ISHM: April 21 – 27, 2017

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Key Takeaways:

  • Turkish Warplanes Strike Targets in Sinjar, Drawing Condemnation – Between April 21 and 25, Turkish airstrikes hit targets in Dohuk and Ninewa Provinces. Turkey has been targeting Kurdish Worker’s Party (PKK) camps in northern Iraq since at least late 2015, despite protests from the Iraqi government. The most significant incident occurred on April 25, when Turkish aircraft hit targets on Mount Sinjar, killing five Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers. While Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi’s office expressed disappointment at Turkish actions, the Turkish government has defended its airstrikes as a necessary measure to prevent PKK weapons and fighters from reaching Turkey. Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga officials have asked PKK fighters to withdraw from Sinjar as tensions between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and PKK continue to grow. One day after the Turkish airstrikes in Sinjar, U.S.-led international coalition spokesman Col. John Dorrian stated that the Turkish government had given less than an hour’s notice to Iraqi and coalition forces before launching operations over Iraqi airspace. The same day, Kurdish protection units called for a no-fly zone to be established in Kurdish-controlled areas of northern Iraq and Syria to prevent future incidents like this one. more…
  • Reconstruction and Returns Increase in Eastern Mosul Despite Insecurity; U.S. Development Funding in Jeopardy – On April 24, several Mosul residents expressed desire to return to their homes despite the absence of basic services such as electricity and running water in much of the city. However, some reports have indicated that life is returning to normal in liberated areas of eastern Mosul. One day earlier, the Ministry of Displacement and Migration reported that 122,137 IDPs have returned to their homes in Ninewa Province since the operation to clear Mosul started on October 17, 2016, although 336,288 remain displaced as of April 27. The push for civilian returns is partly due to overcrowding at existing displacement facilities. On April 23, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that all IDP camps south of Mosul, except Haj Ali camp, are at full capacity, with 600 families arriving to the Haj Ali, Qayyarah Jadah 5, and Qayyarah Airstrip camps in the last three days. The UNHCR estimates that it needs US$ 212 million in 2017 to continue to support IDPs displaced from Mosul, and requested US$ 578 million to support IDPs across the country in 2017, of which, only 18% has been funded. Yet, the UNHCR reported on April 25 that the number of departures from IDP camps has started to surpass the number of arrivals. While Iraq’s IDP crisis continues, and the country faces the daunting task of reconstruction, an April 24 Foreign Policy report indicated that the Trump Administration plans to merge the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and drastically cut assistance programs for developing countries. USAID estimates that Trump’s 2018 budget proposal will require it to cut up to 35 of its field missions, as well as cut its regional bureaus by 65%. It remains unclear how these cuts will impact Iraq. more…
  • Operations Continue into Western Mosul as Violence Continues in Tal Afar – Iraqi Federal Police and Counter-Terror Service (CTS) forces have made slow advances into ISIS-held western Mosul. As of April 27, Federal Police maintained positions within 300 meters of the al-Nouri Mosque, where ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced the creation of the “caliphate” in 2014. As fighting continues inside Mosul, Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) liberated the archeological site of Hatra, and cleared 12 villages in the al-Hathr district of Ninewa Province, 110 and 65 kilometers south of Mosul, respectively. Meanwhile, unknown gunmen in Tal Afar, 75 kilometers west of Mosul, assassinated the son of the ISIS “Grand Mufti” in the town, following a string of anonymous high-profile killings of ISIS members there over the past few weeks. more…
  • Security Forces Launch New Offensives Against ISIS in Anbar and Diyala – On April 22, Diyala Security forces, accompanied by PMU fighters, performed a security sweep of three valleys (Thelb, Hadidi, and Qzla) 80 kilometers northeast of Baquba in Diyala Province. Four days later, Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and PMUs launched a four-axis offensive to clear the Mutibija region on the borders of Diyala and Salah ad-Din provinces, following months of demands from local politicians and residents for action against this hotbed for terrorist activity. On April 27, the Mayor of Khalis, 15 kilometers north of Baquba, stated that the offensive would allow thousands of displaced families to return to their homes. Meanwhile, operations to clear ISIS militants from parts of Anbar Province also intensified over the past week. On April 23, U.S.-led international coalition airstrikes killed 21 ISIS militants near Rawa, 230 kilometers west of Ramadi. The same day, an ISIS attack in Rutba killed 10 ISF soldiers and wounded an additional 20. Clashes worsened in the areas around Rutba between 23-27 April, and the head of the Anbar Security Council has called on the U.S.-led international coalition to intensify its airstrikes against ISIS in western Anbar, referencing recent attacks on roads and security points near Rutba. more…
  • Sadrists Meet with PUK in Iraqi Kurdistan as Electoral Commission Head is Ousted – On April 23, representatives from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Sadrist movement met in Erbil to discuss political reform. During the meeting, the Sadrist delegation reportedly called on Kurds to assist in building a more cohesive Iraq rather than push for independence, and proposed holding new elections across Iraq after the current head of the Independent Electoral Commission is replaced. One day later, the Iraqi Parliament announced that it had decided to oust Serbest Mustafa, the current head of the Electoral Commission due to corruption. more…

For more background on most of the institutions, key actors, political parties, and locations mentioned in our takeaways or in the stories that follow, see the ISHM Reference Guide.


Turkish Warplanes Strike Targets in Sinjar, Drawing Condemnation

On April 21, Turkish airstrikes wounded an Iraqi woman in the Amadiyah District, 77 kilometers northeast of Dohuk City. Turkey has been targeting Kurdish Worker’s Party (PKK) camps in northern Iraq, despite protests from the Iraqi government. This is the first recorded incident of an Iraqi civilian being injured in recent months.

On April 22, Turkish warplanes targeted a PKK vehicle in the Amadiyah District of Dohuk Province. Local witnesses did not know if any PKK fighters died or were injured in the airstrikes.  

On April 23, Muhammad Abdul Rahman, Mayor of Qandil, stated that Turkish attacks on Iraqi soil have increased recently, reporting another attack in the Qandil mountains on Sunday. The airstrikes target PKK locations, but Rahman reports that the attacks scare residents, making many civilians reluctant to move around normally.

On April 25, Turkish Air Force airstrikes hit multiple Kurdish Peshmerga locations on Mount Sinjar and in northern Syria, killing five Peshmerga fighters and 20 Syrian Kurds (YPG). According to the Turkish government, the airstrikes were aimed at PKK fighters, attempting to stop the movement of terrorists and arms into Turkey. Peshmerga officials reportedly asked PKK fighters to withdraw from Sinjar, calling them a destabilizing force. A Turkish source reported that 200 PKK fighters were killed in the strikes, but this has not been verified. Saad al-Hadithi, a spokesman for the Office of the Iraqi Prime Minister, stated that the Iraqi government  “will respond to these actions to prevent their recurrence in the future.” There has been disapproval from the U.S. government, as both the Peshmerga and YPG are allies against ISIS.

On April 25, an unspecified number of citizens, parliamentarians, and other officials marched in Sulaimaniya to protest the Turkish airstrikes against Kurdish Peshmerga forces. The protesters claimed that Turkey is the enemy of the Kurdish people. Please click here for several photos of the protest. On April 26, the Turkish consul in Erbil offered a formal apology to the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), telling them that it was a “mistake” and that it will not happen again. Additionally, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Secretary General of the League of Arab States commented on the Turkish airstrike, calling it a violation of Iraq’s sovereignty, and as such unacceptable, regardless of Turkey’s rationalization for the strike.

On April 26, Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman Col. John Dorrian expressed concern at the lack of coordination by Turkey in the airstrikes it conducted in northern Iraq and Syria on April 25. Dorrian stated that the Turkish government gave coalition partners notification less than an hour before the airstrikes occurred, and that U.S. troops were within six miles of the Syrian strikes. Citing the complicated tactical situation and constantly changing locations of allied troops, Dorrian referred to the strikes as “an unsafe way to conduct operations,” and stated that “Iraq’s sovereignty was also not respected here.”

On April 26, Kurdish protection units called for a no-fly zone to be established in Kurdish-controlled areas of northern Iraq and Syria, seeking to prevent a repeat of Tuesday’s airstrikes on Kurdish locations by Turkish planes. Kurdish forces protested that Turkish strikes and fear of further strikes inhibits Kurdish abilities to protect themselves and to fight ISIS militants.


Reconstruction and Returns Increase in Eastern Mosul Despite Insecurity; U.S. Development Funding in Jeopardy

April 21 April 22 April 23 April 24 April 25 April 26 April 27
Total IDPs No data No data 334,518 No data 335,226 No data 336,288
Daily Net Change No data No data +4,506 No data +708 No data +1,062

Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) Displaced from Mosul and Surrounding Areas Since Military Operations Began on October 17.

On April 22, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that more than 1600 trauma cases have been recorded at the Athba and Bartalla Field Hospitals, Emergency, West Emergency, and Shikhan hospitals between April 16 and April 22. The large number of referrals is due in part to delayed reporting. The cumulative number of trauma cases from western Mosul recorded at the above mentioned hospitals is more than 4,000 since February 18. Of the trauma cases reported, 86% were civilians, 27% were children under the age of 15, and 27% were female. The WHO cited the provision of primary health care services to recently cleared areas of Mosul, and the provision of controlled substances used for pain management and sedation, as two major needs that must be met.

On April 23, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that all internally displaced person (IDP) camps south of Mosul, except Haj Ali camp, are at full capacity, with 600 families arriving to the Haj Ali, Qayyarah Jadah 5, and Qayyarah Airstrip camps in the last three days alone. Once the second phase of construction at the Hamam al-Ali 2 camp is complete, more than 1,600 additional family plots will be available. There are currently 4,000 family plots available in camps to Mosul’s north and east. Residents in eastern Mosul continue to report that access to water, employment, and new civil identification cards are major concerns. The UNHCR estimates that it needs US$ 212 million in 2017 to continue to support IDPs displaced from Mosul. In total, the UNHCR requested US$ 578 million to support IDPs and Iraqi refugees in 2017, of which, only 18% has been funded.

On April 23, the Minister of Displacement and Migration, Jassim Mohammed, reported that 122,137 IDPs have returned to their homes in Ninewa Province since the operation to clear Mosul started on October 17, 2016. Mohammed noted that, in the most recent instances of return, IDPs returned to the Salam, Sumer, Gogjali, al-Wahda, al-Intisar, Rashidiyah, and Palestine neighborhoods in eastern Mosul.

On April 24, the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) rescued at least three children who were held in Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) captivity in the Zanjili neighborhood on the outskirts of western Mosul. An anonymous source reported that at least one child that ISIS militants held in the area died as a result of torture.

On April 24, Mosul residents reported that they are eager to return to their homes despite the fact that basic services such as electricity and running water are still unavailable in much of the city. Mosaab Mohamed, who fled Mosul with his family, stated, “We left because of the air strikes but have now returned. But we want the government to restore services like electricity and water and to allow us to drive instead of using carts.” In addition, western Mosul residents who live in neighborhoods cleared of ISIS militants report that they are frustrated that aid convoys have yet to reach them. One resident stated, “We are besieged in the Resala area. There are stray bullets from other areas where there is fighting; three children have died,” adding that “Water and aid cannot reach us. I call on the government to redistribute the people in areas like ours into other safer areas in Mosul.” As life in eastern Mosul returns to normal, residents are eager to rebuild. Omar Khaled, an IDP who has decided to return to eastern Mosul, stated “We do not want anything from the government, we just want to be allowed to help ourselves. If we can have letters allowing us to go other places we will get our own water, and transport it back.”

On April 24, Reuters journalist Mohammed Al-Ramahi reported that toy stores have reopened in eastern Mosul, yet another sign of the city returning to normal. Under ISIS rule in Mosul, toys with eyes or faces, including “anthropomorphic animals,” were banned. Toy wholesaler Abu Mohammed noted, “Under Islamic State, any toys with faces we would have to make them veiled (if it is female) or only show eyes. Now this is no longer required and there is no ban on imports.” He also explained that, when eastern Mosul was cleared of ISIS militants in January, there were only two toy stores in the city. Now, there are 15. Taha, a resident of eastern Mosul, explained, “Those toys with faces were banned under the premise of apostasy and idolatry. These are myths. They are not Muslims, they are distorting Islam,” adding “Children are traumatized; they (Islamic State) ruined schools, they ruined toys, their (children’s) lives are hell.” Hassan, another resident of the city, noted that seeing toys with faces in storefronts is a sign that Mosul is coming back to life stating, “Everyone was oppressed young and old. The toys are back, life is back, we are free.”

On April 24, according to State Department budget documents and other sources, Foreign Policy reports that President Donald Trump plans to merge the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and drastically cut assistance programs for developing countries. In addition, the plan includes “rechanneling funding from development assistance into a program that is tied closely to national security objectives.” Andrew Natsios, the former USAID Administrator under President George W. Bush criticised the plan stating, “That will end the technical expertise of USAID, and in my view, it will be an unmitigated disaster for the longer term,” adding “What you’re basically doing is eviscerating the most important tool of American influence in the developing world, which is our development program.” USAID estimates that Trump’s 2018 budget proposal will require it to cut up to 35 of its field missions, as well as cut its regional bureaus by 65%. According to the State Department budget document, countries in Central and East Africa, where the U.S. works to combat extremist groups like al-Qaeda, could see development assistance “completely wiped out.” The budget cuts and merger could also compromise programs that help mitigate health crises like the Ebola crisis, and stem the flow of refugees. While it is unlikely that Congress will approve the entire proposed budget, aid experts expect that the final budget passed will still include major cuts to foreign assistance programs.

On April 25, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) reported that it has received more than 3,750 patients at its emergency hospital in Qayyarah, located 60 kilometers south of Mosul, between January and March 2017. The emergency hospital, which opened in December 2016, treats surgical emergencies, burn victims, patients in shock, and wounds as a result of airstrikes, mortar fire, and land mines. MSF’s team of two psychologists, one counsellor, and one psychiatrist also conduct mental health consultations in Qayyarah and treat both children and adults. From February to mid-April 2017, MSF teams conducted 192 mental health consultations, of which 30 were for children under the age of 13. The MSF facility in Qayyarah is the only facility in Ninewa Province “properly set up to receive children.” MSF estimates that half of all patients admitted to the hospital are children under the age of 15. In addition to casualties resulting from violence, MSF teams also treat malnourishment at a 12-bed therapeutic feeding center at the hospital in Qayyarah.

On April 25, the Australian government reported that it will provide an additional US$ 110 million over the next three years for humanitarian and stabilization efforts in Iraq. The funding includes US$ 10 million that will be used to meet immediate needs resulting from the Mosul operation. The aid package will address ongoing humanitarian needs such as food, healthcare, and access to clean water for Iraq’s most vulnerable individuals, particularly women and girls.  

On April 25, the UNHCR reported that the number of departures from IDP camps has started to surpass the number of arrivals to IDP camps. Between April 21 and 23, 1,549 individuals arrived to camps east of Mosul, while over 2,000 individuals departed those camps. In IDP camps north of Mosul, 318 individuals arrived during the reporting period, while 436 individuals departed. UNHCR reported that returns were primarily to eastern Mosul where residents are eager to rebuild, find employment, and reunite with family. In addition, UNHCR reported that residents from both newly-cleared and ISIS-held neighborhoods are still fleeing western Mosul. IDPs from both cleared and ISIS-held neighborhoods in the city cite insecurity and lack of food, clean water, and electricity as major reasons why they must flee. The UN Human Settlements Program (UN Habitat) reported that, during the past month, the bank of the Tigris River in western Mosul sustained the most damage. UN Habitat reported that damages in the residential neighborhood of al-Rabee account for nearly 30% of all damage in western Mosul, with 481 residential buildings identified as “heavily damaged” or completely destroyed since March 30.

On April 26, Reuters journalist Mohammed Al-Ramahi reported that many business owners in eastern Mosul have started to rebuild, despite a lack of financial support from the Iraqi government. Rafeh Ghanem, who owns an automotive spare-parts business, noted “If we wait for support, it could take a long time.” In January, an airstrike leveled the two-story building where Ghanem and dozens of others operated their businesses. He explained that he and 25 other business owners who rented space in the building have agreed to contribute to helping the owner clear the area of debris and rebuild the first story of the building. Like Ghanem, many in eastern Mosul are taking the opportunity to begin reconstruction now while demand for materials is low. Since eastern Mosul was cleared of ISIS militants, the price of concrete and steel has dropped as supply routes have opened to allow businesses to import building materials from Turkey and elsewhere in Iraq. Residents in eastern Mosul expect prices to rise in the near future as more reconstruction projects begin and the demand for materials increases. Ghanem, who hopes to have his business up and running in three to four months, explained that residents have no other choice but to rebuild, stating “We live in this city, we have to bring it back.”  

On April 27, the Danish Refugee Council (DRC), with support from the UN International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operation, started construction on a water treatment plant along the bank of the Tigris River. The plant will provide “emergency and long-term solutions for the current water crisis” for more than 50,000 Iraqis at the Qayyarah Airstrip Emergency Site, located 72 kilometers south of Mosul. Upon completion, the plant will be able to provide up to 200,000 liters of clean water to camp residents. This is particularly important as summer approaches. Thomas Wilson, Coordinator for DRC’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) program, explained “With the arrival of summer, water consumption across Iraq will spike and we are now in a better position to provide enough water per person in the Airstrip,” adding “This will help mitigate the outbreak of diseases like cholera, which is endemic across the country.”

On April 27, the Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights (IOHR) reported that nearly 250,000 civilians trapped are trapped in western Mosul and are surviving off of “herbs and plants” only as food supplies continue to disappear. Recently displaced residents of western Mosul report that “hundreds” of children suffer from dehydration and malnutrition, and that many households have run out of food completely. A source from an unnamed local aid organization noted that many IDPs eat only one meal a day, and that many try and store as much food as possible for fear that they will run out. The IOHR called on the Iraqi government to open more aid corridors into western Mosul so that aid organizations can access recently-cleared neighborhoods. The IOHR concluded by stating that the situation in western Mosul is dire, adding “A quarter of a million civilians live in a real siege imposed by an organization that does not hesitate one moment to kill them all.”

On April 27, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported that 336,288 IDPs are displaced from Mosul and the surrounding area since the operation to clear Mosul of ISIS militants began on October 17, 2016, a net increase of 6,276 IPDs since April 20. Fifty-eight percent of IDPs from Mosul and the surrounding area are housed in emergency camps, 28% live in private settings, 13% live in emergency sites, and 1% live in critical shelter arrangements. Cumulatively, 441,720 IDPs have been impacted by the crisis in Mosul since it began in October 2016. However, to date 105,432 IDPs have returned to their homes.


Operations Continue into Western Mosul as Violence Continues in Tal Afar

On April 21, Federal Police killed at least 14 Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants in the Thura neighborhood of western Mosul, including an explosives official known as Abu Abdelrahman al-Rusi. The police also dismantled 55 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in the same neighborhood.  

On April 22, Iraqi airstrikes west of Mosul killed the militant responsible for training ISIS snipers, a man known as Abu Abdullah al-Kuwaiti. Nearby, the Iraqi Counter-terrorism Services (CTS) cleared the neighborhood of al-Saha al-Thani in western Mosul. Federal Police killed four ISIS leaders and destroyed a booby-trapped tank.

On April 23, unidentified gunmen assassinated the son of the so-called “Grand Mufti” of ISIS in Tal Afar. Tal Afar, 75 kilometers west of Mosul, is still under ISIS control, but has seen a number of high-profile killings of ISIS leaders by unknown attackers.

On April 23, the Military Media Cell reported that Iraqi Air Force strikes in western Mosul killed dozens of militants and destroyed multiple vehicles, including fuel trucks and motorcycles. The airstrikes hit areas in Old Mosul and the neighborhood of al-Rafai.

On April 25, Ninewa Operations Commander Lt. Gen. Abdul Amir Yarallah reported that PMUs, with backing from ISF planes, cleared 12 villages in the al-Hathr district of Ninewa. The large region is south of Mosul, spreading from the border with Anbar Province to 65 kilometers south of Mosul. The progress comes as part of a new offensive to clear the rural and urban areas south of Mosul. The same day, Counter-terrorism units (CTS) cleared the Tanak neighborhood of western Mosul.

On April 26, PMUs cleared the archeological site of Hatra, 110 kilometers south of Mosul. The fortified city, which withstood attacks from the Roman Empire, is a UNESCO heritage site.

On April 26, Pentagon Spokesperson Dana White announced that the White House is giving Defense Secretary Mattis more authority to determine troop numbers in Iraq and Syria. She stated that Mattis has not yet changed any force numbers yet, but that the move made U.S. troops “more agile, adaptive and efficient in supporting our partners, and enables decisions that benefit unit readiness, cohesion and lethality.”

On April 27, Federal Police Chief Raed Shakir Jawdat announced that his troops killed ISIS officer Abu Faisal al-Jubouri, as well as dozens of other militants near al-Nouri Mosque in western Mosul. Federal Police are approximately 300 meters from the Mosque, which they have besieged over the past weeks.


Security Forces Launch New Offensives Against ISIS in Anbar and Diyala

On April 21, the 110 Brigade of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs) of Diyala seized a cache of mortars near Saida, 60 kilometers northeast of Baquba. The same day, Iraqi Air Force planes destroyed an Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) logistical support base on the border of Diyala and Salah ad-Din provinces, killing at least five militants in the process.

On April 21, U.S.-led international coalition airstrikes in western Anbar province killed six ISIS militants. The airstrikes targeted ISIS headquarters in the town of Akashat, 310 kilometers west of Ramadi.

On April 22, the Security Committee of the area around Abu Saida, 30 kilometers northeast of Baquba in Diyala, reported that the town has not had any security incidents in 48 hours, after weeks of unrest and violent attacks. The Committee denied that residents had begun moving out of the city, and reported that markets have reopened and civilians were moving around in town.

On April 22, Diyala Security forces, accompanied by PMU fighters, carried out a security sweep of three valleys (Thelb, Hadidi, and Qzla) 80 kilometers northeast of Baquba. The operation targeted ISIS sleeper cells, and security forces destroyed four improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

On April 22, Anbar Operations arrested a tribal sheikh, Abdul Aziz Munther Halbusi, resulting in calls for his release, including from Anbar Council member Subah Krhuat. It is unclear on what grounds Halbusi was arrested.

On April 23, U.S.-led international coalition airstrikes killed 21 ISIS militants near Rawa, 230 kilometers west of Ramadi. The airstrikes targeted three separate ISIS cells, according to an anonymous security source in the Iraqi Army. Another airstrike killed 14 militants and destroyed a munitions store.

On April 23, ISIS militants killed 10 Iraqi Security Force (ISF) troops and wounded another 20 in an attack in western Anbar. The militants were dressed in military uniforms, and targeted an ISF convoy east of Rutba, 310 kilometers west of Ramadi.  

On April 23, PMU leader Jabar al-Mamouri reported that the ISIS leader nicknamed “al-Mutibija’s Baghdadi,” an official in the Mutibija area on the border of Diyala and Salah ad-Din Provinces, died of his wounds following airstrikes in the region on April 20. Mamouri stated that reliable sources reported the ISIS official was wounded in the airstrikes, moved to another camp, and died there on Sunday.

On April 23, four mortars fell near the town of Abu Karma, 20 kilometers northeast of Baquba in Diyala. The attack, launched from the orchards around the town, did not cause any casualties.

On April 23, al-Sumaria News reported that U.S. Special Forces based at the Iraqi al-Asad Base, 90 kilometers west of Ramadi, airdropped into the town of al-Baghuz in Syria, less than a kilometer from the border with Iraq. According to an anonymous security source, the Special Forces team arrested an ISIS leader crossing from Iraq into Syria. Neither the Iraqi or U.S. armies have commented on the report.   

On April 24, Imad al-Dulaimi, Mayor of Rutba, called for further security support from the government, and asked that volunteers from the city be accepted into the security forces. In addition, the head of the Anbar Security Council, Naim Abdul Mosen al-Gaood, called  for a new security plan for Anbar, reporting that the Province lacked enough troops, and that corrupt officials within the system are leaking information to militants.

On April 24, PMU fighters clashed with ISIS militants west of Rutba, killing two militants and capturing another two. Two PMU fighters died and two were wounded in the fighting. The same day, security sources reported that ISIS militants have been booby-trapping the international highway west of Rutba.

On April 25, ISIS militants executed three civilians by firing squad in Rawa, located 212 kilometers north of Ramadi, on suspicion that they were acting as informants for the ISF. According to a source within the Baghdad Operations Command, ISIS militants executed the civilians in public, near a crowded market, and forbade local civilians from removing the corpses.

On April 25, Imad al-Dulaimi stated that security forces cleared the international highway between Ramadi and Syria, removing all IEDs and explosives along the road. Security forces had reported the day before that ISIS militants had been planting booby traps along the highway.

On April 26, Anbar PMUs cut the main road between the districts of Rawa in Anbar and al-Hathr in Ninewa, where PMUs are currently clearing towns and rural areas of ISIS militants. The same day, U.S.-led international coalition airstrikes killed 15 militants near Anah, 210 kilometers northwest of Ramadi.   

On April 26, ISF launched a large operation to clear the Mutibija region on the borders of Diyala and Salah ad-Din provinces. ISF and PMU troops moving in from four different directions killed at least 78 ISIS militants on the first day of the operation, destroying a VBIED factory and a variety of vehicles. The operation follows months of demands from local politicians and residents for action against militants in Mutibija, as it is a hot spot for terrorist activity.

On April 27, Uday Khaddran, Mayor of Khalis (15 kilometers north of Baquba), stated that the recent ISF and PMU efforts to clear the Mutibija region would pave the way for thousands of displaced families to return to their homes. Khaddran said that 50 villages would be revived by the clearing of ISIS from the area. At least 11 militants were killed in the operation on the 27, and 15 ISIS vehicles destroyed.  

On April 27, Naim Abdul Mohsen al-Gaood, head of the Anbar Security Council, called on the U.S.-led international coalition to intensify its airstrikes against ISIS in western Anbar. Referencing recent attacks on roads and security points around Rutba, Gaood asked that the coalition increase support for the ISF and help restrict the movement of militants in the region.


Sadrists Meet with PUK in Iraqi Kurdistan as Electoral Commission Head is Ousted

On April 23, representatives from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Sadrist movement met in Erbil to discuss reforms in Iraqi politics. In a press conference after the meeting, Saadi Ahmed Pira, a representative of the PUK, stated that he would take the Sadrist camp’s suggestions to the higher officials of the PUK for final approval. The two main areas of concern for the PUK and the Sadrists are the roles of the Independent High Electoral Commission as either an independent body or tool of those in power to sow sectarianism, and the path forward for Mosul and the surrounding area.

On April 24, more reports emerged detailing the conversations between the Sadrists and the PUK. During the meeting, the Sadrist delegation had called on the Kurds to assist in building a more cohesive Iraq, as they did after the US invasion, rather than push for independence. Sabaah Saadi, the leader of the Sadrist delegation, called on all the different groups and sects in Iraq to hold national conversations to air grievances and build up a communal spirit. The Sadrists also proposed holding new elections across Iraq after the current head of the Independent Electoral Commission is replaced, as Sadrist leader Moqtada al-Sadr has called for. The main part of the Sadrist reform package for the electoral system would be to standardize the minimum amount of votes needed for a member of parliament (MP) to achieve a seat. As the law currently stands, there are differing minimums for seats in different districts–making it easier for certain groups to be excluded from office. In standardizing the vote threshold, Sadrists argue Iraq will become more democratic.

On April 25, the Iraqi parliament announced that it had voted on whether or not to convict Serbest Mustafa, the head of the Independent Electoral Commission of politically motivated manipulation of the institution’s duties. Iraqi parliament decided to oust the current head of the Electoral Commission due to corruption.


IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties

DateLocationDeathsInjuries
04/27/17Dora, South Baghdad10
04/27/17North of Diyala01
04/26/17Mutibija, Diyala11
04//25/17Arab Jabour, South of Baghdad01
04/25/17Al-Mahula, Northeast of Baquba43
04/23/17Jisr Diyala, South Baghdad03
04/22/17Elounda Basin, Northeast of Baquba10
04/21/17Dora, South Baghdad02
04/21/17Raoud, North Baghdad02
04/21/17Baiji, Salah ad-Din03

 

Please note: some geographic locations represented are approximations and this map may not represent all incidents.


Derived from firsthand accounts and Iraq-based Arabic and Kurdish news sources, the Iraq Security and Humanitarian Monitor is a free publication of the Education for Peace in Iraq Center.


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