ISHM: June 9 – 15, 2017

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Key Takeaways:

  • Operations to Clear Mosul’s Old City See Slow Progress; Use of White Phosphorous of Concern – Iraqi Security Forces continued their push into the last neighborhoods controlled by ISIS in western Mosul, preparing for their final assault of the militants’ Old City stronghold. After nearly six months of intense fighting, ISIS militants have been defeated in all but one district. Yet, the frontlines remain fluid, and ISIS fighters have reportedly attempted to escape or launch attacks against security forces, with the help of sleeper cells embedded in previously-cleared areas. As the battle for Mosul enters its final stages, concern is rising over the troubling use of indiscriminate weapons. On June 13, the U.S.-led international coalition admitted for the first time that it had used white phosphorous during operations in western Mosul, ostensibly to provide a smokescreen for fleeing civilians. While white phosphorous is not banned by international conventions, its use in urban centers can be extremely dangerous. Amnesty International claimed that its use in city centers “constitutes an indiscriminate attack and can be a war crime.” Human Rights Watch separately raised concerns regarding the use of artillery delivered-white phosphorus by coalition forces in Iraq and Syria following the Mosul report. more…
  • ISIS Brutality in Mosul Results in Hundreds of Fatalities – The rate of civilian displacement from Mosul has risen sharply despite ISIS efforts to kill those attempting to flee. This highlights the desperate choice many residents face in the city’s last militant-controlled areas. According to UN reports, ISIS militants have increased efforts to target and execute civilians caught trying to flee into liberated neighborhoods, killing over 200 people between May 26 and June 8. Meanwhile, ISIS militants have continued to rely on human shields to slow security forces’ advance into Mosul’s Old City, kidnapping and relocating families as the militants retreat. As a result, U.S.-led coalition and Iraqi airstrikes have resulted in rising civilian casualties over the past week. more…
  • Displacement Rates from Western Mosul Sharply on the Rise; Food Poisoning Sickens Hundreds at Nearby IDP Camp – Between June 8 and 10, nearly 18,000 civilians reportedly fled western Mosul and surrounding districts, including 6,000 people from the frontline Zanjili neighborhood – a relatively enormous surge in displacement. Most displaced civilians have to-date relocated to liberated areas of eastern Mosul, as severe fighting and lack of access to food, water, and electricity plague western neighborhoods. Meanwhile, IDPs housed in camps have also faced humanitarian challenges. On June 12, 200 people were hospitalized following a severe outbreak of food poisoning at Hasansham U2 Displacement Camp, 20 km east of Mosul; some reports also indicate that two people died, although this claim has not been confirmed. The Iraqi Parliament has opened an investigation into the food poisoning, and a number of Qatari charity workers were reportedly arrested on suspicion of providing expired food to the camp residents. This incident highlighted the difficult conditions for IDPs living inside and outside camps across northern Iraq. As summer temperatures rise to 40-50 degrees Celsius, humanitarian organizations have warned of deteriorating humanitarian conditions as water and food supplies dwindle. more…
  • Iraqi Kurdistan Continues to Press Independence Referendum Despite Objections – Following the declaration by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) that an independence referendum would be held on September 25, U.S. officials warned that such a referendum will distract from “more urgent priorities,” including the fight against ISIS. The U.K. government echoed this line a few days later, following its ambassador’s meeting with KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also condemned the KRG’s move, declaring that it is “wrong and poses a threat to the unity of Iraq.” However, Kirkuk Provincial Governor Najmaddin Karim announced his support for the referendum, which would likely merge the Kirkuk Provincial Council (KCP) with the KRG and lead to possible independence from Iraq. The fact that the proposed referendum will include disputed territories in Kirkuk and Ninewa has elicited sharp criticism from Baghdad. Meanwhile, representatives from the KRG’s two largest political parties – the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) – announced that the Kurdish Parliament will reconvene, with members from a third party, Gorran, being allowed to resume their functions. The Parliament has not met since 2015. more…
  • U.S. Toughens Removal Order Enforcement; Prepares to Deport Hundreds of Iraqis – Immigration authorities in the U.S. arrested hundreds of Christian Iraqis – many of whom have been in the country for decades – following raids in downtown Detroit and other cities. Those detained had reportedly been convicted of criminal charges, although in many cases they had finished serving their sentences years earlier. According to U.S. officials, this new crackdown is “a result of recent negotiations between the U.S. and Iraq…Baghdad has agreed recently to accept a number of Iraqi nationals subject to orders of removal.” It is feared that those detained will face discrimination, violence, and death if they are to be deported back to Iraq. more…
  • Gulf State Diplomatic Row with Qatar Partially Caused by Ransom Payment – On June 9, the Financial Times reported that 26 members of a royal Qatari hunting party kidnapped in southern Iraq in April 2017 were released after paying a US$ 1 billion ransom to two blacklisted organizations: an al-Qaeda affiliate fighting in Syria, and Iranian security officials. These payments caused regional tensions between Qatar and its Gulf neighbors to escalate, as they seemingly proved Saudi and UAE allegations that Qatar provides funding for terrorist groups throughout the region. Meanwhile, Iraqi President Fuad Masum announced Iraq’s readiness to mediate the current Gulf crisis, and Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi reaffirmed Iraq’s neutrality in the diplomatic dispute. more…
  • Security Situation Along Salah ad-Din, Diyala Borders Remains Uncertain – As it faces defeat in Mosul, ISIS has stepped up destabilizing attacks along the border between Salah ad-Din and Diyala Provinces. Local leaders in Diyala have struggled to stem the flow of ISIS militants into their province, and last week announced a plan to construct a 12 kilometer security trench along the road from Kirkuk to Baghdad to address rising violence. Meanwhile, the Iraqi Air Force has increased its targeting of ISIS positions along the Salah ad-Din and Diyala borders, as ground skirmishes between ISIS militants and security forces continue. 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.


Operations to Clear Mosul’s Old City See Slow Progress; Use of White Phosphorous of Concern

On June 10, Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) reported that they cleared the neighborhood of Zanjili in western Mosul, leaving only one district under the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) before the ISF coalition can move into the final ISIS stronghold in Mosul’s Old City. The ISF continue to evacuate civilians fleeing from the al-Shifa neighborhood, one of the last remaining areas in Mosul’s Old City.

On June 12, a military source announced that Iraqi Security Forces cleared five neighborhoods east of Mosul of ISIS control, in the town of Mahlbia. The development comes after seven months of fighting between ISIS and Iraqi-government aligned forces for control over the Ninewa province.

On June 12, the U.S. Treasury Department issued sanctions against Attallah Salman al-Jaburi and Marwan Ibrahim al-Azzawi, two ISIS leaders involved in the development of chemical weapons, which bars any access to any property or interests under U.S. jurisdiction. According to the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control’s director, Jone E. Smith, these sanctions “mark the first designations targeting individuals involved in ISIS’s chemical weapons development.” U.S. officials believe that ISIS has been transferring its chemical weapons expertise and stockpiles from a stronghold in Iraq to Syria.  Recently, there has been a significant increase in low-grade chemical weapon use by ISIS: CNN reported 15 chemical weapons attacks since April 14 in or around western Mosul.

On June 12, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi met with leaders of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs) in celebration of the three year anniversary of the formation of the PMUs. In the meeting, the parties discussed the clearing of Hawija and Tal Afar, and the restoration of Mosul.  He praised the forces for their bravery and unity in the fight against terrorism.  

On June 13, the U.S.-led international coalition in Iraq admitted for the first time to using white phosphorus during military operations in Mosul. New Zealand Brig. Gen. Hugh McAslan admitted to using white phosphorus to “screen areas within western Mosul to get civilians out safely.” Spokesmen for the coalition previously admitted to using white phosphorus in less populated areas in northern Iraq but this is the first confirmation of its use in Mosul. White phosphorus is usually used to create obfuscating smoke screens to help civilians escape from combat zones, yet when used in an urban setting, it carries deadly risks. Amnesty International claims that the material can cause horrific human injuries, as the substance can burn deep into human muscle and bone. Amnesty International claims that the use of white phosphorus in the vicinity of city centers, “constitutes an indiscriminate attack and can be a war crime.”

On June 14, Human Rights Watch (HRW) raised serious questions and concerns regarding the use of artillery delivered- white phosphorus by the U.S. backed coalition fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria after recent use of the substance in Mosul. Steve Goose, Arms Director for HRW, stated, “No matter how white phosphorus is used, it poses a high risk of horrific and long-lasting harm in crowded cities like Raqqa and Mosul and any other areas with concentrations of civilian… U.S.-led forces should take all feasible precautions to minimize civilian harm when using white phosphorus in Iraq and Syria.” White phosphorus can be used during warfare as either a smoke screen for signaling and marking, and as an incendiary weapon. The motive for the recent use of the substance in Mosul is still not clear.

On June 14, the Federal Police announced that they had successfully lured dozens of ISIS militants away from the Old City’s al-Nuri Mosque and into Federal Police-secured territory in the al-Dindan neighborhood, where the militants were killed by waiting forces. A conflicting report indicated that the ISIS militants successfully infiltrated the al-Dindan neighborhood, leaving it unclear whether the Federal Police’s “tactical operation” had gone wrong or was simply an after-the-fact explanation for the infiltration. The struggle to retake the al-Nuri mosque, where ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared his caliphate in March of 2014, has become a focal point in the battle for Mosul.


ISIS Brutality in Mosul Results in Hundreds of Fatalities

On June 8, the United Nations warned of worsening civilian fatalities in the city of Mosul, as the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said that it received credible information indicated that more than 231 civilians attempting to flee Mosul were killed between May 26 and June 8. 204 civilians attempting to flee the city were killed in the past three days alone. The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) has previously killed those attempting to flee Mosul and has used civilians as human shields, yet reports indicate a significant escalation of such killings. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, strongly condemned the recent killings, stating that “shooting children as they try to run to safety with their families – there are no words of condemnation strong enough for such despicable acts…I call on the Iraqi authorities to ensure that those who are responsible for these horrors are held accountable and brought to justice in line with international human rights laws and standards. The victims of such terrible crimes must not be forgotten.”

On June 11, ISIS militants abducted 60 families from the al-Shifa district in western Mosul and moved them into the Old City, according to a source in the Federal Police. While ISIS has lost territory in western Mosul, the Old City remains a strategic stronghold of the organization, which is increasingly relying on human shields to slow the advance of the Iraqi Security Forces.

On June 11, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) published a report stating that there has been an increase of internally displaced people (IDPs) from  western Mosul. A total of 678,177 people have fled western Mosul as of June 11. 14,000 people from the Baaj district have passed through the Hammam al Alil screening site, approximately 25 kilometers from the front-lines of western Mosul. Concerns remain high from UNOCHA as it urges the protection of civilians from ISIS in western Mosul. Humanitarian needs in Mosul remain severe among vulnerable residents and displaced families.

On June 13, ISIS militants publicly executed five civilians after failing to escape Mosul. Residents still trapped in Mosul report that the civilians were attempting to flee Mosul’s Old City across the Tigris River and heading towards Iraqi Security Forces. These executions follow numerous reports of ISIS militants executing, shooting, and capturing civilians as they try to flee combat zones in Mosul.

On June 14, an unidentified airstrike left a house in Mosul’s Old City destroyed and at least 50 civilians trapped under the debris. The house collapsed after a nearby location was targeted by an airstrike in the al-Borsa region.


Displacement Rates from Western Mosul Sharply on the Rise; Food Poisoning Sickens Hundreds at Nearby IDP Camp

On June 11, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released a situation report indicating that 402,126 Iraqis are currently displaced in and around Mosul. In just two days,18,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) have reportedly fled western Mosul and surrounding districts between June 8-10. Over 6,000 of those fleeing came from the Zanjili neighborhood in western Mosul where Iraqi Security Forces (ISFs) reportedly cleared the neighborhood of Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants. Most IDPs from western Mosul are continuing to relocate to eastern Mosul, where friends and families can support them. Severe fighting and lack of access to food, water, and electricity, remain the main causes of displacement in Mosul. The report also indicated that terrorists attacks throughout Iraq have been multiplying as armed opposition forces lose territory. At least 224 attacks have been carried out by opposition groups between June 1-7, with the majority targeting civilians. 150 of those attacks took place outside of Mosul and its surrounding areas.

On June 12, two people were killed and around 200 others have been hospitalized following a serious outbreak of food poisoning at the Hasansham U2 Displacement Camp about 20 km east of Mosul. A conflicting report claims that there were no fatalities. After Iftar, the meal that Muslims eat to break their fast during Ramadan, people began to vomit and complain of stomach pain. Iraqi police have opened an investigation as to the cause of the outbreak that occurred at the camp, affecting over 800 people. The United Nations Higher Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) expressed extreme concern for the events that took place at the displacement camp, releasing a statement claiming that “Staff have been working closely overnight to coordinate the response with other agencies and the relevant authorities in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and Baghdad to ensure that those who have fallen ill were able to receive swift medical treatment and that the seriously sick were provided transport to nearby hospitals.” The camp opened up last month to accommodate the large number of displaced people fleeing Mosul.

On June 12, the Iraqi Parliament opened an investigation into the food poisoning which struck the Hasansham U2 Displacement Camp in the Ninewa Province, which, according to UNHCR, resulted in no fatalities. Seven people were arrested pending an investigation by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) authorities.  

On June 12, a number of Qatari charity workers were arrested on suspicion of providing expired food to the Hasansham U2 Displacement Camp, leading to the mass outbreak of food poisoning killing two and poisoning nearly 800 refugees. Raad al Dahaki, head of the Iraqi Parliament’s Migration Committee, was quoted saying that a number of workers at the Qatari Sheikh Thani bin Abdullah Foundation for Humanitarian Services were arrested in addition to the Erbil which provided the food. Dahaki said those arrested will be interrogated to find out why the expired food was delivered to the camp.

On June 13, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi met with the Council of Ministers to discuss the incident of food poisoning in the Hasansham U2 Displacement Camp, which left hundreds hospitalized.  During his press conference, Abadi said that “the Council of Ministers attached great importance to the incident” and that an investigation is underway to discover the circumstances of the event.

On June 14, CARE, an international aid NGO, issued a warning that those currently displaced in Mosul and other parts of northern Iraq already in need of aid, will be exposed to extreme temperatures, and that the need for humanitarian aid will increase dramatically. As the summer begins, the temperature is expected to rise to more than 50 degrees celsius, exacerbating the situation for those who are already suffering from hunger and thirst. As the battle continues against ISIS, the number of displaced people continues to rise, yet the shortage of humanitarian aid continues to persist. Humanitarian needs remain significant especially among displaced families, both in and out of camps, and other vulnerable residents.


Iraqi Kurdistan Continues to Press Independence Referendum Despite Objections

On June 8, the U.S. State Department issued a statement warning Iraq that a Kurdistan referendum on independence will distract from “more urgent priorities” such as the continued fight against ISIS.  While the U.S. appreciates the “legitimate aspirations” of Iraqi Kurds, it supports a unified, federal Iraq which includes the autonomous region of Kurdistan. The referendum, which is set for September 25, will gauge the Iraqi Kurds’ feeling towards complete independence from Iraq: the results will determine whether or not Kurdistan officials will begin extensive talks with the Baghdadi government.   

On June 10, President of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) Massoud Barzani issued a decree to start the procedures for the referendum set for September 25, and to prepare for the presidential and provincial elections set for November 6.

On June 11, Kirkuk Governor Najmaddin Karim announced his support for, and participation in, the Kurdistan referendum on independence, stating that without the support of the Kirkuk region the referendum would be of “no value.”  The vote would both merge the Kirkuk Provincial Council (KCP) with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and lead to possible independence from Iraq. Karim respond to widespread warnings from many Baghdadi and international politicians that the Kurdistan referendum will divide Iraq, stating that the condemnation of the elections is “the first seed to divide Iraq,” not the legal referendum itself. Those in opposition claim that Kurdistan’s referendum is unconstitutional and will lead to insecurity in the region.

On June 12, Vice President and former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki called the Kurdish referendum for self-determination a project designed to destabilize Iraq. He is one of many Iraqi and international politicians who are condemning the vote as a potential cause for conflict.

On Jun 13, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the decision of Kurdistan regional authorities to hold a referendum on independence because it is “wrong and poses a threat to the unity of Iraq.” He further stated that, “we have always defended Iraq’s territorial integrity and will continue to do so” but that the referendum was not in Iraq’s interest. While the Information Office of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has previously stressed that a referendum is within the bounds of the Iraqi Constitution, Abadi is also advocating against the vote.

On June 13, Salar Mahmoud, a member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) bloc of the Kurdish Parliament, argued that the referendum process cannot advance without the activation of Parliament. To do so would “make the issue of independence a personal or partisan achievement” and not in the interest of the region. 27 senior members of the PUK signed a memorandum which highlighted the need to have Parliamentary support of a referendum. The PUK is one of two major parties in the region who oppose the referendum. The Kurdistan Parliament has not met since October 2015, when members of the the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP)  blocked the Movement for Change (Gorran) Speaker from entering Erbil, forcing parliament into long-term recess: tensions have since been high between the two opposing parties.  

On June 13, Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Nechirvan Barzani met with Frank Baker, the British ambassador to Iraq: Baker announced that the UK’s position is that “now is not the right time to hold the referendum for the Kurdish Region.” In addition, Baker expressed his desire for strengthened relations between the U.K. and the Kurdistan Region.

On June 13, the KDP and the PUK  announced their agreement that the Kurdish Parliament will reconvene, and that Ministers from Gorran party will be allowed to resume their functions. The KDP and the PUK are the leading parties in the region, however they are at odds with the two parties who actually control Parliament: Gorran holds the position of President of Parliament, and The Islamic League (Komal) that of Secretary. Tensions between the two blocs have been strained since 2015 when Parliament was forced into recess.

On June 13, the Electoral Commission in the KRI said that more than 6 million people will be eligible to vote during the referendum on independence slated for September. The commission is reportedly undertaking legal preparations for both the referendum and for the upcoming Parliamentary elections.

On June 13, President of the KRG, Massoud Barzani, unveiled the KDP’s new proposal on the activation of Kurdistan Regional Parliament with all political parties: the plan allows Parliament’s Gorran President to temporarily resume duties, with the condition that soon afterwards talks would be held to change the current structure.

On June 14, Gorran rejected the KDP and PUK offer to activate Parliament due to the “conditional” terms attached; Komal similarly refused the offer. A spokesman for Gorran stated that the conditions are unacceptable and that “Parliament should return to work with its current elected presidency.”  The issue over Parliament is particularly tense because Gorran has refused to stand with the referendum on independence until the Parliament is reinstated.

On June 14, the provincial election commission based in Baghdad said it was facing a “big problem” with the timeframe of the local elections set to take place throughout Iraq, because the required lists of local candidates have not been submitted. The announcement of local candidates was set for June 12: this delay is holding up the entire schedule of the provincial elections and may force a postponement.


U.S. Toughens Removal Order Enforcement; Prepares to Deport Hundreds of Iraqis

On June 12, U.S. immigration authorities raided downtown Detroit, and other cities across the country, arresting hundreds of Christian Iraqis, many of whom have been in the U.S. for decades. This new crackdown is “a result of recent negotiations between the U.S. and Iraq…Baghdad has agreed recently to accept a number of Iraqi nationals subject to orders of removal.” In March, Iraq was taken off President Donald Trump’s proposed travel ban because “the Iraqi government has expressly undertaken steps to enhance travel documentation, information sharing, and the return of Iraqi nationals subject to [deportation].”

On June 12, many family members of the Iraqis rounded up by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) told reporters and activists that they fear that the deportees, many of whom are Christians, will face persecution and death upon returning to Iraq. Approximately 100 people were detained by ICE around the Detroit area alone, and approximately 1,400 Iraqi nationals with final orders of removal from the U.S. Iraq has recently been removed from the ICEs list of “recalcitrant” countries due to the recent agreement between Baghdad and Washington.  

On June 13, California Democratic Representative, Anna Eshoo, said that recent roundups of Iraqi nationals subject to deportation “represent a death sentence should [the detainees] be deported to Iraq or Syria.” Both immigration and Christian-based activists have rushed to file legal challenges in an attempt to stay the removal orders.

On June 13, lawyers for detained Iraqis in Detroit filed emergency motions requesting that the immigrants set to be deported to Iraq be allowed to stay in the U.S. and argue that there are “changed circumstances in Iraq” that would put them at risk. Many of those rounded up by ICE have pleaded guilty to nonviolent crimes without realizing that legal immigrants can be deported if convicted of felonies.  

On June 14, President of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Masoud Barzani met with a senior delegation from the Christian clergy headed by both Bishop Bashar Warda and Nicomis Dawood Sharaf, during which Barzani stressed that Iraqi Kurdistan will remain a safe haven for all Christians fleeing violence. The meeting also focused on how to manage the cleared areas in Ninewa with regards to the rights of Christians. Barzani further emphasized the culture of tolerance and coexistence between the various groups in Iraqi Kurdistan. Their statements did not directly link the meeting with the recent roundup of Iraqis in the U.S., however their discussions concerns the state of security after repatriation.

On June 15, The Guardian reported on the ICE crackdown of Iraqi immigrants, noting that while the ICE spokesman states that the operation “was specifically conducted to address the very real public safety threat represented by the criminal aliens arrested,” many activists argue that “many of the charges were handed down decades ago and those convicted had served their sentences for their crimes.” In Nashville, Tennessee, at least 30 Iraqis were detained, many of whom are Iraqi Kurds who had fought alongside U.S. soldiers in Syria.


Gulf State Diplomatic Row with Qatar Partially Caused by Ransom Payment

On June 9, The Financial Times reported on the recent release of a group of Qatari falconers held by terrorists groups, and how this ransom deal triggered the current Gulf crisis.  In December 2015 a hunting party, consisting of 26 members of the Qatari royal family, was kidnapped.  This past April, Qatar was able to secure their release with a ransom amounting to US$1 billion.  This caused regional tensions to escalate because Qatar reportedly paid the money to two prominately blacklisted forces: an al-Qaeda affiliate fighting in Syria, and Iranian security officials. Saudi Arabia and the UAE have long suspected Qatar of financing terrorism throughout the region, and this “ransom payment [was] the straw that broke the camel’s back.” The Qatari government responded by stating that the ransom was much less and paid only to Baghdad in order to help secure the hostage’s release.  However most disregard this statement: as a Syrian opposition figure observed, this deal “isn’t the first – it is one of a series since the beginning of the war.”

On June 12, President Fuad Masum announced Iraq’s readiness to mediate current the Gulf crisis, stating that “we believe that the problems and conflicts can be resolved peacefully and through mutual dialogue.” Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt have have cut off diplomatic relations and banned travel and trade with Qatar, who they accuse of supporting terrorist organizations.

On June 13, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi reaffirmed Iraq’s position of neutrality concerning the current Gulf Crisis.  He stated that “Iraq is against any state of siege on [Qatar], even if we do not agree with them.”


Security Situation Along Salah ad-Din, Diyala Borders Remains Uncertain

On Saturday, June 10th, security forces arrested 10 suspected members of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS): the suspects had attempted to infiltrate an IDP camp in the Ninewa province after vacating Mosul. The report indicates that they were attempting to flee the violence as the Federal Police close in on the last neighborhoods in Mosul still under ISIS control.

On June 12, the Chairman of the Diyala Provincial Council, Mohammad al-Obeidi, announced a plan to construct a 12 kilometer security trench along the road from Kirkuk to Baghdad, with the goal of protecting the road from attacks orchestrated by the ISIS. Local leaders in the Diyala Province have struggled to stem the flow of ISIS supporters into the territory, and Obeidi hopes this will address the issue.

On June 13, ISIS members kidnapped two security guards working at a gravel quarry in the Hamrin Basin, 55 kilometers northeast of Baquba, according to a local official. Their destination and the motivation for the abductions are not known at this time, but they come after a series of Iraqi Security Force operations against ISIS in the region, where the rugged terrain has made it an ideal hideout for the organization.

On June 13, the Iraqi Air Force began heavy shelling of ISIS targets along the border between the Diyala and Salah ad-Din provinces. The mayor of Khalis, 15 kilometers north of Baqubah, said that preliminary reports indicate at least 20 ISIS casualties and the destruction of five compounds.

On June 14, a high-ranking ISIS commander was killed in a skirmish with security forces near the village of Rabia, 60 kilometers northeast of Baquba. The so-called “Prince of the Saada Basin” was reportedly killed while leading an attack on a security checkpoint. The security forces successfully thwarted the assault and forced the surviving attackers to flee into the Hamrin mountains.

On June 14, ISIS militants attacked Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces at the town of Tuz Khurmatu, 90 kilometers south of Kirkuk. At least one Peshmerga fighter was killed and five injured, in addition to an unnamed number of ISIS casualties. U.S.-led international coalition aircraft responded with bombing runs on multiple ISIS targets.


IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties

DateLocationDeathsInjuries
06/15/17Western Baghdad03
06/14/17Southern Baghdad04
06/14/17Southern Mosul14
06/13/17Al-Shifa, western Mosul
15
06/11/17Southeast Baghdad01
06/10/17Hor Rajab, South of Baghdad03
06/10/17Diyala province, highway 80 km north of Baquba23
06/09/17Diyala province, 15 km northeast of Baquba10
06/09/17Musayab, 80 km south of Baghdad3135
06/09/17Rashid district, south of Baghdad12
06/09/17Madain district, south of Baghdad03
06/09/17Central Karbala 315

 

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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