ISHM: February 10 – 16, 2017

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Key Takeaways:

  • Uptick in Violence, Bombings in Baghdad; Protests Turn Violent – On February 16, ISIS claimed responsibility for detonating a vehicle-based IED in the predominantly Shia neighborhood of Baya’a, just south of central Baghdad, which killed at least 45 people and wounded 49. Earlier in the week, four people were killed and 320 wounded when weekly protests in Baghdad turned violent. Led by influential Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, the protesters were reportedly approaching Baghdad’s Green Zone when security forces fired tear gas in an attempt to disperse the crowds. Later that day, two katyusha rockets were launched at the Green Zone from a nearby district. No injuries were reported as a result and no one has claimed responsibility for the attack. Last May, Sadrist protesters successfully entered the heavily fortified Green Zone, which was viewed at the time as a fundamental breakdown in security (as reported in ISHM). Protesters are demanding election reform, enhanced security, and an end to government corruption. more…
  • Aid to Eastern Mosul Restricted Due to Surge in Violence; Returnees Fearful – UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq Lise Grande announced on February 15 that the UN will discontinue aid distributions in several portions of eastern Mosul until the security situation is stabilized. The announcement comes amid reports that neighborhoods along the Tigris River are experiencing an uptick in mortar, sniper, and drone attacks from the western side of the city. On February 10, a recently reopened restaurant in the Rashidiya neighborhood was destroyed by a suicide bomber, resulting in at least 20 casualties. Member of Parliament Farah al-Sarraj accused security forces in Mosul of unlawfully detaining and extorting “huge sums” from civilians in recently cleared areas of the city. The basis of her accusations was not immediately made clear, though similar cases of abuse conducted by certain popular militias have been reported by international watch agencies during other operations in Fallujah and Ramadi. more…
  • Airstrikes Continue as Operations Into Western Mosul are Set to Begin – U.S.-led international coalition airstrikes continued to target ISIS positions in western Mosul ahead of impending operations to clear that portion of the city of ISIS militants – which are likely to begin in the next few days. Airstrikes reportedly killed several ISIS “leaders” in western Mosul as popular militias continued efforts to clear points further west in Ninewa Province. On February 13, a reported 200 ISIS militants attacked a PMU position in the Sinjar mountains, near the border with Syria. A PMU spokesman said that at least 50 militants were killed, 17 vehicles destroyed, and that the attempted attack was successfully rebuffed by the militia. more…
  • Hawija Still Not a Priority as Residents Suffer Atrocities – More than 75,000 civilians remain trapped in the ISIS controlled city of Hawija in Kirkuk Province where they are subjected to severe food and medicine shortages, torture, and “crimes of genocide,” according to Deputy General of the Arab Council Ismail Hadidi. This week, ISIS militants publicly burned 15 civilians to death – including children – after they attempted to escape al-Shajarah, a village near Hawija approximately 55 kilometers southwest of Kirkuk City. Militants are charging individuals US$ 1500 per person if they wish to leave the city, a price far too high for the vast majority of families. Military operations to clear Hawija of ISIS militants are not expected to begin in the near future, as Iraqi Security Forces remain focused on Mosul. more…
  • Security Situation in Diyala Province Remains Unstable – Concern is mounting that ISIS militants may be gathering in preparation for a coordinated assault on Iraqi Security Forces and PMUs in Diyala Province. Head of the Provincial Council, Ali al-Daini, has described the situation as “explosive,” and asked for assistance from Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. Head of the Diyala Security Committee, Sadiq al-Husseini, stated that so far in February, three sweeps of the Hamrin Mountains by PMUs have destroyed three ISIS militant positions. more…
  • Reconstruction Investment, Resources for Returnees Much Needed; Parliament Set to Question Displacement and Migration Minister – A mere five percent of the US$ 578 million requested by the UNHCR to support Iraq’s 3.2 million IDPs in 2017 has been funded. Already overcrowded displacement camps in Anbar, Ninewa, and Salah-ad Din Provinces, and in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq are expecting a surge in populations as operations to clear western Mosul of ISIS militants commence. UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq Lise Grande stressed that families cannot be forced from IDP camps and should only return to their homes if they feel it is safe to do so. Returnees to Fallujah, which was cleared of ISIS militants in June 2016, continue to face the dangers of unexploded IEDs and limited access to food, water, and other basic necessities. On February 14, the Iraqi Parliament announced its intention to question the Minister of Displacement and Migration, Jassim Mohammed, over allegations that the ministry has been covering up problems instead of being honest with officials and the public. more…

For more background on most of the institutions, key actors, political parties, and locations mentioned in our takeaways or in the stories that follow, see the ISHM Reference Guide.


Uptick in Violence, Bombings in Baghdad; Protests Turn Violent

On February 11, the powerful Shia Cleric Moqtada al-Sadr requested that his supporters halt their protests after violent clashes left four dead and 320 people wounded in Tahrir Square in Baghdad. Last May, Sadrist protesters broke into the heavily fortified Green Zone, where Iraqi government buildings are located, demanding an end to corruption. In the most recent Sadrist protest, thousands of protesters demanded a change in Iraq’s Electoral Commission, calling it corrupt and guilty of fomenting ethnic factionalism.

On February 11, Joint Special Operations Command confirmed that two katyusha rockets were launched at the Green Zone in Baghdad. The attack came the same day as protests against perceived corruption in the electoral system, where clashes with police left at least three civilians and two policemen dead. Time Magazine reported that the missiles caused no casualties, and that it is uncertain at this point who fired the munitions.

On February 11, security forces fired tear gas at protesters in Tahrir Square as they made their way closer to the gates of the Green Zone in central Baghdad. A source reported that the tear gas was used to prevent the “hundreds” of demonstrators from reaching the gates of the Green Zone. Four deaths and 320 casualties were reported. The UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) issued a statement regarding the protests saying that the right to peacefully assemble is the “cornerstone of democracy and must be respected and protected by citizens, Government, and security forces at all times and in all circumstances.” UNAMI also stated that, while protesters must act in accordance with the law, that security forces should exercise restraint when handling protesters.

On February 12, the National Security Council announced that it is imposing a ban on all rocket and mortar launchers in Baghdad, and requiring anyone who owns such weaponry to turn it in within the next 10 days. The same day Ali al-Tamimi, the Governor of Baghdad, stated that the protests on the 11th resulted in the deaths of four protesters and the injury of at least 320 others, as well as the death or injury of eight members of the security forces.

On February 14, Baghdad security forces cut off vehicle traffic on several key streets in Baghdad in order to allow civilians celebrating Valentine’s Day to gather and mingle in more secure circumstances. The roads in the al-Mansour area in the center of the city were closed.

On February 15, the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) called for a “complete review” of Iraq’s Electoral Commission in order to implement “real reform” in preparation for provincial elections in September 2017. The UNAMI also called on the Iraqi government to ensure that any changes made to electoral procedures, including the selection of commissioners, be made “only through legal and democratic mechanisms.”

On February 16, Ali al-Tamimi, the Governor of Baghdad, called for Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi to replace the Commander of the Baghdad Operations, Lt. Gen. Jalil al-Rubaie. Tamimi accuses Rubaie of a “lack of professionalism and failure to achieve security in the capital,” as improvised explosive devices (IEDs) continue to kill and injure dozens each week. Also on Thursday, Rubaie announced that Baghdad security forces stopped three militants wearing suicide vests, killing one and arresting the other two before they could reach the capital and detonate their explosives, as well as seizing a vehicle-based IED (VBIED) in Sadr City.

On February 16, a VBIED exploded in the Baya’a area of Baghdad in the afternoon, killing at least 45 people and wounding another 49. The explosion targeted a car sales market in the predominantly Shia neighborhood just south of central Baghdad, and has been claimed by ISIS. Al-Sumaria News published viewer-submitted pictures and a video of the aftermath.


Aid to Eastern Mosul Restricted Due to Surge in Violence; Returnees Fearful

Feb. 10 Feb. 11 Feb. 12 Feb. 13 Feb. 14 Feb. 15 Feb. 16
Total IDPs No data No data 152,448 No data 153,894 No data 160,302
Daily Net Change No data No data -474 No data +1,446 No data +6,408

Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) Displaced from Mosul and Surrounding Areas Since Military Operations Began on October 17.
Source: International Organization for Migration (IOM)

On February 12, an ISIS drone bombed a market on the east side of Mosul, killing one person and injuring four others. Similar attacks continue to be seen across the cleared portions of Mosul, especially in neighborhoods near the Tigris.

On February 12, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) reported that 152,448 internally displaced persons (IDP) are displaced from Mosul and the surrounding area since operations to clear the city of Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants began on October 17, 2016. This marks a net decrease of 10,000 individuals over the past week. Residents in eastern Mosul report that drinking water is scarce, and in response, the UN and its partners are delivering 2,300 m³ of water per day to 30 neighborhoods in eastern Mosul. In addition, food scarcity remains a problem for residents in both eastern and western Mosul. Food is largely available in markets in eastern Mosul; however, prices of fresh fruits and vegetables have nearly doubled, preventing vulnerable families from accessing healthy food. In western Mosul, access to commercial goods is limited because supply routes have been cut off to that part of the city since November.

On February 12, the UNOCHA reported that, as of October 17, 2016 when operations to clear Mosul of ISIS militants began, nearly 293,837 people have received rapid response mechanism kits that include food, water, and hygiene items and 878,000 people in and out of camps have received emergency response packages consisting of food, water, and hygiene items. Over one million people have received water, sanitation, and hygiene services both in and out of camps, 462,922 people have received health consultations, and over 16,000 people have received psychological support. Currently 107 UN agencies and NGOs are responding to the humanitarian crisis in and around Mosul.  

On February 13, a Kurdish media official, Giath al-Sourji, reported that an ISIS drone killed four civilians and wounded seven others in a bombing in eastern Mosul. Despite having been largely cleared of militants, eastern Mosul continues to experience suicide bombings, as well as mortar fire from across the Tigris River. A similar attack on northern Mosul on the February 12 killed one civilian and wounded four others.

On February 13, spokesperson for the Independent Commission for Human Rights in Kurdistan, Mohammad Komshina, reported that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has detained nearly 200 children from Ninewa Province on charges of terrorism. The children, ages 11 to 17, are from Qayyarah, located 65 kilometers south of Mosul, and Nimrud, located 30 kilometers south of Mosul, and are allegedly living in “inhumane conditions.” They claim to be afraid to return to their homes for fear that they will be captured again.  

On February 14, Oxfam reported that an estimated 750,000 civilians are trapped in western Mosul, adding that as operations to clear western Mosul of ISIS militants begin, civilians will be at enormous risk if escape routes are not established. Oxfam estimates that nearly 2,000 civilians were killed or injured in the first three months of the operation to clear Mosul of ISIS militants which began on October 17, 2016. Oxfam also estimates that at least 250,000 civilians will try to flee western Mosul when operations begin. Oxfam is calling on all armed groups to refrain from using heavy artillery in heavily populated areas, particularly in the narrow streets of the Old City, to help prevent civilian casualties.

On February 14, residents in the Rashidiya neighborhood of eastern Mosul described the perilous conditions in which they live. Despite eastern Mosul being officially cleared of ISIS militants, many neighborhoods along the Tigris River “remain under siege,” and reports indicate that sleeper cells still exist in many neighborhoods like Rashidiya. Civilians are frequently targeted by ISIS snipers, mortars, and drones and are still without running water, electricity, and other essential services. In addition to continued violence, there are constant reminders of ISIS’s rule. Of the 860 building destroyed in Mosul, 90% of them are in eastern Mosul. ISIS graffiti, highway signs, and corpses remain in the streets of eastern Mosul. On February 10, a recently reopened restaurant in Rashidiya was destroyed by a suicide bomb. Four civilians were killed and 14 others were wounded.

On February 14, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) announced that the government of Japan donated US$ 17 million to support the expansion of UNHCR’s humanitarian assistance projects in Iraq. The majority of the funding, US$ 14.3 million, will be allocated to programs that support IDPs from Mosul and the surrounding area while the rest of the funds will be allocated to assisting Syrian refugees in the Kurdistan region. The funding will be used to facilitate quick impact projects (QIPs) aimed to support peaceful coexistence between IDPs and host communities, and immediate humanitarian relief such as food, blankets, mattresses, and hygiene kits.

On February 14, Minority Rights Group International (MRGI) and Ceasefire Center for Civilian Rights launched a new “online reporting tool” to facilitate monitoring and documenting human rights abuses in Iraq. The goal of the new tool is to empower local communities to report violations including torture, extrajudicial killings, and sexual violence, especially in areas where other reporting tools are not readily available. Perhaps most importantly, reporters are completely anonymous, allowing civilians to report without fear of reprisal. MRG is a non-governmental organization (NGO) that works worldwide to support minority groups and indigenous people as they “strive to maintain their rights.”  

On February 15, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that the government of Norway donated four full inter-agency health kits, 96 basic emergency health kits, 10 surgical kits, and medicine and equipment enough to treat 200,000 patients in eastern Mosul. The supplies were donated in response to what the WHO called an “acute shortage” of medicines and supplies in eastern Mosul. As more areas of eastern Mosul become accessible, more patients will flood the existing hospitals and clinics, and put a strain on already scarce resources. The WHO, with cooperation from the Department of Health, will work to establish three additional field hospitals in strategic areas around western Mosul to respond to casualties that result from the operations to clear the western part of the city. The WHO has appealed for US$ 65 million in 2017 to support health interventions in and around Mosul, of which US$ 14 million has been received.

On February 15, Member of Parliament Farah al-Sarraj reported that security forces are unlawfully imprisoning and extorting “huge sums” from civilians in recently cleared areas of eastern Mosul. Sarraj noted that, while security forces have made great progress in clearing Mosul of ISIS militants, they must still be held accountable for any abuses that they commit. She suggested that programs should be developed to help and address past “mistakes” and regain civilian confidence in the security forces. Finally, Sarraj warned of the “catastrophic” humanitarian situation in western Mosul and urged the international community to “redouble their efforts for providing humanitarian and military aid to Iraq.”

On February 15, ISIS militants drowned 13 civilians in cages in central Mosul on suspicion that they were collaborating with security forces. ISIS militants allegedly filmed the execution after the civilians were sentenced in court.

On February 15, Lise Grande, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, announced that the UN will discontinue aid distribution in eastern Mosul until the security situation in eastern Mosul stabilizes. Grande stated that it is incredibly difficult for the UN and its partners to work effectively and safely in the current security environment. The announcement comes amid reports that neighborhoods in eastern Mosul are experiencing an uptick in mortar, sniper, and drone attacks from across the Tigris River in western Mosul.

On February 16, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported that 160,302 IDPs are displaced from Mosul and the surrounding area since operations to clear the city of ISIS militants began on October 17, 2016, a net increase of 7,380 IPDs since February 9. Sixty-three percent of IDPs from Mosul and the surrounding area are housed in emergency camps, 18% live in private settings, 18% live in emergency sites, and 1% live in critical shelter arrangements. Cumulatively, nearly 218,000 IDPs have been impacted by the crisis in Mosul since it began in October 2016. However, to date over 57,000 IDPs have returned to their homes.

On February 16, an anonymous source reported that ISIS militants are forcing civilians to surrender their food as it becomes more scarce in western Mosul, and are punishing civilians who refuse. This new measure suggests that ISIS is experiencing an “acute crisis in securing food” for its militants, and thus has to resort to more desperate measures. This report comes amid others that commercial goods are increasingly more expensive and more difficult to find as the supply routes to western Mosul have been cut off since November 2016.


Airstrikes Continue as Operations Into Western Mosul are Set to Begin

On February 10, a local source in Mosul reported that Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) forces in Mosul had liquidated their assets and closed their accounts. The move comes as Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) await orders from Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi to begin clearing western Mosul.

On February 12, an anonymous security source reported that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), was wounded by U.S.-led international coalition airstrikes. The airstrikes targeted ISIS locations around Qa’im, 20 kilometers from the border of Syria and Iraq, and are reported to have killed 77 ISIS militants.

On February 12, an ISIS chlorine weapons engineer known as Abu Yahya al-Iraqi was killed under “mysterious circumstances” in western Mosul. An anonymous source stated that he was killed near his home in the al-Aslahi Izra’y neighborhood.

On February 12, PUK Media reported the first documented instance of ISIS militants using a tank in an attack. Two hundred militants attacked PMU positions in the Sinjar mountains, near the border with Syria, attempting to make a hole in the blockade separating Mosul and Tal Afar from Syria. A PMU spokesman stated that 50 militants were killed, 17 vehicles were destroyed, and the attack was rebuffed.

On February 13, a local source reported infighting among factions of ISIS in Tal Afar, 60 kilometers west of Mosul. The source stated that the fighting was due to both sides blaming the other for the failed attack on ISF forces, which led to significant ISIS casualties.

On February 13, a local source reported that several tunnels used by ISIS in the Old City in western Mosul collapsed early Monday morning, leaving approximately 10 militants missing. ISIS uses tunnels in a number of locations to move people and supplies from place to place undetected by air surveillance.

On February 14, an anonymous local source in Mosul reported a “thunderous explosion” in western Mosul. The source suggested that the target was an important ISIS headquarters, and said that the organization’s wireless communications in the city are now nonfunctional.

On February 14, a local source in Mosul reported that the ISIS media cell has been quick to announce that there is a succession plan in place in case of the death of its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The announcement follows reports that U.S.-led international coalition airstrikes wounded Baghdadi in Anbar Province on February 12.

On February 15, the Nujaba faction of the PMUs announced that it began operations targeting ISIS positions in the Makhoul Mountains, just north of Baiji on the border of Kirkuk Province. The statement released also emphasized the need to finish the operation to clear ISIS militants from Mosul, and expressed the Nujaba faction’s willingness to participate in that effort.

On February 15, the Military Media Cell announced that U.S.-led international coalition airstrikes killed several senior ISIS leaders in Mosul, including the so-called ISIS “governor” of Mosul. The Iraqi Intelligence Directorate gathered the information used to conduct the airstrike, targeting buildings in the al Sarjkhana neighborhood of western Mosul.

On February 16, an anonymous security source reported the destruction of ISIS headquarters in western Mosul by U.S.-led international coalition airstrikes. The source claimed that multiple militants were killed, and others injured in the attack.


Hawija Still Not a Priority as Residents Suffer Atrocities

On February 10, Deputy Governor of Kirkuk Rakan Saeed al-Jabouri stated that, due to the numbers of militants and amount of land controlled by Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in the Hawija area of Kirkuk Province, large numbers of troops will be needed to clear the region. Jabouri demanded that operations to clear Hawija of ISIS militants begin soon, as human rights abuses in the area continue.

On February 10, U.S.-led international coalition airstrikes killed seven ISIS militants while targeting a weapons cache in Kirkuk Province. Peshmerga forces had identified ISIS movements roughly 45 kilometers northwest of Kirkuk City and informed international coalition forces, who then carried out the attack.

On February 11, Deputy General Coordinator of the Arab Council, Ismail Hadidi, reported that more than 75,000 civilians are trapped under ISIS control in Hawija, adding that the humanitarian situation in Hawija continues to worsen. Civilians in Hawija face food and medicine shortages and are subjected to “crimes of genocide.” Delays in operations to clear Hawija of ISIS militants are expected especially since operations to clear western Mosul are expected to take upwards of six months.

On February 12, ISIS militants burned to death 15 civilians including children after they tried to escape al-Shajarah, a village in Hawija located 55 kilometers southwest of Kirkuk. The civilians were intercepted between the al-Riyadh road and the Hamrin mountains, 31 kilometers east of Hawija, where ISIS militants captured them, doused them with tar, and set them ablaze in front of a crowd of civilians.

On February 13, a security source in Kirkuk Province reported that ISIS militants in control of Hawija (60 kilometers southwest of Kirkuk City) are giving residents a choice of fighting or paying blood money to leave. The source stated that militants are charging approximately US$ 1500 per person to leave the city, which the ISF have been gradually cutting off from reinforcements and supplies in the past weeks.

On February 14, an anonymous source reported that ISIS militants forced 100 young people to join their ranks in southern and western areas of Kirkuk Province, and threatened to kill the recruits’ families if they refused. The source reported that food scarcity and the general “difficult circumstances” have also forced some to join ISIS.

On February 15, ISIS militants executed eight civilians on suspicion that they were collaborating with security forces near Hawija, 55 kilometers southwest of Kirkuk. ISIS militants allegedly filmed the execution after the civilians were sentenced in court.


Security Situation in Diyala Province Remains Unstable

On February 10, a source reported infighting between factions of Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in the area around the village of al-Mutibija, likely due to leadership vacuums. The town is on the border of Diyala and Salah ad-Din and is currently a hotspot of militant activity as it is used as a crossroads between the provinces.

On February 10, an airstrike near Lake Hamrin killed an important ISIS improvised explosive device (IED) expert nicknamed “Abu al-Semik.” The operation targeted ISIS boats on the lake, as ISIS militants frequently use it  to move materials and explosives around the Hamrin Basin, 60 kilometers northeast of Baquba.

On February 10, a Popular Mobilization Unit (PMU) leader, Uday al-Khaddran, stated that ISIS militants have killed their wounded comrades in order to prevent them from being captured by the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) or PMUs. The report follows PMU missile attacks on an ISIS location in the Hamrin Basin area, 55 kilometers northeast of Baquba.

On February 11, Iraqi Member of Parliament Ghaida Kimbsh urged the postponement of elections in the Diyala Province until the Iraq resolved its displaced persons (IDP) crisis, arguing that the election outcome would not be truly representative of the region’s people if so many are prevented from voting. Kimbsh went on to state that the Iraqi government has not done enough to alleviate the problems caused by the IDP crisis, and that before steps to re-consolidate and normalize the region are taken, its people must return.

On February 12, an anonymous source reported that the so called “military prince,” an unnamed military leader, and four of his associates had gone missing under mysterious circumstances. The incident caused ISIS components in the Mutibija area (around the Adhaim Dam, west of Lake Hamrin) to go on high alert.

On February 12, Diyala Committee Chairman Sadiq al-Husseini reported that the 24th Brigade of the PMUs had seized a number of suicide vests, as well as other forms of munitions and ammunition. The 24th Brigade is currently performing operations to clear the Hamrin Mountains, northeast of Baquba.  

On February 13, a government source in Diyala Province reported that fighting in the area around Abu Sayda (30 kilometers northeast of Baqubah) has become severe enough that government buildings are being closed. Last Wednesday four civilians were killed amid tensions between opposing tribes in the area, and yesterday three civilians were killed and another severely injured when unidentified attackers targeted a vehicle on the main road leading to Abu Sayda.

On February 13, the Deputy Attorney General of the Appeals Court of Diyala Province was assassinated outside of his home east of Baquba by an unknown gunman on a motorcycle. The Head of the Security Committee of Diyala announced that the incident is being investigated.

On February 14, a local source on the border of Diyala and Salah ad-Din Provinces reported highly volatile circumstances in the area around the town of al-Mutibija (east of Tikrit). The source said that ISF efforts have not stopped ISIS forces from moving between the two provinces, and that ISIS is gathering troops and armored vehicles to prepare for an assault on ISF and PMUs in the region. On February 13, the head of the Diyala Provincial Council, Ali al-Daini, described the situation as explosive, and asked for a solid strategy and help from the Iraqi Government.

On February 14, local leader Yacoub Mullah Ali announced that 700 IDP families from Jalawla, located 70 kilometers northeast of Baquba in Diyala Province, have been officially approved to return. The families are set to return after other “security frameworks” and “administrative procedures” are in place.  

On February 15, a security source in Diyala Province reported that airstrikes killed three members of ISIS in the al-Mutibija area on the border of Diyala and Salah ad-Din. The airstrikes targeted an ISIS gathering point, and supposedly killed the ISIS “governor” of Diyala.

On February 15, Member of Parliament for Diyala Raad al-Maash gave a statement in which he described the security situation in the Abu Sayda area of the province as critical, and asked tribal leaders to be wise and to avoid bloodshed. Maash referenced the civilians killed in the past week, and expressed concern at the detrimental effect the tribal conflicts are having on the internal security of the province.

On February 15, many government officials and private companies in the Abu Sayda area returned to work after two days of tension in the area. The decision comes after extra security forces from Baquba arrived to bolster local security.

On February 16, an anonymous local source reported that Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi has issued an order for one of the ISF units in the Anjana area of Diyala to move to Salah ad-Din Province. The source questioned this decision, claiming it will leave a security vacuum in a key area between the Hamrin Mountains (which provide hideouts and transit routes for militants) and Qarah Tapah (120 kilometers north of Baquba) endangering the road between Kirkuk City and Baghdad.

On February 16, Sadiq al-Husseini, the head of the Diyala Security Committee, stated that during the month of February, three sweeps of the Hamrin Mountains by PMUs have destroyed three pockets of ISIS militants. Husseini pointed out the present and continuing importance of the militias in the area, 75 kilometers north of Baquba, to maintain security and reduce ISIS control of the area.

On February 16, Governor of Khalis (15 kilometers north of Baquba) Uday al-Khaddran called for a security trench to be dug between Diyala and Salah ad-Din Provinces. Khaddran stated that ISIS militants take advantage of holes in the border and attack Diyala security forces.


Reconstruction Investment, Resources for Returnees Much Needed; Parliament Set to Question Displacement and Migration Minister

On February 10, residents in Fallujah described in interviews the desperate conditions they returned to after fleeing the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). Fallujah was officially cleared of ISIS militants in June 2016, however, danger from booby-trapped homes, potential ISIS sleeper cells, and lack of electricity and running water greeted returning residents. In addition, residents are frustrated by the slow reconstruction process. Many neighborhoods have not been able to open markets, forcing residents to travel to other neighborhoods and districts to purchase necessities. In addition, many buildings and homes remain piles of rubble despite promises from local government authorities that reconstruction will begin.  

On February 14, Iraqi Vice President Osama Najafi announced that the Iraqi government will no longer be funding the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), a left-wing Kurdish group with a military force. The decision comes as tension between Iraq and Turkey increased over Turkey’s use of the Bashiqa military base in Ninewa Province. While the underlying issue concerning the base has not been resolved, this decision likely functions as an act of good faith.

On February 14, the Iraqi Parliament announced its intention to question the Minister of Displacement and Migration, Jassim Mohammed, in the coming days to understand the ministry’s decisions in light of its poor handling of the migrant crisis. Of chief concern is the ministry’s “propaganda war,” as some Members of Parliament believe that the ministry had been covering up problems, not portraying them accurately.

On February 14, Germany and Iraq finalized a €500 million (approximately US$ 530 million) credit, fulfilling a year long promise made by the German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. The goal of the new funding initiative is to help Iraq rebuild its public infrastructure to aid the Iraqi government in its efforts to resolve the internally displaced persons (IDP) crisis.

On February 14, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) published the Iraq Community Stabilization Handbook 2015-2016, an overview of the humanitarian situation for 15 provinces in Iraq and 51 specific communities. Through interviews with community leaders, government representatives, and community members, IOM field staff collected information regarding demographics, migration and displacement trends, security, shelter arrangements, and needs of displaced families to compile governorate profiles. The handbook serves as a resource for humanitarian partners, academics, policy makers, and government representatives to “better understand the situation of these communities.”  

On February 15, a state owned Iraqi bank, Rasheed Bank, announced its intention to provide loans for individuals to use to purchase cars and other tools of economic production. The decision comes as Iraqi officials are beginning to plan for a post-ISIS Iraq, prompting efforts to foster a more robust economy to create a more stable Iraq.

On February 16, PUK Media reported that the construction of several new sites is underway in anticipation for operations to clear western Mosul of ISIS militants. Only a “small number” of families from western Mosul have escaped, but the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) predicts that numbers of IDPs will increase in the near future. Currently, the UNHCR is able to facilitate 66,000 people with the construction of the Hasansham U3 camp and two additional camps under construction. By the end of March, the government of Iraq and other humanitarian partners will be able to facilitate over 245,000 people in camps and emergency sites. UNHCR has received reports of returnee families moving back to displacement camps due to lack of basic services in their cities of origin. Lise Grande, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, stressed that families should not return to their homes unless they feel safe, adding “You cannot force people to go home. People have to make that choice on their own. They have the right to decide.” The UNHCR has requested US$ 578 million to support Iraqi IDPs in 2017, of which five percent has been funded.


IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties

DateLocationDeathsInjuries
02/16/17Bayaa, South of Baghdad4549
02/16/17Taza Bashiir, South of Kirkuk10
02/16/17Taji, North of Baghdad03
02/15/17Yousifah, South of Baghdad
04
02/15/17Habibiyah, East Baghdad520
02/14/17Bakri, West of Baghdad03
02/14/17North Baghdad01
02/14/17Bayaa, Southeast Baghdad??
02/13/17Nahrawan, East of Baghdad
02
02/13/17Al-Alam, South of Baghdad14
02/13/17Abu Gharib, West of Baghdad03
02/12/17al-Firat, South of Baghdad02
02/12/17Nahrawan, East of Baghdad03
02/12/17Abu Gharib, West of Baghdad13
02/11/1767 kilometers Northeast of Baquba22
02/11/17Taza Khormatu, South of Kirkuk10
02/11/17Rasheed, South of Baghdad15
02/11/17Twokl, North of Muqdadiyah13
02/11/17South of Ramadi02
02/11/17Quadisiyah, North of Tikrit10
02/10/17Tajiyat, North of Baghdad14
02/10/17Hayy al-Noor, East Mosul19
02/10/17al-Zahoor neighborhood, Mosul316
02/10/17Al Alam, Southeast of Baghdad04

 

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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