Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Iranian Mobilization In Iraq In The Face Of The Insurgent Surge


Iran was caught off guard by the fall of Mosul just like the rest of the world was. Iraq immediately asked for foreign aid, and Iran was one of the few that responded. It mobilized its Shiite militia allies to provide more boots on the ground to combat the militants, it sent in several hundred advisers and enlisted Lebanese Hezbollah to do the same, delivered weapons including Su-25 jets, and is supposedly directing part of Baghdad’s security strategy. Tehran stepped into the vacuum left by the collapse of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and has assumed an ever greater presence within the government since then.
Quds Force Commander Gen Suleimani has taken over part of the security portfolio for Baghdad since the fall of Mosul (PBS)

In June after insurgents took Mosul Iranian President Hassan Rouhani stated that Iran was ready to defend Iraq. The first reports of that assistance was the arrival of anywhere from 150 to 2,000 members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) Quds Force in the country. Two of them have already been killed. The first was reported in June when Ali Reza Moshajari of the IRGC had a funeral. Iranian papers said he died in Karbala. Later in the month Colonel Kamal Shirkhani died in a mortar attack in Samarra, Salahaddin. Moshajari’s death had a bit of obfuscation surrounding it at first, likely because Iran did not want to admit that its men were fighting and dying in Iraq. Shirkhani’s funeral however showed that IRGC advisers were right at the frontlines with the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF). More important was the arrival of Quds Force commander General Qassim Suleimani who was said to have come to Iraq right after the Mosul debacle. Reports had him organizing a defensive strategy for Baghdad, based upon tactics he deployed in Syria where it’s said he played a similar role running part of the security portfolio for the Assad regime. The insurgent surge during the summer was a surprise to Tehran who immediately offered and began supplying assistance to Baghdad. The fact that Russia was the only other country willing to help at that time by selling weapons meant that Iran had a lot of space to operate in. The poor performance of the ISF probably meant that the Iraqi government was happy to receive Gen. Suleimani and his Quds Force.

Iranian Revolutionary Guards' pilots are likely flying the small batch of Su-25 jets Tehran delivered to Iraq (Aviationist)

Iran not only provided personnel, but equipment and intelligence as well. By mid-June Iran had drones flying out of Baghdad airport. The New York Times claimed that a control center was established at the Rasheed Air Base in the capital as well, while the IRGC was monitoring the insurgents’ communications. A steady stream of weapons and ammunition was being flown into Iraq at the same time. At the beginning of July a small batch of Su-25 attack jets was delivered. Iran tried to conceal their origins by sending them to Iraq at the same time a few were coming from Russia. The planes were actually Iraqi as Saddam Hussein had them flown to Iran in 1991 to try to save them during the Gulf War. Iran kept them and incorporated them into the IRGC’s air force. In fact, it was likely Iranians were flying the planes, as the Iraqis did not have the pilots for them. This was partially confirmed by the funeral for Colonel Shojaat Alamdari Mourjani on July 4. He was an Iranian pilot who died in Samarra. It’s not clear whether he was killed flying a mission or was just caught in a ground attack, but again it pointed to Iran’s presence at the front.

Funeral for IRGC pilot Col Mourjani who died in Samarra (AFP)

Tehran not only sent in its own men, but called on its Iraqi allies as well. That was the militias it helped create in Iraq and Syria. By June Hezbollah Brigades, the League of the Righteous, the Badr Organization, Faylaq Waad al-Sadiq, Harakat Hezbollah al-Njaba, Kataib Sayid al-Shuhada, Saraya Tali al-Khurasani, Afwaj al-Kafi and others were all fighting alongside the ISF across central Iraq. Many of these brought their fighters back from Syria to Iraq. Just like in Syria as well, these groups are operating under the orders of Gen. Suleimani. Quite a few of these groups had been fighting in Anbar and other parts of the country since January. Mosul increased their re-deployment. They helped bolster the ranks of the army and police after so many were lost in northern Iraq.

Finally, Iran brought in Lebanese Hezbollah to advise the Iraqi forces. Like Pres. Rouhani, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah offered to send fighters to Iraq after Mosul. He brought up defending the various Shiite shrines in the country from the Islamists, an argument made by other Iranian aligned groups for their intervention in Syria. The Christian Science Monitor had around 250 Lebanese advisers in Iraq by July. That month a Hezbollah commander Ibrahim Mohammed al-Haj died near Mosul. A deployment that far north showed that the Hezbollah advisers were taking part in the fighting just like their IRGC brethren. Iran used Hezbollah in Iraq before right after the U.S. invasion to help arm and train militias.

In Iraq’s time of need Iran was one of the few that answered the call for help. It provided men, material, intelligence, and its Iraqi and Lebanese allies to fight. Most importantly Gen Suleimani took over part of the security file for Baghdad. This follows the same pattern that occurred in Syria when the rebellion started there and Iran moved in to assist President Assad. The question is how much will this foreign aid help, and at what cost. In Syria the Iranians have stabilized the fighting and assured Assad stays in power, but there are large swaths of the country outside of the government’s control. This would not be satisfactory outcome for Iraq. Iran’s influence has exponentially increased in the country as well. Tehran has never wanted to directly rule Iraq, but it has always sought to take advantage of the opportunities provided it. The security collapse has presented just such a situation where it can expand its reach throughout the state’s apparatus something it will not likely give up when all things are said and done.

SOURCES

ABC/AP, “Hezbollah Commander who triggered the 2006 war Killed in Iraq,” 8/1/14

Abdullah, Dlashad, “Elite Iranian force enters Iraq via Kurdistan: official,” Asharq Al-Awsat, 7/31/14

Associated Press, “Iranian commanders on front line of Iraq’s fight,” 7/17/14

Blanford, Nicholas, “Why Hezbollah is playing a smaller role in this Iraqi conflict,” Christian Science Monitor, 7/16/14

Chulov, Martin, “Iran sends troops into Iraq to aid fight against Isis militants,” Guardian, 6/14/14
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Daragahi, Borzou, “Iraq trains volunteers to fight Isis but many seen as ill-prepared,” Financial Times, 7/11/14

Dehghanpisheh, Babak, “Iran’s elite Guards fighting in Iraq to push back Islamic State,” Reuters, 8/3/14

Dempsey, Joseph, “Joseph Dempsey: Iraqi’s latest Su-25s come from Iran,” Military Balance Online, 7/2/14

Detmer, Jamie, “Hezbollah’s Widening War Spreads to Iraq,” Daily Beast, 8/1/14

Faqie, Nuwar, “Iranian forces arrive in Kirkuk,” Bas News, 6/22/14

Filkins, Dexter, “The Shadow Commander,” New Yorker, 9/30/13

Fox News, “Iran reportedly sent military advisers, head of Quds Force to Iraq,” 6/26/14

Gordon, Michael and Schmitt, Eric, “Iran Secretly Sending Drones and Supplies Into Iraq, U.S. Officials Say,” New York Times, 6/25/14

Kakayi, Bestun, “Iranian Quds Force Opens Private Center to send Soldiers to Iraq,” Bas News, 6/20/14

Karim, Shaho, “BasNews gives detail about Iranian forces in Iraq,” Bas News, 6/15/14

Karimi, Faith and Smith-Spark, Laura, “Iran sends forces to Iraq as ISIS militants press forward, official says,” CNN, 6/13/14

Levitt, Matthew and Pollak, Nadav, “Hezbollah in Iraq: A Little Help Can Go a Long Way,” Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 6/25/14

Naharanet Newsdesk, “Iranian Pilot Killed Fighting in Iraq,” 7/5/14

Orleans, Alexander, “Echoes of Syria: Hezbollah reemerges in Iraq,” Institute for the Study of War, 8/1/14

Prothero, Mitchell, “Islamic State overwhelms Iraqi forces at Tikrit in major defeat,” McClatchy Newspapers, 7/18/14

Rosen, Armin, “Iraq Official Says Iran’s Military Mastermind Is In Charge,” Business Insider, 6/18/14

Salih, Hemin, “Iranian forces enter Kurdistan Region,” Bas News, 6/14/14

Smyth, Phillip, “Iranian Proxies Step Up Their Role in Iraq,” Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 6/13/14

Tomlinson, Hugh, “Iran’s special forces rush in to help floundering ally,” Times of London, 6/11/14

Militia Mobilization Started In 203 Due To Renewed Iraq Insurgency

 
As the security situation has worsened in Iraq Baghdad has turned to militias more and more. Some point to the fall of Mosul in June 2014 as the turning point in this trend, but in fact armed Shiite groups started operating again in early 2013 in response to the renewed insurgency. Today they are working with the security forces on all major fronts, and have been accused of kidnapping and killing civilians. The majority of them are beholden to Iran increasing Tehran’s influence on the ground. The militias highlight the weakness of the state. It can’t protect its people, it is letting its neighbor come in and direct part of its security portfolio, and most importantly it will be harder then ever to remove the militia influence because they are being integrated into the government apparatus more every day.

Members of Asaib Ahl al-Haq on parade in Karbala March 2014 It's gunmen like these that the Iraqi government has become more dependent on to face the insurgency (Reuters)

In the spring of 2013 there were anecdotal stories of militias operating in Baghdad. In May for example Asaib Ahl Al-Haq (AAH) the League of the Righteous denied that it was running checkpoints in the capital. That same month Reuters interviewed a man in Baghdad who claimed he was kidnapped by militias, Al Mada reported that three former Baathists were killed in Babil, which was blamed on Shiite groups, and finally Moqtada al-Sadr accused the League of being back on the streets. This was the first appearance in U.S. and Iraqi sources of militias attacking Sunnis once again. It’s not like groups such as AAH had ever disappeared, but they seemed to be involved in other activities. In 2012 they went to Syria to defend the Assad regime under the leadership of Iran. The League also turned to politics becoming an ally of Premier Nouri al-Maliki in his attempt to cut into the Sadr’s base. In 2013 the insurgency started making a major comeback and that seemed to focus the militias back on fighting them.

Claims of militia violence only increased in the second half of 2013. In September an AAH leader said that the organizations had contacts within the security forces (ISF) and then the next month its leader Qais Khazali announced that he was creating popular committees in the capital to assist the ISF. According to the New York Times this involved getting badges and weapons from the government. Another group the Badr Organization said it would help the security forces with the growing insurgency in Baghdad and Diyala at that same time. This was a major change, because Badr had focused upon being a political party in the last several years after being a major militia in the country. The armed factions were not just active in central Iraq, but the south as well. In September 20 men were found shot and killed in Basra. Some came with notes saying that they had been executed in retaliation for bombings by the Islamic State (IS). This was exactly how the civil war took off in 2005. Constant insurgent attacks upon Shiite targets, especially with mass casualty bombings led to militias taking the matters into their own hands, because they didn’t believe the ISF were up to the task. They used elements that had been integrated into the security forces along with their gunmen in the streets to carry out attacks, including kidnapping people, killing them, and then dumping their bodies.

The major growth in the Shiite groups occurred in 2014. By January the League was operating in Anbar after open fighting started there. A militia commander Anwar al-Bahadil for example, who had been deployed to Syria previously was killed in Anbar that month. That represented a larger trend of all the militias bringing their fighters back from Syria to Iraq to confront the insurgency. They justified this re-deployment the same way they did in Syria, saying they were there to protect the country’s shrines. In February, militias were said to be working in Diyala when the town of Mukhisa was taken by IS, and then Shiite fighters and the ISF moved in killing a number of civilians and burning some homes. The next month, militias helped retake Buhriz, killing around two dozen civilians, and burning three mosques in the process, and were charged with driving families out of Qara Tapa as well. In Baghdad, there were stories of militiamen wearing ISF uniforms and executing people. For example, in April 50 bodies showed up in the capital’s morgue handcuffed and shot in the head. In Madain, which is in the southern portion of the province 16 men were killed in drive by shootings or were taken away by men with security badges who were later found dead. These were all hallmarks of Shiite militiamen. The fall of most of Anbar in January became a major rallying cry for the militias. The growing insurgent threat at home was important enough for them to move their focus from Syria back to the homeland, and that was welcomed by the Baghdad government.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki openly welcomed the militias. According to Reuters, on April 7 the premier held a meeting with politicians about the Shiite groups. He said he was frustrated with the inability of the security forces to subdue the insurgency, and was turning to the militias for their battle experience. He created a special directorate under his office of commander and chief to direct their activities. This included their integration into the ISF, which was how they received uniforms, manned checkpoints, and why they were fighting in Anbar, Diyala, and Babil.

This official backing led to an expansion of the armed groups. April marked major recruiting drives by many groups starting with the Hezbollah Brigades who formed Popular Defense Brigades. The Badr Organization and AAH followed its lead creating similar units. Militias that were in Syria also started operating in Iraq such as Liwa Abu Fadl al-Abbas and Afwaj al-Kafi. The latter has close links to SWAT and the Special Operations Forces and was fighting in Abu Ghraib in western Baghdad governorate. Again the movement of Syrian militias to Iraq showed where their focus was by 2014.

In another sign of the growing power of the militias within the government Transportation Minister Ameri and head of Badr was given control of security in Diyala by Maliki (AFP)

Since the fall of Mosul in June the militias have increased their presence and activities, and so have their Iranian allies. The groups said to be working across Iraq from Salahaddin to Ninewa to Kirkuk to Diyala to Anbar to Salahaddin to Babil included the Hezbollah Brigades, the League of the Righteous, the Badr Organization, Faylaq Waad al-Sadiq, Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba, Kataib Sayid al-Shuhada, Saraya Tali al-Khurasani, Kataib al-Zahra, Liwa Abu Fadl al-Abbas, Afwaj al-Kafi, Sadr’s new Peace Brigades, and the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq’s (ISCI) militia. Transportation Minister Hadi Ameri who heads Badr was even given control of security in his home province of Diyala by Maliki. The stories of abuses continue as well. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International found evidence of their collaboration with the ISF to execute around 250 prisoners in five separate incidents. AAH was blamed for 50 blinded folded and shot bodies being found in Babil in July. It was so emboldened that it was accused of kidnapping the head of the Baghdad province council and his bodyguards that month. The council head’s security was beaten in an attempt to garner an admission that they were all supporters of the insurgency. In August, Baghdad’s governor accused militias of kidnapping and terrorizing innocent people. With the exception of the Sadrists all of these groups were receiving money, training, weapons, and leadership from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) who helped create most of them in the first place. AAH for instance was said to receive $1-$2 million a year from Tehran, while there were various reports of IRGC advisers being in Iraq helping to direct security operations. The loss of Mosul only accelerated the return and inclusion of the militias within the government security apparatus that started a year beforehand. The government’s desperation, and Iran’s shock at the advance of the insurgency across northern Iraq put an emphasis upon putting as many gunmen in the field as quickly as possible to confront the threat, and that was accomplished by calling out the Shiite groups.

Hezbollah Brigades marching with image of Ayatollah Khomeini showing where their loyalties lie (BBC)

Baghdad’s weakness in the face of the new insurgency is increasing it reliance upon the militias and Iran. This happened long before the current offensive, and goes back to 2013 when there was a dramatic increase in militant attacks and civilian casualties. When that eventually exploded in Anbar in January 2014 Iran and the militias were ready as it began moving men and material from Syria to Iraq. Now they are all working together across the central part of the country. This is leading to long-term divisions and breakdowns of the state. First, a new wave of sectarian killing has started, and could eventually become cleansing of Sunnis from major cities as occurred during the last civil war. Baghdad shows no concern over this matter either because it thinks it is collateral damage in the war against the insurgency or worse sees them as legitimate attacks because Sunnis are considered supporters of the militants. Second, the use of militias plays into the hands of the insurgency who have long claimed the government is using them to terrorize Sunnis and is nothing but an Iranian stooge. It will be hard to win over Sunnis to the government’s side and join the security forces if they know there are militia elements embedded throughout them and Iranian advisers are out in the field. Third, it will be nearly impossible for the state to rid itself of the militias once the fighting ends. They were never disarmed nor disbanded and now some of them such as the Badr Organization and the League of the Righteous have become allies of the prime minister. Thousands of Badr and Mahdi Army fighters were taken into the armed forces and police and remained there after the U.S. invasion. They now have plenty more of their brethren joining up too, and are considered one of the backbones of the ISF. Finally, Iran’s influence is growing with this increasing use of militias. All of them but the Sadrists are beholden to Tehran. That has allowed it to move from just providing assistance to its allies and the security forces to actually running part of the security portfolio. IRGC General Qassim Suleimani is said to be in Iraq quite often in recent months visiting the front and directing operations based upon his strategy and experience in Syria. Iraq was desperate for foreign assistance when the insurgency restarted, and there little was coming. That vacuum allowed Iran to step in and its unlikely it will give up this increased power within the country. Some Iraqis have welcomed the return of the militias for helping to bring the country back from the brink after insurgents charged south from Mosul towards Baghdad. What they don’t realize is that these militias will not go away when the fighting is over, and neither will Iran keeping the government weak, which was why it couldn’t stand up to the militants in the first place.

SOURCES

Abbas, Yasir and Trombly, Dan, “Inside the Collapse of the Iraqi Army’s 2nd Division,” War On The Rocks, 7/1/14

Ali, Ahmed, “2013 Iraq Update #23: Sadrists and Asa’ib Ahl Al-Haq Fight for Baghdad,” Institute for the Study of War, 6/11/13

Alsumaria, “Source: militias kidnapped head of the provincial council of Baghdad from his home in Adhamiya,” 7/26/14

Amnesty International, “Iraq: Testimonies point to dozens of revenge killings of Sunni detainees,” 6/27/14

Arango, Tim, “Abduction of Sunni Displays Gangland Edge of Iraqi Politics,” New York Times, 7/27/14
- “Rise in Deadly Attacks on Shiites in Iraq Stirs Anger at Government,” New York Times, 9/27/13

Arango, Tim, Al-Salhy, Suadad, and Cowell, Alan, “Iraqi Kurds Take Oil City as Militants Push Forward,” New York Times, 6/12/14

Buratha News, “The killing of Mufti of Jurf al-Sakhr Musab al-Owaisi with 70 other terrorists in violent clashes in the north of Babylon province,” 7/13/14
- “Saraya Brigades and military wing of Badr killed 80 Daash terrorists in security Garma,” 7/20/14

Chulov, Martin, “Controlled by Iran, the deadly militia recruiting Iraq’s men to die in Syria,” Guardian, 3/12/14

Dziadosz, Alexander, “Bruised Iraqi army leans on Shi’ite militias, volunteers,” Reuters, 7/10/14

Evers, Erin, “Time is Running Out for Iraq as Nation Spirals into Chaos,” MSNBC, 7/20/14

Hadi, Ahmad, “cousin against cousin: iraqi militias in anbar bloody family ties,” Niqash, 6/5/14
- “Sectarian Tension Break Up Baghdad Families, Militias Push Minorities Out,” Niqash, 7/24/14

Hauslohner, Abigail, “Fifty bodies found in Iraq, raising fears of sectarian war,” Washington Post, 7/9/14

Hendawi, Hamza and Abdul-Zahra, Qassim, “Rise of Shiite Militias Pose a Threat to Iraq,” Associated Press, 6/15/14

Human Rights Watch, “Iraq: Campaign of Mass Murders of Sunni Prisoners,” 7/11/14
- “Iraq: Pro-Government Militias Trail of Death,” 7/31/14

Institute for the Study of War, “Overt Shi’a Militia Mobilization in Mixed Areas,” 4/17/14

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

Jubouri, Adam, “Bahrez occupation reveals the strained relationship between the parent and the local government and the size of the sensitivity of sectarianism,” Al Mada, 3/25/14

Knights, Michael, “Analysis: Iraq’s never-ending security crisis,” BBC, 10/3/13

Al Mada, “3 Baghdadi neighborhoods witnessing armed clashes between “known - “Militias start operations in Babylon and liquidate three former Baathists one degree member of the task,” 5/31/13
- “S Hillah … War between the militias and black olive “comrades” .. Police “revealing,”” 6/9/13
- “Sadr accused “the people of falsehood” of trying to assassinate al-Araji, and declared three days of mourning,” 6/3/13
- “Tensions between the Sadrists and Asaib worry neighborhoods of Baghdad and al-Khazali and clings to the truce,” 6/11/13

Mandee, Samira Ali and Bezhan, Frud, “Iraqi Militias Make Comeback Amid Surging Sectarian Violence,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 6/20/13

Markey, Patrick and al-Salhy, Suadad, “Surging violence, sectarian fears haunt Iraq,” Reuters, 5/30/13

Al Masalah, “”League of the Righteous” declares its readiness to defend Iraq and sanctuaries and calls for politicians to unite and support the security forces,” 6/11/14

McDonnell, Patrick, “Proud Sunni neighborhood writhes under Iraq’s Shiite security forces,” McClatchy Newspapers, 7/20/14

Morris, Loveday, “Iraqi army increasingly bolstered by Shiite militias as ISIS advances,” Washington Post, 6/20/14
- “Shiite militias in Iraq begin to remobilize,” Washington Post, 2/9/14

Najm, Haider, “café clashes: Baghdad conservatives try to close ‘immoral’ coffee shops,” Niqash, 7/25/13

National Iraqi News Agency, “Ahl Al-Haq denies links to fake checkpoints, demanding the Govt to take firm and strict action,” 5/26/13
- “Sadr condemns clashes between his supporters and / Ahlil-Haq militia/in Baghdad,” 6/3/13

Parker, Ned and Salman, Raheem, “In defense of Baghdad, Iraq turns to Shi’ite militias,” Reuters, 6/14/14

Parker, Ned, Rasheed, Ahmed and Salman, Raheem, “Sectarian strife threatens Iraq ahead of election,” Reuters, 4/27/14

Prothero, Mitchell, “Iraqi commandos and Shiite militias battling to retake Tikrit,” McClatchy Newspapers, 6/27/14
- “Weeks of combat in Iraq show Shiite militias have few offensive capabilities,” McClatchy Newspapers, 7/16/14

Rasheed, Ahmed, “Iraq Shi’ite militias use hit lists to pick off foes: police,” Reuters, 7/31/14

Rubin, Alissa and Al-Salhy, Suadad, “For Iraq, Debacle in Tikrit as Forces Walk Into Trap Set by Militants,” New York Times, 7/16/14

Sadah, Ali Abel, “Sadr Gives Maliki ‘Final Warning,’” Al-Monitor, 5/29/13
- “Sadr Reconsiders Political Role, Mahdi Army,” Al-Monitor, 8/28/13

Sly, Liz and Hauslohner, Abigail, “Shiite militia seizes control of Iraqi town, slowing ISIS drive toward Baghdad,” Washington Post, 6/14/14

Sly, Liz, Hauslohner, Abigail and Morris, Loveday, “Fears of sectarian killings rise in Baghdad after Sunni imam, two aides found dead,” Washington Post, 6/17/14

Smyth, Phillip, “Hizballah Cavalcade: Saraya al-Dafa’ al-Sha’bi: Kata’ib Hizballah’s New Force in Iraq,” Jihadology, 6/9/14
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Sotaliraq, “Jurf al-Sakhr front forgotten war in Iraq and the suffering of new entrants of Asaib Ahl Al-Haq,” 5/30/14

Al-Tamimi, Aymenn Jawad, “Iraq: Who are Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq Islamists?” Islamist Gate, 3/6/14

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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Attacks Down But Casualties Remain High In 2nd Week of August, 2014


Violence continued across central Iraq in the second week of August 2014. The press had fewer security incidents than the previous week, but casualties remained high due to figures being released about peshmerga casualties in Ninewa and massacres carried out by the Islamic State (IS) in Salahaddin. U.S. air strikes and the arrival of Kurdish fighters from Syrian, Turkish, and Iranian groups also helped stabilize the front in Ninewa and Diyala, while the security forces and insurgents continued to battle over several cities in Anbar. In Baghdad there were continued car bombs and terrorist attacks in Kirkuk. Overall, August 8-14 saw the return of foreign powers to Iraq, but it was not enough to slow down the insurgency across the country.

Like the first week of August there were over 1,800 casualties in Iraq from August 8-14. The media had 178 security incidents, down from 265 the previous week, which was the most seen this year. The number of dead dropped as well from 951 the first week to 709 the second. That was made up of 217 peshmerga, 26 members of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), 10 Sahwa, and 456 civilians. The wounded went up however from 885 August 1-7 to 1,152 the following week. That consisted of 542 peshmerga, 74 ISF, 4 Sahwa, and 532 civilians. The huge number of Kurdish casualties was actually the result of fighting across both weeks of August in the Sinjar area of Ninewa, but they were not reported until the 8th. Shootings decreased from 124 to 84 across the two weeks, while bombings remained steady at 104 versus 106 and 17 car bombs in both weeks. Although the number of dead and wounded declined they were still some of the highest figures seen since the middle of June when Mosul fell and the insurgency swept across Ninewa, Salahaddin and Kirkuk provinces. June 8-14 for example there were 658 killed, followed by 729 June 15-21 and 720 from June 22-28. The injured on the other hand was the most since the start of 2014.

Security Incidents In Iraq Aug 1-14, 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
178
709
26 ISF
10 Sahwa
217 Peshmerga
456
1,152
74 ISF
4 Sahwa
542 Peshmerga
532
84
106
17
25

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
Aug 9-14
178
709
1,152

Security Incidents In Iraq By Province Aug 8-14, 2014
Province
Security
Incidents
Dead
Wounded
Types of
Attack
Anbar
30
52
10 ISF
4 Sahwa
38 Civilians
77
8 ISF
2 Sahwa
67 Civilians
15 Shootings
2 IEDs
2 Suicide Car Bombs
1 Car Bomb
Babil
15
16
5 ISF
3 Sahwa
8 Civilians
25
18 ISF
2 Sahwa
5 Civilians
6 Shootings
7 IEDs
1 Sticky Bomb
Baghdad
46
108
9 ISF
1 Sahwa
98 Civilians
259
30 ISF
229 Civilians
13 Shootings
19 IEDs
7 Car Bombs
6 Sticky Bombs
Basra
7
6
6 Civilians
21
21 Civilians
4 Shootings
2 IEDs
Diyala
18
55
1 ISF
17 Peshmerga
36 Civilians
128
8 ISF
42 Peshmerga
78 Civilians
15 Shootings
5 IEDs
2 Car Bombs
3 Suicide Car Bombs
20 Suicide Bombers
Kirkuk
18
33
33 Civilians
78
2 ISF
76 Civilians
4 Shootings
11 IEDs
1 Car Bomb
Ninewa
14
205
200 Peshmerga
5 Civilians
509
500 Peshmerga
9 Civilians
11 Shootings
2 IEDs
Qadisiyah
3


3 IEDs
Salahaddin
26
235
1 ISF
2 Sahwa
232 Civilians
55
8 ISF
47 Civilians
16 Shootings
11 IEDs
Wasit
1


1 Car Bomb

Anbar saw 30 security incidents resulting in 52 killed and 77 wounded. Like most weeks the majority of those casualties were caused by indiscriminate government shelling, which struck Falllujah and Garma. In total 29 people died and 66 were wounded by ISF artillery. Fighting was concentrated in two areas. First, insurgents continued to lay siege to Haditha attempting to take over the dam there. 4 units of the ISF were sent there as reinforcements. The other main battlefront was in the Ramadi area. In July militants were able to move from the south into the western section of the city. The security forces were able to battle back and launch a counter offensive in August. Up to 85% of the province remains under insurgent control however.

Fighting in Anbar in August has been centered around Haditha while the ISF is trying to clear Ramadi and the surrounding areas (Institute for the Study of War)

Casualties From Government Shelling In Anbar Aug 8-14, 2014
Date
Location
Dead
Wounded
Aug 8
Fallujah
4
7

Garma
3
7
Aug 9
Fallujah
3
8

Garma
1
9
Aug 10
Fallujah
7
12
Aug 11
-
-
-
Aug 12
Fallujah
6
10

Garma
3
5
Aug 13
Fallujah
2
8
Aug 14
-
-
-
TOTALS
-
29
66

The ISF continues with security operations in northern Babil’s Jurf al-Sakhr. This has led to clashes with the Islamic State almost every day with 3 civilians, 3 police, 3 Sahwa, 4 soldiers and 4 militiamen killed and 1 Federal Police, 2 Sahwa, 6 civilians, 8 volunteers, and 9 soldiers wounded.

Iraqi Special Forces seen taking part in on going security operation in Jurf al-Sakhr, Babil (Reuters)

The Islamic State has been able to maintain its car bombs campaign in Baghdad. In each week of the month a wave of vehicle borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) were detonated. From August 6-8 8 exploded in Sadr City, Ur, New Baghdad, and Kadhimiya leaving 65 dead and 161 wounded. Then from August 11-13 another six went off in Diyala Bridge, Karrada, Zafaraniya, New Baghdad, Baya, and Amil causing 39 fatalities and 95 injuries. Bodies continued to pile up in the province as well with 14 being found during the week most of which were likely due to militias. In total 108 people died and 259 were wounded in Baghdad governorate.

 Aftermath of one of the six car bombs that went off in Baghdad Aug 6 (EPA)

Car Bombs In Baghdad Aug 1-14, 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
Aug 8
Sadr City
2
7
Aug 9
-
-
-
Aug 10
-
-
-
Aug 11
Diyala Bridge
4
8
Aug 12
Karrada & Zafaraniya
17
44
Aug 13
New Baghdad, Baya, Amil
18
43
Aug 14
-
-
-
Total
15
120
281

Bodies Dumped In Baghdad Aug 1-14, 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
-
-
Aug 8
Rasheed
4
Aug 9
Obeidi & ? x2
8
Aug 10
Fudhliya
1
Aug 11


Aug 12
Abu Dishr
1
Aug 13


Aug 14


TOTAL
11
24

Diyala was the sight of a major setback for the peshmerga. On August 10, Jalawla in the eastern section of the province fell to insurgents. Using one car bomb, two suicide car bombs, and 20 suicide bombers militants led by the Islamic State were able to seize the town from the peshmerga. The next day it used a suicide bomber driving a tanker truck on a checkpoint. Another car bomb was detonated on August 14. The Kurds have been fighting to take back the area since then, but without success so far.  In total, 17 peshmerga were killed in the fighting, and another 42 wounded with some 20 captured as well. In the rest of the province the ISF carried out three operations claiming to secure the Hamrin Mountains, Muqtadiya, and Diam.

Peshmerga firing rockets in Jalawla area which they are currently trying to retake from IS led insurgents (Bas News)

Ninewa saw continued fighting in the Sinjar area between insurgents and peshmerga. The Kurds were able to retake Gwar, Makhmour and Zumar after the fall of Sinjar. That came at a heavy cost as the media reported around 200 dead and 500 wounded. Still the Islamic State offensive caught the Kurds by surprise just like it did in Jalawla. Before the Kurdistan Regional Government seemed to feel like it was safe from the insurgents, but they were proven wrong. Kenneth Pollack argued that the Kurds fought harder to retake those towns, because it was territory that they claimed. The real reason appeared to be the arrival of PKK fighters who were already in the area, and additional forces from Syria and Iran from the PYD and PJAK. The Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan was also involved. The IS offensive highlighted the shortcomings of the peshmerga. Despite their reputation as heady fighters they have not fought any battles since the 1990s and as one analyst coined them were more of a checkpoint force like the Iraqi army and police. They lack the experience, leadership and weapons to fight the insurgency, unlike the PKK who have been fighting in Syria, Turkey and Iran for years now.

In Salahaddin insurgents continued attacks in Amerli, Dhuluiya, the Tuz Kharmato and Tikrit districts. There was heavy use of indirect fire using mortars on Dhuluiya, Albu Ajeel, Tarmiya, Tikrit, Tuz Kharmato, Tikrit, Amerli, and Awija. Amerli and Dhuluiya have been surrounded by insurgents for weeks and have received very little aid from the Iraqi security forces. At Camp Speicher on the outside of Tikrit 200 bodies were found executed by IS. Another 35 were killed and 55 wounded for the week.

In Kirkuk violence was more subdued consisting mostly of terrorist attacks upon Kirkuk City, while the government carried out a series of indiscriminate air strikes. In the city of Kirkuk there were ten IEDs, two shootings and a car bomb causing 13 deaths and 85 wounded. The Iraqi army air arm also struck Hawija, Shamar, Bado, and Daquq leaving 35 dead and 49 injured. Unlike Ninewa and Diyala IS has not decided to directly confront the peshmerga here.

Southern Iraq saw some attacks as well. There were 4 shootings and 2 IEDs in Basra, 3 IEDs in Qadisiyah, and a car bomb in Wasit. The last was the work of IS, but the others appeared to be due to disputes between Shiite parties. For instance, the followers of Mohammed Hassani Sarkhi have recently been accused of setting off bombs against their opponents’ offices in the south. Two of the three IEDs in Qadisiyah were against houses of representatives of Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. Ultimate responsibility will probably never be known.

SOURCES

Abdulla, Mufid, “Who will defend the KRG in the south of Kurdistan?” Kurdistan Tribune, 8/11/14

AIN, "11 persons killed, injured southwestern Baghdad," 8/13/14
- "18 Peshmerga elements killed, injured in Diyala," 8/14/14
- “Peshmerga forces liberate Zamar, Makhmour areas northern Mosul,” 8/10/14

Alsumaria, "Four dead and 11 wounded in the bombing of the Amil district south of Baghdad," 8/13/14
- "Killing and wounding ten people in the fall of mortars on Fallujah," 8/13/14

Bas News, “Peshmerga to Attack Strategic Town of Jalawla,” 8/11/14

Buratha News, "200 bodies found near Base Speicher believed to be students killed by Daash gang," 8/9/14
- "Baghdad blast toll rises to 28 new martyrs and wounded," 8/13/14
- "The high number of victims of the terrorist bombing in Karrada climbs to 13 martyrs and 25 wounded," 8/12/14
- "Martyrdom and wounding 18 people, including a police car in a bomb explosion targeting the federal police headquarters southwest of Baghdad," 8/13/14
- "Martyrdom and wounding nine people, blowing up a bus in Sadr City in eastern Baghdad," 8/8/14

Coles, Isabel, “Outgunned and untested for years, Kurdish peshmerga struggle,” Reuters, 8/13/14

Iraq Times, "Martyrdom and wounding 650 elements of the Peshmerga in battles with the Daash terrorist organization," 8/8/14

Al Mada, "Found four unidentified bodies south of Baghdad," 8/8/14
- "Killing and wounding 12 people in explosion of a car bomb south of Baghdad," 8/11/14
- "Killing and wounding 19 people by the army bombing Fallujah," 8/10/14
- "Zafaraniyah bombing toll rises to 16 dead and wounded," 8/12/14

NINA, "20 Peshmerga killed and wounded in suicide attack in Jalawla, Diyala province," 8/11/14
- “Army controls a large part of Muqdadiya district,” 8/10/14
- “An army force backed by the tribes liberated al-Wafaa district northwest of Ramadi,” 8/11/14
- “Defense announces cleansing series of Hamrin Heights,” 8/9/14
- “The security forces seize control on Edhaym district in Diyala,” 8/11/14
- "Two Sistani representatives' homes targeted by homemade bombs in Diwaniyah," 8/10/14
- "Unidentified body found , east of Baghdad," 8/10/14
- "Unidentified body found south of Baghdad," 8/12/14

Pollack, Kenneth, “Iraq: Understanding the ISIS Offensive Against the Kurds,” Brookings Institute, 8/11/14

Prothero, Mitchell, “U.S. airstrikes helped, but Kurds from Syria turned tide against Islamic State,” McClatchy Newspapers, 8/11/14

Radio Free Iraq, "08 August 2014," Daily Updates from Anbar, 8/8/14
- “09 August 2014,” Daily Updates from Anbar, 8/9/14
- “10 August 2014,” Daily Updates from Anbar, 8/10/14
- "12 August 2014," Daily Updates from Anbar, 8/12/14

Al Rayy, "Found eight unidentified bodies in different parts of Baghdad," 8/9/14
- "Peshmerga pulled out of their headquarters amid Jalawla after three car bombs and 20 suicide bombers," 8/11/14
- "Violent clashes between the Peshmerga and Daash in Al Kwayr," 8/10/14

Rudaw, “Iranian Kurdish Parties Support Peshmerga With Fighters,” 8/12/14
- “Peshmerga in Push to Retake Jalawla from Militants,” 8/11/14

Yacoub, Sameer and Salama, Vivian, “Kurdish forces retake 2 towns in northern Iraq,” Associated Press, 8/10/14