ISHM: October 28 – November 3, 2016

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Key Takeaways:

  • Iraqi Security Forces Enter Mosul from the East, Continue Approach from the South – On November 1, the Iraqi Army entered the city of Mosul for the first time in two years and began efforts to screen and escort civilians trapped by ISIS militants to safety. The Army’s 9th Armored Division’s entrance to eastern Mosul was enabled by the Army’s elite Counterterrorism Service, which spent the week clearing infrastructure and entry points from the east, including the Gogjali television station on October 31. Iraqi Federal Police are approaching more slowly from the south, as they attempt the difficult task of clearing ISIS militants from smaller villages 25 to 40 kilometers away and preventing their resurgence into the area. Popular militias are assisting in those efforts to the southwest while the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga hold points 10 to 15 kilometers north of the city. U.S.-led international coalition airstrikes continue to focus on ISIS leadership, armaments, and IED factories, while resistance efforts of Moslawi civilians intensify. Commander of the Counterterrorism Service, Major General Mann al-Saadi, reported that ISIS is using an extensive system of tunnels to evade security forces, but that operations are progressing smoothly and with cooperation among combat units. On November 3, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi released his first statement in over a year. In it, he attempted to boost ISIS morale and discourage attempts to abandon the fight, saying that “holding your ground in honor is a thousand times better than retreating in disgrace.”  more…
  • ISIS Captures Human Shields, Leaves Paths of Destruction During Retreats into Mosul – The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights reports that ISIS militants are capturing civilians from villages on Mosul’s outskirts and using them as human shields as they retreat toward the city. As many as 60 thousand civilians are being held in Hamam al-Alil, 24 kilometers southeast of Mosul. ISIS is using the village as a holding area of hostages to draw from; on October 31, ISIS brought dozens of trucks and buses to the town to forcibly transfer approximately 25 thousand civilians toward Mosul and Tal Afar, but coalition flights patrolling the area discouraged the operation. Since fighting began on October 17, over 22 thousand individuals have been displaced from Mosul and surrounding areas. Of them, about half are housed in formal camps and another half in private dwellings or host communities. The UN Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that food scarcity is a primary concern, as well as health hazards caused by the still-burning oil field fires near Qayyarah and toxic fumes from the Mishraq sulfur plant – infrastructure set ablaze by retreating ISIS militants that continues to cause respiratory infections, skin and eye irritations, and suffocation for those in the affected area.  more…
  • PMU Militias Approach Tal Afar, Heightening Turkish Tensions – Iranian-backed Shia Popular Mobilization Units are exacerbating Iraq’s tensions with Turkey as the PMUs approach the city of Tal Afar, 63 kilometers west of Mosul. Turkey is concerned that the Shia militias will enter the ISIS-held city, and pose a threat to its sizeable ethnic Turkmen population. Prior to ISIS’s takeover of Tal Afar and subsequent displacement, roughly 75 percent of the city’s residents were Sunni Turkmen with Shia Turkmen making up the difference. The vast majority of Tal Afaris who fled were Shia Turkmen fearing persecution under ISIS. PMU leader Ali al-Hamdani insists that the militia units will respect Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s orders as commander-in-chief, but this has done little to calm the fears of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who continues to build a substantial Turkish military presence on Turkey’s border with Iraq. Read our report on the potential for a fractured peace in Tal Afar more…
  • Western Anbar Continues to Battle ISIS Resurgence – U.S.-led international coalition airstrikes continued to pummel ISIS targets in western Anbar Province, including areas north of Haditha, as well as in Rawa, Qa’im, and Rutba. Iraqi Security Forces have reported many of these areas cleared of ISIS at one time or another, but resurgence of militants and sleeper cells continues to plague efforts to clear – and hold – these territories. (Read our commentary about the challenges of securing Iraq.) On November 3, it was reported that ISIS militants detonated IEDs at two government buildings near Rutba, though it was not immediately clear how recently the IEDs were planted. IEDs continue to hinder Iraqi Security Forces as they advance into ISIS-held territory in Anbar and Ninewa Provinces – and slow the progress of repopulating cleared cities such as Ramadi and Fallujah.  more…
  • Economic Opportunity Motivates Increased Returns, but Increased Displacements May Soon Follow – UNHCR reported that the number of IDPs in Iraq decreased from 3.35 million to 3.24 million during the month of October – an indication that the number of IDPs returning to their places of origin is on the rise. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported that the vast majority of returnees are concentrated in three provinces: Salah ad-Din (53%), Ninewa (24%), and Diyala (15%). The most frequently reported reason for return is the possibility to resume livelihoods: 35% of those who returned did so for economic reasons. Only 25% reported safer conditions in their area of origin as a reason for return. The number of IDPs is expected to rise significantly in the coming weeks as Iraqi Security Forces and their allies prepare safety corridors for an exodus from Mosul. Hundreds of thousands may flee as fighting to clear ISIS militants intensifies within the city.  more…
  • Parliament Looks to Interrogate Ministers of Health, Education as Iraqis Protest Lack of Services – On October 31, hundreds of Iraqi students, parents, and teachers protested the lack of textbooks and teaching materials in cities throughout the country, including in Baghdad, Basra, and Sulaimania. The Ministry of Education has stalled the distribution of textbooks this year, citing a lack of funds. Members of Parliament from the Reform Front — headed by former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki — collected signatures to question Minister of Education Mohammed Iqbal on the lack of books. Parliamentary inquiry is often seen as the first step toward ousting a member of the Prime Minister’s cabinet. Separately, signatures were collected by Members of Parliament to question the Minister of Health, Hamoud Adila, on gaps in health services and rumors of corruption.  more…
  • Iraq Elected to UN Human Rights Council for the First Time – On October 30, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry announced that the UN General Assembly voted to elect Iraq as a member of the UN Human Rights Council for the first time. The Human Rights Council was established in 2006 and is responsible for the promotion of human rights protections. Members work with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and have the authority to raise human rights issues that require the immediate attention of the entire UN body. Members also make recommendations to the General Assembly for further development of international law.  more…

Iraqi Security Forces Enter Mosul from the East, Continue Approach from the South

On October 28, an anonymous local source in Ninewa Province reported that many mosques in Mosul did not conduct Friday prayer due to the absence of Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) leaders in the city. The source claimed that many imams who were ordained by ISIS fled the city once security forces began to clear militants from the villages surrounding Mosul. It was reported by the source that “prominent members” of the city of Mosul delivered sermons in place of the imams.

On October 28, an anonymous local source in the Ninewa Province reported that the Iraq Counterterrorism Service (ICS) found one of the largest improvised explosive devices (IED) manufacturing plants. The plant contained large quantities of explosives and equipment that most likely would have been used against security forces. The source also claimed that the ICS found a three kilometers ISIS tunnel – one of the largest ISIS tunnels ever found. The tunnel, which starts five kilometers east of Mosul in Mu’askar Janin, stretches towards the city of Mosul and is equipped with electricity and air conditioning.

 On October 28, District Mayor of Shura Khalid al-Jar reported that Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) are only three kilometers from Hamam al-Alil, 30 kilometers south of Mosul. He also reported that Shura, 40 kilometers south of Mosul, was fully cleared of ISIS militants. Al-Jar claimed that progress by security forces in the south have been slowed due to ISIS detaining and using citizens as human shields. A later report on October 29, claimed that federal police cleared ISIS militants from a police station and municipal council building in the Shura area. Federal Police Captain Raed Shakir Jawdat confirmed that federal police arrested 12 ISIS militants and killed 40 during the operations. Federal police reportedly arrived at the Hamam al-Alili southern juncture, 25 kilometers south of Mosul.

On October 28, a military media source announced that joint security forces in coordination with the Iraqi Air Force and U.S.-led international coalition airstrike have killed 772 ISIS militants and destroyed 127 vehicle-based IEDs, and 27 mortar detachments since the start of military operations in Mosul on October 16. The source also reported that 397 IEDs, numerous tunnels, 40 “defensive positions,” and six anti-aircraft guns have been destroyed by joint security forces.

On October 29, the Federal Police Headquarters released a report indicating that federal police cleared ISIS militants from the villages of Albu Hamad and Ayn an Nasr, 25 kilometers south of Mosul. A later report by a military media cell reported that the ISF were able to clear ISIS from the villages of Hamidiyah, Shuruq, al Makhlat, and Sharuq, all approximately 40 kilometers southwest of Mosul.

On October 29, Iraq Popular Mobilization Unit (PMU) militia authority reported in a brief statement that PMU militia forces cleared ISIS militants from seven unnamed villages, 35 kilometers southwest of Mosul. PMU militia forces reported that they would begin operations to prevent ISIS militants from fleeing Mosul on October 28. A later source on October 29 reported that PMU militias were able to clear ISIS militants from the village of al-Mawsil area, 30 kilometers west from the center of Mosul.    

On October 30, Harbi media reported that an Iraqi C-130 aircraft landed at Qayyarah Airbase for the first time since the city was cleared of ISIS militants in August 2016. U.S. Air Force officials reported that the C-130 brought equipment to establish rescue centers and replenished ammunition that were promised to Iraqi and U.S.-led international coalition forces.

On October 30, Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) media reported that Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces cleared ISIS militants from villages within Ba’ashiqah, 15 kilometers north of the center of Mosul. PUK media reported that security forces are attempting to clear IEDs planted by ISIS from the villages.

On October 30, Deputy Commander of Operations in Ninewa Province, Lieutenant General Abdul Amir Rasheed Jarallah, reported to Harbi media that operations in Mosul have been continuing forward on all axises around the city, including the village of Ali Rashash, five kilometers southeast of Mosul. Jarallah aso reported that security forces received 262 IDPs in southwest of Mosul.

On October 31, Deputy Commander of Operations in Ninewa Province Lieutenant, General Abdul Amir Rasheed Jarallah reported that the Iraqi army cleared ISIS militants from the two villages of Tal Yabis, Nujum, and Bazwaia, five kilometers east of the outskirts of Mosul. Later that day Jarallah reported that the two villages of Tobruk and Tahrawah, 10 kilometers east of Mosul. Jarallah reported that the east of the city was within the direct and indirect range of fire from the Iraqi army and that the neighborhood of Gogjali, five kilometers east of the center of Mosul, will be cleared of ISIS militants shortly. A later source on November first reported that the Iraqi Counterterrorism Service (ICS) took the Gogjali TV station in Mosul, five kilometers east of the center of Mosul, after inflicting heavy losses on ISIS militants.   

On October 31, Shafaaq news agency reported that commander of Iran’s Quds Force, Major General Ghasemi Soleimani, visited PMU militias in Ninewa, possibly emboldening Iran backed Shia PMUs to further participate in operations in Mosul. Reuters reported earlier that Iranian trained Shia militias would bring “extra firepower” to Mosul operations, worrying many western countries that fighters may alienate Sunnis civilians.                

On November 1, spokesman for the Interior Ministry Brigadier General Saad Maan reported that Iraqi federal police and rapid response brigade killed 778 ISIS militants, Iraqi Air Force killed 375, and the U.S.-led international coalition airstrike killed 149 in the southern axis of the city. Maan also claimed that joint security forces arrested 94 ISIS militants and destroyed 166 VBIED, 25 ISIS vehicles, 1126 IEDs, 37 traps, and 16 IED factories since the beginning of the operation to clear ISIS militants from Mosul on October 16, 2016.

On November 1, spokesman for the Interior Ministry Brigadier, General Saad Maan, reported that a regiment of police will be created to maintain security in areas cleared by ISF forces during operations in Mosul. Maan claimed that the Interior Ministry opened police stations in Qayyarah, 65 kilometers south of the center of Mosul; Shura, 40 kilometers south of the center of Mosul; and Hamam al-Alili, 24 kilometers south of the center of Mosul in order to help provide humanitarian assistance to civilians in areas cleared of ISIS militants.

On November 1, Deputy Commander of the Ninth Armored Division in the Iraqi Army, Brigadier General Numan Khalifa, reported that ISF cleared ISIS militants from the two villages of Khuwaytilah and Shahrazad, five kilometers east of the center of Mosul. ISF were reportedly on the outskirts of Mosul.

On November 1, an anonymous local source in Ninewa Province reported that an ISIS leader, Abu Yacoub, was killed along with one of his aides during a clash with ISF forces in the Shallal area, five kilometers north of the center of Mosul.

On November 1, an anonymous local source in Ninewa Province reported the presence of heavy armored car traffic that appeared to be ISIS militants attempting to flee the city. Another anonymous source reported that ISIS began transporting its wounded in busses to an unknown destination in an attempt to evacuate them from Mosul. The source claimed that ISIS was also dismantling and transferring medical devices within the hospitals to unknown locations.

On November 1, an anonymous local source in Ninewa Province reported that popular resistance groups within the city of Mosul simultaneously attacked three unnamed neighborhoods controlled by ISIS and have created gaps in ISIS’s defensive lines, making it easier for ISF to clear militants from those neighborhoods. The source also reported that the simultaneous attack led to the death of numerous ISIS militants.

On November 1, the Badr Brigade reported that they found one of the largest ISIS tunnels in the Farfara village west of Mosul. The tunnel contained communication systems and a warehouse of explosives to be used against approaching security forces. The operation that captured the tunnel also cleared the villages of Farfarah, Umm Sijan, Abu Hujaira, Umm al-Ghatham and Imam Hamza 25 kilometers southwest of Mosul.

Spokesman for the U.S.-led international coalition, John Dorian, reported in a press conference with Iraq Joint Operations Command that over 3,000 bombs (that took into account the safety of civilians) were dropped on ISIS strongholds since the beginning of Mosul operations. Dorian also claimed that all activities led by the U.S.-led international coalition came with the approval of the Iraqi government.

On November 1, an anonymous security source in Ninewa reported that ISIS families evacuated their homes at 11 in the morning as ISIS militants fled Mosul and ISFs moved into the city. The source claimed that ISIS militants threatened civilians who did not evacuate their homes and reported that they left sniper and suicide bombers on the front lines to harass ISF.

On November 1, an anonymous local source in Ninewa Province reported that ISF cleared ISIS militants from the village of Baybukhat, five kilometers north of Mosul. The operation resulted in the destruction of two VBIEDs.

On November 2, Deputy Commander of Joint Operations Command in Ninewa, Lieutenant General Abdul Amir Rasheed Jarallah, reported that the three villages of Shahlub, Jarar, and Al-Mancar, 25 kilometers south of Mosul.

On November 2, an anonymous local source reported that ISIS leadership called on all militants to fast and endure hunger after the U.S.-led international coalition bombed one of its largest supply stores in Bartella, 20 kilometers east from the center of Mosul. ISIS leaders appealed to the people of Mosul on loudspeakers to “donate” food to militants still within Mosul.

On November 2, an anonymous PMU militia source reported that PMUs cleared ISIS militants from over 115 square kilometers of land including six ISIS military “sites,” and five villages. The PMU militia source also claimed that PMUs killed 47 ISIS militants and destroyed 5 VBIEDs since they started their operations on October 29

On November 2, an anonymous reporter of al-Sumaria claimed that ICS surrounded and killed “dozens” of ISIS would-be suicide bombers in Gogjali, five kilometers from the center of Mosul. The reporter acknowledged that most civilians in Gogjali left after ICS and ISIS first clashed in the area on October 29.

On November 3, Deputy Commander of Operations in Ninewa Province Lieutenant, General Abdul Amir Rasheed Jarallah reported that ISF cleared ISIS militants from the village of Khurtah, 40 kilometers southeast of the center of Mosul. Jarallah claimed that ISF inflicted heavy losses on ISIS militants.

On November 3, Deputy Commander of Operations in Ninewa Province, Lieutenant, General Abdul Amir Rasheed Jarallah, reported that ISF stormed the neighborhood of Judayat Al-Mufti, southeast from the center of Mosul. No further information was given about the event.

On November 3, Commander of the ICS, Major General Mann al-Saadi, reported that ISIS militants were using extensive tunnels to evade security forces in and around Mosul. But despite militants using heavy weapons and vehicles against security forces, Saadi claimed that security operations were progressing smoothly.         

On November 3, Al Sumaria News reported that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in his first message for over a year, called upon his followers to “fight the enemies of Allah” and preached that there could be no retreat in a “total war.” In an attempt to motivate ISIS militants in Mosul, Al-Baghdadi said in his statement that “holding your ground in honor is a thousand times better than retreating in disgrace.” Al-Baghdadi also asked supporters to “invade” Turkey and carry out attacks on Saudi Arabia claiming that “believers’ should “turn the nights of the unbelievers into day, wreak havoc in their lands and make their blood flow as rivers.”

On November 3, an anonymous local source reported that ISIS’s elite fighting battalion disappeared from the streets of Mosul. The local source claimed that there are suspicions that the battalion fled the city of Mosul for Syria in anticipation for ISF to successfully take the city.


ISIS Captures Human Shields, Leaves Paths of Destruction During Retreats into Mosul

On October 28, the International Organization for Migration (IOM)’s Emergency Tracking Portal for Mosul recorded 15,804 internally displaced persons (IDPs), or 2,634 families, currently displaced as a result of the Mosul offensive. This is a significant increase from the 10,548 IDPs recorded the previous day, and the largest since military operations started on 17 October. Formal camps are sheltering about 34% of the displaced, while the majority are sheltered in host communities, which are often in dire need of humanitarian assistance themselves. More than half of the displaced are children. IDP movements are becoming increasingly complex as frontlines shift and people flee in multiple directions, challenging the preparedness of humanitarian workers.

On October 28, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that some 2,000 IDPs, or 337 displaced families, arrived in Qayyarah between October 24 and October 27 from the Shura area, about 10 kilometers south of Mosul. Most families have been transported to Jedaa camp, south of Qayyarah, while others are accommodated in schools, unfinished buildings, or hosted by relatives. Toxic fumes from the Mishraq sulfur plant set ablaze by Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants on October 22 continue to pollute the air, posing a significant health risk to families in Qayyarah. UNHCR also reported that 78 individuals from Makhmour district and Hamdaniya district in Ninewa Province arrived in Debaga reception centre. Some of the new arrivals initially fled to nearby villages in the Ibrahim Khalil area, but the lack of food and basic services as well as proximity to the front line of conflict prompted some to move on to Debaga camp. Buses facilitated by the Ministry of Transportation have begun to redirect displaced families to a newly-opened camp in Hasansham, which as of October 28 hosted 1,170 IDPs. 185 IDPs from areas cleared of ISIS militants near Fadhiliya, 10 kilometers northeast of Mosul, were received in UNHCR-run Zelikan camp on the morning of October 27, bringing the camp population to 537.

On October 28, the United Nations Environment Programme reported on the environmental damage and corresponding impact on public health caused by the military operations in Mosul. Civilians in northern Iraq are falling victim to additional suffering including near suffocation and respiratory illnesses due to a “scorched-earth” policy employed by retreating ISIS militants. The 19 oil wells reportedly set on fire by ISIS militants between October 17 and October 19 near Qayyarah continue to cause pollution that results in skin irritation and shortness of breath. Burning stockpiles of sulphur dioxide at an industrial facility, reportedly set on fire by ISIS militants on October 22, created a large toxic cloud and temporarily hampered the delivery of humanitarian assistance and resulted in 1,000 cases of suffocation treated by the World Health Organization (WHO). A water plant in Qayyarah was also reportedly affected by fighting on October 23, leading to a chlorine gas leak which caused 100 civilians to seek medical treatment as of October 28. UN Environment Chief, Erik Solheim, said of the damages; “this is sadly just the latest episode in what has been the wholesale destruction of Iraq’s environment over several decades – from the draining of the marshlands to the contamination of land and the collapse of environmental management systems…this ongoing ecocide is a recipe for a prolonged disaster.”

On October 28, a local source in Ninewa Province reported to Al Sumaria News that ISIS militants detained seven families of people already executed by the group and forcibly transferred them to unknown locations. The source reported that these women, children, and elderly took no belongings with them when they were deported from villages cleared by Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and coalition forces, and expressed concern that they would be subjected to humanitarian violations by ISIS.

On October 28, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) announced that they received credible reports suggesting that ISIS forced tens of thousands of people from their homes in sub-districts around Mosul and forcibly relocated civilians inside the city itself since operations began on October 17 to clear Mosul of ISIS militants. ISIS militants are allegedly killing civilians that do not comply with ISIS’s demands or who previously belonged to ISF, including 232 civilians who were reportedly shot to death on October 26. Reports indicate that at least 5,370 families were abducted from Shura, 40 kilometers south of Mosul; another 160 families from Qayyarah, 60 kilometers south of Mosul; 150 families from Hamam al-Alil, 24 kilometers southeast of Mosul; and 2,210 families from Nimrud sub-district of Hamdaniya district, 32 kilometers southeast of Mosul. Reports also indicate that 60,000 persons are currently residing in Hamam al-Alil, an ISIS stronghold with a previous population of 23,000. ISIS’s strategy is “to use the presence of civilians to render certain points, areas or military forces immune from military operations, effectively using tens of thousands of women, men and children as human shields,” according to Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

On October 29, the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported on a lack of funding and capacity for IDPs fleeing conflict in Mosul. As of October 27, seven camps are ready to receive IDPs with a total of 9,116 available plots that could hold 54,696 people. Almost 19,000 displaced people and vulnerable residents have been reached with emergency assistance, many of whom are in recently cleared areas close to the front lines, but access remains a major challenge for aid workers. As of October 29, the UN received US $155 million of the US $284 million requested by the Mosul Flash Appeal.

On October 29, a source within the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga reported to Al Sumaria News that the Peshmerga continues to receive civilians fleeing into nearby Peshmerga-controlled areas from the ISIS-controlled town of Bashiqa, northeast of Mosul. The source pointed out that these civilians escape despite the risk of being caught in the act by ISIS militants, who have executed those who try to flee.

On October 29, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Commission on Human Rights, Abdelrahim al-Shammari, announced that ISIS militants executed 100 civilians in the city of Mosul on charges of collaboration with ISF. Al-Shammari did not give further detail about the time or place of these executions, but warned that civilians’ movements were being restricted and controlled by ISIS for use as human shields.

On October 29, the Mayor of Tilkhaif, Bassam Yaqub, announced that 1,200 displaced civilians are trapped in the Wadi al-Akhdar area in the north of Tilkhaif district, 15 kilometers north of Mosul in Ninewa Province. Yaqub explained that these civilians fled their homes due to violence in the district and have been stranded for more than five days, caught in the crossfires between ISF and ISIS militants. The civilians, Yaqub pointed out, are in a dangerous position and are difficult to reach, but local government is working with the UN, ISF, and the Kurdistan Regional Government to transfer the civilians to camps where they will undergo security screenings and receive shelter and aid.

On October 30, the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights (SOHR) reported that 300 Syrian child soldiers for ISIS were killed in Mosul since military operations to clear the city of ISIS militants began on October 17. SOHR reported that “at least” 480 Syrian foreign fighters for ISIS have been killed in the offensive so far.

On October 31, the IOM’s Emergency Tracking Portal for Mosul recorded 17,748 IDPs, or 2,958 families, currently displaced as a result of the Mosul offensive. This is an increase of 1,944 IDPs between October 28 and October 31. According to the IOM, 52% of those displaced are sheltered in camps/emergency sites, 32% are in private settings, 14% are in critical shelter arrangements, and 2% are in screening sites.

On October 31, a local source in Ninewa Province reported to Al Sumaria News that young local civilians in the city of Mosul rescued four families locked in a warehouse in western Mosul, where the families were being held by ISIS militants. There have been many credible reports of ISIS restricting the movements of civilians for use as human shields in the battle for Mosul.

On October 31, the mayor of Hamam al-Alil, Khalef al-Jabouri, reported that ISIS militants captured around 10,000 civilians from Hamam al-Alil, 24 kilometers southeast of Mosul, and forced them into trucks to be transferred to an unknown location. Al-Jabouri stated that those who refused ISIS’s orders were executed, and warned that those who were taken were likely to be used as human shields as ISF and coalition forces move into the city of Mosul. Hamam al-Alil is an ISIS stronghold with a previous population of 23,000 that is currently reported to be hosting some 60,000 civilians, including many who have been forcibly transferred there, all of whom are at risk of being used by human shields by ISIS.

On October 31, UNHCR reported on IDP protection issues surrounding displacements from Mosul due to the ongoing military operations there. UNHCR announced the establishment of an 8-person mobile protection monitoring team in Zelikan camp on October 30 to better identify and address issues affecting IDPs such as arbitrary arrests and illegal detention, restriction of movement, confiscation of private property, and access to basic services possibly due to suspicion of these individuals’ connections to ISIS. In Hasansham camp, UNHCR is conducting daily protection monitoring of new arrivals and tent-by-tent protection monitoring. Cases of missing documents, detention and specific needs have been identified and medical cases have been referred to Erbil. Following their forced deportation from Kirkuk on October 23, more than 50 IDPs, or 10 displaced families, attempted to return to their homes in Qushqay village in Kirkuk Province, from their area of displacement in nearby mountains. They were once again forced to leave and are currently accommodated in Daquq IDP camp, around 35 kilometers south of Kirkuk City in Kirkuk Province. An additional 30 evicted families from the same village remain in the mountains in a precarious situation.

On November 1, the IOM’s Emergency Tracking Portal for Mosul recorded 17,916 IDPs, or 2,986 families, currently displaced as a result of the on-going military operations in Mosul since October 17. This number is an increase of 168 IDPs from the 17,748 IDPs recorded the day before. These 168 IDPs were displaced from their homes in Mosul and travelled more than 350 kilometers south to Amiriyah Fallujah, 37 kilometers south of Fallujah in Anbar Province, where they were received at the Bziebiz Central Camp.

On November 1, OCHA reported on humanitarian conditions and response in and around Mosul. OCHA states food as the priority need in areas recently cleared of ISIS militants, where people have reportedly been subsisting on a diet of bread and water. 51,892 people have been reached with 30-day food rations since military operations to clear Mosul of ISIS militants began on October 17. Access to families in areas close to the front lines remains limited due to security concerns. In addition to food scarcity, concerns have been raised about potential contamination of water sources due to the fire in the sulphur factory. This is being investigated by the OCHA Water, Sanitation and Hygiene division. In addition to basic needs, lack of education among children, who make up over half of the displaced, remains a pressing concern. Some of the displaced children have been out of school for two years. Temporary learning spaces have been established in Jedaa and Hasansham camps in Qayyarah. Education activities have also started in Zelikan camp. More than 110 tents for temporary classrooms are ready to receive over 10,000 children in two shifts in displacement sites, and 160 teachers are on standby to deploy.

On November 1, spokesperson for OHCHR Ravina Shamdasan reported on the forcible transfer of civilians from Hamam al-Alil by ISIS on October 31. OHCHR received reports that in the early hours of October 31, ISIS brought dozens of trucks and mini-buses to Hamam al-Alil City, south of Mosul, in an attempt to forcibly transfer some 25,000 civilians towards locations in and around Mosul where they would function as human shields. It is OHCHR’s understanding that most of the trucks were prevented from proceeding towards Mosul due to coalition flights patrolling the area, and the trucks were forced to return to Hamam Al-Alil. Some buses did reach Abusaif, 15 kilometers north of Hamam Al-Alil City. OHCHR expressed concern for the safety of these and the tens of thousands of other civilians who have reportedly been forcibly relocated by ISIS since military operations in Mosul began on October 17. OHCHR also reported on further information about executions by ISIS: on October 29, 40 former ISF soldiers were killed and their bodies thrown in the Tigris River. They were reportedly among the civilians who had been abducted earlier from Shura sub-district of Mosul and from villages surrounding Hamam al-Alil.

On November 1, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) revealed that they received three reports of young boys recruited as suicide bombers by militant groups in Ninewa Province in the final week of October, with a total of 32 reports received in 2016. It was also reported that in the month of October, 32 children were killed by airstrikes, crossfire, rockets, and extra-judicial executions; more than a third of these children were killed in Ninewa Province. Due to challenges of data collection, the actual number of child casualties could be significantly higher. UNICEF expressed concern for the security of children in and around Mosul, who are estimated to make up around half of those displaced by military operations in the city.

On November 2, the IOM’s Emergency Tracking Portal for Mosul recorded 20,718 IDPs, or 3,453 families, currently displaced by the on-going Mosul operations which began on October 17. This is an increase of 2,802 IDPs from the 17,916 IDPs recorded the day prior, on November 1. These newest IDPs are all internally displaced within Ninewa Province. Just over 50% of total IDPs are in camps, and just under 50% are sheltered in private settings or critical shelter situations in host communities. 53 displaced families are sheltering at screening centers.

On November 2, a Member of Parliament for Ninewa Province Abdelrahim al-Shammari announced that 10,000 IDPs returned to their homes in 15 villages south of Mosul in Ninewa Province which were recently cleared of ISIS militants. Al-Shammari added that 9,000 IDPs remained displaced from their homes, and called on the Ministry of Displacement and Migration to increase assistance to IDPs. Al-Shammari did not give further detail about the source of these numbers, which as of November 2 were not confirmed by the Ministry of Displacement and Migration, the IOM, or any UN branches.

On November 2, Amnesty International reported that members of the Sab’awi Tribal Mobilization militia (Hashd al-Ashairi) unlawfully detained, publicly humiliated and tortured men and boys in villages southeast of Mosul that were recaptured from ISIS in days prior. The organization’s researchers on the ground in Iraq interviewed local officials and eyewitnesses who reported the revenge attacks on residents in Tal al-Shaer, 70 kilometers west of Mosul, suspected of having ties to ISIS. Lynn Maalouf, Deputy Director for Research at Amnesty International’s Beirut regional office, stated that “there is no doubt that IS fighters who are suspected of committing crimes must be held accountable in fair trials, but rounding up villagers and forcing them to endure public humiliation or other violations, including torture, is no way of securing justice, truth and reparation for victims of IS crimes.”

On November 3, the IOM’s Emergency Tracking Portal for Mosul recorded 21,792 IDPs, or 3,632 families, currently displaced by the on-going Mosul operations which began on October 17. This is an increase of 1,074 from the 20,718 recorded the day prior, on November 2. These newest IDPs are all internally displaced within Mosul Province, and have taken shelter at Zelikan camp in Hamdaniya, 32 kilometers southeast of Mosul, and Jedaa camp in Qayyarah, 60 kilometers south of Mosul.

On November 3, UNHCR reported a decrease in the trend of families leaving Debaga camp. According to UNHCR, families intending to return are increasingly concerned by the situation in villages recently cleared of ISIS militants, including reports of fatal incidents caused by mines, booby traps and IEDs planted in civilian homes.  

On November 3, a reporter for Al Sumaria News reported that “hundreds” of displaced families from the Kokjla area, east of Mosul, fled toward the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). The reporter added that those fleeing stated fear of being targeted by ISIS as their reason for leaving their homes, but that they would return if ISF and coalition forces were successful in clearing ISIS militants from Mosul and its environs.


PMU Militias Approach Tal Afar, Heightening Turkish Tensions

On October 28, PMU militia leader, Ali al-Hamdani reported that Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs) were very important in operations in Mosul and claimed that the PMU were moving westward to stop Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants from fleeing Syria. Hamdani noted that PMUs are awaiting specific targets from Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and intelligence sources. A later report on October 29 by PMU militia spokesman Ahmed al-Asadi claimed that the “second page of major operations” in the west will be launched shortly and that they will include the city of Tal Afar, 63 kilometers west of Mosul.   

On October 29, Iraqi National Security Advisor, Falah al-Fayad reported that PMU militias will not enter Tal Afar, 63 kilometers west of Mosul, but will help with clearing ISIS militants from the outskirts of the city unless Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi orders otherwise. Fayad commented that PMU militias will cut off roads and areas around Tal Afar to stop ISIS militants from fleeing the city for Syria or Mosul.  

On October 29, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that Turkey is seeking to strengthen its forces in the district of Silopi near the northern Iraqi border and stressed that if Shia PMUs helped in the clearing of the city of Tal Afar, a city heavily populated with Turkmen, Turkey would have a “different response” to prevent what it believes would be a sectarian battle. And on November 1, Turkish armed forces began to deploy tanks and ammunition near its border with Iraq. The deployment coincides with an Iraqi operation to drive out so-called Islamic State militants from Northern Iraq in Mosul as well as push them out of the town of Tal Afar, which is further west. Ankara has warned against such a move toward Tal Afar, which is home to a sizeable ethnic Turkmen population and has historical and cultural ties to Turkey. Furthermore, the area near Silopi is one of the main areas of conflict between the Turkish military and Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) militants who have a base in Northern Iraq.

On October 31, PMU militia leader of the Martyrs Brigade, Abu Alaa, reported that his forces killed 12 ISIS militants during a VBIED attack in the village of Asaylah, 72 kilometers west of Mosul. The PMU militia also managed to capture two ISIS militants and destroy two ISIS vehicles. A later report by the Martyrs Brigade reported that it killed seven ISIS militants, found a cache of weapons, and are engaging with ISIS militants in the two villages of Mahlbah and Tisagv, 70 kilometers west of Mosul. Alaa claimed that after security forces retake Tal Afar, 63 kilometers west of Mosul, they will engage ISIS militants in Syria. A later anonymous report on November 3, claimed that PMU militias were only 15 kilometers from the Tal Afar. A specific location was not given.

On October 31, leadership of the PMU Abbas Brigade reported that 1,000 elite fighters and 2,000 reservist troops will move towards Tal Afar, 63 kilometers west of Mosul. Leadership stressed its commitment to the people of Tal Afar and announced their support of joint security forces and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

On November 1, Almada Press reported that ISIS militants continued forcibly transferring civilians from Hamam al-Alil, 30 kilometers south of Mosul, to unknown locations late into the night. Almada Press predicted that these civilians, numbered around 50,000, will be taken to Tal Afar, 63 kilometers west of Mosul, to be used as human shields by ISIS in anticipation of ISF and coalition forces move westward to clear the city of ISIS militants.

On November 2, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi warned Turkey against provoking a confrontation with Iraq, saying he does not want war. In a press conference on Wednesday, al-Abadi stated that “the invasion of Iraq will lead to Turkey being dismantled.” He added that if “a confrontation happens” Iraq is ready and that Iraq will consider Turkey an enemy and they “will deal with it as an enemy.” Furthermore, in a press release issued later in the day, al-Abadi threatened that Turkey would “pay the price” if it continued moving troops, tanks, and artillery towards the northern Iraqi border. In response, Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Fikri Isik, said the deployment was solely a part of Turkey’s preparation for “important developments in the region.” Isrik clarified that Turkey’s military enhancement near the northern Iraqi border is a “precautionary measure” and not a threat. Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister, Numan Kortolmos, added that al-Abadi’s comments “exceeded the limit” and that he should make a statement to ease tensions between the two nations. The war of words between Iraq and Turkey has continued since Turkey first announced its decision to extended the stay of troops near the Iraqi border on October 1 and has steadily increased as Turkey expressed its determination to participate in the battle of Mosul, which began on October 17.


Western Anbar Continues to Battle ISIS Resurgence

On October 28, Commander of Anbar Operations, Major General Ismail Mahlawi reported that 20 Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants were arrested during security operations in Rutba by Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) with help from Iraqi civilians. Mahlawi claimed that ISIS militants were mostly driven from Rutba on October 23 and that security operations are being planned to clear ISIS militants from their last enclave in Qa’im, 217 kilometers west of Ramadi.

On October 28, Commander of Anbar Operations, Major General Ismail Mahlawi reported that ISF destroyed an armored vehicle during security operations in villages 50 kilometers north of Rutba and 280 kilometers west of Ramadi. During the same operations, the U.S.-led international coalition destroyed three armoured vehicles and a improvised explosive devices (IED) factory.

On October 28, commander of a PMU in Anbar Province, Colonel Shakir Obeid al-Dulaimi, Colonel Shakir Obeid al-Dulaimi reported that 14 ISIS militants were killed near the Syrian-Iraqi border in the al-Waleed area, 240 kilometers west of Ramadi. The operation also resulted in the destruction of 6 ISIS vehicles with 23 mm guns. Dulaimi claimed that the area would see “large scale military operations” by the ISF to secure the border from ISIS militants.

On October 29, Anbar Provincial Police Chief, Major General Hadi al-Rzayej reported that nine ISIS militants were arrested while trying to enter Anbar villages alongside internally displaced people (IDP) in Al-Tash, 15 kilometers south of Ramadi. Razayej claimed that ISIS militants were attempting to flee with IDPs to attack security forces in the Anbar region.

On October 29, an anonymous security source at Anbar Operations Command reported that civilians in Fallujah, 50 kilometers east of Ramadi, were preventing families of ISIS militants from returning to their homes and rejected both tribal and religious brokered agreements to allow them to stay in the area. The source claimed that civilians in Fallujah asked for ISIS militant families to be deported and barred from housing in the area because they “spread the idea of terrorism.”

On October 29, Commander of Anbar Operations, Major General Qassim al-Muhammadi reported that 13 ISIS militants were killed when the U.S.-led international coalition targeted a gathering of ISIS militants in the Azwaip area north of the Haditha District, 110 kilometers northwest of Ramadi. Muhammadi stated that the military units are now prepared to clear ISIS militants from the remaining ISIS controlled areas of Rawa, 180 kilometers west of Ramadi; Qa’im, 215 kilometers northwest of Ramadi; and Akasha, 300 kilometers west of Ramadi.

On October 30, the Mayor of Anah, Saad Awad, announced that approximately 7,000 civilians are being held hostage by ISIS militants within the ISIS-controlled town of Anah, 190 kilometers west of Ramadi in Anbar Province. Awad added that the civilians are likely be used as human shields by ISIS as ISF and coalition forces move towards clearing the town of ISIS militants. ISIS’s control of Anah since mid-2014 is significant due to the town’s geographic proximity to the Haditha Dam, which if destroyed would also destroy the adjoining power station and cripple the country’s power grid and cause widespread flooding.

On October 30, a report by the intelligence director of the al-Somoud Brigade PMU, Nazim Al-Jughaifi, claimed that an Iraqi army plane conducted an airstrike on a gathering of ISIS leaders in Anah, 160 kilometers northwest of Ramadi. The operation resulted in the death of ISIS’s “second in command,” Abu Anas al-Shami, and nine of his aides. Al-Jughaifi noted that ISIS leader Shami committed numerous crimes against military and police forces in Anbar.

On October 30, an anonymous source in Anbar Operations Command reported that six ISIS member were killed when ISIS militants clashed over the disappearance of 90 million dinars (approximately US$ 76,000) in Rawa, 180 kilometers west of Ramadi. The source claimed that ISIS was inspecting areas around Rawa to locate the stolen money.

On October 30, Commander of Anbar Operations, Major General Qassim al-Muhammadi, reported that nine vehicles mounted with a 23mm cannon and machine guns, a number of rocket launchers, communication devices, and loaded with ammunition were destroyed when a U.S.-led international coalition airstrike targeted an ISIS warehouse in the Rihaneh area in Rawa, 180 kilometers west of Anbar. Muhammadi claimed that military operations to clear ISIS militants from western areas of Anbar Province will begin shortly.

On October 30, a commander of a PMU militia in Anbar Province Sheikh Saad Alsamarmd reported that Abu Aisha Faraji, an ISIS recruiter, and four of his aides were killed in a U.S.-led international airstrike that targeted a gathering of ISIS leaders at an unnamed location south of Ramadi. The airstrike destroyed an ISIS camp that was used to train and recruit ISIS suicide bombers.  

On October 31, intelligence director of the al-Somoud Brigade PMU, Nazim Al-Jughaifi, reported that five ISIS suicide bombers were able to infiltrate the center of the Haditha district, 110 kilometers northwest of Ramadi. Security forces killed four of the would-be attackers during clashes but conducted an unsuccessful search operation to find the fifth. A report issued later by Al-Jughaifi reported that joint security forces were initiating a curfew and ban on roaming within the Haditha district because of suicide-based attacks.

On November 3, an anonymous source in Anbar Operations Command reported that joint security forces were able to clear ISIS militants from a former army air defense site in Haqlaniyah area, 112 kilometers northeast of Ramadi. The former army air defense site will reportedly provide area protection for combat units attempting to clear ISIS from western Anbar Province. The source claimed that ISIS militants fled without fighting joint security forces.

On November 3, intelligence director of the al-Somoud Brigade PMU, Nazim Al-Jughaifi, reported that ISIS militant blew up a government recruiting building and a Department of Agriculture building near Rutba, 180 kilometers west of Ramadi. Al-Jughaifi claimed that ISIS militants have been falling towards the Iraqi-Syrian border after ransacking civilians’ homes and vehicles in Rutba. It was confirmed by al-Jughaifi that militants planted over 40 IEDs within town.


Economic Opportunity Motivates Increased Returns, but Increased Displacements May Soon Follow

On October 28, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported that its Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) identified over one million returns of those displaced by ISIS violence since 2014. To date, the conflict has resulted in the forced displacement of over 3.2 million people, representing the largest displacement crisis in Iraq’s history. The vast majority of returnees are concentrated in three provinces: Salah al-Din (53%), Ninewa (24%) and Diyala (15%). The most reported reason for return is the possibility to resume livelihoods: 35% of those who returned did so for economic reasons. Only 25% reported safer conditions in their area of origin as their reason for return. 95% of returnees are reported to have returned permanently. The majority of the returnees returned to their habitual residences. However, 12% of all returnees had to settle in other shelter types.

On October 28, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that in addition to developments in forced deportations and evictions in Kirkuk, UNHCR is monitoring the situation in Khanaqin, 150 kilometers northwest of Baghdad in Diyala Province, after local authorities stated that all internally displaced persons (IDPs) residing outside of camps must relocate to camps or return to their place of origin.

On October 29, a member of the Anbar Provincial Council Mohammad Yasin announced the opening of the Nazzal and Risala neighborhoods within the city center of Fallujah, and reported that “dozens” of families were able to return to their homes in the neighborhoods. Fallujah was declared cleared of ISIS militants by Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) on June 26, but the insecure situation in the city due to the presence of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), serious damage to infrastructure, and lack of public services has made many of those displaced from Fallujah hesitant to return. Despite this, Yasin stated that there was “a good turnout” of those who desired to return to their homes in Nazzal and Risala.

On October 29, the High Committee on the Return of Displaced Persons in Diyala Province announced the return of the first group of IDPs to the village of Saidiya, 67 kilometers northeast of Baquba in Diyala Province. According to the Deputy Chairman of the Committee, Ali al-Saadi, 214 IDPs returned to Saidiya on October 29 after receiving security clearance, and that more would follow in days to come. The Committee previously stated that returns to Saidiya would begin on October 25. Large areas in Diyala were controlled by ISIS until 2015, when the province was retaken by ISF and PMUs in January and declared cleared. However, ISF have struggled to remove the pockets of ISIS militants who remain in the province, and rural villages in Diyala, much like Saidiya, remain a safe haven for terrorists.

On October 30, the Mayor of Ramadi, Ibrahim al-Osaj, announced the commencement of IDP returns to several northern areas in the district of Ramadi in Anbar Province, 100 kilometers west of Baghdad. Al-Osaj stated returns began in Albu Faraj, then Albu Aath and Hamidiyah, and most recently 700 displaced families returned to Zankura, northwest of the city center of Ramadi. Al-Osaj added that 1,350 families would return to Albu Aath and Hamidiyah in the “days to come.” Ramadi has already seen the return of thousands of IDPs despite security concerns, destruction to the city’s infrastructure, and a lack of services. Thousands of buildings in Ramadi and its outskirts were damaged by clashes between ISIS and Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), and the city is littered with IEDs. Regardless, al-Osaj encourages returns to the city and claims that the restoration of services is well underway, as previously reported in ISHM.

On October 30, UNHCR released a flash update on the humanitarian situation in Iraq. UNHCR reported that 174 families, or 1,044 individuals, were displaced between October 28 and October 30: of these, 24 families arrived to Zelikan camp in Shikhan District in Ninewa Province, 43 kilometers northeast of Mosul; 135 families arrived at Jedaa camp in Qayyarah, 60 kilometers south of Mosul; and 15 families arrived at Hasansham camp, 30 kilometers east of Mosul. Construction at Daquq camp, which is currently hosting 4,603 IDPs and will have capacity for 9,600 IDPs, is nearing completion. Site preparation of Laylan 2 camp, which will have capacity for 8,820 IDPs, is progressing and scheduled to be ready to receive IDPs on November 12.

On October 31, the Mayor of Fallujah, Isa al-Sayer, announced the return of 19,000 families to Fallujah, 62 kilometers west of Baghdad in Anbar Province, since returns to the city center began on September 17. Al-Sayer elaborated that displaced families were able to return to the neighborhoods of Jamhoria, Askari, Dhubbat, Jolan, and Nazzal within the city center of Fallujah. Al-Sayer encouraged other IDPs from Fallujah to follow the example of returnees, stating that the restoration of public services in the city is well under way.

On November 1, the Department of Displacement and Migration in Anbar reported that over 85,000 displaced families (around 510,000 individuals) returned to their homes in Anbar Province since displacements from the province began in 2014 due to ISIS violence. According to the Department, 49,890 displaced families returned to Ramadi, 11,462 returned to Fallujah, 7,508 returned to Hit, 5,956 returned to Garma, 2,376 returned to Haditha, and 1,535 returned to Rutba. For reference, the IOM reports that 313,092 individuals returned to Anbar Province since April 2015.

On November 1, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) reported on casualties in Iraq for the month of October 2016. According to UNAMI, a total of 1,792 Iraqis were killed and another 1,358 were injured in acts of terrorism, violence and armed conflict in Iraq in October. The number of civilians killed was 1,120 and the number of civilians injured was 1,005. A total of 672 members of ISF were killed and 353 were injured, not including ISF casualties in Anbar. Baghdad was the worst affected Province with 1,075 civilian casualties; 268 were killed and 807 injured. In Ninewa Province 566 civilians were killed and 59 were injured.

On November 1, OCHA released an update on the humanitarian situation in Iraq. In the first 10 months of 2016, 5,566 civilians were killed and 10,392 civilians were injured by explosive weapons. In 2015, Iraq had the third highest civilian casualty rate by explosives in the world, after Syria and Yemen. OCHA also reported that of the 10 million Iraqis that need some form of humanitarian assistance, over 8 million are in need of protection assistance and require immediate access to health services, water, and food. Over 480,000 people were newly displaced in 2016 as of November 1, at least 170,000 of which are displaced along the Mosul corridor. 75% of all displaced fled from just two provinces of Iraq: Ninewa and Anbar. Only 15% of those displaced in Iraq live in camps; 17% live in critical shelter situations such as unfinished buildings and vacant churches or schools, and the vast majority live in host communities.

On November 1, UNHCR reported on IDP populations and settlements in Iraq. UNHCR data recorded 3.24 million IDPs in Iraq as of October 31. As of September 31, there were 3.35 million IDPs recorded by UNHCR in Iraq. This indicates a decrease of 110,000 IDPs in one month, who are assumed to have returned to their places of origin.

On November 2, the Chairman of the Diyala Provincial Council, Ali Zaid al-Daini, announced that IDP returns in Diyala Province would be completed in 60 days (by January 1, 2017). The announcement followed a meeting between security officials and the Council, in which both parties committed to expedite security screenings, documentation, and returns of IDPs to their homes in the Province, as well as the provision of services to villages and cities cleared of ISIS militants in order to accommodate returns.


Parliament Looks to Interrogate Ministers of Health, Education as Iraqis Protest Lack of Services

On October 30, Member of Parliament for the Liberal bloc Awad al-Awadi announced the completion of legal procedures to collect the signatures of Members to question the Minister of Health, Hamoud Adila. Al-Awadi attributed the “large gap” in health services available to citizens as the reason for questioning, noting that the health system in Iraq continues to decline amidst rumors of corruption in the Ministry. Al-Awadi said the questioning is not politically motivated, but is Parliament’s constitutional duty. Currently the positions of Defense, Finance, Interior, and Trade and Industry Minister are vacant. The Defense and Finance Ministers were voted out of office due to corruption charges in late August and 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 the Cabinet with technocrats.

On October 31, students and their parents demonstrated in front of the Education Ministry in central Baghdad in protest over the shortage of textbooks. A reporter for Al Sumaria news stated that parents, students, and a number of teachers staged the protest and unfurled small banners bearing phrases regarding the right to “free education” and calling for the ouster of the Education Minister, Mohammed Iqbal. Meanwhile, dozens of students and parents protested in Maysan, 304 kilometers south of Baghdad, to demand a written curriculum for students. Protesters threatened to continue the demonstration until their demands are met and expressed dissatisfaction with poor planning and lack of responsibility in government in providing a functioning educational system. The Ministry of Education has stalled distributing textbooks this school year, attributing it to lack of financial allocation.

On October 31, Parliament reported the the Shia Reform Front bloc collected the signatures of 45 Members of Parliament in order to submit a formal request to interrogate the Minister of Education, Mohammed Iqbal, on the subject of the lack of school textbooks. The lack of textbooks forces parents to look to the black market where prices are inordinately high. Reports also show that the Education Committee in Parliament has a request to interrogate Iqbal in regards to financial discrepancies and corrupt administrative practices within the Ministry. Dozens of protesters gathered throughout provinces in Iraq on Monday, October 31, protesting the lack of written curriculum and school supplies.

On November 1, hundreds of teachers and staff gathered in Sulaimania in Iraqi Kurdistan, to demand better working conditions and the timely distribution of salaries. Protesters carried signs that called for the Iraqi Parliament to quickly address these issues. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) announced earlier this year it would be cutting teacher’s salaries due to the financial crisis in the region, which is largely attributed to the decline in oil prices.

On November 1, Parliament announced it has now collected 50 signatures of Members of Parliament to question the Minister of Education, Mohammed Iqbal, up from 45 on October 31. Parliament wants to interrogate the Minister regarding the lack of textbooks available throughout Iraq and possible charges of corruption and mismanagement in the Ministry. Recently, Baghdad and other provinces have seen protests over the lack of textbooks and a written curriculum in the Iraqi school system.

On November 2, the Education Committee within the Basra Provincial Council announced its plan to solve the textbook shortage problem by transferring the allocation of funds from “ministry warehouses” in Baghdad to print the books.

On November 3, a number of students and teachers demonstrated near the Directorate of Education in Basra to protest against the lack of textbooks in schools and demanded accountability for negligent officials in providing supplies to students. One protester told Al Sumaria news that the Minister of Education should be held responsible for these shortages since it is the responsibility of his Ministry to provide a working education system in the country.

On November 3, an anonymous Parliament source disclosed that the Parliamentary Education Committee was meeting with Minister of Education, Mohammed Iqbal, today to discuss the lack of textbooks and curriculum in schools throughout Iraq and the work of the Ministry as a whole. The source indicated that the meeting came at the request of Iqbal and not Parliament. Provinces across Iraq have seen multiple protests this week over the inadequacies of the Ministry.


Iraq Elected to UN Human Rights Council for the First Time

On October 30, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry announced that the UN General Assembly voted to elect Iraq for the first time as a member of the Human Rights Council. The Ministry noted in the announcement that efforts by the permanent delegation of Iraq to the UN over the past two years had paid off. Saudi Arabia and Japan were also elected to the Council. Russia, however, failed to win re-election due to a campaign by rights groups who point to Moscow’s role in the war in Syria. The Human Rights Council was established in 2006 and is responsible for the promotion of all human rights protections in all parts of the world. Members of the Council work closely with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human rights and have the ability to discuss all thematic human rights issues and situations that require the attention of the UN. Members also can make recommendations to the General Assembly for further development of international law regarding human rights. Iraq will serve a three-year term as a member of the Council.

On October 31, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Permanent Committee for Refugees in the Iraqi Ministry of Interior signed a memorandum of understanding to enhance the protection of refugees and asylum seekers in Iraq. Dr. Aqeel Mahmoud al-Khazali, Senior Deputy Minister of Interior, and Bruno Geddo, UNHCR’s representative in Iraq, signed the memorandum. Geddo noted the memorandum “marks a milestone for protection and respect for the rights of refugees and asylum seekers in Iraq.”


DateLocationDeathsInjuries
11/03/16Mashan, Central Baghdad02
11/03/16Sha’ab, Northeast of Baghdad 16
11/03/16Arab Ejbur, South Baghdad 23
11/03/16Arifiyah, Southeast Baghdad16
11/03/16Furat, Southwest Baghdad 24
11/02/16Mukhisa, Northeast of Baquba13
11/01/16Nahrawan, East Baghdad26
11/01/16Qal’a, North of Muqdadiyah10
11/01/16Saidiya, South Baghdad17
11/01/16Bayaa, South Baghdad 25
11/01/16Suwaib, Southwest Baghdad17
11/01/16Shuala, Northwest of Baghdad211
11/01/16Wihda, South Baghdad18
10/31/16Rashad, Southwest of Kirkuk49
10/31/16Shuala, Northwest of Baghdad318
10/31/16Wihda, South Baghdad18
10/31/16Latifiya, South Baghdad27
10/31/16Tarmiyah, North Baghdad13
10/31/16Haditha, West of Ramadi23
10/31/16Abu Dshir, South Baghdad19
10/30/16Hurriya, North Baghdad830
10/30/16Hurriya, North Baghdad0Unknown
10/30/16Tobji, Northwest Baghdad27
10/30/16Sha’ab, Northeast Baghdad28
10/29/16Dibs, Northwest of Kirkuk25
10/29/16Abu Dshir, South Baghdad 0Unknown
10/29/16Amil, Southwest Baghdad20
10/29/16Jihad, Southwest Baghdad15
10/29/16Madain, South Baghdad28
10/29/16Iskan, West Baghdad710
10/28/16Iskan, West Baghdad16
10/28/16Dora, South Baghdad25
10/28/16Madain, South Baghdad26
10/28/16Amin, East Baghdad18
10/28/16Taji, North Baghdad24
10/28/16Mahmudiya, South Baghdad29

 

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


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


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