Thursday, April 16, 2015

Islamic State Goes On The Offensive In Iraq’s Anbar & Salahaddin April 8-14, 2015


Anbar and Salahaddin have been two of the three provinces where the Islamic State (IS) has retained its offensive capabilities. Over the last several months IS has been attempting big pushes in the former especially in and around the governorate’s capital Ramadi. In the second week of April it launched a major campaign in that area. In Salahaddin, IS tried to make up for its loss of Tikrit by assaulting the Baiji Refinery. IS also launched a major wave of car bombings in Baghdad. The result was a major spike in casualties in Iraq.

In the second week of April, 2015 there were a reported 132 security incidents in the press. That was slightly up from the 121 Musings On Iraq recorded the week before. Baghdad had the most with 36. After that it was Anbar with 33, Salahaddin with 30, Ninewa with 17, Diyala with eight, Babil with four, Kirkuk with three, and Maysan with one. The actual number is much higher as there is plenty of violence that never gets into the media.

The number of fatalities tripled from the first to second week of April. There were 626 reported deaths from April 8-14. That broke down to 101 members of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), 9 Sahwa, 18 Hashd al-Shaabi, and 498 civilians. By province there were 411 killed in Anbar, 90 in Baghdad, 70 in Salahaddin, 34 in Ninewa, seven each in Babil and Kirkuk, six in Diyala, and 1 in Maysan. The week before there were 212 killed, lowest amount recorded since the start of 2014. Again, the real numbers are probably much higher.

There were also another 525 wounded, consisting of 28 ISF, 4 peshmerga, 42 Sahwa, 43 Hashd, and 408 civilians. There were 299 injured in Baghdad, 128 in Anbar, 50 in Salahaddin, 18 in Diyala, 16 in Babil, eight in Ninewa and six in Kirkuk. The week before there was 423 injured.

Violence In Iraq By Week Jun. 2014-2015
Date
Incidents
Dead
Wounded
Jun 1-7
228
612
1,020
Jun 8-14
234
1,889
890
Jun 15-21
177
804
755
Jun 22-28
207
740
800
Jun 29-30
59
127
236
JUN
905
4,172
3,701
Jul 1-7
203
526
651
Jul 8-14
214
577
628
Jul 15-21
230
444
1,009
Jul 22-28
224
589
801
Jul 29-31
66
163
230
JUL
937
2,299
3,319
Aug 1-8
270
1,122
885
Aug 9-14
180
710
1,152
Aug 15-21
150
731
499
Aug 22-28
156
523
798
Aug 29-31
59
125
289
AUG
815
3,211
3,623
Sep 1-7
169
616
751
Sep 8-14
168
467
731
Sep 15-21
170
625
794
Sep 22-28
157
396
576
Sep 29-30
49
126
287
SEP
713
2,230
3,139
Oct 1-7
175
456
687
Oct 8-14
189
560
880
Oct 15-21
159
499
780
Oct 22-28
160
346
596 + 1,230
Oct 29-31
72
574
227
OCT
755
2,434
3,170 + 1,230
Nov 1-7
154
611
828
Nov 8-14
134
470
607
Nov 15-21
139
323
479
Nov 22-28
139
321
640
Nov 29-30
40
206
535
NOV
606
1,931
3,089
Dec 1-7
148
581
482
Dec 8-14
156
233 + 166
444 + 1,113
Dec 15-21
133
377
340
Dec 22-28
161
558
494
Dec 29-31
91
117
233
DEC
689
2,032
3,106
Jan 1-7
184
434
464
Jan 8-14
170
730
493
Jan 15-21
182
390
515
Jan 22-28
189
466
894
Jan 29-31
90
288
529
JAN
815
2,308
2,895
Feb 1-7
155
380
688
Feb 8-14
170
406
559
Feb 15-21
165
573
364
Feb 22-28
165
371
687 + 386
FEB
655
1,730
2,683
Mar 1-7
172
372
587
Mar 8-14
133
348
656
Mar 15-21
142
1,299
503
Mar 22-28
170
235
406
Mar 29-31
72
205
219
MAR
689
2,459 + 4
2,371 + 150
Apr 1-7
121
212
423
Apr 8-14
132
626
525

Violence In Iraq By Province Apr 2015
Province
Apr 1-7
Apr 8-14
Anbar
22 Incidents
60 Killed: 4 ISF, 56 Civilians
72 Wounded: 72 Civilians
13 Shootings
2 IEDs
4 Mortars
1 Rocket
33 Incidents
411 Killed: 66 ISF, 3 Sahwa, 343 Civilians
128 Wounded: 9 ISF, 31 Sahwa, 88 Civilians
21 Shootings
2 IEDs
4 Suicide Bombers
7 Suicide Car Bombs
1 Car Bomb
5 Mortars
1 Rockets
Babil
3 Incidents
4 Killed: 1 ISF, 3 Civilians
11 Wounded: 4 ISF, 7 Civilians
2 IEDs
1 Sticky Bomb
4 Incidents
7 Killed: 7 Civilians
16 Wounded: 16 Civilians
1 Shooting
3 IEDs
1 Car Bomb
Baghdad
44 Incidents
63 Killed: 7 ISF, 1 Sahwa, 55 Civilians
196 Wounded: 13 ISF, 183 Civilians
8 Shootings
25 IEDs
4 Sticky Bombs
2 Car Bombs
1 Mortar
1 Rocket
1 Grenade
36 Incidents
90 Killed: 1 Sahwa, 7 Hashd, 82 Civilians
299 Wounded: 1 ISF, 5 Sahwa, 16 Hashd, 277 Civilians
5 Shootings
17 IEDs
4 Sticky Bombs
1 Suicide Bomber
1 Suicide Car Bomb
8 Car Bombs
1 Mortar
Basra
1 Incident
1 Killed: 1 ISF
1 Shooting
-
Diyala
10 Incidents
23 Killed: 10 ISF, 1 Hashd, 12 Civilians
92 Wounded: 12 ISF, 69 Hashd, 11 Civilians
7 Shootings
1 IED
1 Car Bomb
8 Incidents
6 Killed: 2 ISF, 1 Sahwa, 3 Civilians
18 Wounded: 7 ISF, 4 Sahwa, 7 Civilians
3 Shootings
5 IEDs
Kirkuk
4 Incidents
1 Killed: 1 Hashd
2 Shootings
1 IED
3 Incidents
7 Killed: 7 Civilians
6 Wounded: 3 Hashd, 3 Civilians
1 Shooting
1 IED
1 Mortar
Maysan
-
1 Incident
1 Killed: 1 Civilian
Ninewa
7 Incidents
12 Killed: 2 YPG, 4 Hashd, 6 Civilians
2 Wounded: 2 Peshmerga
5 Shootings
17 Incidents
34 Killed: 34 Civilians
8 Wounded: 4 Peshmerga, 4 Civilians
13 Shootings
3 IEDs
Salahaddin
30 Incidents
48 Killed: 26 ISF, 3 Sahwa, 14 Hashd, 5 Civilians
50 Wounded: 25 ISF, 14 Hashd, 11 Civilians
22 Shootings
3 IEDs
2 Suicide Bombers
2 Mortars
1 Grenade
30 Incidents
70 Killed: 34 ISF, 4 Sahwa, 11 Hashd, 21 Civilians
50 Wounded: 11 ISF, 2 Sahwa, 24 Hashd, 13 Civilians
21 Shootings
5 IEDs
5 Suicide Bombers
4 Suicide Car Bombs
2 Car Bombs
2 Mortars

Car Bombs in Iraq Apr 2015
Date
Location
Dead
Wounded
Apr 1



Apr 2
Bab al-Mudham, Baghdad
7
26
Apr 3



Apr 4
Mansour, Baghdad


Apr 5



Apr 6
Imam Abdullah bin Imam Ali al-Hadi shrine, Diyala
4
7
Apr 7



Total
3
11
33
Apr 8



Apr 9



Apr 10
Albu Faraj x5, Ramadi x2, Anbar
Karrada, Baghdad
5
13
Apr 11
Baiji Refinery x3, Salahaddin


Apr 12
Amiriya Fallujah, Anbar
Baiji Refinery x2, Salahaddin


Apr 13
Amil & Baya, Baghdad
15
60
Apr 14
Mahmudiya, Babil
East, Mashtal, Waziriya, Wihda x2, Yarmouk, Baghdad
Baiji Refinery, Salahaddin
46
97
Total
24
66
170

The Islamic State has been ramping up its car bombs since the new year and the 2nd week of April was a perfect example. There were just three vehicle borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) the first week, but then 24 the next. That led to 66 dead and 170 wounded. 23 of those bombings occurred in Salahaddin, six, Anbar, eight, and Baghdad, nine. That was the most VBIEDs in the capital since November 8-14. Although most car bombs these days are targeting the security forces, this week was an exception. This time nine of the fifteen targets were civilian ones.

After the fall of Tikrit, the Anbar provincial council and elements of the Hashd both said that the next big operation would be in Anbar. That was to begin in Shjariya outside of Ramadi where government forces were going to clear the supply route to the Habaniya base, which lies to the east. As part of this planned offensive members of Kataib Hezbollah and Moqtada al-Sadr’s Peace Brigades were deployed to Shjariya, the Badr Brigade was sent to Baghdadi and Haditha, and other Hashd forces to the Assad base. The sweep began in Shjariya on April 7, and by the next day it was declared cleared during a visit by Prime Minister Haider Abadi to the province. April 9 another operation was begun in the Howaz district of Ramadi, which has been a contested neighborhood for months. Initially things looked like they were going well, but the Islamic State had other plans.

Starting on April 9-10, IS began its own counter offensive. It launched attacks in Ramadi’s Howaz, Albu Faraj, Albua Etha, Albu Jassim, Albu Risha, Shjariya, and Amiriya Fallujah. Reinforcements were sent in to the area, and Coalition air strikes were called in, but were only able to reverse a small portion of IS’s gains. Heavy casualties were reported, and Sheikh Naim al-Gaood of the Albu Nimr tribe claimed that the Islamists executed 300 people in Qaim. The poor showing of the government forces was another sign that they had not been properly armed by Baghdad to take on the insurgents. This is something that Anbaris had been complaining about for months. The result was that the ISF, tribes, and Hashd were thrown on the defensive right after all of their talk about the province being the next focal point.

When the Tikrit campaign in Salahaddin began in March, the Kurds began a supporting operation pushing into southern Kirkuk. The goal was to reach Hawija the main IS base in the province. At the same time elements of the Hashd began moving northward from Salahaddin to pinch the insurgents between the two forces. The peshmerga were able to take lots of ground, but then stopped at the beginning of April. By April 9, the Kurds announced that they were not moving any further, and said that the army and Hashd should be responsible for clearing Hawija. The result was that many IS elements were able to flee Tikrit and northeast Salahaddin into Hawija. It also marked a breakdown of the cooperation between the central and regional government’s forces. Perhaps the Kurds felt like the fall of Tikrit meant that their services were no longer needed. Alternatively, they could have expended their supplies and not been able to advance any further. Whatever the case, Hawija remains under IS control.

Finally, in Salahaddin IS attempted to make up for its setback by attacking Baiji and the refinery outside of the town. That began on April 11 with a series of suicide attacks upon the oil facility, along with mortar fire on the neighboring village. The fighting lasted throughout the week and continues to the present day. Losing Tikrit was a major loss for IS, but it didn’t appear that it committed many forces to the fight. Instead, as stated before, many withdrew to the north. The attacks upon Baiji and the refinery showed that it still has offensive forces in the province. It’s main tactic has been to attack up and down an across the length of Salahaddin to stretch out the government forces. It continues to do that, with its Baiji operation just the latest example.

SOURCES

AIN, “Anbar: the arrival of the popular crowd at al-Assad base to liberate Albu Faraj,” 4/13/15
- "Bomber blows himself up amid the Baiji refinery," 4/14/15
- "One person killed and nine injured near satellite channel's headquarters in Waziriya," 4/14/15
- "Wounding two civilians, the fall of mortar shells south of Baiji," 4/11/15

Alsumaria, “Abadi order to send large quantities of weapons and ammunition to Anbar as soon as possible,” 4/11/15

Associated Press, "Attacks in Baghdad, north of Iraqi capital kill at least 15," 4/13/15

Bradley, Matt, “Iraqi Sunnis, Shiites Find Some Common Ground Against Islamic State,” Wall Street Journal, 4/13/15

Bulos, Nabih, “Fallouja illustrates Iraq’s challenge in retaking cities from Islamic State,” Los Angeles Times, 4/13/15

Al Forat, “2 volunteers brigades stationed in Sajaria,” 4/9/15
- "Baya'a death toll hits 24 deaths, injuries," 4/13/15
- "Fire break out in one of the oil stores in Baiji, the coalition intervenes and kills 15 terrorists," 4/11/15

France 24, "The Islamic State group attacks Iraq's largest oil refinery," 4/11/15

Iraq News Network, “Iraq Hezbollah Brigades involved in the liberation of Ramadi,” 4/1/15

Iraq Times, "33 martyrs and injured in car bombing in eastern Baghdad," 4/14/15

Jakes, Lara, “Iraq Eyes Small Steps For Big Gains Against Islamic State,” Foreign Policy, 4/13/15

Al Mada, “Anbar disturbed by “small” military aid and clans not a substitute for the poplar crowd in western Iraq battles,” 4/12/15
- "Toll rises in Yarmouk and Mahmudiya bombings to 41 people dead and wounded," 4/14/15

Al-Najar, Kamaran, Lando, Ben, "Baiji refinery attacks expose ongoing vulnerability," Iraq Oil Report, 4/14/15

Naji, Jamal, Van Heuvelen, Ben, “Ramadi battles foreshadow bloody campaign for Anbar,” Iraq Oil Report, 4/10/15

NINA, "BREAKING NEWS. 16 elements of Baiji refinery protection staff, including four officers killed in a suicide attack," 4/14/15
- "Two Regions, East Of Ramadi, Liberated," 4/8/15,

Nordland, Rod, “After Victory Over ISIS in Tikrit, Next Battle Requires a New Template,” New York Times, 4/7/15
- “Iraq Starts Drive Against ISIS, but Reports on Scale Differ,” New York Times, 4/8/15
- "ISIS Kills 25 Police Officers and Soldiers in Iraqi Province of Anbar," New York Times, 4/10/15

Nordland, Rod and Hassan, Falih, “U.S. Steps Up Bombing Raids in Anbar After Shiite Militias Withdraw,” New York Times, 4/12/15

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, "IS Militants Launch Attack On Ramadi," 4/10/15

Radio Free Iraq, "07 April 2015," Daily Updates from Anbar, 4/7/15,
- "09 April 2015," Daily Updates from Anbar, 4/9/15,
- "10 April 2015," Daily Updates from Anbar, 4/10/14

Reuters, “Iraqi forces move against Islamic State in Sunni heartland Anbar,” 4/8/15

Rudaw, “Peshmerga: No Hawija offensive without Iraqi Army, Shia Militias,” 4/9/15

Salaheddin, Sinan, "Attacks kill 28 civilians in and around Baghdad," Associated Press, 4/14/15

Shafaq News, “Badr: We have hundreds of fighters from the popular crowd deployed in Haditha and al-Baghdadi,” 4/11/15
- "Car bomb explosion eastern Baghdad," 4/14/15
- "Violent clashes between security forces and Daash in Amiriyah Fallujah," 4/12/15

Xinhua, "10 killed in clashes with IS group in Iraq's Baiji oil refinery," 4/14/15
- “IS militants execute 33 people in Iraq’s Anbar,” 4/11/15
- "Security forces fight back IS militants, attacks continue in Iraq," 4/13/15