ISHM: September 16 – 22, 2016

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Key Takeaways:

  • ISF Clears Sharqat as ISIS Resorts to Chemical Weapons  Following a three day surge of military operations, Iraqi Security Forces assisted by U.S.-led international coalition successfully cleared ISIS militants from Sharqat on September 22. Sharqat is a strategically important city that has served as a major transportation and smuggling hub for the so-called Islamic State into Mosul. During the same period, U.S. defense officials reported that a rocket or mortar shell containing a “mustard agent” was launched by ISIS militants on the joint operations base at Qayyarah, 30 kilometers south of Sharqat. According to initial reports, there were no casualties as a result of the chemical weapon attack. As previously reported in ISHM, ISIS has used chemical weapons in greater quantities as recently as April 2016 and there have been 20 documented instances of ISIS using chemical weapons against Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga. more…
  • Parliament Votes to Dismiss Finance Minister  On September 21, following allegations on charges of corruption, Iraq’s Parliament voted by secret ballot to oust Finance Minister Hoshyar Zebari, 158 to 77 with 14 abstentions and 79 Members of Parliament not in attendance. At a press conference the following day, the ousted Zebari vehemently denied any wrongdoing and said he will prove his innocence. Zebari accused Member of Parliament and former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of trying to “collapse” the government and exploiting rifts among Kurdish voting blocs. At the time of his ouster, Zebari was working to finalize critical IMF loan agreements to bolster Iraq’s monetary system, raising serious concerns about the economic consequences of his abrupt departure. Parliament’s action. Parliament announced that they will question Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, Agriculture Minister Falah Hassan Zeidan and Education Minister Mohammed Iqbal in upcoming sessions. Last month, Parliament ousted the Defense Minister while the Interior Minister resigned in July. Those positions remain vacant as Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi looks for their replacements. more…
  • Humanitarian Crisis in Hawija Garners Attention as ISF Plan Next Moves  The Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights released a report outlining the deteriorating humanitarian conditions inside of Hawija where upwards of 100 thousand citizens remain trapped, and condemned the Iraqi Government for not mobilizing security forces to clear the city of ISIS militants. According to the report, ISIS has forbidden citizens to leave and may be receiving ISIS militants fleeing from Sharqat. PMUs and the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga met with Governor of Kirkuk Najmaddin Karim to plan an effort to clear the predominantly Sunni-Arab city. more…
  • Joint Security Forces Ramp Up Efforts in Hit, Western Anbar  Iraqi Security Forces continued efforts to clear western Anbar Province of ISIS militants. Operations in Ramadi, Hit, al-Baghdadi, and Qa’im are seeking to clear the thoroughfare from Syria and secure the western border. In addition, 10 members of ISIS were arrested when they tried to enter Garma, just east of Fallujah, alongside returning displaced families. more…
  • IDPs are Reluctant to Return to Fallujah as Displacements Persist Elsewhere  The Anbar Provincial Council claims that 60% of Fallujah’s rehabilitation projects have been completed, including the restoration of water services and opening of roads. Despite the alleged progress and pleas from the Council for residents to repopulate the city center, residents are refusing. Only 17 families have returned to the center of Fallujah since it began welcoming returnees on September 17. The reluctance of families to return is hardly surprising given the identification of more than 12,000 IEDs in and around the city, location of at least one ISIS militant hiding out in the town by Anbar Police, and the discovery by the ISF of four suicide belts intended to be used in Fallujah in recent days. Rumors are circulating among IDPs that individuals returning to Fallujah are not being permitted to leave, despite denials by the Anbar Council. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported that 3.34 million people across Iraq have been displaced since January 2014 and for the same period, approximately 850 thousand have returned. more…
  • Humanitarian Needs for Future IDPs from Mosul are Stark and Unmet  As security operations continue their race toward Mosul in an attempt to clear the city of ISIS militants by the end of the year, relief efforts are unable to keep pace with the number of displacements and many fear that they will be unprepared for the aftermath of operations in Mosul. UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq Lise Grande released a statement admitting that “we’re very worried that we won’t be able to prepare in time. With time running out, funding needs to go to the right agencies–to the ones building the emergency camps and providing the latrines, water and health services for these camps. We can’t wait any longer to get ready. We have to move now.” The UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that 12 to 13 million people in Iraq will likely need humanitarian aid by the end of 2016 and Iraqi Parliament’s Committee on Women, Family and Children reported that there may be over one million widows and one million orphans across the country by the end of the year, due in large part to the increase in violence that will come from the struggle to retake Mosul. more…
  • Mosul and Reconstruction Remain Key Topics at UN General Assembly Meeting  Over the past week, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi was in New York for the UN General Assembly. During meetings with nearly a dozen other heads of government, al-Abadi reiterated the need for humanitarian relief and reconstruction funding. Following their meeting, U.S. President Barack Obama stressed “the importance of not just driving [ISIS] out of Mosul, but making sure…that we are prepared to help provide rapid humanitarian assistance, and that we can rebuild the city in a way that assures not only [ISIS] does not come back, but extremist ideologies born out of desperation do not return.” more…
  • Iraq will Hold Oil Output Steady, but Seeks to Improve Refining Capacity  Iraq has agreed not to dramatically increase oil production at the request of OPEC, but is seeking ways to attract foreign investors to help improve refining capability – a capacity that was severely diminished due to attacks on refineries by ISIS militants. As reported in last week’s ISHM, the Kirkuk pipelines reopened in September after months of negotiations between Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government. Iraq is OPEC’s second biggest oil producer after Saudi Arabia. more…


ISF Clears Sharqat as ISIS Resorts to Chemical Weapons

On September 16, security forces in the Kirkuk Province reported that a U.S.-led international coalition airstrike targeted and destroyed a chemical weapons factory that was manufacturing missiles carrying mustard and chlorine gas in Zab, 75 kilometers southwest of Kirkuk. The same report indicated that there were also strikes conducted by the U.S.-led international coalition against targets in Rashad and Riyadh, 45 kilometers southwest of Kirkuk, killing 15 Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants and wounded seven others.   

On September 16, Commander for the Liberation of Ninewa Major General Najim al-Jabouri reported that a U.S.-led international coalition airstrike targeted a gathering of ISIS militants in the villages of Telol al baj, 14 kilometers southeast of Sharqat. The strikes resulted in the death of 12 ISIS militants and the destruction of an important ISIS headquarters in the region.

On September 16, Command for the Liberation of Ninewa Major General Najim al-Jabouri reported that a U.S.-led international coalition airstrike targeted three mortar detachments and rocket launchers in villages around Qayyarah, 30 kilometers north of Sharqat.

On September 16, Command for the Liberation of Ninewa reported that a U.S.-led international coalition airstrike targeted an ISIS cache of weapons and ammunition in the Seaoanah villages near Qayyarah. The strike also resulted in the death of “numerous [ISIS militants].

On September 16, an anonymous local source reported that ISIS implemented a ban on people “roaming” and on Friday prayers in Sharqat, 120 kilometers west of Tikrit, due to increased “security concerns” as joint security forces prepared to launch an invasion of Sharqat in early October. The ban is in response to the increase of armed groups attacking ISIS commanders in Sharqat.

On September 17, the Federal Police Headquarters reported that security forces targeted a convoy of ISIS militants in the Makhoul Mountains, 60 kilometers north of Tikrit. During the operation a vehicle owned by ISIS was destroyed and four ISIS militants were killed.

On September 18, the PUK reported that a U.S.-led international coalition airstrike killed the ISIS leader in charge of the “Army of the Resolute” known as Abu Hadi Saudi at a police station in west Mosul. The source reported no other information.

On September 19, Command for the Liberation of Ninewa reported that U.S.-led international coalition airstrikes targeted a headquarters of ISIS militants in the village Telol al-Baj, 100 kilometers north of Tikrit. During the operation, 12 ISIS militants were killed.

On September 18, an anonymous source in Ninewa Province reported that the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga were able to repel an attack by ISIS militants in Jabal Ba’shiqah, 20 kilometers east of Mosul. The attack led to the death of 11 ISIS militants and the destruction of two vehicles belonging to ISIS.

On September 18, an anonymous source reported that security forces discovered ammunition, explosives, and missiles in an orchard in Taji, north of Baghdad. It was reported that 38 “sticks” of TNT, 16 rocket launchers with two BE4 missiles, and 18 propellant charged RPG7s were found during the operation.  

On September 19, an anonymous source reported that Iraqi military jets targeted two ISIS militant sites in the Sharqat District, 120 kilometers north of Tikrit. During the operation, 60 ISIS militants were killed. Security forces are preparing to clear Sharqat and other areas south and west of Kirkuk that were occupied by ISIS militants in 2014.

On September 20, an anonymous security source in Kirkuk reported that a U.S.-led international coalition airstrike targeted an ISIS convoy in the Rashad villages, 45 kilometers south of Kirkuk. During the operation “several” vehicles were destroyed and “several” ISIS militants were killed and wounded.   

On September 20, an anonymous source reported that a U.S.-led international coalition airstrike targeted ISIS mortar sites in a village 8 kilometers north of Qayyarah, 30 kilometers north of Sharqat. The airstrike resulted in the death of 4 ISIS militants, including ISIS “mortar official” Thamer Atta Allah.

On September 20, the PUK media reported that a U.S.-led international coalition airstrike targeted a mortar detachment in Jabal Sinu, 22 kilometers west of Tall Afar in Ninewa Province. The operation resulted in the death of seven ISIS militants.

On September 20, PUK media reported that U.S.-led international coalition airstrikes targeted communications stations in the district of al-Hadar, 100 kilometers west of Mosul. During the operation, 17 ISIS militants were killed, including ISIS “communications chief” Mishan Ali Ahmadi.

On September 20, PUK media reported that a U.S.-led international coalition airstrike targeted the University of Mosul in the center of Mosul. The operation resulted in the death of 12 ISIS militants, including prominent ISIS militant Abu Daoud.  The medical facilities at the university have often been used to treat high-ranking ISIS leaders, and as laboratories for weapons development.

On September 20, representatives of the Kurdistan Regional Government reported that France was stationing artillery near Qayyarah to support Iraqi security forces in clearing Mosul of ISIS militants. The French government commented that the “peace and stability in the post-ISIS future is of great importance to Paris.”

On September 20, an anonymous local source in the Ninewa Province reported that ISIS closed many entrances to the city of Mosul out of retribution for its losses in Sharqat. It was reported that vehicles were unable to enter the city. A later source reported that the entrances to the city of Mosul had been reopened. The source claimed that ISIS was undergoing “heavy deployment” of fighters and extensively checking identities at security entrances.

On September 20, staff to the Governor of Ninewa reported that the villages of Aljmsh, Telol al-Baj, and Alchaabala, 65 kilometers south of Mosul, were cleared of ISIS militants. Security forces are now working to eliminate IEDs planted by ISIS in the villages.

On September 20, an anonymous local source in the Ninewa province reported that ISIS radio stopped broadcasting after heavy gunfire was heard in many neighborhoods surrounding the radio station. No other information was given on the situation.

On September 20, an anonymous source in the Salah al-Din Province reported that the Iraqi Army, Police, federal police, and Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs) in the Salah al-Din Province began an operation to clear ISIS militants from Sharqat at dawn. The attack commenced with an “aerial bombardment and an artillery [strike]” on ISIS positions.  

On September 20, an anonymous source in Salah al-Din Province reported that joint security forces attacked the Alaath area, 7 kilometers from Sharqat. The source reported that the “ongoing battles in the northern axis were progressing according to plan.”

On September 20, security forces in Salah al-Din reported that joint security forces successfully liberated six villages in the Sharqat District, 120 kilometers north of Tikrit. During the operation, seven ISIS militants were killed and three members of the security force were injured when a bomb detonated near them. Head of the Municipal Council for Sharqat, in a later source, reported that security forces were 3 kilometers from the “district center.”

On September 20, an anonymous source in the leadership of the Salah al-Din operations reported that security forces arrested 11 ISIS militants and killed nine others during a battle in the Alaath, 15 kilometers north of Sharqat. During the battle, one PMU soldier was killed and another was injured by sniper fire.

On September 20, factions of the PMU in Salah al-Din reported that they destroyed four vehicle-based improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) that were meant to hinder security forces as they continued on their operation to clear Sharqat, 120 kilometers north of Tikrit.

On September 20, Commander of the Iraqi Army Division, Lieutenant General Qassim Jassim reported that the “first page” of the operation to clear ISIS militants from Sharqat is over and the “second page will begin at dawn on Wednesday.” A second anonymous source reported that Iraqi security forces had cleared Ashur Police Station, 4 kilometers south of Sharqat, and the surrounding areas near the “residential complex.”

On September 20, Jasim Ijbara, head of the Salah ad-Din Security Committee, reported that Sharqat is a “geographically very important [city] since it is a juncture for Kirkuk, Salah al-Din, and Ninewa Provinces. Iibara also commented that it is an important revenue source for ISIS who smuggles oil from Sharqat to Syria.

On September 20, the Member of Parliament for the Salah ad-Din Province, Mishan al-Jabouri, denied the existence of any  “waves of displacement” from Sharqat even as ISF launched two land offensives to clear ISIS militants from the town the same day. Al-Jabouri stated that the battle strategy involved keeping people in their homes, since the majority of those fighting are the men of Sharqat who have joined Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs), which are fighting alongside the Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police to clear the city of ISIS militants. He also stated that the offensives are making significant progress, and predicted that many families would return to Sharqat in the next four days. The number of IDPs displaced from Sharqat, Qayyarah and surrounding areas since June, as reported by UNHCR, has increased to 94,000 as of September 16, a 5,500 jump up from the 88,500 reported on September 6.

On September 21, media official for the PUK, Ghyath Alsurja, reported that a U.S.-led international coalition airstrike targeted an ISIS run court in the Sunni Waqf District in north Mosul. During the airstrike, 17 ISIS militants were killed, including an ISIS “judge” named Abu Abdul Rahman.  

On September 21, an anonymous source at the Department of Forensic Medicine in Ninewa Province reported that they received the bodies of 80 ISIS militants killed in the clearing of Sharqat, 120 kilometers north of Tikrit. The source claimed that some bodies were handed over to ISIS militant families and bodies of foreigners and senior figures were kept by ISIS so there names could not be “leaked” to the public.

On September 21, the Salah al Din brigade reported that nine suicide based improvised explosive devices (SBIEDs) were destroyed after the Iraqi Air Force and U.S.-led international coalition airstrikes targeted them as they attempted to attack Iraqi forces clearing Sharqat, 120 Kilometers north of Tikrit. The report did not specify where the airstrike occurred.  

On September 21, a news report by Almada Press reported a short article claiming that joint security forces successfully cleared ISIS militants out of 10 villages in the vicinity of Sharqat and that security forces were advancing towards government complexes in the city. No other information was available.

On September 21, an anonymous security source in Salah al-Din reported that ISIS militants detonated 60 IEDs in an attempt to block security forces from reaching the center of Sharqat, 120 Kilometers north of Tikrit. An unnamed “media cell” reported that joint security forces were within 500 meters of the city center of Sharqat.

On September 21, senior U.S. defense officials reported that a rocket or a mortar shell was fired into a perimeter where US personnel were deployed that contained a “mustard agent” at a “logistical hub” known as “Q-West” near Qayyarah, 30 kilometers north of Sharqat. No U.S personnel were injured in the attack and the weapon was described as “crude and ineffective.” ISIS has used weapons with chemical agents in it before against Iraqi civilians and Peshmerga forces.  

On September 22, an anonymous source at the Joint Special Operations Command reported that joint security forces successfully cleared ISIS militants from Sharqat, 120 kilometers north of Tikrit. A statement by the Joint Operations Command commented that operations ended in an “overwhelming victory” after around 72 hours of fighting.

On September 22, the Commander for the Liberation of Ninewa reported that security forces repelled an attack by ISIS militants that were targeting villages south of Mosul. No exact location was given. During the attack, security forces killed 40 ISIS militants.  

On September 22, the Commander for the Liberation of Ninewa reported that a U.S.-led international coalition airstrike targeted a “gathering of ISIS militants” in a village in east Sharqat, 120 kilometers north of Tikrit. During the operation 160 ISIS militants were killed and a “number” of ISIS weapons were destroyed.

On September 22, a source in Hawija reported that a group of young men broke into the ISIS headquarters in the Riyadh area, 45 kilometers west of Kirkuk, and killed four ISIS militants. The Supervisor for the Liberation of Hawija reported that “dozens of youth in the south of Kirkuk” have proclaimed a “revolution” against ISIS and are clearing ISIS militants out of their regions.

On September 22, the U.S. military requested 500 new troops in Iraq in preparations for the invasion of Mosul – bringing the total U.S. troop count to 4,900. The Pentagon also maintains up to 1,500 troops that it does not recognize as part of its “Iraqi Force.” The White House maintains that U.S. troops are only conducting “advise and assist missions” with the ISF and are not in direct combat with ISIS militants.


Parliament Votes to Dismiss Finance Minister

On September 16, thousands of protesters gathered in Tahrir Square in central Baghdad and dozens in the Diwaniyah province to demand the implementation of anti-corruption reforms. The protesters also called on Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to find practical solutions to the economic crisis and work to keep the Independent High Electoral Commission in Iraq free of partisan politics. The Electoral Council in Iraq receives lists of candidates to ban from Parliament’s Accountability and Justice Commission as well as dealing with complaints about elections.

On September 17, Members of Parliament, including Ali al-Badri of the Shia Islamic Dawa Party, told Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi that if he wishes for the new ministers of Defense and Interior to truly be independent of sectarian quotas, he needs to withdraw as chairman of the Shia Dawa Islamic bloc. Al-Abadi is still locked in political negotiations to fill the two vacancies.

On September 17, Member of Parliament Mansour Baaja, a member of the Shia Iraqi National bloc, announced that any attempt by Kurdish Members of Parliament to revote on whether to accept fellow Kurd and current Finance Minister, Hoshyar Zebari’s August 25 testimony is illegal. Members of the Kurdish Democratic Party claimed on September 15 that the vote to reject Zebari’s testimony was politically motivated and that Zebari answered questions on charges of corruption and mismanagement truthfully. Zebari’s conviction and Baaja’s clarification means Parliament can move forward with a vote of no confidence when it reconvenes.

On September 18, the Iraqi Parliament agreed to postpone reconvening until September 21, instead of September 20 at the request of over 100 Members of Parliament. Parliament has been in recess since September 8 for the Eid al-Adha holiday.

On September 20, the National Alliance announced plans to meet Tuesday evening to discuss the current vacant Defense Minister position and the candidates up for consideration. The position of Defense Minister has been vacant since the vote of no confidence against former Defense Minister Khaled al-Obeidi on August 25. Due to the complicated replacement process and sectarian politics, the position is not expected to be filled quickly.

On September 20, Parliament announced the agenda for its meeting on Wednesday, September 21. This will be the first gathering of Parliament since it adjourned for the Eid al-Adha holiday on September 8. The agenda includes votes on Article 61 of the Iraqi Constitution, which deals with the responsibilities of Parliament, as well as rules of procedure for the questioning of Finance Minister Hoshyar Zebari.

On September 21, Parliament reconvened for the first time since the Eid al-Adha Holiday break. Speaker of Parliament Salim al-Jabouri began the session by denying the request of 102 Members of Parliament to re-vote on Finance Minister Hoshyar Zebari’s August 25 testimony. Al-Jabouri commented that there was no legal basis for the request and that the vote of no confidence for the Finance Minister would not be postponed. Even Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi asked to postpone the vote citing Zebari’s crucial role in negotiating billions in international aid and loans with the International Monetary Fund. Soon after, Parliament voted to begin the process of withdrawal of confidence by secret ballot. Finally, after counting the 249 votes, Parliament announced that a majority of ministers had voted to withdraw confidence from Zebari. Out of the 328 members of Parliament, 249 attended the session,158 ministers voted against Finance Minister Hoshyar Zebari and 77 voted in support. 14 members abstained from the vote. Members of the Kurdistan Democratic Party claimed the dismissal violates the rules of procedure of Parliament because the original interrogation of the Finance Minister and fellow Kurd was politically motivated.

On September 22, Parliament discussed the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission Act for the first time since its proposal in July. The act would provide legal cover to form an Atomic Energy Agency that would be responsible for the uses of atomic energy for peaceful and health industry purposes. The Commission would work under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Authority and within international standards. Parliament also completed the first reading of the proposed amendment to the law of the Iraqi Media Network Act and voted to keep the preservation of documents law. Parliament called to postpone all other votes until Saturday.

On September 22, Member of the Finance Committee, Haitham al-Jabouri, announced the Committee has documents that prove the involvement of a large number of Finance Ministry officials in corrupt practices. Al-Jabouri stated that reforms within the Finance ministry did not end with the sacking of former Finance Minister Hoshyar Zebari and that he plans to form a committee of inquiry to further investigate the claims. Zebari was voted out of office on Wednesday.

On September 22, in a press conference, former Finance Minister Hoshyar Zebari declared that he believes there was “deliberate intention” behind his dismissal. Zebari accused the former President of the Shia State of Law Coalition, Nouri al-Maliki, of trying to “collapse” the current government and that Maliki prevented political blocs from supporting Zebari in the vote. Zebari, a leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, said that these actions will force the Kurdish party to reconsider its “position and policies with Baghdad.” Zebari denied that he took any illegal steps while Finance Minister and expressed his willingness to make the Ministry’s records public to prove his innocence. Najmaldin Karim, the Kurdish governor of Northern Kirkuk province described the allegations as “bogus.” Karim continued noting the maneuvers deepen ethnic rifts in the country reinforcing the impression that the Shiite-led government in Baghdad is squeezing out minorities.

On September 22, Parliament determined they will question Foreign Minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, on October 6 while the Agriculture Minister, Falah Hassan Zeidan will be questioned on October 16. Meanwhile, no date has been set for the questioning of Education Minister Mohammed Iqbal. Sessions for questioning are usually scheduled in response to corruption allegations.


Humanitarian Crisis in Hawija Garners Attention as ISF Plan Next Moves

On September 16, the UNHCR reported that authorities in Kirkuk have agreed to place a moratorium on their call for 24,000 IDPs to return to their places of origin in Diyala, Anbar and Salah al-Din governorates. However, security forces are reportedly confiscating documents from IDPs – now affecting nearly 3,000 IDPs (470 families) in Laylan Camp, Furqan village and different locations inside Kirkuk city who have reportedly left Kirkuk. On  September 11, authorities allowed 700 IDPs who had been stranded to pass into Kirkuk and onward to Laylan and Nazrawa camps. On September 22, a humanitarian worker in Fallujah, Abdelqader al-Jumaili, accused the Governor of Kirkuk, Najmaddin Karim, of forcibly expelling IDPs who came to Kirkuk fleeing violence in Anbar, Salah ad-Din, and Diyala Provinces, and called on Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and the Ministry of Displacement and Migration to intervene. The Kirkuk Provincial Council denied the allegations, saying that they had “recommended” IDPs return to their places of origin because the areas had been liberated and the return of IDPs would “contribute to the rebuilding of those areas.”

On September 16, PMU leader Jabbar Maamouri reported that ISIS had decapitated a “young man” and placed the head at the front his family’s’ house in Hawija. It was reported that the wife of the man was pregnant and miscarried as a result of the stress from the event.

On September 19, the Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights (IOHR) reported that thousands of civilians are still suffering from a humanitarian disaster in Hawija, 70 kilometers southwest of Kirkuk City, which is controlled by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), whose siege on the city has prevented any humanitarian aid from entering. IOHR condemned the Iraqi Government for failing to take any stance or action towards the situation in Hawija. The population of Hawija is around 115,000, thousands of which have tried to escape the violence of ISIS and were either killed or captured by the terrorist organization. ISIS has captured around 3,000 people who tried to flee Hawija, and has also planted mines in the lands surrounding the district to prevent civilians from escaping. Hundreds of civilians have already been killed by ISIS, and many others have died of hunger, thirst, or the lack of medicine. The Government’s delay in liberating the district of Hawija from ISIS control means that the numbers of victims there will continue to increase.

On September 19, the Commander of the First Brigade of the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga, Ribawar Zangana, announced that the Peshmerga have been armed by the “International Coalition” and was ready for the battle to clear Hawija of ISIS militants. Zangana also stressed the need for coordination with the Ministry of Defense in preparations to retake Hawija. The Iraqi Government has not taken any stance or action towards the situation in Hawija as of yet, though they are facing increasing pressure to do so.

On September 20, a local source in the Salah ad-Din Province reported that the military offensives in Sharqat, 100 kilometers south of Mosul in the Ninewa Province, to retake the city from ISIS militants have caused an exodus of ISIS leaders and their families from Sharqat to Hawija, 70 kilometers southwest of Kirkuk City in the neighboring Kirkuk Province.

On September 21, leader of the Badr Organization Hadi al-Ameri, arrived in Kirkuk to meet with the Governor of Kirkuk, Najmaddin Karim, and other security leaders to discuss the process of clearing Hawija of ISIS militants in coordination with the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga. Hawija is in Kirkuk province, around 70 kilometers southwest of Kirkuk City, and is controlled by ISIS militants, who prevent any humanitarian aid from entering the city. The meeting coincided with continued progress in military offensives to clear ISIS militants from Sharqat, 100 kilometers south of Mosul in the Ninewa Province, and it appears that after Sharqat, Hawijah will be the next step in the process of clearing the Ninewa Province in preparation for the retaking of Mosul, which remains a major stronghold for ISIS.


Joint Security Forces Ramp Up Efforts in Hit, Western Anbar

On September 16, the Anbar Provincial Council reported that joint security forces completed preparations to clear Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants from the western regions of Anbar Province. Anbar Provincial Council member, Farhan Mohammed, claimed that ISIS was in a “state of collapse” because of “weak defensive lines” as ISIS commanders retreat to Syria. Mohammed reported that there will be rapid progress in “liberating” the western Anbar region once operations begin.

On September 16, Anbar Province Police announced that the “security situation is stable” at the Iraqi-Saudi Arabia Arar Border Crossing, 280 kilometers from Najaf; the international highway that connects to Baghdad; and all cities cleared of ISIS militants. Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) have increased security measures as convoys of pilgrims begin returning to their homes following hajj.

On September 16, Popular Mobilization Unit (PMU) leader Nazim Aljughaifi reported that the Iraqi Air Force targeted ISIS “tunnels” at an area 30 kilometers west of the Haditha District. During the operation, 17 ISIS militants were killed and six vehicle based improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) were destroyed.

On September 16, the Garma District Council reported that a civilian was killed by an improvised explosive device (IED) when he entered his home in the Alrovh neighborhood, 19 kilometers west of Fallujah. Security forces searched the scene and the house next door for any other IEDs.

On September 16, an anonymous source of the Seventh Iraqi Army stated that a U.S. -led international coalition airstrike targeted a gathering of ISIS militants on al-Baghdad, 90 kilometers west of Ramadi. The strikes destroyed two cars carrying ammunition and weapons and killed eight ISIS militants.

On September 16, the Iraqi National Intelligence Service, in coordination with the Special Operations Command, reported that U.S.-led international coalition airstrikes foiled an attack by ISIS militants to destroy the Haditha Dam, 75 kilometers northwest of Ramadi. The airstrikes led to the destruction of cars, ammunition, weapons and the death of “a number of [ISIS militants].”

On September 17, security forces in Anbar Province reported that a U.S.-led international coalition airstrike targeted a gathering of ISIS militants on an island of Hit, 70 kilometers west of Ramadi. During the operation, five ISIS militants were killed.

On September 18, an anonymous source in the Anbar Operations Command reported that ISIS had executed four of its militants in Qa’im, 215 Kilometers from Ramadi, after they fled  the Ramandi battle. Anonymous sources claim that a large amount of ISIS militants are being smuggled out of the Anbar Province through “secret passages” due to the collapse of ISIS in the region.

On September 18, PMU leader and director of intelligence, Nazim Aljughaifi, announced that operations to clear the island of Hit and Baghdadi, 80 kilometers west of Ramadi, would begin on Monday. Aljughaifi stated that the military operation would be “decisive and swift” and that corridors would be opened for civilians to exit the conflict areas.

On September 18, an anonymous source at the Iraqi Interior Ministry reported that four trucks were stopped with explosives in the Dora district in south Baghdad. The truck drivers reported that the trucks were coming from Syria and had exchanged cargo in Ramadi with other trucks that came from Syria.

On September 20, the Qatari PMU leader, referred to as Alsamarmd, in Anbar Province reported that security operations would begin today on al-Baghdadi, 80 kilometers west of Ramadi. Alsamarmd reported that security forces already cleared the area of al-Zeera and Alkasir, 90 kilometers west of Ramadi, during the operation and killed 14 ISIS militants. A later source confirmed that Aljughaifi cleared the island of al-Baghdadi and Hit, 80 kilometers west of Ramadi, killing “dozens of ISIS militants.  

On September 20, PMU leader in the Haditha district, Nazim Aljughaifi, reported that an ISIS militant named Ahmed Yousef Aljughaifi was arrested after he was chased by security forces into the desert around Rutba, 280 kilometers west of Ramadi. Aljughaifi told security forces that he was trying to “escape Rutba to an area 160 [kilometers] west of Anbar” and then safely escape Anbar Province.

On September 20, PMU leader in the Haditha district, Nazim Aljughaifi, reported that security forces managed to free the Barwanah area, 110 kilometers northwest of Ramadi, after an engagement that left 22 ISIS militants dead. The operation also led to the destruction of 30 roadside bombs and mines and trucks used by ISIS militants to launch attacks on security forces. Aljughaifi reported that these operations are ensuring the successful clearing of ISIS militants from al-Baghdadi and an island in Hit in the “next few hours.”

On September 20, an anonymous source at the Anbar Operations Command reported that joint security forces attacked the area of Albu Diab, 5 kilometers north of Ramadi. During the operations, 12 ISIS militants were killed. The source reported that in “the next few hours [we] will see the Iraqi flag over the building in the region.”

On September 20, the Seventh Band of the Iraqi Military reported that they had cleared the Alkseriaat area in the Haditha District, 160 kilometers west of Ramadi. During the operation the Iraqi military “dismantled 18 missiles and 213 IEDs, destroyed a number of VBIEDs, and killed “a number of terrorist.”

On September 20, the Chairman of the Council of Hit, Mohammad al-Hiti, reported that security forces “made significant military results in clearing Baghdadi Island” and noted that security forces, supported by U.S.-led international coalition airstrikes, will storm an island in Hit and clear it of ISIS militants. Al-Hiti reported that security sources are in the process of creating “floating bridges” in order to approach Hit, 70 kilometers west of Ramadi.

On September 20, Anbar Operations Command reported that ISF cleared two villages in Ramadi, 50 kilometers west of Fallujah. The operation resulted in the death of “dozens” of ISIS militants. No further information was reported.

On September 20, senior military sources in the Anbar Province reported that a U.S.-led international coalition airstrike targeted a mortar detachment of ISIS militants in the Albualla Jassim area, 10 kilometers north of Ramadi. During the operation, three ISIS militants were killed.  

On September 20, leader of an Anbar-based PMU, Nazim Aljughaifi reported that they successfully cleared Baghdadi Island, 80 kilometers west of Ramadi. The operation led to the death of “dozens” of ISIS militants and security forces claim to be working to dismantle IEDs and bombs in the surrounding area. A later report by Commander of the Anbar Operations, Major General Ismail Mahlawi, reported that security forces and airstrikes from the U.S.-led international coalition and the Iraqi Air Force were still attacking mortar detachments and trucks carrying weapons  

On September 20, Commander of Anbar PMU, Colonel Jubair Rashid, reported that the first phase of the operation to clear ISIS militants from an Island in Ramadi was completed without any loss of life to joint security forces. Rashid reported that a large number of ISIS militants were fleeing towards Lake Therthar in an attempt to evade security forces.   

On September 21, PMU leadership in the Anbar Province Alsamard reported that the PMU cleared the bridge that links Baghdadi Island and Hit, 110 kilometers west of Ramadi. Alsamard reported that clearing Hit Island, 70 Kilometers west of Ramadi will be done “decisively and urgently.”  

On September 21, Commander of the Hit Island operation Major General Qassim al-Muhammadi reported that security forces were able to clear Hit Island, 70 kilometers west of Ramadi, of ISIS militants and over 190 IEDs. Muhammadi reported that “dozens” of ISIS militants were killed in the operation.     

On September 22, factions of the PMU in Anbar reported that 10 members of ISIS were arrested when they tried to enter Garma, 19 kilometers east of Fallujah, with returning displaced families. Security forces have reported that they will be checking and archiving the names of returning displaced people in order to prevent ISIS militants from escaping conflict zones.

On September 22, factions of the PMU in Anbar reported that the two villages in between al-Baghdadi and Hit, 70 kilometers west of Ramadi, were cleared from ISIS militants. During the operation four ISIS militants were killed.

On September 22, factions of the PMU in Anbar reported that they cleared an area named “Camp Bravo” in Ramadi, 110 kilometers west of Baghdad. Security forces in the fifth regiment with support from U.S.-led international coalition airstrikes claimed to have killed “dozens” of ISIS militants during the operation.


IDPs are Reluctant to Return to Fallujah as Displacements Persist Elsewhere

On September 15, the office of Shia Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani distributed 3,000 packages of food along with other aid to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Tikrit, in the Salah ad-Din Province. Tikrit received 23,052 IDPs in the month of August, as a consequence of the military operations in Sharqat and Qayyarah.

On September 15, the Anbar Provincial Council announced the completion of 60% of Fallujah’s rehabilitation projects, including the restoration of water purification plants, the opening of roads, and the reconstruction of a bridge. Fallujah has already seen the return of hundreds of IDPs since it was cleared of Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants on June 26, 2016, and the first returnees to the city center is expected on September 17.

On September 15, the Mayor of the Ramadi District in the Anbar Province, Ibrahim al-Osaj, announced that 20,000 tons of rubble has been removed from areas of the city of Ramadi in preparation for the restoration of roads in the city, and confirmed that 80% of IDPs from the city have returned. Ramadi was cleared of ISIS militants on December 28, 2015, but security forces and local government have struggled to restore water and electricity to the city and clashes between Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and ISIS persist around Ramadi. The Mayor stated that progress has been made in repairing sewage treatment systems and water purification plants.

On September 16, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that the situation remains dire in Qayyarah, in the Ninewa Province, with families still fleeing the area over security concerns and lack of services and food, while others are attempting to return. As previously reported in ISHM, 965 IDPs have returned to Qayyarah, which was recently recaptured by the ISF, despite security concerns. Northern parts of Qayyarah continue to receive occasional shelling and attacks. On 9 September, armed groups attacked Iraqi Security positions near Al Khabat village, located 8km southeast of Qayyarah. On September 7, a convoy transporting returnees came under attack near the entrance to the city, while mortars struck the town center killing two returnees. Other returnees reported that some houses had been boobytrapped.

On September 16, the UNHCR reported that the number of IDPs displaced from Mosul and surrounding areas since March has increased to 56,000, a 2,300 jump up from the 53,700 reported on September 6. The number of IDPs displaced from Sharqat, Qayyarah and surrounding areas since June has increased to 94,000, a 5,500 jump up from the 88,500 reported on September 6.

On September 17, an anonymous source in the Iraqi Interior Ministry reported that security forces had found four explosive belts in the Albu Khamis area of Amiriyah, 22 kilometers south of Fallujah. Security forces reported that the explosive belts were going to be used in the south of Fallujah.

On September 17, witnesses reported that 50 families were displaced by Iranian shelling targeting Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga in border areas near Barzan, 80 kilometers north of Erbil city center in Erbil Province. The attack badly damaged orchards and farms in the area, and caused many families to flee to safer environments. No further information about where the displaced families have travelled is available at this time.

On September 17, the Anbar Provincial Council announced the start of the return of IDPs to Fallujah’s city center, stating that 500 families are currently being processed by security forces, after which they will be transported to the city center by government vehicles. Greater Fallujah has already seen the return of hundreds of IDPs since it was cleared of ISIS militants on June 26, 2016, but these families will be the first to enter the city center.

On September 17, Anbar Police Chief Major General Hadi Kasser Rseg reported that an ISIS militant was killed after he was found hiding in a gravel industrial area in Fallujah. No other information was given in the report.   

On September 18, the Anbar Provincial Council reported that security forces will allow civilians, employees, and security personnel to return to their families in Fallujah if they did not commit crimes after they had declared “repentance” under the threat of death by ISIS. The report claimed that over 600 civilians and state employees of Fallujah “repented” to ISIS before it was cleared in February 2016.

On September 18, a member of the Anbar Provincial Council, Mohammed Yasin, urged IDPs displaced from Fallujah to return to the city, which has ostensibly been cleared of ISIS militants and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and is undergoing restoration efforts. Only a fraction of the 500 families expected to return to the city center on September 17 have actually returned. Yasin called on IDPs to return in order to restore “stability and life” to the city.

On September 18, the Mayor of Baiji, Mohammed al-Jabouri, announced the successful restoration and reopening of the power plant in Baiji, some 180 kilometers south of Mosul. The plant was seriously damaged by retreating ISIS militants when the city was cleared by ISF in November 2014.  The reopening of the plant ensures the return of electricity to residential neighborhoods in Baiji and the illumination of roads at night, which will be a boon to residents who have returned to the city since its clearing.

On September 18, the Governor of the Salah ad-Din Province, Ahmed al-Jabouri, announced the return of “dozens” of families to the towns of Dujail, Albu Hammad, and Leine in the Salah ad-Din Province, which were recently cleared of ISIS militants. The returns were directed by Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and facilitated by Saraya al-Salam, the Shia militia he leads.

On September 19, Anbar Provincial Council member Fahad al-Rashed revealed the “reluctance” of IDPs to return to their homes in the city center of Fallujah due to security concerns, despite the Council’s efforts to reassure them that the city has been cleared of IEDs and is safe. The Council had hoped that the first return of IDPs to the city center would allow professionals and traders to reopen stores in order to provide the necessary supplies for citizens and thus encourage more returns.

On September 19, Shafaaq News reported that 17 families have returned to the city center of Fallujah by the end of the day on September 18, though three of those were later ejected after family members were flagged to have links to ISIS. Most of the returnees appeared to be among those who had fled as soon as ISIS militants entered Fallujah. They used an Internet form to sign up for return — a difficult process to access for thousands of families who fled more recently and are stuck in harsh conditions in desert camps. Of the families that have returned to Fallujah, many find their homes in disarray or even destroyed, and lack the supplies and services needed to resume life in the city. As for the security situation in Fallujah, according to Major General Saad Harbiya, the head of military operations in western Baghdad, a total of 12,405 IEDs have been defused or detonated in Fallujah and the surrounding towns of Garma and Saqlawiyah since the areas were cleared of ISIS militants. Some 38 bomb-making factories were discovered. Though authorities stress that the area has been secured, there is lingering fear among returnees concerning IEDs and ISIS militants hiding out in the city, such as the one found and killed in Fallujah’s industrial district on September 19.

On September 19, the Sunni Endowment of Iraq confirmed the return of 1,850 displaced families to Qayyarah to date, and announced that many more would be returning soon in the next scheduled transfer. The Endowment has provided and distributed aid to returnees, who face extremely insecure conditions in the city, 70 kilometers south of Mosul in the Ninewa Province, which was recently cleared of ISIS militants and IEDs by ISF.

On September 20, the Ministry of Displacement and Migration reported that of the total 3.6 million people it estimates to have been displaced by ISIS since the January 2014, over 179,000 displaced families have returned to their place of origin for the same time period. The Ministry estimates that returnees number 59,602 to Anbar Province, 86,616 to Salah ad-Din Province, 24,624 to Diyala province, and 9,000 to Ninewa Province. This data has been gathered by the Ministry’s provincial branches, which have called on returned families at their homes to register and document their return. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) previously reported that as of August 17, 2016, 3,344,154 IDPs (557,359 families) have been displaced since January 2014, and that for the same period, 852,390 IDPs (142,065 families) have returned.

On September 20, the Anbar Provincial Council reported that 210 displaced families have returned to the city center of Fallujah since September 17. A member of the Council overseeing the return of IDPs to Fallujah stated that the Council was able to reassure the population that rumors about IDPs being detained within Fallujah and kept from leaving again were false, and that the area has been “cleaned and secured.” Fears about security concerns have been compounded among IDPs by these rumors, and tribal leaders in Fallujah have spoken on the “reluctance” of returnees to Fallujah because of the lack of basic services and the transformation of the city into a “giant prison.”

On September 21, the Mayor of al-Kuwayr, Mohammed Ismail, announced the return of 122 displaced families to the village of al-Kuwayr, 45 kilometers southeast of Mosul in the Ninewa Province. Ismail attributed the delay in returning IDPs to the the city to the “absence” of services in the area such as water, electricity, and healthcare. He stated that the 122 families were the first of a total of 400 families from the village who have been displaced by ISIS in the past two years, adding that more would be returning soon. Al-Kuwayr was cleared of ISIS militants August 10 by Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga, assisted by U.S. airstrikes.


Humanitarian Needs for Future IDPs from Mosul are Stark and Unmet

On September 16, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that the number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) displaced from Mosul and surrounding areas since March has increased to 56,000, a 2,300 jump up from the 53,700 reported on September 6. The number of IDPs displaced from Sharqat, Qayyarah and surrounding areas since June has increased to 94,000 a 5,500 jump up from the 88,500 reported on September 6.

On September 16, the UNHCR reported that they are coordinating with authorities to establish camps in Salah ad-Din Governorate to prepare for the more than 1 million people expected to be displaced by the upcoming operations to clear Mosul of Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants, as previously reported in ISHM. Locations for potential sites have been identified on the west bank of the Tigris River north of Tikrit to accommodate 1,500 families. UNHCR is working with authorities to begin site planning.

On September 16, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations reported that approximately 12-13 million people in Iraq will likely need humanitarian aid by the end of 2016. The FAO stated that the military operations against ISIS in Mosul and elsewhere which are set to intensify over the coming months will likely result in a large number of newly displaced and vulnerable people. Currently, the FAO estimates that 2.4 million people in Iraq are food insecure, around 8 percent of the population. Due to a funding gap of over US$ 42 million against the UNHCR Iraq Humanitarian Response Plan 2016, of which only around 6 percent of funds appealed for have been received, the capacity of FAO to help rebuild the livelihoods of vulnerable people in the country is severely limited. Urgent donor funding is needed for the upcoming agricultural season.

On September 17, the Parliamentary Committee on Women, Family and Children reported the presence of 850,000 widows and more than 600,000 orphans in Iraq, and estimated that those numbers would rise near 1 million by the end of 2016, due to the increase in violence that will come from the ISF struggle to retake Mosul from ISIS militants in the coming months.

On September 19, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) issued a press release concerning the humanitarian response to the expected mass displacement from Mosul during the upcoming military campaign to clear the city of ISIS militants. The release stated that in a worst-case scenario, 1.2–1.5 million civilians may be impacted. One million people are expected to flee from Mosul and as many as 700,000 are likely to require shelter and other life-saving assistance. Lise Grande, the Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, said “we’re very worried that we won’t be able to prepare in time. . . we’re grateful to all of the donors who have stepped forward, but we need a lot more resources. With time running out, funding needs to go to the right agencies—to the ones building the emergency camps and providing the latrines, water and health services for these camps. We can’t wait any longer to get ready. We have to move now.” Already, 10 million Iraqis require some form of humanitarian assistance. Depending on the scope of the military campaign, as many as 12–13 million Iraqis may be in trouble by the end of the year. Over half of the 226 projects included in the 2016 Humanitarian Response Plan for Iraq have already closed or could not start due to lack of funding.

On September 20, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned of the new humanitarian crisis that will be created by the military campaign to clear Mosul of ISIS militants in a speech at the UN General Assembly. He stated that any plans for the creation of a political system in Mosul after clearing the city must take into account the sectarian and ethnic diversity in the city or risk another crisis.

On September 21, the UNHCR reported on the challenges facing the estimated 1 million people who could become displaced as ISF pursue their goal of retaking the city of Mosul from ISIS control. At least 150,000 people have already fled Sharqat and Qayyarah, near Mosul, in recent weeks, and as the number IDPs fleeing the Mosul corridor continues to grow by the day, the UN Refugee Agency is drawing up contingency plans to reach and provide protection and humanitarian aid to those most in need. In the past five months, the number of IDPs sheltering at Debaga Camp in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) has increased tenfold to more than 36,000 people, severely over capacity. IDPs stay in different tented sites, with new arrivals every day, outnumbering the local town’s small population of around 2,000. Over 300,000 IDPs have found shelter in the KRI, with others scattered across the country. Many are facing great hardship, sheltering in unfinished buildings, makeshift shelters or mosques. Many are unable to find regular work, skip meals because of the costs, and struggle to pay rent or send their children to school.

On September 21, the Under-Secretary General for the UN, Stephen O’Brien, spoke on the severe underfunding of programs that seek to prepare for the humanitarian consequences of the military campaign in Mosul. Up to 1.5 million people could be directly impacted by the military operations with as many as 1 million civilians anticipated to flee the city, although numbers and flight paths are impossible to predict precisely. To prepare for Mosul, humanitarian partners launched a flash appeal for US$284 million in July. Pledges were made at the Iraq pledging conference in Washington, DC, and 48 per cent of this funding, US$136 million, has been received. O’Brien stressed the importance of receiving any outstanding pledges as soon as possible to allow humanitarians to prepare. The shortfall for the Mosul preparations comes in context of underfunding for the Humanitarian Response Plan as a whole. Just over half of the funding requirements have been met ($468 million received from the requested $860.5 million), and as a result, 54 per cent of planned programmes this year have either shut down or could not begin at all. Further programme closures will follow if the required funding is not received.


Mosul and Reconstruction Remain Key Topics at UN General Assembly Meeting

On September 16, President of the Kurdistan Region Massoud Barzani stressed in a meeting with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, the importance of having a political plan in place after the clearing of Mosul of Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants. Barzani noted the need in order to prevent deepening current problems and protecting citizens of the Ninewa Province, especially Christians and Yazidis.

On September 18, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi headed to New York to attend this week’s 71st UN General Assembly meeting. A statement from al-Abadi’s office noted that the Prime Minister will deliver a speech during the assembly and will meet with various world leaders and international organizations while in the U.S.

On September 19, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi met with U.S. President Barack Obama in New York. In his remarks, al-Abadi noted that the leaders discussed bilateral relations between the two countries and the war against ISIS. Meanwhile, President Obama stressed in his statement that Iraq is still a priority to the United States and that the U.S. is ready to provide humanitarian aid and help with the reconstruction of cleared areas.

On September 19, Iraqi President Fuad Masum met with the Japanese Ambassador to Iraq, Fumio Iwai, where Fuad stressed the mutual benefits of the two nations working together and the importance of Japan’s role in helping Iraq in terms of agriculture, education, and industry. Iwai expressed his happiness regarding Iraqi military advancements against the so-called Islamic State. Iwai also insisted that Japan will continue to provide humanitarian aid and help in the reconstruction of damaged areas.

On September 19, U.S. President Barack Obama addressed the humanitarian challenge involved in the battle to retake Mosul during his remarks following a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi at the UN General Assembly. In his remarks, he stressed “…the importance of not just driving ISIL out of Mosul but making sure that the population there that invariably is going to be displaced and will have suffered, and is going to be looking for warmth and food and water and shelter, that we are prepared to help provide rapid humanitarian assistance, and that we can rebuild the city in a way that assures not only ISIL does not come back, but extremist ideologies born out of desperation do not return.” The United States has committed US$ 181 million so far for humanitarian support during the Mosul operations.

On September 20, at the UN General Assembly Meeting in New York,

  • Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi
  • Al-Abadi met with French President Francois Hollande on the sidelines of UN General Assembly meetings
  • Al-Abadi held a meeting with Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern and discussed bilateral cooperation to fight the so-called Islamic State
  • Al-Abadi met with the President of Finland Sauli Niinistö where the President emphasized his country’s support for Iraq, especially in the area of intelligence.

On September 21, at the UN General Assembly Meeting in New York,

  • Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi met with the Jordanian King Abdullah II Bin Hussein to discuss the importance of unifying efforts to eliminate terrorism
  • Al-Abadi attended a meeting with World Bank President Jim Yong Kim on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly
  • Al-Abadi sat down with Danish Prime Minister Lars Rasmussen to discuss bilateral cooperation and humanitarian assistance provided by the Dutch
  • Al-Abadi met with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg  
  • Al-Abadi spoke with Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović in between meetings at the UN
  • Al-Abadi met Iranian President Hassan Rouhani

On September 22, at the UN General Assembly Meeting in New York

  • Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi spoke with Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council
  • Al-Abadi met with the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross Peter Maurer
  • Al-Abadi met with Vice President Joe Biden


Iraq will Hold Oil Output Steady, but Seeks to Improve Refining Capacity

On September 16, an anonymous source at the North Oil Company confirmed that the flow of oil had resumed from its fields in Kirkuk to the port of Ceyhan in Turkey after repairing a glitch in a pipeline that was initially reported on September 14. As reported in last week’s ISHM, the Kirkuk pipelines reopened in September after months of negotiations between the North Oil Company and the Kurdistan Regional Government. The source expects the amount of oil produced to increase from 75,000 barrels per day to over 100,000 per day after the repair.

On September 18, President Fuad Masum met with Oil Minister Jabbar Allibi to discuss the importance of devising practical plans to develop and increase oil production in Iraq. Masum focused on the need to diversify export routes by building balanced relations with fellow oil-producing countries while Allibi stated his interest in raising the production and investment in oil and gas fields in Iraq. Member of Parliament and former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki also met with Allibi on September 19 to discuss Iraq’s need to mobilize all energies for the promotion of oil wealth.

On September 21, Iraqi Oil Minister Jabbar Luaibi instructed the State Organization for Marketing Oil (SOMO) to form a committee to follow the price of oil within the global market. Luaibi stated this new committee will not only help to avoid price gaps within the Iraqi budget and the international oil market, but also determine long and short term expectations of the oil market. This decision comes after the significant drop in 2014 of oil prices. A barrel of oil that sold for US$ 116 in 2014 now sells for US$ 30.

On September 21, the Oil Ministry announced an increase in oil exports for the month of August. The ministry’s spokesman, Assem Jihad, said in a statement that the total volume of exports from central and south Iraqi oil fields by 36 international companies had a total revenue exceeding US$ 3 billion and an average price per barrel of US$ 39.

On September 21, Parliament voted to amend its crude oil refining law. The law, which was originally passed in 2007, gives foreign companies the right to build refineries and operate them over a 40 year period in Iraq. Parliament hopes that the amendments to the law will make it even more attractive to foreign and domestic investors since Iraq is currently facing a lack of refining capabilities, mainly due to attacks on refineries by the so-called Islamic State.

On September 22, Iraq’s ambassador to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Falah al-Amri, reported that Iraq would not take part in lowering oil prices but noted that the country would not dramatically increase production at OPEC’s request. Iraq, OPEC’s second biggest oil producer after Saudi Arabia, is selling all of its current production of 850,000 barrels a day and needs to pump more to meet existing customer demand. Amri stated that Iraq would “quietly and gradually” increase its output. OPEC tried unsuccessfully in April to strike a deal with other producers, including Russia, to stabilize markets but hopes its scheduled talks in Algiers on September 28 will prove more useful in addressing the global supply glut of oil that led prices to drop by more than half from their 2014 peak.


DateLocationDeathsInjuries
09/22/16Arab Ejbur, Southeast Baghdad14
09/22/16Abu Dshir, South Baghdad28
09/22/16Tobji, Northwest Baghdad10
09/21/16Mashtal, Eastern Baghdad15
09/21/16Nairiyah, East Baghdad26
09/21/16Sha’ab Northeast Baghdad26
09/21/16Hosseinia, North Baghdad14
09/21/16Tarmiyah North of Baghdad24
09/20/16Abu Dshir, South Baghdad17
09/20/16Mansour, West Baghdad00
09/20/16Mahmudiya, South Baghdad14
09/20/16Bayaa, Southwest Baghdad15
09/19/16Dora, South Baghdad15
09/19/16Iskan, West Baghdad27
09/19/16Adhamiyah, North Baghdad10
09/19/16Yusufiya south of Baghdad35
09/18/16Village Pastures, West of Kirkuk122
09/18/16Mahmudiyah, South Baghdad28
09/18/16Hamdaniya, North of Mosul37
09/18/16Arab Ejbur, Northern Baghdad24
09/18/16Furat, Southwest Baghdad28
09/18/16Sha’ab, Northeast Baghdad00
09/17/16Amiriyah, West Baghdad27
09/17/16Saidiya, South Baghdad10
09/17/16Daquq, South of Kirkuk10
09/17/16Za’franiya, Southeast Baghdad28
09/17/16Hurriya, North of Baghdad16
09/17/16Nahrawan, East of Baghdad15
09/17/16Arafa, East Kirkuk02
09/17/16Yaki Hozairan, South Kirkuk12
09/16/16Amin, East Baghdad18
09/16/16Tarmiyah, North of Baghdad25
09/16/16Armin, East Baghdad18
09/16/16Garma, West of Fallujah10
09/16/16Mashtal, East Baghdad10
09/16/16Abu Ghraib, west of Baghdad18
09/16/16Hor Rajab, South Baghdad23

 

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. ISHM’s research methodology was developed by EPIC’s Senior Visiting Fellow Ahmed Ali.


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