ISHM: September 30 – October 6, 2016

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Key Takeaways:

  • Tensions Rise as Turkish Troops Remain in Northern Iraq – On October 6, Iraq called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to adjudicate the presence of unwanted Turkish troops in northern Iraq who have been stationed there since ISIS emerged in 2014. On October 1, Turkey’s Parliament voted to extend the presence of Turkish forces in Iraq for a year, a decision that was met with vehement opposition by Iraq’s Parliament. Turkey claims its military is in Iraq at the invitation of Kurdistan Regional Government President Masoud Barzani and will remain in place to assist with impending operations to clear the city of Mosul of ISIS militants. Iraq’s Parliament passed a resolution this week calling for the expulsion of the Turkish Ambassador to Iraq, reconsideration of trade and economic relations with Turkey, and calling for the Iraqi government to take all legal measure to ensure Iraq’s sovereignty. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has remained defiant after Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said that he is unwilling to resort to military force against Turkish troops, but warned of “regional conflict” if the troops remain.  more…
  • Fighting and Resistance in Hawija Intensifies as Kirkuk Allows Some to Return – According to anonymous sources in Kirkuk Province, the U.S.-led international coalition has ramped up airstrikes in Hawija, an ISIS stronghold 60 kilometers southwest of the city of Kirkuk. Approximately 800 IDPs fleeing Hawija arrived at the Nazrawa and Laylan IDP camps in Kirkuk between September 29 and October 2 and more than 700 IDP families were transported to Laylan Camp from a checkpoint outside of Hawija where they had been held by security forces for several days. Tragically, at least 17 children were kidnapped by ISIS militants while attempting to escape Hawija with their families. (Read more about the situation in Hawija and why it has been ignored.) Meanwhile, the UNHCR reported that buses are transporting returnees to Sharqat in Salah ad-Din and that over 15,000 IDPs have left the Debaga Camp in Erbil Province since the beginning of September, mostly bound for Qayyarah. Overcrowded camps with scarce resources are seen as the motivating factor for IDPs seeking to return to their places of origin, even though security, food, water, and access to medical care are considerably inadequate in many of those locations.  more…
  • Iraqi Security Forces, Allies Target Resurgent Presence of ISIS in Anbar – On October 1, Head of the District Council in Hit, Mohammed Mohannad al-Hiti, ordered the evacuation of the city in preparation for clearing the District of ISIS militants. After at least 170 families were evacuated, security forces assisted by U.S.-led international coalition air support attacked ISIS targets, resulting in the death of several dozen ISIS militants, and detection or confiscation of 500 IEDs, artillery shells, barrel bombs, Katyusha rockets, and other ammunition. Iraqi and coalition forces also targeted insurgents elsewhere in Anbar Province, including in nearby Ramadi.  more…
  • Airstrikes Contribute to Progress as ISIS Frustration Mounts in Mosul – As U.S.-led international coalition airstrikes continued to target ISIS positions and infrastructure in and around Mosul, reports of ISIS leadership inside the city showing signs of desperation grew. According to security sources in Ninewa Province, ISIS cut the ears off of 25 of their own militants who were attempting to flee Mosul and have ordered shop owners inside the city to keep their shops open or be subject to “a penalty in front of the people.” PUK Media reported that 12 ISIS militants were killed in clashes among themselves in Akhdar, 80 kilometers south of Mosul, and in Sharqat, at least one ISIS militant turned himself in to Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces. Also this week, an anonymous security source indicated that a coalition airstrike may have accidentally killed 18 members of an Iraqi PMU in western Qayyarah. The coalition was providing air support for ground operations when the incident occurred.  more…
  • International Aid Groups and Governments Address Humanitarian Crisis, Mosul Plans – The UNHCR issued a report on its preparations for the wave of mass displacements that will accompany efforts to clear the city of Mosul of ISIS militants. According to the report, UNHCR will expand and build new IDP camps and pre-position emergency supplies and shelter kits to assist the expected outflow once fighting inside of the city commences. 11 camps are nearing completion and altogether, should accommodate 120 thousand individuals. Iraqi government camps can currently shelter 150 thousand. Added together, this capacity to temporarily house 270 thousand IDPs remains far short of the estimated 1.2 million who may need to be sheltered.  more…
  • Minister Candidate Names Expected Soon; New Ambassadors Announced – Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has yet to submit a list of candidates for the vacant cabinet positions, which he said would be released this week. Currently, the Defense, Finance, Interior, and Trade and Industry Minister positions are vacant. The Defense and Finance Ministers were ousted on charges of corruption in August, and the Interior and Trade and Industry Ministers resigned their positions in July. Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, who Parliament may soon question on corruption charges, announced the appointment of eight new ambassadors this week, including Dr. Fareed Mustafa Kamel Yassin as Iraq’s Ambassador to the United States.  more…

Tensions Rise as Turkish Troops Remain in Northern Iraq

On October 3, the Iraqi Parliament passed a seven point resolution condemning the Turkish Parliament’s decision on October 1 to extend the presence of its forces in Iraq for another year due to the upcoming battle of Mosul. The troops have been in northern Iraq since the so-called Islamic state invaded Mosul in January 2014. The Committee on Foreign Relations issued a statement asserting that the Turkish Parliament’s decision is blatant interference in Iraqi affairs and called on the UN Security Council to intervene and issue a resolution condemning Turkish presence on Iraqi soil. In 2014, the Turkish Parliament merged two existing motions on Syria and Iraq into one, arguing that the threats posed by Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) allowed the nation to launch operations in both countries.

On October 4, the Turkey’s Minister of National Defense, Fikri Isik, warned that the 1 million Iraqis expected to be displaced by upcoming operations in Mosul must be contained within the borders of Iraq, as Turkey would not accept the enormous burden of absorbing the surge of refugees from Iraq. Turkey is already home to more than 2.5 million refugees from the conflict in Syria, and is unprepared for another surge of refugees. Isik made it clear that Turkey has no plans to receive refugees from Iraq following the Mosul operation. Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim also expressed hesitation regarding plans for the clearing of Mosul, citing concerns about causing not only mass displacement, but sectarian conflict. Yildirim warned that the disturbance of the demographic structure in Syria and Iraq and the alteration of ethnic areas will not bring stability to the region, and that handing over Mosul, where Sunni tribes are predominant, to Shia militants would be “lighting a fire.”

On October 4, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in a press conference that while he is unwilling to resort to military violence against Turkish troops in Iraq, he does not approve of Turkey’s decision to extend their troops’ stay in Iraqi territory. Al-Abadi commented that his government has asked more than once for Turkey to withdraw its troops in Northern Iraq, especially when ISIS militants are located more closely to the Turkish/Syria border. Al-Abadi warned that the extended presence could lead to a “regional conflict.” The Turkish Parliament voted on October 1 to extend their military missions in Iraq and Syria for another year.

On October 4, members of the Shia National Reform Front political bloc called for the Iraqi government to expel the Turkish Ambassador to Iraq, Faruk Kaymakci, if Turkish troops did not withdraw from Northern Iraq within 24 hours. Members of the bloc also stressed the need to identify the Iraqi politicians “complicit” with Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. A member of the bloc, Hassan Salem, told a news conference that the Turkish Parliament’s decision blatantly disregard Iraq’s sovereignty and was an aggressive act of sectarian behavior aimed to divide the Iraqi people. Members of the Shia Iraqi National Alliance group also expressed its displeasure at Turkey’s “provocative” move and called on the troops to be removed from Iraqi territory. The group emphasized Turkey’s need to maintain neighborly behavior and refrain from interfering in Iraq’s internal affairs. [Speaker of the House, Salim al-Jabouri adjourned Parliament for an hour to draft a resolution on the Turkish Parliament’s decision.] The Turkish Parliament voted on October 1 to extend the stay of its troops in Northern Iraq, despite Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s comments on September 18 that the presence of the Turkish troops hampered efforts to rid the area of ISIS militants. Al-Abadi added at the time that maintaining Turkish forces in Iraq was unjustified.

On October 4, Parliament voted on a resolution to reject the Turkish Parliament’s decision to extend Turkish troop missions in Iraq and Syria for another year and delivered a note of protest to the Turkish Ambassador in Iraq, Faruk Kaymakci. The resolution listed seven points of action including a call for the Iraqi government to expel the Turkish Ambassador and for the government to take all legal and diplomatic measures required to save Iraq’s sovereignty and to reconsider current trade and economic relations with Turkey. The resolution also stated that Parliament considered the presence of Turkish troops in Iraq as an act of hostile occupation, which the government may respond to if Turkey does not respond to Iraq’s demands. Members of the Committee on Foreign Relations, including Member of Parliament Ahmed Jamal, also asked for Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to refrain from provocative statements about Turkey’s role in the upcoming battle of Mosul stating that they are a “nuisance.” The Turkish Parliament voted on October 1 to extend the military missions in Iraq and Syria for another year.

On October 4, the Council of Ministers issued a condemnation of statements made by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during its regularly scheduled meeting with Prime Minister al-Abadi. The Council called for unity in Iraq to rid the nation of the threat of terrorism and to defend its sovereignty. During the meeting, Prime Minister al-Abadi announced his intention to release a list of candidates for the vacant Minister positions of Defense, Finance, Interior, and Trade and Industry. The Council’s statements come after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that Turkish troops would stay in Iraq after the clearing of ISIS militants from Mosul and the Turkish Parliament voted to keep troops in Iraq and Syria for another year despite Iraqi government complaints.

On October 4, the Popular Mobilization Unit (PMU) “Nujaba” proclaimed that Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan was attempting to cause “sectarian strife” in Iraq, Syria, and other regions, is providing backing for ISIS, and is secretly making “mysterious agreements” for a “Zionist-American project.” The PMU claimed that the Turkish President “has affected Iraqi sovereignty too much with evil and aggressive intentions without taking into account minimal diplomacy.”

On October 4, an anonymous security source in Ninewa Province reported that Turkish artillery shelling killed two and the injured four others in the village of Fadiliyah, 20 kilometers north of Mosul. The artillery shelling also led to the destruction of eight houses.

On October 5, Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari summoned the Turkish Ambassador to Iraq, Faruk Kaymakci, to protest the provocative comments made in Ankara about keeping Turkish troops in northern Iraq. The Turkish Parliament voted on October 1 to extend a mandate for another year that allows military operations against militant organizations like the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Turkey claims it deployed troops at a base in northern Iraq last year as part of an international mission to train and equip Iraqi forces to fight against ISIS militants. The Iraqi government says it never invited such a force and considers the Turkish troops to be an occupying force.

On October 5, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi warned Turkey that it risks triggering a “regional war” by keeping troops in northern Iraq. Relations between the two nations are already strained by the Syrian civil war and the rise of the so-called Islamic State. The Turkish government’s decision on October 1 to extend the stay of troops in Iraq resulted in Parliament condemning the vote and calling on the Foreign Ministry to recall the Turkish Ambassador to Baghdad. In a press conference that evening, al-Abadi stated that Iraq has asked the Turkish government to withdraw the troops on multiple occasions and not to intervene in Iraq’s internal affairs. Turkey claims its military is in Iraq at the invitation of the President of the Kurdistan Region, Masoud Barzani, with whom the Turks have strong ties. Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister, Numan Kurtulmus, said the deployment became necessary in 2014 after the so-called Islamic State captured the city of Mosul. Iraq’s central government rejects this claim and said it considers the Turkish troops occupiers meddling in Iraq’s internal affairs.

On October 6, Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari submitted a request to Permanent Ambassador to the UN for Iraq, Mohammed Ali Hakim, for the UN Security Council to hold an emergency session to discuss the Turkish government’s “overtaking” of Iraqi territory and interfering in internal affairs through the its decision on October 1 to extend the duration of military troops in northern Iraq. Al-Jaafari commented that the request was made to ensure the Security Council shoulder its responsibilities towards the Iraqi people and put an end to the violation made by Turkish forces. The Iraqi Parliament voted on Tuesday to reject the Turkish government’s decision and to summoned the Turkish Ambassador to Baghdad.

On October 6, a member of the Security and Defense Committee and Member of Parliament Mohammed Naji confirmed that his committee and the Legal Committee are making national efforts to formulate a rejection to the decision of the Turkish Parliament to extend the stay of Turkish troops in Iraq by one year. Naji stressed that the insistence of the government, Parliament, and the Iraqi people will put an end to these abuses. On October 4, Parliament voted to condemn this decision and summoned the Turkish Ambassador to Baghdad to deliver a note of protest.

On October 6, member of the Defense and Security Committee and Member of Parliament Adnan Hadi al-Asadi called for Parliament to vote on a resolution banning the introduction of Turkish goods to Iraq until the  “occupation” by Turkish troops is resolved. al-Asadi stated that the Cabinet needs to fight the Turkish intervention from all fronts, including the economic front, especially since Iraq is one of Turkey’s biggest trade partners. This protest comes after the Turkish Parliament’s decision on October 1 to extend the stay of its troops in northern Iraq for another year.

On October 6, Turkish Prime Minister Ben Ali Yildirim announced that the presence of Turkish troops in northern Iraq will continue to “guarantee” the changing demographics in the region and that Iraq’s position on the Turkish presence is “incomprehensible.” Yildirim’s comments come after the Iraqi government called on the UN Security Council to hold an emergency session to discuss the Turkish “occupation” in Iraq.


Fighting and Resistance in Hawija Intensifies as Kirkuk Allows Some to Return

On October 1, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that between September 27 and 28 approximately 1,800 internally displaced persons (IDPs), mostly from Hawija (where coalition airstrikes began on September 27), reached Laylan and Nazrawa camps in Kirkuk Province, and 300 IDPs reached Debaga camp in Erbil Province. UNHCR also reported that over 15,000 IDPs have left Debaga camp since the beginning of September: most of them have returned to their villages of origin in Haji Ali and Qayyarah, while some 2,000 individuals, mostly from Hawija, have relocated to Laylan camp.

On October 1, the UNHCR reported on preparations to facilitate the return of IDPs to Sharqat, 90 kilometers south of Mosul, which was cleared of ISIS militants on September 22. The Ministry of Migration and Displacement is providing buses to transport returnees and authorities are putting in place security screening procedures in Sharqat to manage the return of IDPs to the area. Some services have reportedly been restored, including electricity and water, and the general hospital has reopened albeit with reduced capacity. Local authorities requested all shop owners to reopen their businesses in order to respond to the increasing needs of the local population.

On October 2, the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga received 565 IDPs fleeing Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) violence in Hawija into Kirkuk City, 60 kilometers northwest of Hawijah, since September 29, according to the Director of the Department of Immigration and Displacement in Kirkuk, Ammar Sabah. Sabah added that Kirkuk Province receives between 100 and 300 IDPs daily, and that these IDPs are transferred to camps within the province after they are screened at checkpoints for any connection to ISIS.

On October 2, the Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights (IOHR) reported hundreds of cases of displaced families from Tel Dhahab, Aziz Balad, and other villages in the south of Salah ad-Din Province who are not allowed to return to their homes because they are suspected of having ties to ISIS. The Salah ad-Din Provincial Council issued a ruling in August that requires the deportation or forcible transfer of families of ISIS militants and the confiscation of their property. The ruling is based on the assumption that these family members have collaborated with ISIS, and does not require further proof of association. These IDPs live under harsh humanitarian conditions; many reside in unfinished and uninhabited buildings or tents, have insufficient access to proper health facilities or water, and face the spread of diseases as well as the lack of medicine and food. The ruling is set to be reviewed in four months. The IOHR calls upon the Iraqi Government and local authorities to annul the ruling now, and end the suffering of these IDPs.

On October 2, a local tribal leader in the Kirkuk province named Anwar Assi reported that 17 children were kidnapped by ISIS militants while trying to escape with their families in Hawija, 45 kilometers southwest of Kirkuk. Assi claimed that ISIS militants prioritized young women and children and took them to an unknown location.

On October 2, an anonymous source in the Kirkuk Province reported that a U.S.-led international coalition airstrike targeted ISIS sites in Hawija, 45 kilometers southwest of Kirkuk. The operation resulted in the death of 12 ISIS militants.

On October 3, an anonymous source in Kirkuk Province reported that ISIS closed down a prison in Rashad, 30 kilometers southwest of Kirkuk, and transferred many of the prisoners to Hawija, 45 kilometers southwest of Kirkuk. The source claimed that ISIS reduced the number of men in farming villages because of the growing number of ISIS militants fleeing from security forces.

On October 4, Al Sumaria News reported that 510 displaced families (approximately 3,100 IDPs) returned to their places of origin in Qayyarah, 60 kilometers south of Mosul in Ninewa Province, after departing Debaga camp in Erbil Province. Qayyarah was cleared of ISIS militants in August 2016, and approximately 13,000 IDPs returned to Qayyarah from Debaga camp in the month of September.

On October 5, the UNHCR reported that between September 29 and October 2, nearly 132 families (approximately 800 IDPs), mostly from Hawija, arrived in Nazrawa and Laylan camps in Kirkuk Province. IDPs have to traverse dangerous routes to reach safe areas. An IED killed four IDPs fleeing their village on September 27. Both Nazrawa and Laylan camps are overcrowded, hosting over 23,500 IDPs. The UNHCR will shortly activate Daquq Camp, also in Kirkuk, to de-congest the two camps and accommodate future arrivals.

On October 5, the UNHCR reported that 700 displaced families from Hawija who had been stranded for four days in the Sultan Marie village near the Maktab Khalid checkpoint in Kirkuk Province were granted access to Kirkuk on October 2 so they could be transported to Laylan Camp. Kirkuk previously agreed to allow IDPs to enter the Province, but continuously delays the settlement of IDPs into camps which are now unsustainably crowded by forcing to IDPs to wait at security checkpoints. These checkpoints have limited services available and IDPs are often stranded for days without aid or adequate shelter.

On October 5, the UNHCR reported that oil wells in Qayyarah continue to burn, six weeks after retreating ISIS militants set fire to them, creating pollution and presenting serious health risks to civilians returning to the area. Efforts by the Ministry of Oil to quell the flames have reportedly been impeded by several attempted attacks by armed groups, which also threaten the safety of IDPs returning to the area.

On October 6, an anonymous security source in Kirkuk reported that “prominent” ISIS leaders were killed when an explosive belt detonated accidentally in the center of Hawija, 55 kilometers west of Kirkuk. ISIS leaders in Hawija named “Abu Abdul” and “Abu Mohammed Altalla” were killed in the incident.

On October 6, an anonymous local source in the Kirkuk Province reported that there are “popular anti-ISIS” publications beginning to form in Hawija, 55 kilometers west of Kirkuk. The source reported that leaflets were being distributed in some neighborhoods in Hawija that vowed to free the people of Hawija of ISIS militants and responded to crimes committed by ISIS against the civilian population.


Iraqi Security Forces, Allies Target Resurgent Presence of ISIS in Anbar

On September 30, Commander of a Popular Mobilization Unit (PMU) in Anbar Province reported that security forces killed seven Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants and destroyed a factory that creates improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Elsafakih in western Hit. Security forces were also able to seize 14 Katyusha rockets, 22 IEDs, numerous weapons, ammunition, and drugs.

On September 30, Mayor of the Haditha District, Mabrouk Hamid reported that security forces repelled an attack by ISIS militants in the Haditha District, 160 kilometers west of Ramadi. The attack resulted in security forces inflicting “material and human loss” on ISIS. During the attack one civilian was killed and two others injured from a bomb.

On October 1, Commander of PMU factions in Anbar Province, Nazim Aljughaifi, reported that U.S. troops arrived at the Ain Assad Air base near al-Baghdadi, 88 kilometers northwest of Ramadi, in preparation for the invasion of Mosul. Aljughaifi claimed that reconnaissance and bomber planes and helicopters arrived with the U.S. troops to further support security forces.

On October 1, Commander of Anbar Operations, Major General Ismail Mahlawi, reported that security forces succeeded in clearing ISIS militants from an area within Ramadi, 15 kilometers north of the center of Ramadi. The operation resulted in the destruction of ten rocket launchers four mortars, and a plant that created vehicle based improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs).

On October 1, Commander of the “Northern Fighters of Ramadi, Sheikh Ghassan Ithawi, reported that joint security forces cleared ISIS militants from the Albu Rthya area, 50 kilometers west of Fallujah. The operation resulted in the destruction of four VBIEDs, a mortar detachment, and trenches and the death of “dozens” of ISIS militants.

On October 1, head of the District Council in Hit, Mohammed Mohannad al-Hiti, reported that security forces announced through loud speakers and leaflets that residents should evacuate Hit, 70 kilometers west of Ramadi, in preparations for the clearing of the District of ISIS militants. Al-Hiti claimed joint security forces will secure corridors for civilians to flee the conflict.

On October 1, Commander of Anbar Operations, Major General Ismail Mahlawi, reported that security forces cleared ISIS militants from numerous zones in the Albu Ali Jassim, 15 kilometers north of Ramadi. Mahlawi reported that resistance was “weak” and many confrontations did not occur between ISIS militants and security forces.

On October 1, Commander of Hit Operations, Major General Qassim Al-Muhammadi, reported that during an operation security forces killed nine ISIS militants and found 500 IEDs in Hit, 70 kilometers west of Ramadi. Security forces also found 150 artillery shells, 10 barrel bombs, and a “booby-trapped” VBIED factory.

On October 2, Commander of a PMU faction in Anbar known as Alsamarmd reported that joint security forces evacuated 170 families from Hit, 70 kilometers west of Ramadi, to “safe areas in the District of Hit.”  No further details were given about the event.

On September 3, Commander of Hit Operations, Major General Qassim Al-Muhammadi, reported that a U.S.-led international coalition airstrike targeted a gathering of ISIS militants in Hit, 70 kilometers west of Ramadi. The airstrike resulted in the death of 11 ISIS militants.

On September 3, Commander of Anbar Operations, Major General Ismail Mahlawi, reported that security forces would launch a military campaign to address the remnants of ISIS IEDs in the Albu Ali Jassim area, 10 kilometers northwest of Ramadi. Mahlawi claimed that security forces would secure all areas before displaced families began to return to their homes.

On October 3, a source in the Anbar Operations Command reported that security forces and a PMU militia cleared ISIS militants out of Albu Assaf, 10 kilometers northwest of Ramadi. The source claimed that Albu Assaf was the last stronghold of ISIS militants in Ramadi.

On September 4, Commander of Hit Operations, Major General Qassim Al-Muhammadi, reported that a U.S.-led international coalition airstrike targeted ISIS militants in the “desert area,” 180 kilometers west of Ramadi. The operation resulted in the death of 20 ISIS militants and the destruction of eight cars carrying weapons and rocket launchers. Al-Muhammadi claimed that ISIS has opened up several fronts with security forces in order to find passages to escape the area.

On October 4, the Mayor of Fallujah, Isa Al-Sayer, reported that Anbar Provincial Council member, Jassem al-Asl was targeted in a convoy by an IED in the Abu Ghraib District, 20 kilometers west of Baghdad. A body guard of Honey’s was injured in the attack.

On October 4, Commander of the PMU factions in Anbar Province, Nazim Aljughaifi, reported that security forces and the Iraqi Air Force conducted a “large-scale military operation” targeting three ISIS convoys near Azwaip and Al Rayhanna, 150 kilometers northwest of Ramadi. The operation resulted in the destruction of all three convoys and the death of 40 ISIS militants.

On October 4, a source in the Anbar Operations Command reported that security forces and a PMU militia cleared ISIS militants out of the Trabshh, 20 kilometers northwest of Ramadi. The source reported that ISIS militants were able to escape the area.

On September 5, Commander of Hit Operations, Major General Qassim Al-Muhammadi, reported that a U.S.-led international coalition airstrike targeted an ISIS headquarters in Hit, 70 Kilometers west of Ramadi. The operation resulted in the death of 13 ISIS militants and destruction of three vehicles and mortars.

On September 5, Commander of Hit Operations, Major General Qassim Al-Muhammadi, reported that a U.S.-led international coalition airstrike targeted a number of ISIS militants in Hit, 70 kilometers west of Ramadi. The operation resulted in the the death of seven ISIS militants and the destruction of missile launchers.

On October 6, an anonymous security source in Anbar Province reported that “unidentified gunmen” attacked a “light arms gathering” of ISIS militants in Qa’im, 220 kilometers west of Ramadi. The “unidentified gunmen” were able to seize weapons and ammunition from ISIS militants and raise the Iraqi flag.

On October 6, an anonymous security source in Anbar Province reported that security forces cleared ISIS militants from a telecom subsidiary station in northern Ramadi. The station contained 65 motorola devices and trucks that contained more motorola devices.


Airstrikes Contribute to Progress as ISIS Frustration Mounts in Mosul

On September 30, anonymous French military sources reported that French fighter jets from the aircraft carrier, Charles de Gaulle, were intensifying airstrikes on Mosul. French sources commented that this[operation] is the third task of the aircraft carrier since February 2015 in support of the international campaign of the U.S-led international coalition in Iraq and Syria.

On September 30, an anonymous security source in Ninewa Province reported that a U.S.-led international coalition airstrike killed two ISIS militants in the Al Baladyat neighborhood in northern Mosul. The source also claimed that a “number of young people” were burning Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) symbols in the Aden District in east Mosul, prompting ISIS militants to arrest civilians.

On September 30, an anonymous source in the Ninewa Province reported that a U.S.-led international coalition airstrike targeted a gathering of ISIS militants and leaders at a headquarters for ISIS in the western part of the City of Mosul. ISIS responded to the airstrike by shutting down the area and not giving details of those injured and killed.

On September 30, PUK media official, Ghyath Alsurja, reported that ISIS militants destroyed the houses of five current Iraqi military officers in the Al-Arabi neighborhood in the center of Mosul. ISIS militants demanded the houses of the surrounding civilians be evacuated before they destroyed the houses.   

On September 30, an anonymous security source in Ninewa Province reported that ISIS cut the ears off of 25 ISIS militants attempting to flee the Ninewa Province. ISIS is suffering from a reduction of militants as many attempt to flee the area ahead of impending operations.

On September 30, a local anonymous source in Mosul reported that ISIS instructed market owners to keep their shops open or be subject to a “penalty in front of the people.” ISIS’s statement comes after the Commander of the Liberation of Ninewa, Major General Najm al-Din al-Jabouri, called upon those in Mosul to “rise up” and not flee because they play a “significant role in the clearing of ISIS.”

On October 1, Brigadier General Yahya Rasul reported that an ISIS cell planning to carry out attacks in Baghdad during the month of Muharram was dismantled. Security forces seized weapons and explosives and arrested three ISIS militants.

On October 1, an anonymous security source in Salah al-Din reported that a woman was executed by firing squad by ISIS militants in the Albu Fahd District of Sharqat, 120 kilometers north of Tikrit. The women was executed in front of her family and charged with “leaving the land of jihad and caliphate and cooperating with Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs) and security forces.”

On October 1, an anonymous security source in Salah al-Din reported that three ISIS militants were killed by “unidentified gunmen” east of Sharqat, 120 kilometers north of Tikrit. The gunmen fled to an unknown destination.

On October 1, Head of the District Council of Sharqat, Taha al-Jabouri, reported that “life was gradually returning to the neighborhoods on the east coast” in Sharqat, 100 kilometers south of Mosul. Al-Jabouri commented that the west coast would be cleared of ISIS militants after floating bridges were installed over the Tigris River for security forces.

On October 2, an anonymous source at the Iraqi Interior Ministry reported that security forces seized three explosive belts that were in a vehicle at a checkpoint in south Baghdad. The driver was arrested and taken to a detention facility for interrogation.

On October 2, PUK media reported that 12 ISIS militants were killed in clashes among themselves in the Akhdar Area, 80 Kilometers south of Mosul. Alsurja commented that security forces were unable to identify the reasoning behind the clashes.

On October 2, a security source in Ninewa Province reported that a U.S.-led international coalition airstrike targeted a car in Tall Afar, 90 kilometers west of Mosul. The airstrike resulted in the death of two ISIS militants.

On October 2, an anonymous source in Ninewa Province reported that a U.S.-led international coalition airstrike targeted a gathering of ISIS militants in the Ba’ashiqah and Bahzani area, 18 kilometers northeast of Mosul. The operation resulted in the death of nine ISIS militants and the destruction of a weapons and ammunition store owned by ISIS.

On October 2, an anonymous security source in the Ninewa Province reported that a U.S.-led international coalition airstrike targeted an ISIS headquarters in northern Mosul. The operation resulted in an unknown loss of life of ISIS militants.

On October 3, Leader of a PMU, Jabbar Maamouri, reported that a gathering of ISIS militants turned into a “bloody massacre” after sharp differences between local Arabs and foreign leaders ended with leaders using arms against one another in the Mtaibijh area, a location on the border of Salah al-Din and Diyala. The incident resulted in the death of an ISIS leader and three ISIS militants injured.

On October 3, an anonymous security source in the Kirkuk Province reported that an ISIS militant from Sharqat, 120 kilometers north of Tikrit, turned himself in to Iraqi Peshmerga forces 35 kilometers west of Kirkuk. The ISIS militant had entered the area with families fleeing from the conflict.

On October 3, an anonymous source in Kirkuk reported that the son of former Deputy Prime Minister Abd Mutlaq al-Jabouri was killed by “unidentified gunmen” while he was passing Jerusalem Street in the center of Kirkuk. No further information was given about the incident.  

On October 3, a source within Ninewa Liberation Command reported that security forces shot down an ISIS drone in Qayyarah, 60 kilometers south of Mosul. The “reconnaissance plane” was being used to scout ISF positions on the front lines.

On October 3, a source within Ninewa Liberation Command reported that a U.S.-led international coalition airstrike destroyed two ISIS communication towers near Advice and Tall Azbah, 40 kilometers south of Mosul. No further information was given about the airstrike.

On October 3, a source within Ninewa Liberation Command reported that security forces were able to repel an attack by ISIS in the Al-Hud village, 56 kilometers south of Mosul. Security forces killed 24 ISIS and two in the ISF were injured and five killed.

On October 3, an anonymous security force in the Salah al-Din Province reported that ISIS leadership “stole” 350 million Iraqi dinars (approximately US$ 300,000) from ISIS militants in Sharqat, 120 Kilometers north of Tikrit, causing disputes between ISIS affiliates. ISIS leadership denied the money was stolen.

On October 3, Commander of the Samarra Operations, Major General Imad Zuhairi, reported that 27 suspects wanted on charges of “terrorism” were arrested in security force operation that were concentrated in Al Duloiya, 80 kilometers southeast of Tikrit. The operations took place due to “accurate intelligence” in the area.  

On October 3, an anonymous security source in Salah al-Din Province reported that five ISIS militants were killed when an explosive material that they were carrying detonated in the Hamrin Mountains, 50 kilometers east of Tikrit. No further information was given about the event.

On October 3, an anonymous local source in the Salah al-Din Province reported that a leader named Abu Fotouh Chechen was arming men on the border between Salah al-Din and Diyala near Tuz Khurmatu, 95 kilometers east of Salah al-Din. The source claimed that Chechen was able to “re-energize his gunmen” and conduct limited attacks on security forces in the region.

On October 4, Commander of the Tigris Operations Lieutenant General Mezher al-Azzawi reported that security forces cleared ISIS militants from the Qzlaq area in the Hamrin Mountains, 140 kilometers northeast of Baquba. The operation resulted in the arrest of 10 ISIS militants and the seizure of weapons, ammunition, and explosives.

On October 4, Al-Sumaria reported that an anonymous local source in Ninewa Province reported that ISIS released a fatwa forbidding the breeding and keeping of cats in houses in Mosul. ISIS proclaimed that the fatwa does not contradict Islamic teaching.

On October 5, an anonymous security source in Kirkuk reported that four ISIS SBIEDs detonated their vests they were wearing when security forces clashed with them in the Wasti neighborhood, 6 kilometers south from the city center of Kirkuk. The SBIEDs were planning attacks in Husseiniya, 60 kilometers west of Kirkuk.   

On October 5, a source within Ninewa Liberation Command reported that a U.S.-led international coalition airstrike targeted an ISIS militant site in the Jabr village, 60 kilometers south of Mosul. The operation resulted in the death of 10 ISIS militants and the destruction of the ISIS site.

On October 5, a source within Ninewa Liberation Command reported that security forces were able to repel ISIS militants in the villages of al-Haj Ali near Qayyarah, 60 kilometers south of Mosul. The ISIS attack resulted in no casualties for security forces and the death of 12 ISIS militants.

On October 5, an anonymous security source in the Ninewa Province reported that a U.S.-led international coalition airstrike accidentally killed 18 members of an Iraqi PMU in an area in western Qayyarah. The airstrikes were in response to attacks by ISIS militants in the village of al-Haj Ali, 60 kilometers south of Mosul. A later report commented that the PMU was taking hostile fire from a house in Jabr, 60 kilometers south of Mosul, and the U.S.-led international coalition was providing air support for ground operations when the incident occurred.

On October 6, an anonymous security source reported that Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces repelled an attack by ISIS militants al-Atshanna, 30 kilometers west of Kirkuk. The Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga sustained no casualties in the confrontation, but reported that a “number” of ISIS militants were killed.

On October 6, media department official in Kirkuk Captain Farhad Hama Ali reported that security forces arrested six ISIS militants who were suspects in raids against Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces in Kirkuk. Hama Ali commented that one of the ISIS militants arrested commented that foreign ISIS militants assaulted him when he first joined the militants.

On October 6, Foreign Policy suggested that the impending effort to clear Mosul of ISIS militants will require two prongs: a conventional ground effort to clear the city and a follow-up counterinsurgency effort to identify ISIS militants attempting to blend into the local population. In a briefing on October 5 at the Pentagon, Canadian Army Brigadier General Dave Anderson said that clearing Mosul should not be considered the end of ISIS in Iraq, “It just means it’s defeated in its current format.” Anderson continued that he expects ISIS militants to go into hiding, similar to their actions in previously cleared cities such as Ramadi, Hit, and Fallujah.


International Aid Groups and Governments Address Humanitarian Crisis, Mosul Plans

On September 30, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported on its preparations for the wave of mass displacements that will accompany efforts to clear the city of Mosul of Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants. Nearly 10 percent of the Iraqi population has been displaced by violence since 2014. Approximately 61,900 people have been uprooted from Mosul and surrounding areas since March, and an additional 100,500 displaced from Sharqat in Erbil Province, Qayyarah in Ninewa Province, and surrounding areas since June. One million people could be displaced by the military effort expected to begin in the next few weeks, and at least 700,000 are expected to need urgent assistance in the form of shelter, food, water or medical support. UNHCR’s strategy has been built around expanding and creating new camps, and pre-positioning emergency supplies and shelter kits to try to assist the expected outflow once the fighting starts. A “crescent of camps” was being readied in safe locations around Mosul. Of these, 11 are either planned or completed and another four existing camps have capacity. Together, these could ultimately accommodate 20,000 family plots or about 120,000 people. In addition, Iraqi government camps could accommodate about 150,000 people. Major setbacks to preparation efforts include a lack of time and a lack of funds. The UNHCR’s Mosul emergency response budget has been set at US$196 million, but is currently only 33% funded.

On September 30, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported that it has helped more than 116,000 out of school children get back into classrooms, installed prefabricated school structures benefitting 42,000 displaced children, and distributed school supplies and learning materials to more than 280,000 children. UNICEF has also trained more than 2,350 education staff, helped 383 schools improve their governance practices, mainstreamed life skills education in 439 schools, and helped to reopen schools in previously inaccessible areas in Anbar Province. 3.5 million school-aged Iraqi children are missing out on education, which means they are at increased risk of early marriage, child labour, and recruitment into armed groups. About 1 million school-aged children are internally displaced, and 70 per cent of them have lost an entire year of school. UNICEF is particularly concerned for the children displaced in Anbar and along the Mosul corridor due to ongoing fighting.

On September 30, the Norwegian People’s Aid Organization (NPA) announced the opening of three community centers in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) to offer support to Yazidi women that have survived abduction and sexual assault by ISIS. NPA partners estimate that since 2014, approximately 3,000-4,000 women and children from the Yazidi community were captured and taken to areas under ISIS control, where they would be sold as slaves, sexually abused and forced to marry. To date, approximately 900 Yazidi women and girls have returned from ISIS captivity. These survivors are suffering from severe trauma and depression, and suicides have risen sharply. The NPA community centers aim to provide psychological and medical aid, rehabilitation, life skills training and vocational training as well as legal assistance.

On October 1, the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) reported that a total of 1,003 Iraqis were killed and another 1,159 injured in acts of terrorism, violence and armed conflict in Iraq in September 2016. The number of civilians killed in September was 609, including 284 by IEDs as reported in ISHM each week.

On October 3, Minister of Education, Mohammed Iqbal, met with President of the Kurdistan Regional Government Massoud Barzani to discuss preparations for the clearing of Mosul of ISIS militants. Barzani noted the importance of joint cooperation between the Ministry of Education in Baghdad and the KRI in order to alleviate the suffering of students and ensure that they do not lose an entire school year.

On October 3, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) reported on the vulnerability of female refugees to sexual harassment, violence, and exploitation within refugee camps in Iraq. According the UNFPA report, female-headed refugee households are especially vulnerable: with no regular income or traditional community protections, women face harassment and often are victims of sexual violence, or else resort to prostitution to survive. UNFPA reports that many women are pressured to marry off their daughters regardless of age in order to have a male protector in the family and gain some financial security. UNFPA supports and funds safe spaces, such the Yasmeen Women’s Social Centre, where refugee women can receive counseling and other support.

On October 4, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Douglas A. Silliman, communicated the U.S.’s commitment to providing humanitarian assistance to those displaced or harmed by the coming operations in Mosul during a joint press conference in Baghdad with Iraq’s Minister of Immigration, Mohammed Jassim. Ambassador Silliman stressed that while the first objective of the United States is clearing Mosul of ISIS militants, its second objective is to address the humanitarian crisis that these operations are expected to create through the continued provision of aid to Baghdad, particularly the Ministry of Displacement and Migration, as well assisting in the removal of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) from areas cleared of ISIS militants and providing services to expedite the return of internally displaced persons (IDPs). The U.S. has provided US$180 million for humanitarian aid following operations to clear Mosul.

On October 4, Iraqi state television launched a radio station, the Radio of the Republic of Iraq in Mosul, that will share safety messages with residents of Mosul before and during the impending military campaign to clear ISIS from the city. The station will provide instructions on possible safe exit routes, places to avoid, where to find assistance and emergency numbers to call. The radio station is based in the town of Qayyarah, 60 kilometers south of Mosul, and home to an airbase which will serve as a hub for the U.S.-led coalition supporting Iraqi military units.


Minister Candidate Names Expected Soon; New Ambassadors Announced

On September 30, protesters across four provinces demanded political reforms and the elimination of corruption within the government. Demonstrations took place in Tahrir Square in central Baghdad, the Dhi Qar Province, Basra 532 km from Baghdad, and Wasit 197 km from Baghdad. The protests focused on changing the election laws and commissions to allow the Iraqi people to choose its representatives and to prevent large political blocs from manipulating the results. Baghdad and ten other provinces (Babil, Karbala, Najaf and Diwaniya, Muthanna, Dhi Qar, Wasit, Maysan, Basra and Diyala) have seen massive protests for several months condemning poor government services and corruption in government institutions and the judiciary. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has announced reforms in response, but protesters note that the reforms are marginal and do not align with their goals.

On October 1, Member of Parliament and member of the Shia Reform Front bloc, Mansour Baaja, announced that Parliament will collect signatures on Tuesday to question the Minister of Education, Mohammed Iqbal, on charges of corruption. Baaja said in an interview with Alsumaria News that it is the role of Parliament to perform oversight of Ministers and investigate charges of corruption. Meanwhile, on October 2, Parliament confirmed the completion of formal and legal procedures to question Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari and all that remains is to set a date for the interrogation. Al-Jaafari is facing charges of “financial irregularities and possible corruption.” Currently the Defense, Finance, Interior, and Trade and Industry Minister positions are vacant. The Defense and Finance Ministers were voted out of office due to corruption charges in late August while the Interior Minister resigned in July after the Karradah bombing that killed more than 300 Iraqis. The Trade and Industry Minister resigned in July at the request of al-Abadi who had been trying to replace certain members of his Cabinet with technocrats.

On October 3, the Shia State of Law Coalition announced in its meeting on Monday that Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi will present the list of candidates to fill the vacant Minister positions to Parliament this week. Currently the Defense, Finance, Interior, and Trade and Industry Minister positions are vacant. The Coalition also discussed the clearing of Mosul of Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants, the extension of the presence of Turkish troops in the region, and the demands by political blocs to reform the Electoral Commission. Over the weekend, political blocs and citizens demanded amendments to the existing electoral law and the formation of a new Electoral Commission under the supervision of the United Nations before proceeding with any parliamentary of local elections to ensure fairness.

On October 4, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced that he will submit a list of candidates for the vacant Minister positions this week. Currently the Defense, Finance, Interior, and Trade and Industry Minister positions are vacant.

On October 5, Member of Parliament for the Shia State of Law Coalition Haider Mawla, announced that Parliament will receive the resumes of candidates to fill the vacant Minister positions of Defense and Industry on Thursday. Parliament will vote on the candidates on Saturday. Mawla added that Defense Ministry and Industry Ministry will present more than one candidate to be considered.

On October 5, Member of Parliament Imad Youkhana confirmed that despite previous statements, there are no official or legal procedures in place to question Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari. However, Youkhana noted that Parliament will continue to work and legislate oversight of government departments. Member of Parliament’s Integrity Committee Adel Nouri originally announced his intention to collect signatures of Members of Parliament to question the Foreign Minister on financial irregularities and possible corruption charges.

On October 5, The Foreign Minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, “appointed” eight new ambassadors, including Iraq’s ambassador to the United States:

  • Dr. Fareed Mustafa Kamel Yassin to Washington DC: Yassin was most recently Iraq’s Ambassador to Paris. The French Presidency awarded him a Medal of Honor for his services in Paris as his tenure ended in September 2016. A medal with this degree is rarely given to a departing Ambassador. He is fluent in Arabic, French, and English.
  • Ahmed Berwari to Beijing
  • Ismail Shafeeq to Paris
  • Haider Mansour Hadi to Moscow
  • Zia Hadi Dabbas to Berlin
  • Habib Mohammed Hadi al-Sadr to Cairo
  • Shakir Qasim Mahdi to Oslo
  • Zaid Izz al-Din Muhammad Nuri to Nairobi

On October 5, Member of Parliament and former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki called for the government to give the district and provincial councils more power so that they may better govern and provide citizen services. Al-Maliki also emphasized the need for more independence for local governments so that they can carry out government mandates. In a statement made to Alsumaria News, al-Maliki commented on the importance of supporting these institutions since they are a building block in establishing state reforms that the citizens want and have been demanding through protests for over the past year.

On October 6, the Shia State of Law Coalition called for the questioning of current Ministers to be postponed until after the clearing of Mosul. The Coalition said Parliament should focus on filling the current vacant Cabinet positions of Defense, Finance, Interior, and Trade and Industry in the meantime. Parliament is scheduled for a session on Saturday and will then adjourn until after October 10.


DateLocationDeathsInjuries
10/06/16Tarmiyah, North Baghdad37
10/06/16Nahrawan, East of Baghdad29
10/06/16Tobji, West Baghdad26
10/05/16Rashdiya, South Baghdad28
10/05/16Mahmudiya, South of Baghdad28
10/05/16Abu Ghraib, West Baghdad14
10/05/16Madain, South Baghdad35
10/05/16Aldiom, West Tikrit10
10/04/16Sulaikh, North Baghdad 17
10/04/16Bayaa, Southwest Baghdad04
10/04/16Hamrin Mountains, Southwest of Kirkuk77
10/04/16Abu Dshir, South Baghdad 01
10/04/16Yusufiya, South Baghdad28
10/04/16Mara, East of Kirkuk 16
10/03/16Radwaniyah, Southwest Baghdad26
10/03/16Nahrawan, East of Baghdad28
10/03/16Amin, East Baghdad17
10/03/16Baghdad Al Jadeeda, East Baghdad 421
10/03/16Amil, South Baghdad516
10/02/16Hawija, West of Kirkuk32
10/02/16Ur, Northeast Baghdad26
10/01/16Dora, South Baghdad 15
10/01/16Abu Dshir, South Baghdad 27
10/01/16Taji, North of Baghdad14
10/01/16Mahmudiyah, South of Baghdad29
09/30/16Al-Fara, Southwest of Kirkuk30
09/24/16Sadr City, North Baghdad 14
09/30/16Sadr City, North Baghdad24
09/30/16Great Iraq, North of Baquba 00
09/30/16Suwaib, South Baghdad26
09/30/16Rashdiya, North of Baghdad15
09/30/16South of Baghdad16
09/30/16Abu Ghraib, West of Baghdad29
09/30/16Falahat, West of Baghdad10
09/30/16Hawija, Southwest of Kirkuk42

 

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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