Monday, May 23, 2016

New Effort To Liberate Iraq’s Fallujah Underway


On May 23, 2016 Prime Minister Haidar Abadi announced a new operation to try to free Fallujah had begun. That would include a collection of 20,000 fighters from the Golden Division, the army, the Rapid Reaction Brigade, Sunni tribal fighters, and various Hashd elements. A government spokesman said that the U.S. was supporting the campaign as long as the Hashd stayed on the perimeter.

The Hashd have been talking about freeing Fallujah for a year now. The Hashd originally tried to liberate the city in July 2015, which contravened PM Abadi’s effort against Ramadi that started at the same time. This came after pro-Iranian Hashd groups accused the premier and the Americans of keeping them out of the province resulting in the fall of Ramadi. In fact, Hashd units had been in Anbar fighting for months. The Hashd claimed it could liberate Fallujah and all of Anbar, but the campaign eventually ground down. In 2016 the Hashd started a new operation almost every month against the city, but half of them went to other towns like Thar Thar and Amiriya Fallujah instead, and little success was reported. As the Islamic State started its annual spring offensive marked by some high casualty bombings in Baghdad and southern Iraq, the rhetoric about taking Fallujah increased, along with more talk about Abadi and the Americans were blocking them. These statements were all to score political points, because while the Hashd were grabbing the headlines the Iraqi forces (ISF) were actually taking the lead.

Fallujah is the natural next step to the ISF’s moves in Anbar. In February 2016 it freed Ramadi. It then cleared out the surrounding towns and began marching west along the Euphrates clearing Hit in April and broke the siege of Haditha in May, before moving south to take Rutba and then the Trebil border crossing with Jordan. With most of western Anbar cleared the ISF swung back east to take care of Fallujah. General Abdul Wahab al-Saadi is in command of the operation. He was formerly the head of the Salahaddin Operations Command, and took part in the battles for Baiji and Tikrit.

With the combined forces and U.S. air support it is only a matter of time before Fallujah is taken, the real question will be the aftermath. While the fears of Hashd retaliation will come up, if the ISF are in the lead that hopefully will not become a major issue. More importantly is the state of the city afterward. It has been shelled and bombed relentlessly since it fell in January 2014. The Islamic State has laced the area with improvised explosive devices and booby traps. All together it may turn out like Ramadi, which the United Nations called the most damaged city so far in the war. Baghdad has no money to rebuild that city, meaning it will have none for Fallujah either leaving both destroyed and uninhabitable for months.

SOURCES

AIN, "ISF, PMU encircle Fallujah, liberate all its surrounded areas, MoD spokesman says," 7/16/15

Alkhshali, Hamdi and Karadsheh, Jomana, “Iraqi PM: Operation to free Falluja from ISIS starts,” CNN, 5/22/16

Al Maalomah, “Tlabawi: The Popular Crowd factions are gathered on the outskirts of Fallujah to free it,” 5/17/16

Sotaliraq, “Abadi announced the beginning of the process to liberate Fallujah,” 5/23/16
- “Who are the forces and factions participating in the liberation of Fallujah?” 5/22/16


Friday, May 20, 2016

Short Explanation Of Islamic State’s Bombing Campaign In Iraq’s Baghdad


Baghdad is currently facing a wave of bombings by the Islamic State. That is due to two factors. 1st IS is losing on the battlefield and is turning towards more insurgent and terrorist attacks in response. The capital has been the main victim of this shift. At the same time, it is the time for the annual spring offensive, which has been going on since 2004. That has always been characterized by more bombings, especially in Baghdad. May 2016 isn’t even over yet and there have already been as many car bombings in the governorate since August 2015, and as many suicide bombers as April 2014. Unfortunately for Baghdad once this wave is over a Ramadan campaign is likely to follow it during the summer.  

Number of Car And Suicide Bombings In Baghdad 2016

Jan 2016
Feb
Mar
Apr
May 1-19
Incidents
266
259
307
273
-
Car Bombs
3
1
0
8
11
Suicide Belts
3
4
1
4
12

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Security In Iraq, May 8-14, 2016


The Islamic State continued their spring offensive in the second week of May. While the number of security incidents went down from the previous week, casualties were up due to a number of mass casualty bombings by the militants. This has been an annual event for the insurgents since 2004 rather than a change in tactics by IS.

There were 141 incidents the second week of May in Iraq. That was down from the 160 recorded the week before. Attacks in Iraq regularly go through an ebb and flow.

Once again Baghdad was the most violence province in the country with 65 incidents. There were also 31 in Anbar, 15 in Diyala, 13 in Kirkuk, 9 in Ninewa, 6 in Salahaddin, and 1 each in Babil and Basra.

Those incidents led to 311 deaths and 674 wounded. The 985 casualties were the most reported since the 1,421 during the last week of February.

There were 193 fatalities in Baghdad, 38 in Diyala, 35 in Anbar, 20 in Salahaddin, 15 in Ninewa, and 10 in Kirkuk.

In total, 2 Sahwa, 21 Hashd, 42 Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), and 246 civilians were killed. 6 Sahwa, 14 Peshmerga, 31 Hashd, 50 ISF, and 573 civilians were injured during the week.

Operations continued across a large stretch of central Anbar. In the Ramadi area there were sweeps through Dulab, Jabba, Wardiya, and Albu Diab. Dulab was cleared just the month before and Albu Diab had been declared freed five times before since July 2015. Reinforcements arrived in Garma, where an offensive has been going on for two years. The ISF also started a new campaign from Baghdadi to Hit and cleared several towns. The Islamic State responded with 28 counterattacks including two car bombs that hit their targets. The press reported a total of 24 ISF and 8 Hashd killed in the fighting, and another 21 ISF and 8 Hashd injured. The government has had some large victories in Anbar, but is still struggling with the rural areas.

The main focus of the Islamic State’s spring campaign was the capital. Although there have been fewer attacks then previous months in May, the number of casualties has climbed due to several deadly bombings. On May 11 three suicide car bombs hit the east, north, and west leaving 103 dead and 170 wounded in one of the most violent days in recent years in Baghdad. Another four suicide bombers took the lives of 11 people and wounded 27 in attacks on a funeral and a failed attempt to storm a police station both in the Abu Ghraib district in the outer west. Things could have been worse if four other suicide bombers hadn’t been killed.

As usual southern Baghdad was the main target of IS with 24 incidents there. Most of those are occurring in the outer southern towns rather than the city proper. After that there were 17 incidents in the north, 11 in the east, and 10 in the west. That included 3 robberies, 3 kidnappings, and 8 bodies dumped in the streets. 

Violence in Baghdad, May 8-14, 2016
Center: 2 – 1 Shooting/Robbery, 1 IED
East: 10 – 1 Suicide Car Bomb, 4 IEDs, 5 Shootings
Outer East: 1 – 1 IED
North: 9 – 1 Suicide Car Bomb, 1 Foiled Robbery, 1 Shooting/Robbery, 1 Sticky Bomb, 2 IEDs, 3 Shootings
Outer North: 8 – 1 Shooting, 3 Sticky Bombs, 3 IEDs, 4 Suicide Bombers Killed
South: 9 – 1 Kidnapping, 1 Mortar, 1 Sticky Bomb, 2 Shootings, 4 IEDs
Outer South: 15 – 1 Kidnapping, 1 Shooting, 15 IEDs
West: 5 – 1 Suicide Car Bomb, 1 Shooting, 1 IED, 1 Sticky Bomb
Outer West: 5 – 1 Shooting, 3 IEDs, 4 Suicide Bombers
Unknown: 1 – 1 Foiled Kidnapping

IS continued with an increased number of operations in Diyala topped off by a car bomb and a suicide bomber. The car bomb hit a market, while the suicide bomber was on a bus. They left behind 29 bodies, and 114 wounded.

Violence went down in Kirkuk with fewer counter attacks after the Hashd and Peshmerga freed the town of Bashir in the south. There were 13 incidents during the week compared to 20 the week before. IS did fire chemical filled rockets at the Kurds in that town.

Things also calmed down in Ninewa. The first week of May there were 30 incidents, compared to just 9 the second week. The army freed the town of Kabarouk in its Makhmour campaign, which has been disappointing so far. A Sunni Hashd unit also took the town of Kanun in the Bashiqa district. The Kurds claimed they were hit by chemical filled mortar shells in the Gwar area, while IS attacked the Makhmour district three times. IS also executed 15 in Mosul.

Salahaddin had been relatively quiet for months now, but that ended during the week. On May 13 four suicide bombers and gunmen attacked a café in Balad that killed 16 and injured 30.

As part of the militants spring offensive it has been launching more car bombs. The number of successful ones has been going up. There were 6 from May 8-14, 1 in Diyala, 2 in Anbar, and 3 in Baghdad. In total they killed 138 and wounded 230 as the majority were aimed at civilian rather than military targets. The government claimed it destroyed another 39, but those figures are always exaggerated. For instance over the course of one day the Iraqi forces went from claiming to have destroyed 3 suicide car bombs to 18 in Anbar. That kind of inflation is a normal part of the government’s propaganda effort to show progress in the war.

Violence In Iraq 2015-16
Date
Incidents
Dead
Wounded
JAN
911
2,656
3,032 + 150
FEB
730
2,345
2,366
MAR
820
2,665
2,529
APR
751
2,753
2,621
MAY
674
2,565 + 1,499
1,952 + 646
JUN
708
2,153 + 405
2,174
JUL
688
2,716
3,198 + 4,024
AUG
684
2,440 + 760
1,777
SEP
649
1,731
1,668 + 3,003
OCT
589
1,144
1,555
NOV
530
1,174
1,455 + 124 + 1,322
DEC
553
1,155
1,252 + 5,920
Jan 1-7
150
808
421
Jan 8-14
140
436
417
Jan 15-21
135
275
227
Jan 22-28
132
392
322
Jan 29-31
41
81
334
JAN
598
2,052
1,721
Feb 1-7
146
575
313
Feb 8-14
119
146
323
Feb 15-21
130
225
239
Feb 22-29
153
371
690
FEB
549
1,281
1,566
Mar 1-7
183
321
478
Mar 8-14
168
408
415
Mar 15-21
130
349
409
Mar 22-28
135
213
420
Mar 29-31
49
172
121
MAR
665
1,463
1,843
Apr 1-7
144
239
444
Apr 8-14
141
271
391
Apr 15-21
124
436
242
Apr 22-28
160
413
524
Apr 29-30
30
61
121
APR
599
1,420
1,722
May 1-7
160
325
420
May 8-14
141
311
674

Security By Province May 8-14, 2016
Province
Incidents
Anbar
31 Incidents
35 Killed: 3 Civilians, 8 Hashd, 24 ISF
32 Wounded: 3 Civilians, 8 Hashd, 21 ISF
6 Shootings
2 IEDs
3 Mortars
2 Suicide Car Bombs
33 Suicide Bombers Killed
21 Suicide Car Bombs Destroyed
7 Car Bombs Destroyed
Babil
1 Incident
Baghdad
65 Incidents
193 Killed: 2 Sahwa, 6 Hashd, 16 ISF, 169 Civilians
414 Wounded: 6 Sahwa, 14 Hashd, 26 ISF, 368 Civilians
16 Shootings
34 IEDs
6 Sticky Bombs
1 Mortar
4 Suicide Bombers
3 Suicide Car Bombs
4 Suicide Bombers Killed
Basra
1 Incident
3 Wounded: 3 Hashd
1 Shooting
Diyala
15 Incidents
38 Killed: 38 Civilians
124 Wounded: 124 Civilians
6 Shootings
4 IEDs
1 Suicide Bomber
1 Car Bomb
3 Mortars
Kirkuk
13 Incidents
10 Killed: 2 Hashd, 8 Civilians
54 Wounded: 6 Hashd, 48 Civilians
5 Shootings
1 IED
3 Rockets
1 Mortar
Ninewa
9 Incidents
15 Killed: 15 Civilians
17 Wounded: 3 ISF, 14 Peshmerga
5 Shootings
2 IEDs
1 Mortar
3 Suicide Bombers Killed
Salahaddin
6 Incidents
20 Killed: 2 ISF, 5 Hashd, 13 Civilians
30 Wounded: 30 Civilians
3 Shootings
3 IEDs
4 Suicide Car Bombs
1 Grenade
1 Car Bomb Destroyed

Car Bombs In Iraq May, 2016
Date
Car Bombs
Dead
Wounded
May 1
Samawa x2, Muthanna
Albu Hussein & West of Hit, Anbar – 3 destroyed
38
86
May 2
Sadiya, Baghdad
Hit, Dabiya & Satamiya, Anbar – 4 destroyed
Alas & Ajeel, Salahaddin – 1 destroyed
19
44
May 3
Bashiqa x2 & Tel Skuf, Ninewa
South of Fallujah, Anbar – 1 destroyed
Tel Skuf, Ninewa – 2 destroyed
1
2
May 4
Amiriya Fallujah, Anbar – 8 destroyed
Tel al-Gol, Ninewa – 1 destroyed
Mashak, Salahaddin – 2 destroyed


May 5
Thar Thar, Anbar – 1 destroyed
Bashir, Kirkuk 1 destroyed
Kharaib, Ninewa – 2 destroyed


May 6
Radwaniya, Baghdad
3
5
May 7
Thar Thar, Anbar – 7 destroyed


Totals
7 – 33 Destroyed
61
137
May 8
Salam, Anbar – 3 destroyed


May 9
Baquba, Diyala
Albu Shihab, Anbar – 1 destroyed
16
54
May 10
Thar Thar, Anbar – 1 destroyed


May 11
Jamiya, Kadhimiya, Sadr City, Baghdad
Jeraishi, Anbar – 2 destroyed
103
170
May 12
Jeraishi, Anbar
Albu Aetha, Albu Diab, Albu Faraj, Albu Veab, Anbar – 19 destroyed
Baiji, Salahaddin – 1 destroyed
17

May 13
Albu Aetha, Dwylih, Garma, Anbar – 10 destroyed


May 14
Albu Hayat, Anbar
Albu Aetha & Barwana, Anbar – 2 destroyed
2
6
Totals
6 – 39 Destroyed
138
230

SOURCES

Adel, Loaa, "Anbar Operations destroys 3 booby-trapped vehicles south of Fallujah," Iraqi News, 5/8/16
- "Baghdad Operations announces foiling attack on police station in western Baghdad," Iraqi News, 5/12/16
- "Jazeera Operations announces advancing in Baghdadi, 4 terrorists killed," Iraqi News, 5/12/16
- "Jazeera Operations announces liberating al-Marwaniya and al-Wadahiya villages in northern Baghdadi," Iraqi News, 5/11/16
- "Mahalawi: 20 ISIS militants killed, booby-trapped vehicle destroyed south of Fallujah," Iraqi News, 5/9/16

Agence France Presse, "Gun, grenade and bomb attack kills 16 north of Baghdad," 5/13/16

AIN, "157 Daash killed and the bombing of 10 car bombs repelling attack north of Ramadi," 5/13/16

Bas News, "IS Attacks Basheer Village with Chemical Weapons," 5/8/16

BBC, "IS conflict: Dozens killed in Baghdad car bombings," 5/11/16
- "IS militants attack Iraq café used by Real Madrid fans," 5/13/16

Buratha News, "Destroyed a car bomb and dismantled explosive devices in five houses in Anbar," 5/10/16

DNA, "Café attack in Iraqi town kills 13; ISIS claims responsibility," 5/13/16

Al Forat, "Anbar operations: the killing of 177 Daash including 17 bombers north of Ramadi," 5/12/16
- "Bulldozer bomb destroyed north of Ramadi," 5/12/16
- "The destroying of a car bomb north of Ramadi," 5/14/16

Karadsheh, Jomana and Yan, Holly, "Attack at funeral kills 6 people in Iraq; ISIS claims responsibility," CNN, 5/8/16

Al Maalomah, "Five Daash killed and the destruction of three-car bombs by aerial bombardment north of Ramadi," 5/13/16
- "Popular crowd destroys car bomb northern Salahuddin," 5/12/16
- "Security forces thwart suicide attacks by two car bombs on a checkpoint western Anbar," 5/11/16

Al Mada, "The arrival of armored reinforcements to Garma," 5/8/16

Mamoun, Abdelhak, "Security forces kill 4 ISIS members west of Ramadi, weapons caches destroyed," Iraqi News, 5/10/16
- "Security forces liberate 2 areas in Heet District, dozens of ISIS members killed," Iraqi News, 5/11/16
- "Security forces start military operation to liberate Heet and Baghdadi axes," Iraqi News, 5/11/16

New Sabah, "Security file," 5/13/16

NINA, "Joint Operations: 33 Terrorists Killed In The Process Of Freeing Juba Area," 5/13/16

Reuters, "ISIS Car Bomb Kills At Least 16 in Iraq," 5/9/16
- "Islamic State kills 17 Iraqi soldiers with suicide truck bombs near Ramadi," 5/12/16

Rudaw, "Iraqi Army liberates Makhmour village as coalition planes target fleeing ISIS militants," 5/9/16
- "Sunni militia offensive against ISIS near Mosul; Peshmerga not involved," 5/14/16

Salaheddin, Sinan, "Iraq officials: Suicide bomb kills at least 13," Associated Press, 5/10/16

Salaheddin, Sinan and George, Susannah, "Additional Bombings Bring Death Toll to 93 Across Baghdad," Associated Press, 5/11/16

Sarhan, Amre, "Iraqi join forces liberate al-Wardiya west of Ramadi, says al-Jazeerah Operations," Iraqi News, 5/14/16
- "Security forces free bridge in al-Baghdadi area west of Ramadi," Iraqi News, 5/12/16
- "Security forces kill 4 "terrorists" in Albu Ziyab area west of Ramadi," Iraqi News, 5/15/16

Sotaliraq, "Joint forces repel six Daash suicide car bomb attack in Garma," 5/13/16
- "Statistics: Killing 103 people and injuring 155 in Baghdad bombings on Wednesday," 5/11/16

Xinhua, "5 policemen killed in 3 suicide bomb attacks in Iraq's Anbar," 5/14/16