Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Reluctant Partners The Kurds And Iraq’s New Government

When Prime Minister Haider Abadi’s new government was confirmed by parliament in the middle of September 2014 the Kurds were reluctant partners. They showed up late to the session and were disappointed that the new premier did not give them any concessions beforehand. They ended up issuing him a 90-day deadline to meet their demands over things like the budget and the disputed territories. This was despite the fact that they were dealing from a position of weakness as Abadi did not need their votes to put together a new coalition. Still, Abadi has entertained their position because he needs a unified government to face the threat posed by the insurgency, and knows that will only be accomplished by winning their trust after all the difficulties they had with ex-Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

When Abadi put together his new regime, the Kurdish parties were unhappy. They claimed they only agreed to the new ruling coalition because of international pressure form the United States and United Nations. The Kurds’ main complaint was that Abadi hadn’t given them any concessions before the government was formed. For example, they were demanding that civil servant salaries be delivered beforehand. The prime minister designate however, went ahead anyway as he had secured a majority in parliament without the Kurds. They were in fact, still in a meeting in Sulaymaniya when the announcement went out that the legislature would be voting on his new ministers. The Kurdish lawmakers ended up joining the session 30 minutes late. Afterward, the Kurds gave Abadi a 3 month deadline to meet their demands on things such as the budget, oil exports, funding the peshmerga, Article 140 and control of their civil airspace. They have also demanded that their share of ministries increase from three to four, and that they receive the head of the Election Commission and one other commission. The new premier responded by saying some of those issues such as the budget would be dealt with within a month, while others like the disputed areas would take a year showing that he felt no pressure from Irbil. As a sign of their continued frustration, no Kurdish ministers have taken part in any cabinet meetings so far, and former parliamentarian Mahmoud Othman said they are waiting for substantive moves before they participate. They’ve even gone as far as to threaten a referendum on independence if Abadi didn’t deliver. These actions are a result of the lack of faith the Kurdish parties have in Baghdad after the rule of Nouri al-Maliki. He played the Kurds against the Arabs, always opposed their oil policy, and ended up cutting off their budget payments when they opened their own independent pipeline to Turkey. Abadi knows this history, and believes he has to win them over to remain part of the government. At the same time, he knew he had the upper hand over them when it came to putting together the new government, which was why he didn’t promise them anything. In fact, the Kurds call for military aid, salaries, etc. shows that they still need Baghdad’s help in the face of their budget crisis and the threat from the insurgency.

The Kurds sent a delegation to meet with Abadi on September 26, 2014, which was able to gain a slight concession. Deputy Premier Rowsch Nouri Shaways headed the party. That day it was announced that the premier agreed to pay Kurdish public workers two months salaries for August and September. The regional government claims that the central authorities owe it $9 billion in back pay as a result of Maliki’s cut off. This is a major issue because Irbil, like Baghdad has a state run economy with the state being the largest employer. That also means the peshmerga, who are facing the militants, are not receiving their salaries either. This was a small, yet meaningful good faith move by the prime minister.

The Kurds like every group in Iraq are expecting a lot from Prime Minister Abadi. He has to make up for all the bad blood that was created by Maliki. They have a long list of demands, some of which like oil and the disputed territories no government since 2005 has been able to successfully deal with because of the dysfunction and divisions between the ruling parties. Little can be expected on those fronts. Other issues however like the budget and peshmerga should be easier. Abadi would probably like the Kurds to agree to be an active participant in the government if he gives in on these issues rather than just taking money and going on their own independent course. Working out this relationship is just one of Abadi’s many pressing priorities he has to deal with to bring his country back together after it has been ripped apart by the on going security crisis.


AIN, “Barzani’s party announces the replacement of Zebari with Shaways in the federal government,” 9/28/14

Al Masalah, “Kurdish delegation in Baghdad to discuss Abadi, an official in two cases,” 9/28/14

National Iraqi News Agency, “Kurd MP: Kurds seek for two independent bodies and keep the same security positions in the government,” 9/29/14
- “The Kurds are waiting practical steps from Abadi to participate in the government” 9/28/14

Rudaw, “Kurdish Civil Servants to Receive Eid Salaries from Baghdad,” 9/29/14

Salih, Mohammed, “Iraqi Kurds unhappy partners in Abadi’s government,” Al Monitor, 9/16/14

Solomon, Erika, “Kurds take tough line as Abadi races to form Iraq government,” Financial Times, 8/19/14

Whitcomb, Alexander, “Kurds in New Government Reject Plan,” Rudaw, 9/10/14

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Latest Military Fiasco In Iraq The Fall of Camp Saqlawiya, Anbar

During the summer the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) faced one collapse after another. First the country’s second largest city Mosul fell, then western Kirkuk province, and northern Salahaddin including Tikrit. The militants were then stopped, and the Islamic State (IS) turned north and east towards the Kurds and Yazidis. Eventually, it seemed like a rough stalemate had settled across the nation’s fighting. That changed in the middle of September when the IS was able to overrun a small army base north of Fallujah called Camp Saqlawiya. This showed that the insurgents still hold the operational initiative, and can mass forces in parts of the country despite the increasing western air presence.

Camp Saqlawiya was located just to the north of Fallujah in Anbar (En verite)

In the middle of September 2014 the insurgents were able to seize some small towns to the north of Fallujah, which led to the ISF sending in a force to retake them. One of those towns was Siger, which is just outside of Saqlawiya. In response 400 soldiers from the 3rd Brigade, a SWAT unit, and elements of the League of the Righteous militias were sent to liberate the villages. The 3rd Brigade contingent ended up at Camp Saqlawiya. The Islamic State claimed this was all a trap they set to draw in government forces and destroy them. This became a reality in Saqlawiya.

The militants quickly surrounded the camp and took the neighboring territory to stop any relief columns that might be sent. The first day the Islamic State attacked using captured ISF Humvees and used loudspeakers to call on the soldiers to surrender. They were eventually able to take the main road to the base cutting off its supplies. A tank unit from Ramadi did get within 500 yards of the base, but couldn’t break through the insurgent lines. When the entrapped soldiers saw the column they tried to fight their way to it, but were turned back by IS fire. That would end up sealing the fate of the camp. The cordon around the camp was never broken.

Anbar Operations Command head Gen. Fliah called the soldiers at Camp Saqlawiya complainers showing his lack of care for his troops (Iraqi News)

As the siege lasted for five days the troops began running low on ammunition and supplies. They called their commanders, family members, lawmakers, and a humanitarian group all pleading for help. Officers said that relief was coming, but none did as the in coming roads were full of improvised explosive devices. Worse yet, the head of the Anbar Operations Command told the Washington Post that the soldiers were being whiners just because they were under attack, and claimed that supplies got into Saqlawiya, but survivors denied that. The general’s comments point to how the ISF leadership did not take the situation at Camp Saqlawiya seriously or worse yet did not care. It was this type of callousness that led to the fall of much of northern Iraq during the summer. Just like in this case, local officers in Ninewa and Salahaddin called their commanders for orders about what to do and for help in the face of the advancing insurgent forces and received no serious replies. Instead their leaders abandoned them.

The fifth day of the siege was the last as the militants were finally able to break the soldier’s defenses. On September 21, the troops were given orders to withdraw to Mazram army base in northern Fallujah. The ISF also claimed that it took Siger and broke the siege on the camp, but that proved untrue. That night the IS attacked using two suicide bombers in captured Humvees, followed by three suicide bombers with explosive vests. The base believed that this was the relief column that was promised and welcomed the incoming vehicles, only to find out they were insurgents dressed in army uniforms. The explosions opened up the camp, and an assault team entered using mortars, RPGs, and heavy machine guns. Some soldiers claimed the mortar shells were full of chlorine, but this was only reported in one Al Jazeera story. With IS fighters inside the perimeter the soldiers broke up into small groups to try to escape. The Washington Post claimed that 400 got out, but there was no way to confirm this as many soldiers were spread out, captured or killed in the surrounding area. 40 soldiers were said to have died in the night attack however. IS claimed they captured four M1A1 Abrams tanks, a Russian tank, three BMP armored personnel carriers, and 41 Humvees, although there was no way to prove that either. Shafaq News reported that 180 captured soldiers were taken to Fallujah, while politicians said that 300 soldiers in total died during the siege. Survivors interviewed by the Washington Post put the losses at anywhere from 100 to 500 soldiers killed. This was quite a feat for the militants as they had massed their forces for a week outside a military base, turned back relief efforts, and successfully took their target. They had not been able to take an ISF base since Camp Speicher outside of Tikrit in June.

The fall of Camp Saqlawiya showed that the militants are still on the offensive in parts of Iraq. Since January when fighting broke out in Anbar the insurgents have continuously expanded their hold upon the province, and it’s now said they control up to 85% of it. The United States Air Force has started striking targets in the governorate, but it has not seemed to stop the militants’ operations there. More importantly this was another expose of the incompetence of the leadership of the Iraqi Security Forces. The comments by the Anbar Operations Commander showed that they do not care about their soldiers. Iraqi army planes and helicopters could have been deployed to break the IS cordon or at least drop supplies. Instead, false stories were spread that the camp had been relieved, while it was allowed to fall. Even to this day survivors of the base claim that they are being mistreated. Prime Minister Haider Abadi has promised to reform the security forces, but that will take years. Until then he will have to deal with the legacy of his predecessor Premier Nouri al-Maliki who politicized and coup proofed the ISF by appointing loyalist officers rather than competent ones. There is also widespread corruption within the force that undermines its professionalism. That all means more Camp Speicher’s and Saqlawiya’s can happen until the army and police are thoroughly rebuilt.


Kirkpatrick, David, “Despite Airstrikes, ISIS Appears to Hold Its Ground in Iraq,” New York Times, 9/22/14

Al Mada, “Survivors of Saqlawiyah forced to return to the fighting without weapons and soldiers upheld as “a death sentence for treason,” 9/28/14

Morris, Loveday, “Hundreds of Iraqi soldiers missing or stranded after chaotic withdrawal,” Washington Post, 9/21/14
- “Islamic State attack on Iraqi base leaves hundreds missing, shows army weaknesses,” Washington Post, 9/22/14

Naji, Jamal, “Abadi shakes up military leadership after Anbar massacre,” Iraq Oil Report, 9/24/14

National Iraqi News Agency, “Anbar operations announces lift the siege on /400/ soldiers trapped by (IS) north of Fallujah,” 9/21/14

Radio Free Iraq, “24 June 2014,” Daily Updates from Anbar, 9/24/14

Al-Salhy, Suadad, “Iraqi PM removes Maliki’s men from key roles,” Al Jazeera, 9/27/14

Semple, Kirk, “Facing Militants With Supplies Dwindling, Iraqi Soldiers Took to Phones,” New York Times, 9/26/14

Shafaq News, “ISIS transfers “Saqlawiyah” soldiers to Fallujah city,” 9/28/14

Yacoub, Sameer, “Iraq officials say Baghdad car bomb has killed 12,” Associated Press, 9/22/14

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Musings On Iraq In The News

I was mentioned in “How an ISIS attempt to free prisoners in Baghdad could spiral into something much worse” on Vox. I was interviewed by Sajad Jiyad for his article "The fake sheikh: Why the media repeat Ali Hatem's false 'claim,'" on his blog. I was cited in "Brief Note on Fighting in Fallujah and the Periphery" in Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi's blog. My article on Premier Abadi's need to reach out to Sunnis was republished by Business Insider. Finally I talked with Karl Morand for his  "Update on the Conflict in Iraq" for the Middle East Week Podcast.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Premier Abadi Retires Two Of Iraq’s Top Generals, But Members Of Parliament Wants Them Prosecuted

On September 21, 2014 Islamic State (IS) led insurgents captured an army base in Saqlawiya, which is to the north of Fallujah in Anbar. Some 300 soldiers were said to have died with others captured. This was the largest military collapse since the fall of Tikrit in June. In response Premier Haider Abadi retired two top commanders in the Iraqi army General Abboud Qanbar, the deputy chief of staff of operations and General Ali Ghidan the Ground Forces Commander. The two had been under fire before, which has led some parliamentarians to call for their investigation and perhaps prosecution for the fall of northern Iraq during the summer.
Gen. Qanbar deputy chief of staff of operations (left) and General Ghidan the ground forces of commander were forced into retirement by PM Abadi after the fall of Camp Saqlawiya in Anbar

After the fall of Camp Saqlawiya Prime Minister Abadi announced that he was retiring General Abboud Qanbar and General Ali Ghidan. He said he was holding those responsible for the latest fiasco in Anbar accountable. Both generals were known as Maliki loyalists. Back in October 2009, Maliki fired Qanbar as the head of the Baghdad Operations Command after a day of bombings in the capital cost the lives of 127 people and wounded another 448. That didn’t stop Maliki from later appointing him as the deputy chief of staff of operations. Later, Qanbar and General Ghidan would be blamed for the fall of Mosul in June 2014. Both generals were in the city when the insurgents attacked. They ended up getting on a helicopter and fleeing before Mosul was taken. When word spread they had left many members of the security forces shed their uniforms and took off as well. Maliki said he was punishing the two afterward, but nothing happened due to their relationship with the former premier. Now that Abadi has finally gotten rid of them some members of parliament are upset. Several have called for Qanbar and Ghidan to be brought before the legislature and investigated for their role in the fighting in Mosul. Some said they should be put on trial for negligence, while others were afraid the two would leave the country and never be questioned. They obviously believe that simply being retired is not enough punishment for what these two former generals have been involved in.

Few Iraqi officials have ever been held accountable for their mistakes so Abadi’s firing of Generals Qanbar and Ghidan was a change. However neither looks like they will face any further consequences for their lack of leadership over the last several months when insurgents took a quarter of the country under their watch. That’s why some lawmakers are angry, and are calling for their heads. It’s unlikely anything further will happen to them. Premier Abadi wants to bring about reforms, but not rock the boat too much given his fragile political situation and the on going security crisis.


Alsumaria, “Security Forces blamed for Baghdad attacks,” 10/28/09

Habib, Mustafa, “did they or didn’t they? iraqi army did not desert mosul, they were ordered to leave,” Niqash, 6/15/14

Independent Press Agency, “Abadi decides to refer Abboud Qanbar and Ali Ghaidan to retirement,” 9/23/14

Al Mada, “MPs are demanding an investigation by Abadi of officers he’s retiring,” 9/25/14
- “Officer tells what happened in Mosul: leadership ordered us to evacuate and leave the equipment.. and soldiers disguised with parents,” 6/11/14

Morris, Loveday, "Hundreds of Iraqi soldiers missing or stranded after chaotic withdrawal," Washington Post, 9/21/14

Naji, Jamal, “Abadi shakes up military leadership after Anbar massacre,” Iraq Oil Report, 9/24/14

National Iraqi News Agency, “Assistant General Chief of Staff leads a campaign to clean Anbar’s western desert from Qaeda elements,” 12/21/13
- "Nujaifi Condemns /Daash/ crime in Saqlawiyah and Alsiger areas of Anbar," 9/22/14

Roads To Iraq, “Al-Sadr’s election campaign, questioning Maliki is the next political crisis,” 12/9/09

RTT News, “Chief Of Iraqi Security Forces In Baghdad Replaced After Deadly Bomb Attacks,” 12/9/09

Shamdeen, Nawzat, “inside mosul: how did extremists take over iraq’s second-biggest city in just five days?” Niqash, 6/10/14

Yacoub, Sameer, "Iraq officials say Baghdad car bomb has killed 12," Associated Press, 9/22/14

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Can PM Abadi Appeal To Iraq’s Sunnis?

Premier Haider Abadi has only been in office for a few weeks now, but he has huge work ahead of him. One main goal is for him to reach out to Iraq’s Sunnis in the hopes that they will support his new government and help in the fight against the insurgency. He knows this, and is being pressured by the Americans do to the same as a precondition for their military support. So far the prime minister has touched on some of the community’s main demands, but he has not done anything concrete about them yet.

Sunnis have voiced a number of demands for the last few years. Some of those include the release of prisoners held without charges or trials, a new Sahwa, and the decentralization of powers to the provinces if not the creation of federal regions. One Sunni politician told the Financial Times that some goodwill gestures would be welcomed s well such as the end of bombing of cities, and aid to the displaced. Premier Abadi has attempted to address several of these concerns.

In early September 2014 Abadi proposed a new National Guard program that could be considered a concession to Sunnis. Under the plan local units would be created, which would be under the control of governors, while being paid for by Baghdad. The Anbar provincial council welcomed the idea saying that they had plans to organize 10,000 guardsmen in the governorate. A former Sahwa leader in southern Baghdad’s Arab Jabour however rejected the idea. He complained that the government neglected the Sahwa after the U.S. left and was worried the same would happen with the National Guard. Former parliamentarian Hamid Mutlaq also warned that if militias were integrated into the new units they would take over, and that would be unacceptable. Despite the criticism, the National Guard offers the chance to devolve some power over the security forces down to the provinces. This was already supposed to have happened with the 2008 Provincial Powers law and the 2013 amendment to that act. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki never agreed to either, as he believed in concentrating power in his hands, especially over the army and police. The National Guard would also be different from the Sahwa as the new recruits would be actual members of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), not just paid fighters like the Awakening and Sons of Iraq were. The idea has the support of the Americans as well who might be willing to provide some type of support.

September 13 the premier ordered the end of government shelling of civilian areas. This had been a complaint of both Sunni politicians and human rights groups. Since fighting started in Anbar in January 2014 hundreds of people have been killed and wounded by mostly indiscriminate fire there. This tactic was expanded to Ninewa, Salahaddin and Kirkuk after the insurgent summer offensive began. Unfortunately this order has not been followed. Starting on September 16 Fallujah was hit by artillery fire, and that has been repeated almost every day since then. This has drawn complaints from some sheikhs who said they had lost faith in the premier as a result. The Anbar provincial council demanded that Abadi hold those officers accountable who have not followed his command. The prime minister has the power to stop this practice, as the ISF are under his authority. It’s likely that Abadi has simply not followed through with his statement and enforced it.

Finally, on September 22 Abadi gave an interview with Al-Arabia television station saying that he had no problem with the formation of a Sunni region. Towards the end of 2011 Salahaddin and Diyala attempted to form federal regions, but was blocked by Maliki. Later, when the Sunni protest movement started there were some who advocated for regions as well although there was no consensus on the matter. By 2014 political parties such as Mutahidun had taken up the call for federalism. Abadi’s remarks then were a major nod towards Sunni demands. How to actually form a region is a bit murky, but more importantly, many Sunni areas are now under insurgent control. The prime minister was smart to bring up the topic, but at the same time he knows that it will not happen any time soon so he can gain political points without having to actually deal with decentralization.

So far Prime Minister Abadi has said all the right things, but taken little actual action to appease Sunnis. He’s talked about decentralizing power and not targeting civilians. The shelling has continued, and regions are impossible with militants holding parts of Anbar, Ninewa, Salahaddin and Kirkuk. The only thing that looks like it will actually be implemented any time soon is the National Guard. Abadi needs to do something substantive and soon otherwise he will begin to face the accusation that he is no different than Maliki. That doesn’t mean he won’t be able to make Sunni allies given the power of the purse he holds as the head of the country, but it will be all the harder without substantive goodwill gestures not just words. Otherwise he will lose the little faith he has as the new premier.


Alsumaria, "Fallujah Hospital announces receiving 28 dead and wounded in renewed shelling of the city," 9/15/14

Fahim, Kareem, Ahmed, Azam, and Semple, Kirk, “Sunni Mistrust Is Major Hurdle for New Iraqi Leaders,” New York Times, 9/10/14

Kirkpatrick, David, “Despite Airstrikes, ISIS Appears to Hold Its Ground in Iraq,” New York Times, 9/22/14

Morris, Loveday, “Iraq plans a new force to counter Islamic State. Here’s why some say it’s doomed,” Washington Post, 9/13/14

National Iraqi News Agency, “Anbar provincial council demand Abadi to proceed to accountability security leaders who bypass the decision to stop the indiscriminate shelling,” 9/22/14
- “A local force of 10 thousand volunteers will be formed within the National Guard in Anbar,” 9/20/14

Sabah, Mohammad, “Congress: the new legislative amendment restores to the provinces 80% of the constitutional powers,” Al-Mada, 6/25/13

Shafaq News, “Abadi: No problem in formation of a Sunni region in Iraq…Kurds dream of their state is not in my hand,” 9/22/14
- “Sources: Abadi vowed to stop the Activity of 7 Shiite militias in Baghdad,” 9/14/14

Solomon, Erika, “Kurds take tough line as Abadi races to form Iraq government,” Financial Times, 8/19/14

Sowell, Kirk, “Iraq’s Second Sunni Insurgency,” Hudson Institute, 8/4/14

Xinhua, “Iraq PM orders halt of shelling populated areas in fight with IS,” 9/13/14

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Collapse At Army Base In Iraq’s Anbar Keeps Casualties High 3rd Week of September 2014

Violence has been going down in Iraq for the last month and a half. The third week of September saw some of the fewest attacks of 2014. Casualties have remained high however. The Islamic State has been carrying out massacres in the areas under its control. Only one of those occurred during the third week of September, but the fall of an Iraqi army base outside of Fallujah kept the number of dead and wounded up. The Islamic State also launched a multi-faceted attack upon a neighborhood in Baghdad showing that they still hold some of the initiative despite the end of their large charge through the north.

From September 15-21, 2014 there were 164 security incidents. This was up from the 150 of the week before, but on par with the first week of September’s 168. The third week had the third fewest attacks of the year. This downward trend started in the beginning of August as fighting settled into a rough stalemate. Salahaddin had the most attacks for the week with 45, followed by 44 in Baghdad. After that there was a decided drop with 26 in Anbar, 16 in Ninewa, 14 in Diyala, 10 in Babil, 8 in Kirkuk, and one in Karbala.

Despite the drop in attacks the number of dead and wounded remained high from September 15-21. For the week there were 614 killed. That was down from last week’s 896, but on par with the first week of September’s 616. The previous two weeks casualty figures have been high due to executions by the Islamic State and mass graves being discovered. There were hardly any of those from September 15-21 accounting for the drop. The 614 were made up of 353 members of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), 4 Sahwa and 257 civilians. There were also 736 wounded consisting of 60 ISF, 3 Sahwa, and 673 civilians. That figure was roughly the same as the last few weeks.

Violence In Iraq By Week 2014
Jan 1-7
Jan 8-14
Jan 15-21
Jan 22-28
Jan 29-31
Feb 1-7
Feb 8-14
Feb 15-21
Feb 22-28
Mar 1-7
Mar 8-14
Mar 15-21
Mar 22-27
Mar 28-31
Apr 1-7
Apr 8-14
Apr 15-21
Apr 22-28
Apr 29-30
May 1-7
May 8-14
May 15-21
May 22-28
May 29-31
Jun 1-7
Jun 8-14
Jun 15-21
Jun 22-28
Jun 29-30
Jul 1-7
Jul 8-14
Jul 15-21
Jul 22-28
Jul 29-31
Aug 1-8
Aug 9-14
Aug 15-21
Aug 22-28
Aug 29-31
Sep 1-7
Sep 8-14
Sep 15-21

As with every week this month the Islamic State launched a car bomb wave. The last one went from September 17-19 and consisted of 10 car bombs striking Anbar, Babil, Baghdad, Karbala and Salahaddin costing the lives of 67 people and injuring a further 162. For the month there have been 34 such attacks resulting in 189 deaths and 643 wounded. IS has been able to maintain a huge rate of these types of operations recently due to all the captured explosives they acquired during their surge across northern Iraq. There appears to be no end in sight to these bombings.

Car Bombs In Iraq Sep. 2014
Sep 1
Baya x2, Baghdad
Sep 2

Sep 3
Samarra, Salahaddin
Sep 4
Albu Faraj, Anbar
Kadhimiya & Sadoun St, Baghdad
Kirkuk, Kirkuk
Sep 5
Amiriya Fallujah, Anbar
Zafaraniya, Baghdad
Tikrit, Salahaddin
Sep 6
Samarra, Salahaddin

Sep 7

1st Wk Total
Sep 8
Dhuluiya x2, Salahaddin
Sep 9
Saqlawiya, Anbar

Sep 10
Saqlawiya, Anbar
New Baghdad & Ghadeer, Baghdad
Sep 11
Karbala, Karbala
Najaf, Najaf
Diwaniya, Qadisiyah
Sep 12
Ghadeer, Baghdad
Hammadi Shihab, Salahaddin
Sep 13

Sep 14

2nd Wk Total
Sep 15
Abu Dishr, Baghdad
Sep 16

Sep 17
Ramadi, Anbar
Tarmiya, Salahaddin
Sep 18
Kadhimiya x2 & Topchi, Baghdad
Karbala, Karbala
Sep 19
Mahmudiya, Babil
Baya, Karrada & Nahrawan, Baghdad
Sep 20

Sep 21
Saqlawiya, Anbar

3rd Wk Total

The siege of Haditha was broken with the ISF launching operations towards the Syrian border and in and around Ramadi. While the Islamic State took an army base in Saqlawiya during the 3rd week of September (New York Times)

In Anbar the ISF went on the offensive at the beginning of the week only to run into another fiasco by the end. For weeks, the Islamic State was trying to take Haditha in the western section of the province. It was repulsed, and then the security forces attempted to turn the tide. September 16 an operation was begun from Haditha into Rawa and Ana along the Syrian border, while sections of Haditha were cleared as well. Security operations continued in and around Ramadi too including 5 and 7 kilo, and the Tamimi section of the city. At the end of the week however the army suffered a major setback. A base in Saqlawiya, which is to the northwest of Fallujah, was surrounded and attacked for nearly a week by insurgents. The 820 odd soldiers there broke up into small groups and tried to escape. The siege was capped off by two suicide car bombs and three suicide bombers attacking the base on September 21 killing 40 soldiers and capturing another 68. Politicians said that 300 soldiers in total died at the camp. IS has also continued to try to assert its control over the province. September 16 it kidnapped 50 former soldiers from Fallujah, blew up 60 houses of Sahwa members and executed 20 former ISF members west of Ramadi the next day. These are the types of tactics IS has been carrying out for years to intimidate any of those who stand in its way. Finally, despite new Premier Haider Abadi’s promise to stop the shelling of civilian areas Fallujah was struck by government artillery for six out of the seven days of the week. That resulted in 27 killed and 118 wounded. These types of operations serve no military purpose, and should have been ended a long time ago. The fact that Abadi’s announcement did not lead to that showed that the new premier might be willing to talk about reconciliation, but not follow through with anything substantive yet. For the week there were 368 deaths and 136 wounded in Anbar. Most of those came at the army base in Saqlawiya. Its fall showed that the Islamic State maintains its ability to launch major operations despite the growing western air presence. It also highlights the inability of the Iraqi forces to coordinate and its commanders to lead. Such a long siege could have been broken up by air strikes, and American planes could have been brought in as well. Instead, the camp was allowed to fall after a weeklong operation.

Casualties From Government Shelling Sep 15-21, 2014
Sep 15
Sep 16
Sep 17
Sep 18
Sep 19
Sep 21

The ISF launched the 12th and 13th security operations in Babil's Jurf al-Sakhr and Yusifiya (IraqSlogger)

The ISF has faced continued frustration in northern Babil. September 16 the Babil, Anbar and Baghdad Operation Commands started the latest security operation in Jurf al-Sakhr and Yusifiya, which included militias. Four days later the 14th Division claimed success in Yusifiya, but then the Defense Ministry announced another sweep through the same areas on September 20. These represent the twelfth and thirteen such campaigns in the northern section of the governorate. None has been able to dislodge the Islamic State, which has increased its activity in other parts of the province, and used them as a launching pad to attack the southern sections of Baghdad. The authorities simply have no viable strategy on how to counter the militants there. In the third week of September 5 people died and 41 were injured in Babil.

Baghdad's Kadhiiya was struck by a multi faceted attack by IS including car bombs, RPGs, mortars and small arms fire on Sep 18 (BBC)

Baghdad was struck by a coordinated attack by IS in the Kadhimiya district. September 18 the insurgents used a car bomb, RPGs, mortars and small arms fire upon a prison there in a failed attempt to free some of its captives. Three suicide bombers were caught as well before they could use their devices. Another car bomb was set off in the district, while rockets were shot at Camp Justice and mortars were fired at a military intelligence building. In total 33 were killed and 58 wounded in the operation. Another car bomb went off in a market in Topchi that day followed by three more in Baya, Karrada and Nahrawan the next day with another 18 dying and 75 injured. The Baghdad Operations Command has also been worried about the southern regions of the province. September 15 for example the town of Madain, which borders Babil was hit by two IEDs, three sticky bombs, and a house was stormed. In response, the security forces have been carrying out more and more security sweeps in places like Yusifiya. The militants appear to be getting bolder in the south likely due to their successes in Babil, which can only mean bad news for the future. The ISF also shows no ability to slow the car bombs that strike the capital each week. That’s the reason why Baghdad had the most casualties for the week at 121 fatalities and 326 wounded.

The peshmerga moved into Qara Tapa in northern Diyala, while the ISF was trying to clear Mansuriya and Muqtadiya in the center of the province (Institute for the Study of War)

The ISF and peshmerga have been trying for weeks to clear the northern and central sections of Diyala. At the beginning of the month the security forces claimed they had cleared the Hamrin Mountains, which have long been an insurgent stronghold. They didn’t do a good job as the peshmerga went into the same area the second week of the month. On September 15 they claimed they controlled Qara Tapa in the region. The ISF has been no less busy. The 5th Army Division tried to clear the Mansuria region in the west of the province, while the police were working to free the water system in the Muqtadiya district from the Islamic State for the third week, with heavy fighting in Sensl for three days. Tensions remain high in the province along the disputed territories. The Tigris Operations Command is trying to organize locals to fight the insurgency. The peshmerga are suspicious of some of these groups as they worked with the militants before. Many of the Arabs in the area also resent the Kurds’ attempts to annex the northern sections of Diyala, so having the government arm them could lead to further conflicts in the future. There were 15 killed and 35 wounded in the governorate from September 15-21.

IS has launched terrorist attacks into Kirkuk city while attempting to assert control over Hawija (BBC)

In Kirkuk the Islamic State is trying to maintain its hold over its newly acquired territory while launching regular terrorist attacks into Kirkuk city. On September 19 for instance a motorcycle bomb was set off in the city killing 15 and wounding 25. In Hawija there are reports that the IS is being challenged. This accounts for its kidnapping of ten police and Sahwa members on September 21 to scare the locals. It’s likely that these people will end up dead. 21 died and 25 were injured for the week in Kirkuk.

The peshmerga continued to try to retake the territory it lost to the Islamic State in Ninewa, while the IS has been cracking down on the local population there as well. September 16 the Peshmerga Ministry said that it cleared 7 villages in Khazar to the north of Mosul with the support of U.S. air strikes. That same day, Yazidi forces, which have been under going training by the Syrian People’s Protection Units (YPG), said they were advancing on Sinjar from two axes. In and around Mosul itself the Islamic State continued to carry out its intimidation campaign to keep the populace in check. From September 15 to 21 it executed 12 people. September 16 it kidnapped 22 people from a small village to the north of Mosul. The next two days it blew up nearly 40 homes belonging to relatives of the Agriculture Minister and the mayor of Qayara. It also shelled a village outside of Mosul on September 19 using the artillery it captured from the Iraqi army. The Kurds are slowly pushing towards Mosul, but have not retaken any of the major towns they lost the previous month. It’s not known whether the Yazidis are well enough armed to force the IS out of Sinjar. On the other hand, a steady stream of killings can be expected from the Islamic State as well as more mass graves being discovered.

Heavy fighting continued in Salahaddin. September 19 a new security operation was launched, which involved Moqtada al-Sadr’s Peace Brigades to clear Ishaqi, which is to the south of Samarra. After the militias and peshmerga were able to liberate the town of Amerli they individually branched out to clear other areas of Tuz Kharmato in the eastern region of the governorate. The militants have been trying to blunt these advances with a regular dose of IEDs, rockets, and gunfire. The IS siege of Dhuluiya, which is to the east of Ishaqi continued for another week. On September 15 the insurgents fired chlorine filled mortar shells into the village killing one child and wounding 62. IS deployed its captured artillery on two villages, Khazraj and Albu Jwari on September 16. The Islamists have also been blowing up the houses of government workers and ISF members in Tikrit. From September 16-17 it destroyed 81 homes. Overall the security stalemate between the insurgents and the peshmerga, militias and ISF was maintained in Salahaddin for the week with 69 killed and 168 wounded.

Finally, a car bomb went off in Karbala on September 18. The press claimed there were casualties, but gave no numbers. This was the second time the city was hit this month. Hitting southern Iraq has been a mainstay of IS car bombs in its attempt to raise sectarian tensions and restart the civil war.


Agence France Presse, "Iraq bombings kill at least 22," 9/19/14

AIN, "ISIL blow up houses of security elements," 9/16/14

Alsumaria, "Fallujah Hospital announces receiving 28 dead and wounded in renewed shelling of the city," 9/15/14
- "Killing and wounding dozens of civilians in shelling on a village in Akbrb near Mosul," 9/19/14

Buratha News, "17 martyrs and 40 injured in bombings north of Baghdad," 9/18/14
- "20 bodies found of security elements and tribal fighters killed by firing squad west of Ramadi," 9/17/14
- "Daash terrorists kidnap 22 civilians including a candidate for parliamentary elections in northern Nineveh," 9/16/14
- “The island and the desert begins a military operation to clear Rawa from Daash,” 9/16/14
- "Sam Hardan: Daash kidnapped 50 officers of the former army," 9/16/14

Al Forat, "70 houses to be detonated by ISIL in Tikrit," 9/17/14
- “Diyala: Large areas of Sidor, Nofal , Bloor liberated,” 9/20/14
- "Human casualties due to Dhuluea terrorist attack reach 62 poisoned persons," 9/15/14
- “ISF carry out wide security operation in Jurf al-Sakher,” 9/20/14
- "Kirkuk's bombing initial outcome hits 40 deaths, injuries," 9/19/14
- "Nineveh: ISIL blows up 30 houses belong to minister relatives," 9/17/14

Hussein, Mohammed, Osgood, Patrick, Tahir, Rawaz, van den Toorn, Christine, “Sunni tribes turning on ISIS and Peshmerga,” Iraq Oil Report, 9/16/14

Independent Press Agency, "59 dead and wounded toll from bombing in Karrada district of central Baghdad this morning," 9/19/14
- "Killing and wounding 18 people by a car bomb south of Baghdad," 9/15/14

Iraq Times, “Kadhimiya bombings carried out by three suicide bombers in an effort to break into the justice ministry prison,” 9/18/14

Al Mada, "Dead and wounded in detonation of car bombing in downtown Karbala," 9/18/14
- "Killed and wounded 18 people by a car bomb in the area north west of Baghdad Topchi," 9/18/14
- "Killing and wounding 22 people the outcome of the mortar attack on Kazimiyah," 9/18/14
- "Killing and wounding 23 civilians in bombing of the army on Fallujah," 9/17/14
- “Launching a massive military operation to encircle and cleanse the area north of Babylon in Fadiliyah,” 9/16/14
- “Three kilometers shunned by soldiers and Daash to keep them in northern Babylon,” 9/17/14

Al Masalah, "6 martyrdom and 10 wounded of the security forces by a roadside bomb north of Baghdad," 9/17/14
- "Karrada bombing toll rises to nine martyrs and 52 wounded," 9/19/14

Morris, Loveday, "Hundreds of Iraqi soldiers missing or stranded after chaotic withdrawal," Washington Post, 9/21/14

New Sabah, “Purge Fadhiliya North Babylon and control over the desert road between Jurf al-Sakhr and Fallujah,” 9/19/14

NINA, "11 civilians killed, wounded in random bombardment on Fallujah," 9/21/14
- "/19/ Civilians killed and wounded by missile strikes on Fallujah," 9/21/14
- "/25/ people killed and wounded in Fallujah," 9/16/14
- “Anbar police chief: Liberating /7/ km area in Ramadi from the control of the IS,” 9/19/14
- “Baghdad Operations cleanse the village of Karaghol in Yusufiya,” 9/21/14
- “The cleansing of Albu Hayat of Haditha from Daash,” 9/17/14
- "Daash blow up /60/ houses belonging to Sahwa forces members western Anbar," 9/17/14
- "Daash blowing Mayor of Mosul home and the homes of his brothers south of Mosul," 9/18/14
- “Dozens of the IS killed and wounded in security operation south of Tikrit,” 9/19/14
- “Four employees of the security forces injured in the battles, northeast of Baquba,” 9/20/14
- "The IS executed three young men in Mosul, for unknown reasons," 9/15/14
- "Islamic State execute seven civilians in Mosul," 9/21/14
- "Islamic State (IS) kidnaps ten former policemen and awakening in Kirkuk," 9/21/14
- "Islamic State kills clan's head in Mosul," 9/21/14
- "Liberated the 80 km area east of Ratba, 12 people killed and wounded by bombing on Fallujah," 9/19/14
- “A military operation launched to clear areas of northeast Baquba from the control of the (IS),” 9/20/14
- "Nine civilians killed and wounded by the fall of dozens of shells fired by the IS on al-Dhuluiya," 9/16/14
- “Nujaifi Condemns /Daash/ crime in Saqlawiyah and Alsiger areas of Anbar,” 9/22/14
- “Peshmerga forces supported by American air liberate seven villages east of Mosul,” 9/16/14
- “Peshmerga liberates a village was under Islamic State’s control,” 9/15/14
- "Toll of Ramadi bombing up to 20 killed and wounded, mostly of army troops," 9/17/14
- “Yazidi Forces Begin Its Attack To Liberate Sinjar,” 9/16/14

Al Rayy, “Commander of the 14th Division announces cleanse areas and villages south of Baghdad Yusufiya,” 9/20/14
- "Daash slay a woman on the pretext that they were working as court inspector south of Mosul," 9/16/14

Shafiq, Mohammed, "Fallujah hospital: We received the bodies of four dead and 24 injured after the fall of mortars and rockets," Alsumaria, 9/18/14

Yacoub, Sameer, "Bomb attacks kill at least 31 people in Iraq," Associated Press, 9/19/14
- “Iraq officials say Baghdad car bomb has killed 12,” Associated Press, 9/22/14

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