Updates for July 24, 2015
- According to multiple reports, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) carried out a number of executions against civilians in Mosul this week. These executions suggest that ISIS intends to portray itself as still in control of the city. Furthermore, ISIS likely seeks to neutralize potential resistance against it as it faces pressure in western Iraq.
- ISIS carried out a high-profile and staggering car bomb attack in Diyala province. The attack took place in the town of Khan Bani Saad near Diyala’s capital of Baqubah. The attack targeted mostly Iraqi Shi’a and resulted in the death of 120 civilians. Families’ of the victims protested and voiced discontent with local authorities. The attack will likely complicate the return of internally displaced families to the province as security forces will intensify entry and return procedures.
- The ongoing electricity crisis sparked protests in Basra and Najaf in southern Iraq. The protests in Basra resulted in the death of one protester as security forces fired into the crowd. These protests show that the infrastructure of Iraq needs improvement across the country. It will be important to watch how the government responds and, if the protests continue, what political actors emerge as part of the protests.
- Three hundred families IDP families returned from Kirkuk to Tikrit. This is the fifth group of returnee families bringing up the total of returning families to 1,400 families. Meanwhile, IDPs in Karbala continue to request better services in their newly-opened camps in Karbala. Local officials attribute the state of services due to early stages of the camp’s opening.
- Fighting continues in Anbar with attacks launched by both ISIS and the anti-ISIS forces.
ISIS Carries out Executions in Ninewa
On July 18, a former senior security officer and a medical source announced that the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) executed journalist Jala al-Abadi by firing squad in Mosul. On June 4, al-Abadi was taken from his home on the charges of spying and leaking information about ISIS to the national press.
On July 21, an anonymous source stated that ISIS killed a young man for disobeying ISIS instructions by dropping him from the rooftop of an insurance building on Republic Street in downtown Mosul. The next day, an anonymous source stated that ISIS beheaded two men in their twenties in front of a crowd in the Badush area to the west of Mosul. The young men were charged with establishing cells to fight ISIS and coordinating with the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF). The source added that ISIS ambushed three houses belonging to anti-ISIS fighters in the village of Dowizzat Tahtani with al-Qayyarah to the south of Mosul.
On July 23, an anonymous source stated that ISIS executed Sheikh Mushir al-Naqshbandi of the al-Salhin Mosque in the Filstin neighborhood in Mosul. The cleric was arrested last year for refusing to partake in ISIS practices. The same day, an anonymous source stated that ISIS cut off the hands of two young men on the charges of theft in central Mosul and forced pedestrians to watch the incident.
Major Attack in Diyala Causes Ramifications
On July 17, Ali al-Tamimi, the general director of the Diyala Health Directorate, stated that ISIS attacked a busy outdoor market in Khan Bani Saad, located 30 km north of Baghdad. ISIS confirmed that it used a Suicide Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Device (SVBIED) to target the market, resulting in 86 deaths and 116 injured persons. The final number of casualties rose to 120 killed civilians. On July 20, the military media cell announced that five suspects in the attack were arrested. On the same day, families of the victims stormed the Municipal Council building in Khan Bani Saad and burned it down.
On July 21, Diyala’s Court of Appeal Chairman, Jassim Mohammed Aboud, stated that the Police Chief of Khan Bani Saad admitted during interrogation that he had received a telegram days before the incident that ISIS intended to detonate a VBIED in the city. According to Aboud, another member of Khan Bani Saad’s security forces also reportedly confessed that he had allowed the entry of the SVBIED after ISIS threatened to kill him and his family. On the same day, hundreds of families of the victims of the explosion protested in front of the site to demand that the government and investigative authorities secure the immediate arrest and execution of those responsible. The protesters also demanded compensation for those affected by the explosion, such as victims’ families and shop owners who lost their livelihood. The Iraqi cabinet decided to give direct compensation to the victims’ families and those wounded in the explosion.
Electricity Crisis Sparks Protests
On July 17, citizens in northern Basra protested the lack of electricity in their areas. The protests took place in the Madina district according to reports. Social activist, Nasser al-Hajaj, stated that six protests took place that witnessed the participation of hundreds of demonstrators who demanded improvement in electricity delivery. In Madina, protesters burned the municipal building and the security forces responded by firing at the crowd resulting in the death of one protester and injury of three others. The governor of Basra, Majed al-Nasrawi, ordered an investigation with regards to the death of the protester and injury of the others.
On July 22, dozens of residents of Najaf protested in front of the governorate building to demand the resignation of Electricity Minister Qassim al-Fahdawi due to the increase of power cuts in the province. Najaf Provincial Council Member, Ammar Arbawi, stated that the Provincial Council will “raise [a] lawsuit against the Ministry of Electricity on their behalf.”
Progress to be Made with IDP Conditions
On July 18, the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) of Karbala living in an IDP camp in the south of the city criticized the lack of services available to them. The Committee of Displacement and Migration pledged to address the issues, including the lack of water, electricity and protection in the camps. The Chairperson of the Committee, Laila Falih, stated “the displaced persons’ camp in Karbala is the first experiment in the Mid-Euphrates; it is natural to face difficulties and problems in the availability of water and electricity in the camp.”
On July 22, the head of the Ministry of Migration and Displacement in Kirkuk, Ammar Sabah, announced that 300 displaced families in Kirkuk returned to their homes in Tikrit. This is the fifth group of families returning to Tikrit, bringing the total to 1400 families. On July 20, however, an anonymous security source in Kirkuk stated that ISIS abducted 35 displaced families during their return home to Tikrit from Hawija. ISIS stopped the displaced families in the Hamrin Mountains and took them to an unknown destination. ISIS is demanding a ransom in exchange for the release of the families, but relatives of the captives are unable to pay the amount requested.
Related to IDP movement, the Governor of Anbar, Suhaib al-Rawi, met with the General Director of Iraqi Airways, Osama al-Sadr, to discuss the resumption of free flights from Baghdad to Iraqi Kurdistan for Anbar IDP families. Al-Sadr attributed the ceasing of these trips to lack of funding received by the Council of Ministers, and claimed that once funding resumes, so will the free flights.
Clashes Continue in Anbar
On July 18, Raed Jawdat Shakir, commander of the Federal Police, said that the Federal Police intelligence cell and the Iraqi Army Aviation forces destroyed the operational command site belonging to ISIS in Ramadi. On July 23, a source in the Anbar Operations Command stated that the ISF launched large-scale military operations targeting ISIS in the areas of Albu Aitha Peninsula and Albu Bali to the north of Ramadi.
On July 22, a local police source stated that two SVBIEDs targeting Iraqi soldiers and Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs) detonated in the village of Harariyat in Garma, killing twenty-two fighters and injuring twenty-four others.
On July 21, a source from the military media of the PMUs confirmed that forces cleared the al-Fuhud area north of Saqlawiyah. On July 23, a source from the military media cell of the PMUs announced that three military battalions arrived in the al-Falahat area west of Fallujah to complete the operation of clearing the province.
Ahmed Ali is a Visiting Senior Fellow and Director of ISHM at EPIC and Sarah Walker is a Research Intern at EPIC. They would like to thank Tarai Zemba and John Chisholm for research support.