Thursday, August 14, 2014

First Week Of August Deadliest Of 2014 In Iraq


August 1-7 was the deadliest week of 2014 in Iraq. The insurgents were active in seven provinces. In Anbar militants laid siege to Haditha. In neighboring Babil there was continued clashes in Jurf al-Sakhr. Baghdad saw a new wave of car bombs, while in Diyala the Islamic State (IS) took Jalawla from the Kurds. Kirkuk city faced terrorist attacks, while there was fighting all throughout central Salahaddin. What garnered international attention however was IS’s successful offensive in northern Ninewa into Kurdish held territory that led to the fall of Sinjar and the surrounding area. Overall the start of August highlighted the fact that insurgents are capable of multiple and simultaneous operations across the breadth of central Iraq, and that they still hold the initiative two months after the fall of Mosul.

The first week of August saw over 1,800 casualties. There were 265 security incidents reported in the press with the most in Salahaddin, 62, followed by Baghdad, 50, Anbar, 43, Diyala, 38, Ninewa, 36, Kirkuk, 18, Babil, 14, and Karbala, 4. That was the second most of the year only behind the 273 recorded from January 8-14. That led to 951 killed made up of 750 civilians, 126 police and soldiers, 19 sahwa, and 56 peshmerga. That was by far the highest amount of the year surpassing the previous high of 729 fatalities from June 15-21. An additional 885 people were wounded including 637 civilians, 218 members of the ISF, 7 Sahwa, and 23 Peshmerga. That was the fourth most injured of any week in 2014. The final figures are probably much higher as both the central and Kurdistan regional government have largely stopped reporting on the losses amongst the security forces and peshmerga.

Security Incidents In Iraq Aug 1-7, 2014
Incidents
Dead
ISF
Sahwa
Peshmerga
Dead
Civilian Dead
Wounded
ISF
Sahwa
Peshmerga Wounded
Civilian Wounded
Gunfire
Bombs
Car Bombs
Suicide Bombers
265
951
126 ISF
19 Sahwa
56 Peshmerga
750
885
218 ISF
7 Sahwa
23 Peshmerga
637
124
104
17
7

Violence In Iraq 2014
Date
Incidents
Dead
Wounded
Jan 1-7
244
363
736
Jan 8-14
272
364
683
Jan 15-21
205
358
616
Jan 22-28
236
305
618
Jan 29-31
57
93
237
JAN
1,014
1,483
2,890
Feb 1-7
204
296
700
Feb 8-14
226
258
505
Feb 15-21
264
346
703
Feb 22-28
251
374
618
FEB
945
1,274
2,526
Mar 1-7
253
412
702
Mar 8-14
206
324
612
Mar 15-21
216
423
736
Mar 22-27
211
279
580
Mar 28-31
110
168
271
MAR
996
1,606
2,901
Apr 1-7
238
259
550
Apr 8-14
223
362
646
Apr 15-21
251
406
786
Apr 22-28
226
347
744
Apr 29-30
61
82
179
APR
999
1,456
2,905
May 1-7
198
246
483
May 8-14
257
469
752
May 15-21
183
256
426
May 22-28
204
407
817
May 29-31
63
90
132
MAY
905
1,468
2,610
Jun 1-7
224
588
1,021
Jun 8-14
227
658
887
Jun 15-21
170
729
564
Jun 22-28
170
720
775
Jun 29-30
56
127
236
JUN
877
2,822
3,483
Jul 1-7
200
511
622
Jul 8-14
211
577
625
Jul 15-21
225
398
1,000
Jul 22-28
223
549
801
Jul 29-31
65
162
230
JUL
924
2,197
3,278
Aug 1-8
265
951
885

A local generator building which was bombed by the Iraqi Air Arm in Fallujah (AP)

Government shelling and air strikes continued to take a heavy toll on civilians. Anbar is where this practice started and in the first week of August there were 57 killed and 148 wounded by shelling and another 8 died and 18 were wounded by air strikes. Originally this was just directed at Fallujah, but as the ISF has lost more control of the province other locations have been hit such as Garma and Qaim. With the fall of Mosul Ninewa has been subjected to similar attacks with 24 dead and 10 wounded in Hermat, Kasak, and Mosul. In Salahaddin 20 died and 48 were wounded by shelling and another 14 killed and 18 wounded by bombing in Alam and east of Tikrit. Finally in Kirkuk 12 died and 10 were wounded by both means in Daquq. In total, 135 people lost their lives and the government wounded another 252. The vast majority of the shelling, bombings and missile strikes on civilian areas appeared to be indiscriminate. That was likely due to the poor intelligence the ISF receives, but also due to a lack of care for the public in insurgent controlled areas. This lack of tact has also led to friendly fire incidents such as on August 2 when 8 peshmerga were killed in Kasak, Ninewa, and the wounding of 9 volunteers east of Tikrit. This has become such an issue that the Anbar provincial council threatened to resign if these random attacks were not stopped. As the militants continue to expand this trend will only get worse.

Casualties From Government Shelling And Air Attacks In Iraq Aug 1-7, 2014
Date
Location
Type
Dead
Wounded
Aug 1
Fallujah, Anbar
Shelling
3
13

Hermat, Ninewa
Air Strike
5


Daquq, Kirkuk
Shelling
6
9


Air Strike


Aug 2
Fallujah, Anbar
Shelling
6
9

Garma, Anbar
Shelling
3
11

Mosul, Ninewa
Air Strike
6


Kasak, Ninewa
Air Strike
8 Peshmerga


East of Tikrit,
Salahaddin
Air Strike
8
9 volunteers

Alam, Salahaddin
Air Strike
6
9

Daquq, Kirkuk
Air Strike
6
1
Aug 3
Fallujah, Anbar
Shelling
8
14

Mosul, Ninewa
Air Strike
5

Aug 4
Fallujah, Anbar
Shelling
11
19

Garma, Anbar
Air Strike
3
4
Aug 5
Fallujah, Anbar
Shelling
6
13

Garma, Anbar
Shelling
2
4

Mosul, Ninewa
Air Strike

10
Aug 6
Fallujah, Anbar
Shelling
7
35

Garma, Anbar
Shelling
2
7

Shirqat, Salahaddin
Shelling
20
48
Aug 7
Fallujah, Anbar
Air Strike
3
7


Shelling
9
23

Garma, Anbar
Air Strike
2
3

Qaim, Anbar
Air Strike

4
TOTALS
-
25
135
252

Insurgents are attempting to take Haditha that would give it control of the dam there for electricity but also to threaten the cities downriver on the Euphrates (Wikipedia)

The major event in Anbar during the start of August was the Islamic State laying siege to Haditha, which is in the western section of the province. IS is targeting the town because they want to control Haditha dam, which would give it another piece of infrastructure to help run its conquered territory with, while threatening many of the provinces’ major cities with flooding. The militants were able to surround the city on all sides. The ISF tried to break the cordon by taking Barawana, which is directly to the south of Haditha on August 5. Fighting continues in this area to this day. For the week Anbar suffered 43 security incidents with 105 killed more than half of which, 65, were due to government fire. Another 184 people were wounded almost all of which, 166, was caused by air strikes and shelling by the ISF. 

On August 1, the ISF launched its 10th operation to clear northern Babil’s Jurf al-Sakhr area this year. This was just a day after the Babil Operations Command claimed that it had secured the area. Things didn’t work out again resulting in the Operations Command commander being replaced on August 4. This was the fourth time in five months that the operations command’s leadership was changed. IS has consistently been able to out maneuver the ISF and the militias that have been deployed there. A tunnel system was found, and insurgents have often moved back and forth between Babil and neighboring Anbar. This new operation is likely to go down like the previous ones with words of success followed by another attempt to take the area from the Islamic State. For the week there were 14 attacks in Babil with 41 killed and 30 wounded.

The Islamic State launched its latest car bomb wave in Baghdad from August 1-7, while bodies continued to be dumped in the province. August 1 a car bomb went off in Sadr City leaving 16 dead and 25 wounded. A four day break followed before six bombs went off in Sadr City, Ur, and New Baghdad with 47 fatalities and 117 injured. The next day another vehicle delivered bomb went off in Kadhimiya with 16 dead and 37 wounded. Most of these neighborhoods were in the heart of Shiite eastern Baghdad, which were targeted by IS in an attempt to stir up sectarian tensions. It also showed the groups continued ability to hit Baghdad despite the increased security and presence of militias on the streets. The latter has been busy in the capital as well. Ten bodies were found in five locations in Baghdad from August 1-7. While it was impossible to determine who was responsible, criminals, insurgents, or militias there were more and more reports of Shiite armed factions kidnapping people, murdering them, and then dumping their bodies across the capital. The governor of Baghdad chimed in accusing militias of picking up people for ransom and terrorizing the innocent. This was the exact response the Islamic State was hoping for with its bombings. The IS is hoping that Sunnis will turn to it for protection and against the government because of its alliance with the militias. For the week there were 50 incidents in Baghdad with 139 deaths and 295 wounded nearly half of which were due to the eight car bombs.

Car Bombs In Baghdad Aug 1-7, 2014
Date
Location
Dead
Wounded
Aug 1
Sadr City
16
25
Aug 2



Aug 3



Aug 4



Aug 5



Aug 6
Sadr City x2, Ur x2, New Baghdad x2
47
117
Aug 7
Kadhimiya
16
37
Total
8
79
179

Bodies Dumped In Baghdad Aug 1-7, 2014
Date
Location
Bodies Found
Aug 1


Aug 2


Aug 3


Aug 4
Kadhimiya
2
Aug 5
East & ?
5
Aug 6
Zafaraniya & Obeidi
3
Aug 7


TOTAL
5
10

Jalawla became a major target of the insurgents in Diyala. Starting on August 2 the Islamic State and local allies launched one of its classic multi-pronged attacks driving out the Peshmerga from some of the major neighborhoods of the town. Eight days later IS expelled the Kurdish forces from all of Jalawla. If it hadn’t been for the arrival of fighters from Turkey’s PKK the Kurds might have broke and the IS could have moved further north. The Peshmerga and PKK are still attempting to retake the area to this day. For the week 36 people were killed and another 36 wounded in 38 attacks.

In Kirkuk insurgents have been carrying out a steady series of terrorist attacks upon the city of Kirkuk, while the government has been hitting insurgent controlled areas. Kirkuk saw a car bomb on August 7 leaving 9 dead and 53 wounded. There were also five improvised explosive devices and three shootings in the city and its suburbs. In Daquq the government launched two air strikes and shelled the city resulting in 12 deaths and 10 injured. Otherwise the province was relatively quiet compared to the rest of central Iraq with only 18 attacks, 30 killed and 78 wounded.

In the beginning of August IS was able to launch offensives on both sides of Mosul taking Sinjar in the west and Qaraqosh and Makhmour on the east (Washington Post)

Ninewa of course was the focal point of most of the world’s attention in August when the IS launched an offensive in the northern section of the province. That started on August 1 with an assault upon Zummar. The next day the peshmerga withdrew and the town fell. A local peshmerga commander said that a counter attack was going to be launched to retake Zummar, but instead the militants pushed forward taking the Yazidi town of Sinjar and Wana on August 3 threatening the Mosul dam. Immediately afterward the Islamists began attacking the local populace as it considers the Yazidis devil worshippers. Shrines were destroyed and 70 people executed on the day the town fell, with two more families killed the next day. By August 5 the press said that up to 300 people had been killed by the insurgents. August 4 Wana was recaptured, but on August 6 the Islamic Stat took Gwar and Makhmour was laid siege to. By the next day militants swept through several other northern towns with large Christian communities such as Qaraqosh, Tilkaif, Bartilla, Karamlesh, Hamdaniya, and Bashika, while Mosul Dam was finally taken as well. Like in Diyala the peshmerga proved no match for the insurgency, and if not for the arrival of fighters from Syria’s Syria's Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Protection Units (YPG) along with the Turkish PKK there could have been a total collapse. The resulting humanitarian crisis was bad enough with around 200,000 Yazidis fleeing the area towards Mount Sinjar that eventually resulted in an international response by the Americans, British, and French that is on going. From August 1-7 there were 35 attacks mentioned in the press with 467 deaths and 53 wounded. It was later reported that roughly 150 peshmerga were killed and 500 wounded in the fighting.

Salahaddin saw violence across the province. The towns of Amerli and Dhuluiya have been fighting the insurgents for weeks now largely on their own. Balad and Dujail were hit by car bombs on August 2. Otherwise there were clashes all along the frontlines between the militants and the security forces in the middle of the province. That resulted in 62 security incidents the most of any governorate with 131 killed and 201 wounded.

Security Incidents In Iraq By Province Aug 1-7, 2014
Province
Security
Incidents
Dead
Wounded
Types of
Attack
Anbar
43
105
8 ISF
14 Sahwa
83 Civilians
184
11 ISF
2 Sahwa
171 Civilians
18 Shootings
4 IEDs
2 Suicide Car Bombs
3 Car Bombs
Babil
14
41
29 ISF
12 Civilians
30
30 ISF
10 Shootings
3 IEDs
Baghdad
50
139
16 ISF
1 Sahwa
122 Civilians
295
43 ISF
252 Civilians
18 Shootings
19 IEDs
1 Suicide Car Bomb
7 Car Bombs
6 Sticky Bombs
Diyala
38
36
21 ISF
1 Peshmerga
36
11 ISF
7 Peshmerga
18 Civilians
15 Shootings
5 IEDs
1 Suicide Bombing
Karbala
4
2
2 Civilians
8
8 Civilians
1 Shooting
3 IEDs
Kirkuk
18
30
30 Civilians
78
2 ISF
76 Civilians
6 Shootings
6 IEDs
1 Car Bomb
Ninewa
36
467
7 ISF
54 Peshmerga
406 Civilians
53
17 ISF
16 Peshmerga
20 Civilians
23 Shootings
3 IEDs
1 Car Bomb
2 Suicide Bombers
Salahaddin
62
131
45 ISF
4 Sahwa
1 Peshmerga
201
104 ISF
5 Sahwa
92 Civilians
33 Shootings
32 IEDs
1 Suicide Car Bomb
1 Car Bomb

What was important about the beginning of August was that it showed the breadth of the insurgent’s capabilities. In the west they laid siege to Haditha. Not only in Ninewa in the north, but in Diyala in the east the Islamic State and local allies pushed back the peshmerga and seized several towns. In the center in Baghdad car bombs were launched despite increased security measures and militias who responded by assassinating people. North of the capital Kirkuk continued to be attacked, while there was fighting all along the front in Salahaddin. Finally, in the south the ISF continued to launch operation after operation in Babil yet could get no traction there against militants. This has forced both Baghdad and Irbil to seek foreign help. With the former it has gone to Iran and its militia allies. For the latter Syrian, Turkish and even Iranian Kurdish forces moved into Ninewa and Diyala to stabilize the front otherwise the peshmerga could have completely collapsed like the ISF did in northern Iraq. It’s been two months since the fall of Mosul and the insurgents still hold the upper hand. They are choosing the time and place of engagements, and are still taking new territory from both the central and regional governments. The beginning of American air strikes has not changes this situation as they are too limited in scope to have a strategic impact. The truth of the matter is that both the Iraqi police and army and the peshmerga are basically static defensive forces. They have been manning checkpoints, guarding facilities, and conducting raids for the last several years. Both need to rebuild their forces, arm them, and re-train them in offensive operations. Hopefully more foreign assistance will be coming to facilitate this process, but it will be a long and costly one, and there’s no telling whether it will be successful either. In the meantime Iraq has been cut in half and the militants can be expected to continue to gain more ground.

SOURCES

Agence France Presse, "Jihadists kill dozens as Iraq fighting rages," 8/2/14

AIN, "14 civilians injured southern Tikrit," 8/2/14
- “Babel Operations Commander replaced,” 8/4/14
- “Barawana district in western Anbar recontrolled by ISF,” 8/5/14

Alsumaria, “Daash regain control of the largest neighborhoods in Jalawla,” 8/2/14
- "Killing and wounding 15 people including women in the fall of mortars on Fallujah," 8/2/14
- "Killing six civilians and wounding nine others in bombing targeting two villages southwest of Kirkuk," 8/1/14
- “Peshmerga announce the start of a security crackdown “will not stop” until the cleansing of Mosul,” 8/2/14

Associated Press, "Officials: Clashes, bombing kill 17 Iraq soldiers," 8/2/14

Aswat al-Iraq, "6 civilians killed, 9+ wounded in Alam area," 8/2/14

Buratha News, "Found two unidentified bodies in the Tigris River north of Baghdad," 8/4/14

eKurd, "After Peshmerga pullout, hundreds of missing Iraqi Kurdish Yazidis feared dead," 8/4/14

Al Forat, “Babel Operations Command announces fully controlling Jurf al-Sakhar district,” 7/31/14

Georgy, Michael and Rasheed, Ahmed, “Tunneling through triangle of death, Islamic State aims at Baghdad from south,” Reuters, 8/4/14

Hussein, Muhammed, Lacky, Shwan, Lando, Ben, Tahir, Rawaz, Van Heuvelen, Ben and van den Toorn, Christine, “The forgotten front,” Iraq Oil Report, 8/13/14

Iraq Times, “Governor of Baghdad: government militiamen kidnap innocent people in Baghdad and Dawa party steals money as part of maintaining security situation,” 8/7/14
- "Killing and wounding 30 people in mortar shelling targeting Fallujah," 8/7/14
- "Killing and wounding 68 people unknown source of bombing north of Tikrit," 8/6/14
- "Martyrdom and wounding 32 people in New Baghdad and Zafaraniya bombings," 8/6/14
- "Martyrdom and wounding 41 civilians by a car bomb in eastern Baghdad Sadr City," 8/1/14
- "Martyrdom and wounding 650 elements of the Peshmerga in battles with the Daash terrorist organization," 8/8/14
- "martyrs and wounded 51 and the burning of 14 cars proceeds of explosion in Kazimiyah," 8/7/14
- “Official Peshmerga: Daash controls Zammar west of Mosul after the withdrawal of the Peshmerga,” 8/2/14
- "Police found 12 unidentified bodies in different parts of Baghdad," 8/5/14

Khoshnaw, Hemin, “YPG Assists Peshmerga Forces In Mosul,” Bas News, 8/3/14

Al Mada, "14 killed and wounded in two separate bombings east and south-west of Baghdad," 8/6/14
- "Killing and injuring 29 people in army bombing east of Fallujah," 8/7/14
- "Killing and wounding 22 people as the army bombed Fallujah," 8/3/14
- "The killing of four women and their children and injuring nine volunteers in aerial bombing targeting the headquarters of Daash east of Tikrit," 8/2/14
- "Seven people injured in aerial bombardment on Daquq south of Kirkuk," 8/2/14

Al Masalah, "127 Daash killed and violent clashes between the Peshmerga and Daash," 8/1/14

Morris, Loveday, “Islamic State seizes town of Sinjar, pushing out Kurds and sending Yazidis fleeing,” Washington Post, 8/3/14

NINA, "/6/ Civilians killed by bombing the residential neighborhoods south of Mosul," 8/2/14
- "/8/ of the Peshmerga killed by bombing western Mosul," 8/2/14
- "/10/ civilians injured in eastern Mosul," 8/5/14
- "16/civilians killed and wounded due to army random shelling on Fallujah," 8/1/14
- "Baghdad Operations: /140/ citizens killed and wound by terrorist attacks in Baghdad," 8/6/14
- "Five civilians from one family killed in an airstrike north of Mosul," 8/3/14
- "Four women and a child killed by aerial bombing in Mosul," 8/1/14
- "The Islamic State execute two Yezidi families for refusing their demands," 8/4/14
- “Local residents: Peshmerga suddenly withdraw from three areas north of Mosul,” 8/7/14
- “New clashes erupted between the IS and Peshmerga inside Makhmour north of Mosul and the displacement of tens of families towards Erbil, “8/6/14
- "Unidentified body found in Baghdad," 8/6/14
- "Urgent../15/ people killed and wounded by the explosion of two car bombs in Ur neighborhood northeast of Baghdad," 8/6/14
- “A wide security operation started to hunt down the remnants of the IS elements north of Babylon,” 8/1/14

Osgood, Patrick and Tahir, Rawaz, "Iraq's Yezidi minority faces massacre," Iraq Oil Report, 8/6/14

Prothero, Mitchell, “Key Christian towns near Kurdish capital fall to Islamic State, sparking panic,” McClatchy Newspapers, 8/7/14
- “Kurds from Turkey, Syria enter Iraq to battle Islamic State,” McClatchy Newspapers, 8/6/14

Radio Free Iraq, "02 August 2014," Daily Updates from Anbar, 8/2/14
- "04 August 2014," Daily Updates from Anbar," 8/4/14
- "05 August 2014," Daily Updates from Anbar, 8/5/14
- "06 August 2014," Daily Updates from Anbar, 8/6/14
- "07 August 2014," Daily Updates from Iraq, 8/7/14

Al Rayy, “Peshmerga control part of Mount Sinjar, west of Mosul,” 8/6/14

Shafaq News, “Peshmerga clear Wana city from ISIS,” 8/4/14

Xinhua, "12 killed in suicide car bombing in Baghdad," 8/7/14
- "33 killed in battles with insurgents, bomb attacks in Iraq," 8/2/14

Yacoub, Sameer and Salaheddin, Sinan, "Car bombs kill 51 in Baghdad Shiite neighborhoods," Associated Press, 8/6/14

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Musings On Iraq In The News

I was mentioned in “Is Donald Trump to Raqqa and Mosul what Assad was to Aleppo?” by Alastair Sloan for Middle East Monitor.