribal battles, and general lawlessness as a result. The Associated Press reported on the rise of drug use in the province. Police have reported that narcotics use has increased to a record high over the last 3 years along with arrests. From October 2015-December 2017 4,035 people were arrested for possession. Crystal methamphetamine was said to be the most popular drug. For several years, Basra has been used as a transportation hub in the Asian drug trade from central Asia to Europe. It has only been recently that taking drugs has increased in the governorate.

Diyala was the other violent province during the start of the year. There were 15 incidents there. The biggest of which was a sheikh’s house being hit by a suicide bomber and a car bomb. There were also two mortar attacks and three members of the Iraqi forces were killed by sniper fire at checkpoints. The head of the Abu Saida security committee told the press that IS was hiding out in farms and attacking checkpoints in the district, which is in the southwest just north of province’s capital Baquba. The leader of the Muqtadiya city council complained that IS was threatening that area as well that lies in the center of the governorate. Another area that saw several attacks was Qara Tappa that is in the north. In response, the Iraqi forces launched a sweep through Nada in the northeast, Muqtadiya in the center, and along the Salahaddin border in the west. The security forces were also reportedly installing thermal cameras in the Hamrin Mountains in the northwest. Diyala is one of the provinces where IS is rebuilding its forces. It is basically active in nearly every rural section. The constant security operations have not been able to retard their activity as the Hashd and security forces move through an area and then leave allowing the militants to move back in.

The federal forces taking over Kirkuk in October 2017 has created a new level of instability, especially in Kirkuk city. Of the 9 incidents during the week, 4 were in the city. There are now nearly as much political inspired attacks as insurgent violence. For instance, a member of the Turkmen Front was shot dead in Kirkuk city, and that party’s offices were hit again, this time by mortars. There was also a shootout with insurgents in the northwest. The result was the governorate was the only one in the country that saw an increase in attacks in 2017. Officials have also warned that the Hawija district in the south, the last section of the governorate freed still had many IS members operating there. A large military campaign has been going on there for the last several days.

As soon as the Mosul battle ended IS converted to an insurgency in Ninewa. They continue low level attacks there, especially in the rural areas and along the Syrian border. There were two large attacks in Tal Safouk for example in the west. At the end of 2017, the Iraqi forces combed through the Jazeera desert region in the southwest in the last major operation of the war before victory was declared. That was never finished however for political expediency. On January 3, the Iraqi forces went through that same area. Three days later IS reportedly held a small parade in a town in the Jazeera area with trucks. Unless a permanent presence is created in these rural and remote areas the insurgents will have plenty of space to rebuild in.

Finally, Salahaddin is the other province where IS is attempting a comeback. There were only 5 incidents there, but two were attempts at suicide bombings. The security forces launched three sweeps to try to counter this threat around Samarra and Tikrit in the center, and the Baiji-Makhoul Mountains in the north. Another flashpoint is Tuz Kharmato. In October, the Peshmerga withdrew from the area leading to a rampage by Hashd and local Turkmen. People were killed, there was looting, and houses were destroyed. There is still sporadic violence in the district, especially shelling, and many Kurdish displaced. A delegation went to Baghdad speaking with Shiite political leaders to try to secure their return.

Security In Iraq 2017-18
Week
Security
Incidents
Dead
Wounded
JAN
719
1,923
4,374
FEB
628
1,891 + 399
2,511 + 1,634
MAR
720
3,504 + 278
3,302 + 2,925
APR
578
2,933
1,955
MAY
528
2,038
1,563
JUN
534
2,038
1,563
JUL
478
1,490
650
AUG
359
1,949
584
SEP
306
728
549
OCT
286
913
865 + 1,700
NOV
296
1,282
425
DEC
261
763
300
Jan 1-7
71
50
66

Violence By Province Jan 1-7, 2018
Province
Violence
Anbar
6 Incidents
2 Killed
1 ISF
1 Civilian
7 Wounded
1 Hashd
6 ISF

3 IEDs
1 Sticky Bomb
1 Car Bomb
1 Grenade
Babil
1 Incident
3 Wounded
3 Hashd

1 IED
Baghdad
26 Incidents
14 Killed
14 Civilians
45 Wounded
1 Hashd
2 ISF
42 Civilians

6 Shootings
12 IEDs
2 Sticky Bombs
Basra
2 Incidents

1 IED
1 Sound Bomb
Diyala
15 Incidents
5 Killed
2 Civilians
3 ISF
4 Wounded
1 Civilian
3 ISF

6 Shootings
5 IEDs
1 Suicide Bomber
1 Car Bomb
2 Mortars
Kirkuk
9 Incidents
3 Killed
1 Hashd
2 Civilians
7 Wounded
2 ISF
5 Hashd

4 Shootings
2 IEDs
1 Rocket
2 Mortars
1 Grenade
Ninewa
7 Incidents
26 Killed
26 Civilians

5 Shootings
1 IED
18 Suicide Bombers Killed
2 Car Bombs Destroyed
Salahaddin
5 Incidents

1 Shooting
1 IED
5 Suicide Bombers Killed

SOURCES

AIN, "The popular crowd finishes clearing the Baiji axis," 1/7/18

Associated Press, “Illegal drug use and sales soar in Iraq’s Basra amid nationwide spike,” 1/3/18

Baghdad Post, "2 mortar shells fall on Azeem district of Diyala," 1/7/18

Buratha News, "The house of an Anbar sheikh was attacked by a grenade north of Ramadi," 1/4/18

Ebraheem, Mohammed, "Military operation launched to pursuit Islamic State in Diyala province," Iraqi News, 1/1/18

Al Ghad Press, “Local official in Diyala: Daash resorted to a new offensive strategy,” 1/3/18
- “Thermal cameras monitor movement of Daash in Hamrin northeast Diyala,” 1/6/17

Hath al-Youm, “Daesh holds military review west of Mosul,” 1/6/17

Iraq Newspaper, "Targeting The House of A Sheikh In Albu Diab … Terrorist Detonates A Car Bomb In Ramadi In The Same Place After Execution Of A Mukhtar In Mosul," 1/8/18

Al Maalomah, "Launch of a three area clearance operation in Samarra," 1/1/18
- "Two mortar shells landed on a farm in the Abu Saida area in Diyala," 1/3/18

Al Mada, “Security operation to prosecute 1000 Dash activists in the Hawija area,” 1/6/18

Mostafa, Nehal, "13 Islamic State members killed, injured in operation, northeast of Baquba," Iraqi News, 1/4/18
- “IS members infiltrate from Anbar to Babylon to target security personnel: Source,” Iraqi News, 1/1/18
- "Paramilitary troops repel IS attack, kill 18 militants on borders with Syria," Iraqi News, 1/2/18
- "Seventeen Islamic State members killed, arrested, in operation south of Mosul," Iraqi News, 1/3/18
- "Three Islamic State members, including suicide attacker, killed in Salahuddin," Iraqi News, 1/5/18

NINA, "/20/ bodies of young men found executed by Daesh," 1/5/18
- "An element of Daesh killed, and the destruction of two caches on the border between Diyala and Salah al-Din," 1/5/18- "Three members of the popular crowd were injured by a bomb explosion in Jurf al-Sakhr," 1/2/18
- "The popular crowd repulses two attacks one near the Iraqi-Syrian border in the other in Makhoul mountains," 1/5/18
- "The wife of Al- Nada Tribal Sheikh killed and two of his sons wounded in two explosions targeting their house east of Baquba," 1/6/18

NRT, “Tuz Khurmatu Delegation In Baghdad To Discuss Family Returns,” 1/6/18

Sulaivany, Karzan, "Turkmen party official assassinated in latest Kirkuk violence," Kurdistan 24, 1/2/18

Al Sumaria, "Diyala Governor:  suicide car bomb targeted home of clan elder in Nada basin," 1/6/18
- "One from the crowd killed and another was wounded in an armed attack northwest Kirkuk," 1/3/18
- "Three mortar shells fell near one of the headquarters of the Turkmen Front in central Kirkuk," 1/2/18

Watan News, "Four suicide bombers were killed in a security operation south Salahaddin," 1/3/18



No comments: