Monday, April 2, 2018

March 2018 The Return Of The Islamic State Insurgency


In October 2017, the Islamic State’s Al-Naba newspaper called on its followers to switch to an insurgency like it did after the Surge. Faced with offensives by the Iraqi government backed by the U.S. led Coalition, the militants could no longer hold ground and suffer such heavy losses at the same time. As a result, the operations to free the last pieces of territory that IS held in Iraq were met with little resistance as Islamic State fighters fell back to regroup. Five months later and the insurgency has finally re-emerged. The number of incidents is still relatively flat since Al Naba’s announcement in October, but the type of attacks has definitively changed with bolder operations and an attempt to gain control of rural areas across the center of Iraq.

The Islamic State is rebuilding in specific areas. Those include western Anbar along the Syrian border with networks that reach into the central Fallujah-Ramadi corridor all the way to Amiriya Fallujah in the east. That is reportedly where attacks into northwest Babil stretching from Iskandiriya to Jurf al-Sakhr are allegedly coming from. In Baghdad, the southern and northern towns such as Yusifiya, Madain, Mahmudiya and Tarmiya continue to be hotbeds. The militants are active in nearly all the rural areas of Diyala from the Hamrin Mountains in the northeast to Qara Tappa in the north to Sadiya in the center to Mandali in the east to Abu Saida in the west. The Islamic State never left Hawija in southwest Kirkuk, and has cells within Kirkuk city as well. Western and southern Ninewa also have active insurgent elements, and in Salahaddin, IS is working in the northern district of Shirqat and in the Hamrin and Makhoul Mountains in the east.

There was a decided escalation in the types of attacks IS launched in March. That included more gun fights and ambushes of the security forces in Anbar, Diyala, Kirkuk and Salahaddin. There were also more deadly and sophisticated operations such as an attack upon a parliamentarian’s motorcade in Baghdad where two bodyguards were taken away. Police and Hashd were kidnapped and often killed in Diyala, Kirkuk and Salahaddin in eight separate incidents. The Islamic State also began setting up four fake checkpoints to kidnap and executed civilians and members of the security forces in Anbar, Kirkuk, Ninewa, and Salahaddin. IS is also attempting to intimidate and eliminate local officials and members of the security forces as seen by the assassination of 2 mayors in Diyala, burning tribal Hashd homes in Kirkuk, and kidnapping sheikhs in southern Ninewa. These were all tactics the militants utilized before in its comeback after the Surge.

These operations do not mean that there will suddenly be a huge surge in attacks. Those have been stable since the October shift to an insurgency. In that month, there were an average of 9.2 incidents per day, followed by 9.8 in November, 8.4 in December, 9.6 in January, 8.7 in February, and 9.9 in March. Anbar saw a sharp decline in attacks starting in December 2017, but have recently gone up from 0.3 per day in January to 0.4 in February, to 0.8 in March. Baghdad saw a large jump from 2.1 incident per day in December up to 3.3 in January and 3.1 in February. In March however, those suddenly dropped to just 2.2. Violence in Diyala and Salahaddin continues to fluctuate up and down with increases in March. After the federal forces took over security in Kirkuk there has been a steady increase in attacks. Ninewa is the exact opposite where violence has gone down continuously since 2017. What this change does point to is deadlier attacks occurring more often. If IS stays to form that will be followed by car and suicide bombs, which have been drastically down since the start of the year. Finally, if the insurgents can consolidate in the rural areas they will move into the cities.
 

This rebirth is being facilitated by shortcomings of the Iraqi forces. In rural areas, the ISF has little presence, and there have been repeated reports that they withdraw during the night out of fear of the insurgents. In those same areas, Iraqi intelligence is also said to be failing to collect information. In Kirkuk and parts of Salahaddin, there are gaps between the Iraqi forces and the Peshmerga and no cooperation, which has opened space for IS. Finally, the repeated security sweeps, 23 during March alone, are accomplishing little. Stashes of weapons are found, some arrests are made, there are occasional confrontations with militants, but as soon as they are over the Iraqi forces withdraw and IS moves back in. There are not enough security forces to be everywhere all the time, but the Iraqi government needs to forge a strategy where they build up local neighborhood watch groups that can call in the security forces for assistance when confronted by the Islamic State. Iraq intelligence needs to spread out to those same rural areas to detect IS cells and eliminate them. Finally, there needs to be cooperation between the federal and Kurdish governments to help secure Kirkuk. The United States is said to be attempted to achieve that through meetings, and the Peshmerga may be able to return to some areas they were pushed out of by Baghdad. If the Iraqi government has any hope of retarding this process it has to act now while the insurgency is still in its infancy of re-emerging.

Casualties In Iraq By Province Feb-Mar 2018
Province
Feb 2018
Mar 2018
Anbar
51 (14 K, 37 W)
122 (53 K, 69 W)
Babil
6 (6 W)
15 (1 K, 14 W)
Baghdad
195 (49 K, 146 W)
128 (36 K, 92 W)
Basra
1 (1 W)
-
Dhi Qar
2 (1 K, 1 W)
-
Diyala
43 (24 K, 19 W)
88 (50 K, 38 W)
Dohuk
-
3 (3K)
Irbil
-
156 (154 K, 2 W)
Kirkuk
70 (50 K, 20 W)
103 (53 K, 50W)
KRG
53 (51 K, 2 W)
21 (20 K, 1 W)
Ninewa
427 (418 K, 9 W)
211 (188 K, 23 W)
Salahaddin
76 (42 K, 34 W)
103 (53 K, 50 W)
Sulaymaniya
-
-

Security Incidents In Iraq By Province Feb-Mar 2018
Province
Feb
Mar
Anbar
12
25
Babil
2
7
Baghdad
88
70
Basra
1
-
Dhi Qar
1
-
Diyala
28
58
Dohuk
-
3
Irbil
-
13
Karbala
-
-
Kirkuk
49
49
KRG
2
7
Ninewa
42
39
Salahaddin
19
36
Sulaymaniya
1
-

Security In Iraq 2017-18
Week
Security
Incidents
Dead
Wounded
JAN 2017
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
Jan 8-14
64
62
70
Jan 15-21
68
156
151
Jan 22-28
68
148
66
Jan 29-31
27
23
22
JAN 2018
298
439
375
Feb 1-7
66
196
67
Feb 8-14
65
63
93
Feb 15-21
59
346
43
Feb 22-28
55
44
72
FEB
245
649
275
Mar 1-7
78
120
84
Mar 8-14
60
84
61
Mar 15-21
67
168
98
Mar 22-28
81
213
61
Mar 29-31
21
26
35
MAR
307
611
339

Weekly Violence By Province In Iraq, March 2018

Mar 1-7
Mar 8-14
Mar 15-21
Mar 22-28
Mar 29-31
Anbar
7 Incidents
1 Killed
1 ISF
11 Wounded
3 Hashd
8 ISF

2 Shootings
3 IEDs
1 Suicide Car
   Bomb
   Destroyed
3 Incidents
4 Wounded
2 Civilians
2 ISF

1 IED
1 Grenade
1 Car Bomb
   Destroyed
5 Incidents
28 Killed
11 ISF
17 Civilians
43 Wounded
11 ISF
32 Civilians

2 Shootings
3 IEDs
7 Incidents
14 Killed
1 Civilian
13 ISF
9 Wounded
2 Civilians
7 ISF

2 Shootings
5 IEDs
1 Rocket
3 Incidents
10 Killed
4 ISF
6 Civilians
2 Wounded
2 ISF

3 IEDs


Mar 1-7
Mar 8-14
Mar 15-21
Mar 22-28
Mar 29-31
Babil
1 Incident
1 Killed
1 Hashd
4 Wounded
4 Hashd

1 Shooting
2 Suicide
    Bombers
    Killed
1 Incident
4 Wounded
4 Hashd

1 IED
4 Incidents
2 Wounded
2 Hashd

1 Shooting
1 IED
-
1 Incident
4 Wounded
4 Hashd

1 IED


Mar 1-7
Mar 8-14
Mar 15-21
Mar 22-28
Mar 29-31
Baghdad
24 Incidents
12 Killed
1 ISF
11 Civilians
33 Wounded
33 Civilians

6 Shootings
11 IEDs
3 Sticky Bombs
2 Grenades
17 Incidents
11 Killed
11 Civilians
28 Wounded
28 Civilians

5 Shootings
8 IEDs
1 Grenade
14 Incidents
6 Killed
1 Hashd
5 Civilians
15 Wounded
1 Hashd
14 Civilians

4 Shootings
6 IEDs
1 Sticky Bomb
1 Grenade
2 Suicide
    Bombers
    Killed
11 Incidents
6 Killed
6 Civilians
12 Wounded
12 Civilians

4 Shootings
4 IEDs
4 Incidents
1 Killed
1 Civilian
4 Wounded
4 Civilians

2 Shootings
1 IED


Mar 1-7
Mar 8-14
Mar 15-21
Mar 22-28
Mar 29-31
Diyala
12 Incidents
3 Killed
3 Civilians
11 Wounded
2 ISF
3 Hashd
3 Civilians

7 Shootings
1 IED
2 Suicide
   Bombers
   Killed
7 Incidents
4 Killed
1 Civilian
3 ISF
2 Wounded
2 Civilians

5 Shootings
5 IEDs
9 Incidents
7 Killed
2 Civilians
5 ISF
4 Wounded
1 ISF
3 Civilians

4 Shootings
4 IEDs
1 Sticky Bomb
2 Mortars
25 Incidents
36 Killed
5 Hashd
14 ISF
17 Civilians
16 Wounded
5 Civilians
11 Hashd

9 Shootings
9 IEDs
3 Mortars
1 Rocket
5 Incidents
5 Wounded
1 Hashd
4 ISF

4 Shootings
1 IED


Mar 1-7
Mar 8-14
Mar 15-21
Mar 22-28
Mar 29-31
Dohuk
1 Incident
1 Killed
1 Civilian

1 Turkish
   Shelling
-
1 Incident
1 Killed
1 Civilian

1 Turkish Air
   Strike
1 Incident
1 Killed
1 Civilian

1 Turkish Air
   Strike
-


Mar 1-7
Mar 8-14
Mar 15-21
Mar 22-28
Mar 29-31
Irbil
2 Incidents
2 Killed
1 Civilian
1 KDPI
2 Wounded
2 KDPI

1 Shooting
1 Sticky Bomb
-
4 Incidents
45 Killed
20 Turkish
   Soldiers
25 PKK

2 Shootings
1 Turkish Air
   Strike
6 Incidents
106 Killed
2 Civilians
2 Peshmerga
102 PKK

4 Turkish Air
   Strikes
1 Incident
1 Killed
1 KDPI

1 Shooting


Mar 1-7
Mar 8-14
Mar 15-21
Mar 22-28
Mar 29-31
Kirkuk
12 Incidents
11 Killed
1 Civilian
2 Hashd
7 ISF
7 Wounded
7 ISF

8 Shootings
1 IED
1 Mortar
1 Grenade
1 Suicide
   Bomber
   Killed
16 Incidents
17 Killed
3 Hashd
14 Civilians
19 Wounded
3 Civilians
16 Hashd

6 Shootings
4 IEDs
1 Suicide
   Motorcycle
   Bomber
1 Rocket
5 Suicide
    Bombers
    Killed
1 Car Bomb
    Dismantled
9 Incidents
19 Killed
1 ISF
6 Hashd
12 Civilians
10 Wounded
2 ISF
3 Civilians
5 Hashd

6 Shootings
3 IEDs
11 Incidents
6 Killed
1 Hashd
5 Civilians
12 Wounded
3 Hashd
9 Civilians

2 Shootings
3 IEDs
3 Sound Bombs
2 Mortars
1 Car Bomb
1 Incident
2 Wounded
1 Civilian
1 ISF

1 Sticky Bomb


Mar 1-7
Mar 8-14
Mar 15-21
Mar 22-28
Mar 29-31
KRG
1 Incident
4 Killed
4 PKK

1 Turkish Air
   Strike
-
-
6 Incidents
16 Killed
1 Turkish Soldier
3 Civilians
12 PKK
1 Wounded
1 Civilian

5 Turkish Air
   Strike
-


Mar 1-7
Mar 8-14
Mar 15-21
Mar 22-28
Mar 29-31
Ninewa
12 Incidents
81 Killed
13 ISF
68 Civilians
8 Wounded
8 ISF

7 Shootings
2 IEDs
1 Car Bomb
    Destroyed
10 Incidents
36 Killed
7 Hashd
29 Civilians
4 Wounded
1 Hashd
3 Civilians

3 Shootings
1 IED
2 Suicide
   Bombers
   Arrested
10 Incidents
52 Killed
5 ISF
47 Civilians
1 Wounded
1 Civilian

5 Shootings
1 IED
1 Grenade
6 Incidents
14 Killed
2 Hashd
3 ISF
9 Civilians
10 Wounded
10 ISF

4 Shootings
2 IEDs
1 Incident
5 Killed
5 ISF

1 Shooting


Mar 1-7
Mar 8-14
Mar 15-21
Mar 22-28
Mar 29-31
Salahaddin
6 Incidents
4 Killed
1 Civilian
3 ISF
8 Wounded
3 ISF
5 Peshmerga

2 Shootings
2 IEDs
3 Suicide
   Bombers
   Killed
6 Incidents
16 Killed
1 ISF
15 Civilians

4 Shootings
3 IEDs
11 Incidents
10 Killed
4 ISF
6 Civilians
23 Wounded
8 ISF
15 Civilians

10 Shootings
1 IED
8 Incidents
14 Killed
1 Hashd
2 Civilians
11 ISF
1 Wounded
1 ISF

6 Shootings
1 IED
5 Incidents
9 Killed
9 Hashd
18 Hashd
18 Hashd

1 Shooting
1 IED
1 Suicide
   Bomber
2 Suicide
   Bombers
   Killed

Violence By Province March 2018
Province
Violence
Anbar
25 Incidents
53 Killed
24 Civilians
29 ISF
69 Wounded
3 Hashd
30 ISF
36 Civilians

6 Shootings
15 IEDs
1 Rocket
1 Grenade
1 Suicide Car Bomb Destroyed
1 Car Bomb Destroyed
Babil
7 Incidents
1 Killed
1 Hashd
14 Wounded
14 Hashd

2 Shootings
3 IEDs
2 Suicide Bombers Killed
Baghdad
70 Incidents
36 Killed
1 ISF
1 Hashd
34 Civilians
92 Wounded
1 Hashd
91 Civilians

21 Shootings
30 IEDs
4 Sticky Bombs
4 Grenades
2 Suicide Bombers Killed
Diyala
58 Incidents
50 Killed
5 Hashd
22 ISF
23 Civilians
38 Wounded
7 ISF
13 Civilians
15 Hashd

29 Shootings
20 IEDs
1 Sticky Bomb
5 Mortars
1 Rocket
2 Suicide Bombers Killed
Dohuk
3 Incidents
3 Killed
3 Civilians

3 Turkish Air Strikes
Irbil
13 Incidents
154 Killed
2 KDPI
2 Peshmerga
3 Civilians
20 Turkish Soldiers
127 PKK
2 Wounded
2 KDPI

4 Shootings
1 Sticky Bomb
5 Turkish Air Strikes
Kirkuk
49 Incidents
53 Killed
8 ISF
12 Hashd
32 Civilians
50 Wounded
10 ISF
16 Civilians
24 Hashd

2 Shootings
11 IEDs
1 Sticky Bomb
3 Sound Bombs
3 Mortars
1 Rocket
1 Grenade
1 Suicide Motorcycle Bomb
1 Car Bomb
6 Suicide Bombers Killed
1 Car Bomb Dismantled
KRG
7 Incidents
20 Killed
1 Turkish Soldier
3 Civilians
16 PKK
1 Wounded
1 Civilian

6 Turkish Air Strikes
Ninewa
39 Incidents
188 Killed
26 ISF
9 Hashd
153 Civilians
23 Wounded
1 Hashd
4 Civilians
18 ISF

20 Shootings
6 IEDs
1 Grenade
2 Suicide Bombers Killed
1 Car Bomb Dismantled
Salahaddin
36 Incidents
53 Killed
10 Hashd
19 ISF
24 Civilians
50 Wounded
5 Peshmerga
12 ISF
15 Civilians
18 Hashd

23 Shootings
8 IEDs
1 Suicide Bomber
5 Suicide Bombers Killed

SOURCES

Anadolu Agency, "Daesh ambush leaves 8 police officers dead in Iraq," 3/24/18

Baghdad Post, "Gunmen attack checkpoint in Kirkuk," 3/10/18
- "IMIS militant killed by ISIS terrorist in eastern Salahuddin," 3/29/18

Bas News, "Dozens of Hashd al-Shaabi Fighters, IS Militants Killed as Clash Breaks out in Hawija," 3/6/18

Buratha News, "Security forces foiled an attempt by terrorists to infiltrate Shirqat," 3/13/18
- "Terrorist attempt to sneak into Diyala from Salahaddin was thwarted," 3/16/18

Ebraheem, Mohammed, "Eight Iraqi soldiers killed, injured in Islamic State attack on Anbar roadblock," Iraqi News, 3/16/18
- "Four Islamic State militants killed in clashes with pro-govt troops in Diyala," Iraqi News, 3/6/18
- "Four policeman killed in confrontation with Islamic State in Mosul," Iraqi News, 3/5/18
- "Iraqi troops kill seven Islamic State militants in Nineveh province," Iraqi News, 3/18/18
- Mohammed, "IS militants kill two people, kidnap three others at fake checkpoint in Kirkuk," Iraqi News, 3/20/18

Al Forat, “Tamimi calls on Abadi to intervene immediately to stop the deterioration of security in Diyala,” 3/5/18

Al Ghad Press, "Aborted attack on a security checkpoint southeast of Baquba," 3/16/18
- "The injury of three Daash members and the disappearance of another in an attack northeast Diyala," 3/1/18
- "The outcome of the clashes between the crowd and Daash in Amiriya Fallujah," 3/5/18

Goran, Baxtiyar, "IS kills several Iraqi security members in separate attacks in eastern Iraq," Kurdistan 24, 3/15/18

Hassan, Hassan, “Insurgents Again: The Islamic State’s Calculated Reversion To Attrition In The Syria-Iraq Border Region And Beyond,” CTC Sentinel, 12/21/17

Hath Al-Youm, "Diyala announces a big Daash attack: Village women fought for more than an hour," 3/30/18
- "Seven policemen from Dhi Qar were killed along with their driver in an ambush near Baquba," 3/22/18

Iraq Newspaper, "Armed Attack On Patrol In Central Ramadi," 3/4/18
- "Attack On Road And Killing 5 Members Of The Popular Crowd By Terrorists," 3/21/18
- "A Battle in Samarra And A Terrorist Explosive Charge In Ishaqi North Baghdad," 3/17/18
- "A Car Bomb Exploded On Ninety Street In Kirkuk And Two People Were Kidnapped From Mosul," 3/13/18
- "A Fierce Battle Between The 11th Brigade Of The Popular Crowd And Terrorists In Kirkuk," 3/5/18
- "The Killing And Wounding Of 5 Of The Popular Crowd In A Terrorist Ambush Near The Iranian Border," 3/26/18
- "The Killing And Wounding Of A Whole Family In Diyala In A Terrorist Attack," 3/24/18
- "Security Source: Daash Terrorists Executed 5 Soldiers In Mosul," 3/30/18
- "Seven Soldiers Were Killed From The 66th Battalion, 20th Brigade Mourns Four Of Its Soldiers In Mosul," 3/2/18
- "Terrorists Publishing Pictures Of The Burning Of 11 Homes Of The Popular Crowd In Kirkuk On Twitter," 3/27/18
- "Terrorists Surround The Fifth Brigade In Sinjar, Mosul," 3/7/18
- "Wounding A Number Of Members Of The Federal Police In A Daash Terrorist Attack Targeting The Abbasi District In The Hawija District Southwest Kirkuk," 3/3/18

Al Maalomah, "21 civilians, including children, were killed and wounded between Daquq and al-Tuz," 3/20/18
- "The popular crowd foils the infiltration of criminals near Hamrin," 3/14/18
- "The popular crowd repulsed an offensive in Metibija east Salahaddin," 3/27/18

Mostafa, Mohamed, "Iraqi tribal fighter killed in Islamic State attack in Kirkuk," Iraqi News, 3/27/18
- "Source: Iraqi forces kill 3 Islamic State fighters in Kirkuk," Iraqi News, 3/6/18

Mostafa, Nehal, "10 police personnel likely to be abducted during clashes against IS, south of Kirkuk: Source," Iraqi News, 3/21/18
- "Five people killed, injured as Islamic State launches attack, west of Kirkuk," Iraqi News, 3/19/18
- "Four army personnel wounded in armed attack, south of Salahuddin," Iraqi News, 3/21/18
- "Iraqi joint troops foil Islamic State attacks, shell militants, south of Salahuddin," Iraqi News, 3/8/18
- "Paramilitary troops repel two Islamic State attacks, free four abducted personnel in Salahuddin," Iraqi News, 3/20/18
- "Security personnel killed, two others injured in Islamic State attack, northwest of Kirkuk," Iraqi News, 3/19/18

NINA, "An Attack To Daesh On A Security Point For The Tribal Mobilization North Of Baquba Foiled," 3/28/19
-"An attack by Daesh of two axes on a liberated village north of Baquba foiled," 3/30/18
- "The dead body of a kidnapped paramedic was found northeast of Baquba," 3/6/18
- "The Federal Police repulsed an attack to Daesh in the district of Makhmour southeast of Mosul," 3/1/18
- "Foiled two attacks by Daash on two villages north of Baquba," 3/11/18
- "Four policemen killed, twenty Islamic State State members arrested in Mosul," Iraqi News, 3/20/18
- "The Popular Crowd repulsed a mobile detachment for Daesh in the border Hill of Safouk," 3/18/18
- "Six of the tribal crowd killed and wounded west of Kirkuk," 3/19/18
- "Three members of the popular crowd wounded in an attack in northeastern Baquba," 3/2/18

Rudaw, "3 Peshmerga wounded after ISIS kills shepherd in Kifri," 3/2/18

Shafaaq News, "Eight people were killed and wounded in an attack upon the popular crowd near Tuz Kharmato," 3/11/18
- "Iraq … Daash kill and burn 25 people in separate attacks," 3/12/18

Sotaliraq, "Two soldiers killed in a Daesh attack south of Mosul," 3/27/18

Al Sumaria, "The bodies of two customs agents were found hours after they were kidnapped north Diyala," 3/8/18
- "Eight Daash members were killed in clashes with the popular crowd in Kirkuk," 3/9/18
- "Local source: one fighter from the popular crowd wounded in a Daesh attack north-east Diyala," 3/30/18
- "Local source: Seven soldiers were killed and seven others wounded in an armed attack southeast al-Rutba," 3/15/18
- "Security forces and Sayara Salam thwart an attack by Daesh southwest of Samarra," 3/24/18
- "A soldier was wounded by a shooting at a checkpoint northeast of Baquba," 3/16/18
- "Thwarted an assassination attempt on a deputy in Baghdad and abducted two of his bodyguards," 3/8/18
- "Two members of Daash were killed in clashes with popular crowd forces southwest Kirkuk," 3/7/18

Xinhua, "2 soldiers killed in clash with gunmen in central Iraq," 3/26/18
- "7 IS militants killed in clashes with security forces in central Iraq," 3/15/18
- "9 killed in insurgent attacks in central Iraq," 3/25/18

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