ISHM: May 12 – 18, 2017

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Key Takeaways:

  • Residents in Western Mosul Lack Essential Services Amid Reports of Forced Returns; Humanitarian Organizations Prepare for Summer Heat – On May 16, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported that soaring temperatures in Qayyarah, 60 kilometers south of Mosul, will pose significant challenges for IDPs in the upcoming summer months. Temperatures are expected to reach triple digits by June. While IOM has distributed 5,400 kits with 40-litre capacity coolers, battery-rechargeable fans, and summer linens, many IDPs complain of continuing water and electricity shortages. In response to worsening IDP conditions, the UN Iraq Humanitarian Coordinator, Lise Grande, noted that “we have to redouble our efforts to mobilize more resources and get assistance to the people who need it the most…Hundreds of thousands of lives are at stake.” As of May 18, less than one-quarter of the requested US$ 985 million for the 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan for Iraq has been funded. Meanwhile, civilians still inside western Mosul are facing severe shortages of essential services and basic necessities, including food, water, and electricity. Yet, Iraqi officials have begun returning displaced residents to the city from several IDP camps. On May 18, Human Rights Watch alleged that 300 displaced families were forced to return to western Mosul in order to make room for additional IDPs at the Hamam al-Alil and Haj Ali IDP camps. HRW interviewed several families who were forced to return to the Mansour and Wadi Hajjar neighborhoods of western Mosul, areas that lack running water, electricity, food, and access to health services. more…
  • Advance into Western Mosul Continues; US Ambassador Comments on Hawija and Tal Afar Liberation – Iraqi Security Forces have pressed into the last ISIS-held neighborhoods of western Mosul over the past week. On May 13, the Iraqi Army’s Armored Brigade’s 34th Armored Division and the Ninth Brigade’s 73rd Infantry Division liberated the Hermat neighborhood of western Mosul. On May 16, an Iraqi Military spokesman stated that coalition forces have cleared ISIS from all but 12 square kilometers of western Mosul. On 18 May, security forces liberated entered al-Najjar neighborhood, liberating half of the area after a day of fighting. U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Douglass Silliman commented on the upcoming operations to clear ISIS militants from Hawija and Tal Afar, stating that the battles will not be quick and could potentially cause many casualties. more…
  • Support for IDPs in Anbar; Civilians Executed by ISIS as Security Operations Continue – On May 12, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported that it will expand its Community Revitalization Program in Anbar Province, as well as other small business, job creation, infrastructure, healthcare, and community policing programs there. Under the Community Revitalization Program, more than 200 individuals are currently receiving “business support packages,” which provide vital livelihood support for civilians who wish to return to their homes. According to the IOM, more than 188,000 civilians displaced from other areas in Iraq remain in Anbar Province; 198,870 IDPs originally from Anbar are displaced throughout Baghdad Province; and a further 133,548 IDPs from Anbar are displaced throughout Erbil Province. Anbar officials have complained of insufficient assistance from the Iraqi government and aid community to alleviate conditions for the large IDP population. On May 18, member of the Anbar Provincial Council Amal Obaid Fahdawi declared that support from international organizations in the province has become “very weak.” Meanwhile, security operations against ISIS militants in Anbar Province continue. On May 17, ISIS militants reportedly executed four civilians in the town center in Rawa, 230 kilometers west of Ramadi. Two days earlier, a U.S.-led international coalition airstrike killed 20 ISIS militants 20 kilometers east of Rawa. more…
  • Security Forces Uncover Mass Grave in Diyala – On May 14, the ISF discovered a mass grave containing the corpses of eight civilians in the Shaanoun region, 120 kilometers northeast of Baquba close to the Iran-Iraq border. The discovery comes as security conditions remain unstable in the province (as previously reported in ISHM). On May 14, a U.S.-led International Coalition airstrike killed a top aide to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Two days later, an IED killed Abuabd Karim Iraqi, a senior ISIS official in Hawija, and an unspecified assistant as they were transporting to Salah al-Din. more…
  • Kurdish Policymakers Plan to Unify Peshmerga – On May 14, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) approved a draft resolution to unify and consolidate disparate Peshmerga forces as a single entity under the KRG’s direction. Currently, the Peshmerga are mostly divided into separate units along political party lines. The source also suggested that the plan, “Peshmerga in the Future,” was in part devised by American, British, and German advisors. 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.


Residents in Western Mosul Lack Essential Services Amid Reports of Forced Returns; Humanitarian Organizations Prepare for Summer Heat

May 12 May 13  May 14 May 15 May 16 May 17 May 18
Total IDPs No data No data 370,344 No data 374,994 No data 376,230
Daily Net Change No data No data +750 No data +4,650 No data +1,236

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

On May 12, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that the recently opened Hassan Sham U2 camp, located 32 kilometers east of Mosul, now hosts 500 internally displaced persons (IDP), an increase of 350 IDPs since the camp opened on May 9. More than 1,000 tents are ready for immediate use, enough to shelter 6,000 of its 9,000 individual capacity. UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic noted that the UNHCR expects “more large outflows of people from the west of the city” in the coming days and weeks. Mahecic also warned that the UNHCR’s request of US$ 578 million to support Iraqi IDPs and refugees in 2017 is only 18% funded, adding that this situation “threatens our ability to effectively respond to the immediate and mounting humanitarian needs in Iraq this year.”

On May 14, Minister of Displacement and Migration Jassim Mohammed reported that 4,784 IDPs from Ninewa returned to their communities of origin in the past two days alone. The Ministry of Transportation and the Joint Operations Command transported the IDPs and their belongings from Qayyarah and Hamam al-Alil to their communities throughout Ninewa. Mohammed noted, “There are other batches of displaced people who will return in the next two days because they want to go back to their homes in Mosul.”

On May 14, the Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights reported that Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants killed 64 women and children trying to flee western Mosul. More than 40 families tried to cross the Tigris River into the east, but ISIS snipers intercepted them, killing 64. An anonymous source reported that 64 corpses from the incident washed ashore, but he expected more to resurface in the coming days.

On May 14, the Iraqi government reported that 480,906 individuals have fled western Mosul since the operation to clear that part of the city began on February 19, with 448,516 individuals currently displaced from the west. Iraqi government reports also indicated that 32,390 individuals have returned to western Mosul. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that approximately 275,000 individuals remain trapped in ISIS-controlled areas of western Mosul, requiring immediate humanitarian and protection assistance. According to the Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) Cluster, there are 11,949 fully serviced family plots available for immediate use in camps and emergency sites across Iraq.

On May 15, residents in recently cleared neighborhoods of western Mosul report that, while they no longer face the threat of ISIS violence, they lack access to basic necessities. Sabhan, a 35-year-old resident of western Mosul, stayed in the city with his family because his elderly mother could not travel. He noted, “With ISIS in charge we had nothing. We were eating only tomato paste and bread,” adding that the situation has hardly improved. He commented, “This is liberation? I don’t feel liberated.” Many residents like Sabhan chose to stay in western Mosul to avoid crowded IDP camps and remain in their homes. They expected that the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) would be followed by aid organizations and humanitarian assistance; however, many cleared neighborhoods remain inaccessible to aid organizations. In Damerche, a village on the outskirts of Mosul, aid organizations distribute small rations of bread, rice, and bottled water, but it is rarely enough. Amina, a 10-year-old from the village noted, “We don’t have anything to eat but what they give us,” adding “The last time anyone brought us anything was two weeks ago.”

On May 15 the Badr Organization, a Shia Popular Mobilization Unit (PMU), evacuated 62 families from the village of Kairouan on the outskirts of northwestern Mosul. A representative from the Badr Organization stated that ISIS militants used the families as human shields, preventing Badr from storming the area sooner.

On May 16, residents in western Mosul reported that the situation in ISIS-controlled areas of the west continues to deteriorate. Residents warn that hunger is “beginning to kill more people than the intense fighting itself,” and that even unclean water is difficult to come by. Shams Hassan, a woman in her forties who reached the Hammam al-Alil camp on Friday, reported that ISIS militants continue to use civilians as human shields, adding “Those who tried to flee were executed in the streets and their bodies hung from posts.” Her mother noted, “Daesh would take our food…They would come with their guns and take our clothes too.” Ahmed Yunis Dawood, an elderly man who recently escaped to the Hamam al-Alil camp noted that the camp is overcrowded and under resourced, explaining “The people who arrive here have no tent, no bed to sleep in, no food, no water,” adding “We fled death only to face death here…Take us home, it is better for us…An airstrike will come and we will die together. We were eating grass like cows but at least we were in our homes.”

On May 16, the UNOCHA reported that water, malnutrition, and protection remain significant concerns for civilians in Mosul and IDPs throughout Ninewa Province. In eastern Mosul, humanitarian partners are trucking in 3.1 million litres of drinking water per day, and in accessible areas of western Mosul, partners are trucking in 1.4 million litres of water per day.  Nutrition screenings at the Qayyarah and Hamam al-Alil sites are ongoing. Since March 11, 17,353 children ages six months to 5 years old were screened for malnutrition. Over 300 children diagnosed with severe acute malnutrition, and over 700 children diagnosed with moderate acute malnutrition were referred to primary health facilities at both sites for treatment. The protection of unaccompanied children also remains a significant concern. Since the Mosul operation started on October 17, 2016, a total of 1,402 unaccompanied children were reunited with their families. A further 6,931 children with protection concerns have been referred for “specialized services.” UNOCHA also reported that 97% of the US$ 284 million Mosul Flash Appeal launched in July 2016 has been funded. However, the 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan for Iraq, which requested US$ 985 million, is only 24.1% funded.

On May 16, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported that soaring temperatures in Qayyarah will pose difficult challenges for IDPs sheltered in camps in the coming months. IOM communications officer Hala Jaber noted that current temperatures are nearing 37° celsius, and could reach 50° or higher by June. The PVC tents that kept the Qayyarah air strip emergency site’s 52,000 IDPs warm during the winter months will be “difficult to tolerate” as temperatures inside the tents will register at least 10° higher than outside. IOM already distributed 5,400 kits with 40-litre capacity cool boxes, battery-rechargeable fans, and summer linens to from western Mosul sheltered at the Qayyarah air atrip emergency site and the Haj Ali emergency site, and is prepared to distribute the supplies to an additional 7,790 families at both sites. Thaer, 37, recently returned to his family’s tent in Qayyarah after spending two days in a Médecins sans Frontières hospital where his six-month-old son was being treated for dehydration. He noted, “During the day, the tents are very hot and at night unbearable with all of us inside. So, I and my older children are sleeping outside the tent to escape the heat.” In addition to the sweltering heat, IDPs also complain about a lack of electricity and a shortage of water to run cooling systems. To mitigate these issues IOM is developing a power grid in Qayyarah and Haj Ali that will provide more power to each tent. IOM also reported that only 33% of its US$ 28.83 million requested for Mosul has been funded, significantly impacting IOM’s ability to provide for the needs of Mosul’s 370,344 IDPs.

On May 16, the Iraqi government reported that 25,000 IDPs were transferred from western Mosul to the Hamam al-Alil screening site between May 14 and May 16. The UNHCR estimates that the majority of IDPs from western Mosul move to the east to live with relatives or occupy abandoned homes and buildings, rather than moving to crowded IDP camps. Over 3,000 western Mosul IDPs arrived to camps east of Mosul between May 12 and May 14. Of those, half reportedly came from eastern Mosul. They cite lack of employment or income-generating activities as the major reason why they choose to leave the east and move to an IDP camp. IDP camps built by the Iraqi government or humanitarian partners currently shelter 326,000 IDPs from Mosul and the surrounding area, with immediate capacity to shelter an additional 42,000 IDPs.

On May 17, an unnamed federal police commander and eyewitnesses reported that ISIS militants are planting bombs in doorways in western Mosul with the purpose of preventing civilians from fleeing the city. As ISIS’s remaining territory in western Mosul continues to shrink, they are increasingly using civilians as human shields, forcing the ISF to advance slower in order to prevent civilians deaths.  

On May 18, the UNOCHA reported that 700,000 civilians have fled Mosul and the surrounding area since the operation to clear the city began on October 16, 2017, including 500,000 civilians who fled from western Mosul. Lise Grande, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, noted that the pace of displacement is “overwhelming,” adding, “The numbers of people who are moving are now so large, it’s becoming more and more difficult to ensure civilians receive the assistance and protection they need. As military operations intensify and move closer to Mosul’s old city area, we expect that up to 200,000 more people will flee.” Grande emphasized that, even after ISIS is expelled from Iraq, the country will need continued support, stating “The military battle in Mosul isn’t over yet and even when it is, the emergency will continue for months. We have no choice—we have to redouble our efforts to mobilize more resources and get assistance to the people who need it the most…Hundreds of thousands of lives are at stake.”

On May 18, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported that 300 displaced families were forced to return to western Mosul in order to make room for additional IDPs at the Hamam al-Alil and Haj Ali IDP camps, despite that camp staff reported that there was plenty of room to accommodate the families. HRW interviewed several families who were forced to return to the Mansour and Wadi Hajjar neighborhoods of western Mosul, all of which lack running water, electricity, food, and access to health services. Those interviewed noted that camp staff only gave them two hours to vacate the camp, while others were told to leave immediately. A staff member in Hamam al-Alil told HRW that an army commander instructed camp staff to “round up all the families from Wadi Hajjar, Tal Rumman, and Mansour neighborhoods” and force them to leave. The staff member explained, “The families were not ready, and most did not want to go…In the end, it was totally indiscriminate who got to stay because we had not made it to their tent in time, and who was forced to leave. We only got through a small number of the tents when at least 30 army trucks came and took at least 300 families.” Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at HRW, condemned the practice of forcible returns stating, “These families should not be forcibly returned to unsafe areas and areas that lack adequate water, food, electricity, or health facilities…All returns should be safe, dignified, voluntary, and informed.”

On May 18, the IOM reported that 376,230 IDPs are currently displaced from Mosul and the surrounding areas as a result of the operation to clear the city of ISIS militants which began on October 17, 2016, a net increase of 6,636 IPDs since May 11. Fifty-nine percent of IDPs from Mosul and the surrounding area are housed in emergency camps, 25% live in private settings, 13% live in emergency sites, and 3% live in critical shelter arrangements or are unaccounted for. Cumulatively, 492,972 IDPs have been impacted by the crisis in Mosul since it began in October 2016. However, to date 116,742 IDPs have returned to their homes.


Advance into Western Mosul Continues; US Ambassador Comments on Hawija and Tal Afar Liberation

On May 12, the leadership of Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) announced that Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) had been cleared from the first agrarian district in western-Mosul. In the same announcement, Iraqi security forces confirmed that ISIS would soon be cleared from Al-Noor Hospital. In the same discussion, leadership in the Iraqi military indicated that security forces would next move into the second agrarian district.

On May 12, commanders in numerous paramilitary groups confirmed that they had re-captured nine villages in Ninewa, killing 57 ISIS militants and destroying different ISIS artillery emplacements in the process.

On May 13, Jawad Tlabawi, a commander in a paramilitary group affiliated with the Iraqi government commented on the ongoing fight against ISIS, stating that the closer to the Syrian-Iraq border the fighting gets, the more severe it gets.

On May 13, several unnamed officers involved in the day to day operations of the ISF operation to clear Mosul of ISIS provided an update on the areas surrounding the Tigris River, confirming that U.S.-led International Coalition forces control the Western and Southern banks of the Tigris River. Iraqi General Abdul Amir Rashid Allah Yar added that Mosul was the last bastion of ISIS in Iraq.

On May 13, Iraqi General Abdul Amir Rashid Allah Yar updated Iraqi media on Iraqi troop movements in Mosul, stating that the Hermat neighborhood of western Mosul had been cleared of ISIS militants due to the efforts of the Armored Brigade’s 34th Armored Division and the Ninth Brigade’s 73rd Infantry Division.

On May 14, Iraqi Brigadier General Yahya Rasoul commented on the progress of the Iraqi Security Forces fight against ISIS in Mosul, claiming that the battle was entering its final phase and that fighting is limited to a “very small area.” Lieutenant General Qassim Nazzal, the commander of the Iraqi 9th Division, told Iraqi state media that “Daesh fighters are broken and quickly retreating from the front.” Jasim al-Bahadli, a defense analyst working with Iraqi commanders suggested that the strategy for the remaining militants would be to splinter into small teams and attack on multiple fronts, hoping to slow the pace of the advancing Iraqi forces. Bahadli also added that as ISIS militants continue to lose territory, they will resort to vehicle based improvised explosive devices (VBIED) and suicide attacks.

On May 15, First Lieutenant Nawfal al-Dhari provided an update on the progress of Iraqi forces in Mosul, stating that if the army can advance quickly, ISIS will be cleared in a matter of “days,” adding that these are ISIS’s “dying breaths.” Dhari also provided some information on vanguard leading the Iraqi advance, stating that it was the American trained special forces that were making the initial incursions into ISIS held portions of the city. Dhari was speaking from a house located in the Islah al-Ziraie district, which was retaken three days ago and lies deep in western-Mosul. An unnamed Iraqi intelligence official also commented on the state of ISIS in Mosul, stating that Iraqi forces are enclosing the terrorist group into an increasingly dense area, comparing it to a “death casket.” Mohammed al-Taie, a Colonel in the Operational Command of the Ninewa province stated that ISIS forces in Mosul have never been more disorganized and that the lack of resources is breaking their will to fight on.

On May 16, Sheikh Haroun Burhan Assi, one of the commanders of the force designated to clear Hawija of ISIS, commented on the capacity of his forces to defeat the militant group, stating that they are ready “today.” Assi continued to emphasize the ongoing suffering of those living under ISIS’s yolk. Assi’s comments also correspond with recent signaling from Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who has continued to discuss security operations in Ninewa.

On May 16, Douglass Silliman, the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, commented on the upcoming operations in Hawija and Tal Afar to clear ISIS militants from the cities. Silliman stated that the battles will not be quick and could potentially cause many casualties. Silliman also stated that the U.S. currently supports around 800 development projects in Iraq; however, as ISIS continues to lose territory, this number could increase to ensure another group does not take its place. In response to an inquiry about why an investigation into a supposed U.S. bombing that killed 10 civilians has been delayed, Silliman stated that investigators had to be kept from the area due to ongoing military operations, adding that the U.S. does as much as it can to limit civilian casualties.

On May 16, an Iraqi Military spokesman provided an update on the U.S.-led International Coalition’s progress against ISIS in Mosul, confirming that coalition forces have cleared ISIS from all but 12 kilometers of western Mosul. The Iraqi government intends to announce victory in its Mosul campaign by the end of Ramadan. A spokesman for the U.S. corroborated the Iraqi military’s claims, affirming that there are few ISIS militants left in the city and that coalition forces surround those remaining. As the coalition forces prepare for their final push, they have dropped leaflets urging civilians to remain indoors to avoid ISIS sniper fire and to refrain from using vehicles to avoid being mistaken for a VBIED.

On May 17, an unnamed Federal Police Commander confirmed that ISIS has mined areas of Mosul still remaining under their control to stem the advance of Iraqi forces and to prevent families from escaping the fighting, hoping their presence will also slow Iraqi forces. Intelligence sources suppose that ISIS intends to make its last stand in Mosul in the Old City neighborhood, where narrows streets and densely packed buildings make it impossible for armored vehicles to advance. Iraqi Lieutenant General Abdual Ghani al-Assadi informed Iraqi state television that his elite Counter Terrorism Services (CTS) units would lead the charge into ISIS’s remaining territory. Within the last two days, Assadi added, ISIS militants have utilized 30 vehicle based improvised explosive devices (IED) against CTS units.

On May 18, the United States Defense Department released information about six American airstrikes related to the ongoing Mosul operation. According to the report, the strikes hit: “five ISIS tactical units; destroyed eight fighting positions, four medium machine guns, four mortar systems, four vehicle-borne bombs, four rocket systems, three vehicles, three rocket-propelled-grenade systems, two ISIS-held buildings, two heavy machine guns, two ISIS staging areas, a supply cache, an anti-air artillery system, an ISIS fuel truck, a vehicle-borne-bomb facility and a fighting position; damaged 16 supply routes and four rocket systems; and suppressed two mortar teams and an ISIS tactical unit.”

On May 18, al-Hashad al-Shaabi, a paramilitary force combatting ISIS, cleared ISIS from several villages located in the outskirts of western-Mosul, killing “many” ISIS fighters and destroying munitions and weapons caches in the process.

On May 18, an anonymous source within the elite Iraqi CTS provided an update on Iraqi troop movements in western Mosul to Iraqi media. The source stated that CTS attacked the al-Najjar neighborhood and captured half of it. Additionally, Iraqi F-16 Fighter Jets have destroyed a bomb making workshop, killing “several” ISIS militants in the process. Iraqi forces also cleared ISIS from the al-Rifaie district, and felt confident enough to raise the Iraqi flag over government buildings. Iraqi troops have been circling around the Old City district in western-Mosul as they attempt to encircle and trap the remaining ISIS forces in the district. In electing to pursue this strategy, Iraqi forces can consolidate their gains but risk allowing ISIS militants more time to prepare for their last stand.


Support for IDPs in Anbar; Civilians Executed by ISIS as Security Operations Continue

On May 12, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported that it plans to expand its Community Revitalization Program in Anbar Province, as well as other small business, job creation, infrastructure, healthcare, and community policing programs in Anbar. Under the Community Revitalization Program, more than 200 individuals are currently receiving “business support packages” to help them re-open their businesses. If expanded, the program would provide an additional 50 people with livelihood support. IOM Iraq Chief of Mission Thomas Lothar Weiss noted, “It is vital that displaced Iraqis, returnees and host communities are encouraged and assisted in the path to stabilization and recovery…IOM is resolved to address these requirements, through small business support, job creation, and the re-establishment of essential public services and infrastructure.” According to IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM), more than 188,000 individuals remain displaced throughout Anbar Province, with the majority originally from Anbar, Salah ad-Din, and Ninewa Provinces. A further 198,870 internally displaced persons (IDP) from Anbar are displaced throughout Baghdad Province and 133,548 IDPs from Anbar are displaced throughout Erbil Province.

On May 13, commander of the Anbar Province Operations Major General Mahmoud al-Falahi announced that 90 families displaced to Anbar Province returned to their communities of origin with the help of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU). Sixty families returned to Mosul, while the remaining 30 families returned to their communities in Salah ad-Din Province. Falahi emphasized that the families returned “of their own accord,” rather than being pressured into returning to their communities before they felt safe enough to do so.  

On May 14, Iraqi Major General Qassim Mohammadi confirmed that a U.S.-led International Coalition airstrike killed 20 Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants. The airstrike targeted an ISIS headquarters 210 km west of Ramadi.

On May 15, Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) destroyed an ISIS stockpile of weapons, explosives, and munitions that was supplying militants in Anbar Province’s northern desert.

On May 17, ISIS militants executed four civilians in the town center in Rawa, 230 kilometers west of Ramadi. The civilians were executed by firing squad in front of a crowd of civilians on suspicion that they were cooperating with the ISF.

On May 18, member of the Anbar Provincial Council, Amal Obaid Fahdawi, reported that support from international organizations in Anbar Province has become “very weak.” He noted that international organizations are focusing much of their work on Mosul and the greater Ninewa Province. Fahdawi’s comments come on the heels of IOM’s announcement that it will expand its Community Revitalization Program, and other support programs, in Anbar Province.


Security Forces Uncover Mass Grave in Diyala

On May 14, the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) discovered a mass grave containing the corpses of eight civilians in the Shaanoun region, 120 kilometers northeast of Baquba. An anonymous source reported that the grave is very close to the Iran-Iraq border in the sprawling Qazaniya region, and that the bodies were handcuffed and badly decayed. Five of the eight corpses were women.

On May 14, a local official in Diyala Province confirmed that a U.S.-led International Coalition airstrike killed a top aide to Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The official, named Uday Alkhaddran confirmed the information to Iraqi media after Iraqi security forces updated him on the military activity in his locality. Alkhaddran stated that security forces are positive that the airstrike was successful. Alkhaddran went on to say that the aide had been responsible for “hundreds” of deaths and had been involved with terrorist activity since he joined Al-Qaeda in 2007.

On May 16, an improvised explosive device (IED) killed Abuabd Karim Iraqi, a senior ISIS official in Hawija, and an unspecified assistant as they were transporting to Salah al-Din. According to reports, the IED was to be placed on a road connecting Diyala and Salah ad-Din. The same report detailed that the IED exploded prematurely.

On May 16, unnamed sources in the Iraqi security community confirmed that security forces arrested two ISIS militants that were planning on placing an IED in a farm in the Diyala town of Balad Ruz, 56 km from Baquba. According to the report, officers arrested the militants in the process of planting the IED.


Kurdish Policymakers Plan to Unify Peshmerga

On May 14, unnamed sources within the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) informed news media that the KRG had approved a draft resolution to unify and consolidate disparate Peshmerga forces, recreating them as an assemblage of the KRG. The source also suggested that the plan, which is called the “Peshmerga in the Future,” was in part devised by American, British, and German advisors.

On May 14, Najmadin Karim, the Governor of Kirkuk Province, met with U.S. Consul Ken Cross and British Consul John Sharp. While the meeting generally focused on the overall Iraqi and Kurdish security issues vis-a-vis the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a significant portion of the meeting revolved around Hawija and how the U.S.-led international coalition might assist in clearing the city of militants. Additionally, the parties discussed how Britain and the U.S. might help ease tensions between Kirkuk and Baghdad that resulted from recent talks of a referendum. On May 15, Najmadin Karim, hosted a meeting between local politicians and the heads of Kirkuk’s service departments. Most of the meeting centered around security concerns in Hawija. Governor Karim criticized the absence of a clear plan to clear Hawija of ISIS militants, calling it the most important issue facing Kirkuk. Other minor topics of discussion were ways to cut costs for electricity services, with many of the contributors lambasting the government’s reliance on the private sector, as well as preliminary plans for state services to transition into their summer programming.


IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties

DateLocationDeathsInjuries
05/18/17West Baghdad13
05/18/17West Baghdad 15
05/17/17Tuz Khurmatu, North of Tikrit911
05/14/17North Baghdad11
05/12/17South Baghdad04
05/12/17South Baghdad02
05/12/17Rabia, Northeast of Baquba10
05/12/17South Baquba10
05/07/17North Baghdad30
05/12/17Northeast of Baquba02
05/11/17East Baghdad410

 

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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