Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Was An Islamic State Leader Killed In Iraq’s Anbar Recently?


In late February 2015 there were reports that a senior leader within the Islamic State (IS) was killed in Iraq’s Anbar province. Abu Muslim al-Turkmani one of the top two lieutenants to the Islamic State’s (IS) head Abu Bakr Baghdadi was said to have died in a Coalition air strike along the Syrian border. The problem was that he supposedly died in December 2014 in a similar attack. To further complicate the matter there was other reporting that he was not even amongst the dead. If true this would be another major hit to the organization that has lost several other important leaders in the last several months, but the problem as ever is confirming these deaths.

On February 26, 2015 the Iraqi press reported that Abu Muslim al-Turkmani was killed by a Coalition air strike in Qaim, Anbar. A number of high level Islamic State assets were gathered along the Iraq-Syrian border, and were targeted by the U.S. led alliance. Early reports claimed that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi might have been there, but that didn’t turn out to be true. Instead, Turkmani was said to have died along with several other important IS members. The problem with this was that Turkmani was supposedly killed by another missile strike back in December 2014. The Chinese wire service Xinhua further complicated the matter by saying that Turkmani was not even there.

If Turkmani was killed it would be a major blow to IS. Turkmani, whose real name is Fadil Ahmad Abdullah al-Hayali is from Tal Afar in Ninewa and is believed to be a Turkmen. He is a former Baathist, who was a lieutenant colonel in intelligence and Special Forces under Saddam. He is a member of the Shura Council and Provincial Council within IS and is one of Baghdadi’s top two deputies with responsibility for running Iraq. He would be the highest IS member to be killed since the U.S. and its allies began operating again in Iraq.

Given that this was the second reported death of Turkmani it is hard to believe either reports. Also with such a high level death IS would likely release a public announcement at some point to mark him as a martyr. That has not happened yet so this report and the earlier one from 2014 have to be viewed with quite a bit of skepticism. Until there is other confirmation it cannot be determined what Turkmani’s fate is.

SOURCES

Abbas, Mushreq, “Decentralization of powers weakens IS,” Al Monitor, 1/20/15

Al Arabiya, “Blow broke the back of Daash .. killing Baghdadi’s deputy and his army commander,” 12/18/14

Barrett, Richard, “The Islamic State,” Soufan Group, November 2014

NINA, “Karhut announced the probability of the injury of al-Baghdadi in bombing carried out by coalition aircraft on al-Qaim city,” 2/26/15

Shafaq News, “An official source: Al-Baghdadi’s assistant and deputy administrator of Euphrates killed in al-Qaim strikes,” 2/26/15

Sherlock, Ruth, “Inside the leadership of Islamic State: how the new ‘caliphate’ is run,” Telegraph, 7/9/14

Xinhua, “At least 15 IS militants killed in U.S.-led coalition airstrikes in western Iraq,” 2/26/15

Monday, March 2, 2015

Violence Down In Iraq In February 2015


There was a short spike in violence in December 2014 and January 2015, which ended in February. Both attacks and casualties went down last month to the lowest levels since May 2014 despite major operations by the Islamic State in Anbar, Ninewa and Salahaddin. This was part of a larger trend, which has seen security slowly improve across Iraq since the summer.

The press reported 655 security incidents in February 2015. That was lower than January’s 815 and December’s 689. For a short period it looked like the Islamic State was ramping up operations for another major push in the new year. They were still carrying out large scale attacks across the middle of the country in February, but they were not able to sustain the same pace as the previous months. Comparing provincial statistics from January to February showed that. Attacks in Anbar went from 161 to 122, Ninewa went from 128 to 89, and Salahaddin dropped from 128 to 89. Kirkuk had the most dramatic decline with 54 incidents in January compared to just 13 in February. The other governorates either had slight increases or saw roughly the same number of attacks between the two months. Overall, incidents have been on a steady decline since June.

February ended with 1,730 deaths and 2,298 wounded. The latter consisted of 217 members of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), 41 sahwa, 38 peshmerga, and 1,434 civilians. The former was made up of 227 ISF, 19 peshmerga, 8 sahwa, and 2,043 civilians. Anbar had the most fatalities with 577. After that was Baghdad with 437, 317 in Salahaddin, 249 in Ninewa, 91 in Diyala, 33 in Babil, 22 in Kirkuk, and two each in Basra and Wasit. Those figures were down from January’s 2,308 dead and 2,895 injured. February’s numbers were the lowest since 1,462 people died and 2,602 were wounded in May 2012. Like security incidents casualties have been going down since the summer.

Violence In Iraq By Week Jun. 2014-2015
Date
Incidents
Dead
Wounded
Jun 1-7
228
612
1,020
Jun 8-14
234
1,889
890
Jun 15-21
179
803
759
Jun 22-28
203
733
777
Jun 29-30
59
127
236
JUN
901
4,172
3,701
Jul 1-7
203
526
651
Jul 8-14
214
577
628
Jul 15-21
230
444
1,009
Jul 22-28
224
589
801
Jul 29-31
66
163
230
JUL
937
2,299
3,319
Aug 1-8
270
1,122
885
Aug 9-14
180
710
1,152
Aug 15-21
150
731
499
Aug 22-28
156
523
798
Aug 29-31
59
125
289
AUG
815
3,211
3,623
Sep 1-7
169
616
751
Sep 8-14
168
467
731
Sep 15-21
170
625
794
Sep 22-28
157
396
576
Sep 29-30
49
118
252
SEP
713
2,222
3,104
Oct 1-7
175
456
687
Oct 8-14
189
560
880
Oct 15-21
159
499
780
Oct 22-28
160
346
596 + 1,230
Oct 29-31
72
574
227
OCT
754
2,434
3,170 + 1,230
Nov 1-7
154
611
828
Nov 8-14
134
470
607
Nov 15-21
139
323
479
Nov 22-28
139
321
640
Nov 29-30
40
206
535
NOV
606
1,931
3,089
Dec 1-7
148
581
482
Dec 8-14
156
233 + 166
444 + 1,113
Dec 15-21
133
377
340
Dec 22-28
161
558
432
Dec 29-31
91
117
233
DEC
689
2,032
3,044
Jan 1-7
184
434
464
Jan 8-14
170
730
493
Jan 15-21
182
390
515
Jan 22-28
189
466
894
Jan 29-31
90
288
529
JAN
815
2,308
2,895
Feb 1-7
155
380
688
Feb 8-14
170
406
559
Feb 15-21
165
573
364
Feb 22-28
165
371
687
FEB
655
1,730
2,298

Violence By Province Jan vs. Feb 2015
Province
Jan
Feb
Anbar
161 Incidents
318 Killed: 57 ISF, 67 Sahwa, 194 Civilians
569 Wounded: 69 ISF, 44 Sahwa, 456 Civilians
106 Shootings
4 IEDs
2 Suicide
18 Suicide Car Bombs
14 Mortars

3 Rockets
122 Incidents
577 Killed: 70 ISF, 38 Sahwa, 469 Civilians
241 Wounded: 11 ISF, 8 Sahwa, 222 Civilians
72 Shootings
44 IEDs
8 Suicide Bombers
1 Suicide Motorcycle Bomb
3 Suicide Car Bomb
15 Mortars
3 Rockets
1 Artillery
1 Mine
Babil
29 Incidents
54 Killed: 11 ISF, 1 Sahwa, 42 Civilians
156 Wounded: 7 ISF, 149 Civilians
5 Shootings
15 IEDs
4 Sticky Bobs
1 Suicide Car Bomb
1 Car Bomb
34 Incidents
33 Killed: 8 ISF, 25 Civilians
136 Wounded: 29 ISF, 107 Civilians
1 Shooting
18 IEDs
4 Sticky Bombs
1 Suicide Car Bombs
2 Car Bombs
1 Mine
1 Grenade
Baghdad
205 Incidents
357 Killed: 23 ISF, 6 Sahwa, 328 Civilians
980 Wounded: 45 ISF, 13 Sahwa, 922 Civilians
63 Shootings
118 IEDs
17 Sticky Bombs
1 Motorcycle Bomb
4 Suicide Bombs
2 Car Bombs
1 Grenade
10 Mortars
214 Incidents
437 Killed: 9 ISF, 2 Sahwa, 426 Civilians
1,069 Wounded: 28 ISF, 1,041 Civilians
73 Shootings
110 IEDs
16 Sticky Bombs
4 Suicide Bombers
6 Car Bombs
11 Mortars
4 Rockets
Basra
14 Incidents
10 Killed: 10 Civilians
5 Wounded: 5 Civilians
8 Shootings
2 IEDs
7 Incidents
2 Killed: 2 Civilians
6 Wounded: 6 Civilians
3 Shootings
1 IED
1 Grenade
Diyala
53 Incidents
298 Killed: 25 ISF, 25 Peshmerga, 2 Sahwa, 246 Civilians
522 Wounded: 11 ISF, 7 Peshmerga, 1 Sahwa, 503 Civilians
34 Shootings
14 IEDs
1 Suicide Bombers
1 Suicide Car Bomb
1 Car Bomb
6 Mortars
51 Incidents
91 Killed: 10 ISF, 20 Peshmerga, 1 Sahwa, 60 Civilians
113 Wounded: 25 ISF, 2 Peshmerga, 86 Civilians
23 Shootings
15 IEDs
4 Sticky Bombs
2 Suicide Car Bombs
3 Car Bombs
1 Mortar
Irbil
1 Incident
1 Killed: 1 Civilian
6 Wounded: 6 Civilians
1 Mortar
-
Kirkuk
54 Incidents
38 Killed: 23 Peshmerga, 3 Asayesh, 1 Sahwa, 11 Civilians
186 Wounded: 175 Peshmerga, 8 Civilians
26 Shootings
17 IEDs
1 Sticky Bomb
4 Suicide Bombers
1 Car Bomb
3 Mortars
13 Incidents
22 Killed: 16 Peshmerga, 6 Civilians
12 Wounded: 5 Peshmerga, 7 Civilians
7 Shootings
22 IEDs
4 Car Bombs
1 Mortar
Maysan
4 Incidents
2 Killed: 2 Civilians
1 Wounded: 1 Civilian
2 Shootings
1 Stun Bomb
-
Ninewa
128 Incidents
691 Killed: 78 ISF, 34 Peshmerga, 26 Asayesh, 8 YPG, 545 Civilians
14 Wounded: 7 Peshmerga, 5 Asayesh, 2 YPG
92 Shootings
30 IEDs
3 Suicide Car Bombs
2 Car Bombs
89 Incidents
249 Killed: 13 ISF, 2 Peshmerga, 234 Civilians
65 Wounded: 12 Peshmerga, 53 Civilians
56 Shootings
94 IEDs
1 Suicide Bombers
1 Suicide Car Bomb
6 Car Bombs
1 Mortar
Qadisiyah
2 Incidents
1 Killed: 1 Civilian
1 Shooting
1 Sticky Bomb
-
Salahaddin
164 Incidents
538 Killed: 132 ISF, 1 Peshmerga, 405 Civilians
456 Wounded: 178 ISF, 3 Peshmerga, 275 Civilians
73 Shootings
106 IEDs
5 Sticky Bombs
4 Suicide Bombs
14 Suicide Car Bombs
1 Car Bomb
2 Grenades
8 Mortars
122 Incidents
317 Killed: 107 ISF, 210 Civilians
654 Wounded: 134 ISF, 520 Civilians
70 Shootings
138 IEDs
3 Sticky Bombs
1 Suicide Bombers
20 Suicide Car Bombs
4 Car Bombs
4 Mortars
1 Rocket
Sulaymaniya
-
1 Incident
2 Grenades
Wasit
-
2 Incidents
2 Killed: 2 Civilians
1 Wounded: 1 Civilian
2 Shootings

Car Bombs In Iraq Feb. 2015
Date
Location
Dead
Wounded
Feb 1



Feb 2
Khabaz x4, Kirkuk
Samarra, Salahaddin
21
26
Feb 3
Karrada x3, Baghdad
5
17
Feb 4
Haditha, Anbar

3
Feb 5
Ramadi, Anbar
Jazeera, Salahaddin
13
13
Feb 6



Feb 7
Tigris Axis x7, Ninewa


Totals
18
39
59
Feb 8



Feb 9
Jabber x3 & Siniya, Salahaddin
20
35
Feb 10
Mahmudiya, Babil
4
11
Feb 11
Mahmudiya, Babil
Camp Speicher x2, Dijla, Mikishifa, Muthanna Facility, Salahaddin
23
71
Feb 12
Mikishifa, Tikrit x2, Salahaddin
22
27
Feb 13



Feb 14



Totals
14
69
144
Feb 15
Edheim, Diyala
6
21
Feb 16
Abbasid & Camp Speicher, Salahaddin
4
30
Feb 17



Feb 18
Outside Samarra, Salahaddin
7
18
Feb 19



Feb 20



Feb 21
Qazzanah, Diyala

4
Totals
5
17
73
Feb 22
Baya, Baghdad
Tikrit, Salahaddin
15
29
Feb 23



Feb 24
Jsir Diyala & Meshahda, Baghdad
Sarbzani & Tuz Kharmato, Salahaddin
42
84
Feb 25



Feb 26
Mahmudiya, Babil
2
8
Feb 27



Feb 28
Anbar-Saudi border crossing, Anbar
Baladrooz x3, Diyala
Sur Nash x3, Salahaddin
41
91
Totals
15
100
212
FEB
52
225
488


The Islamic State picked up its car bomb (Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices) attacks in February. There were 52 for the month, up from 45 in January despite having three fewer days. There were two waves marked by three straight days or more of VBIED attacks from February 2 to 5 and February 9 to 12. In previous years Baghdad was the main target of car bombs, but that has now changed. For the month the capital province was only struck four times. Instead Salahaddin had the most with 17, and Anbar, Babil and Diyala had three each. The number of casualties caused by these types of attacks went up as well from 151 dead in January to 221 in February and the wounded going from 257 to 446. This was due to several mass casualty attacks throughout the country. For example, on February 9 three suicide bombers hit the headquarters of the 1st Army Brigade in Jabber, Salahaddin killing 7 and wounding 29 soldiers. February 24, a VBIED followed by an IED went off near a fire station in Jisr Diyala in southeast Baghdad leaving 30 fatalities and 55 injured. Then on February 28 three car bombs detonated in a market in Baladrooz, Diyala taking the lives of 25 people and wounding another 60, while three more VBIEDs hit a checkpoint outside of Samarra, Salahaddin killing 16 and wounding 31 members of the ISF and militias. Before civilians were the main target to spread terror and raise sectarian tensions. Now the pro-government forces are singled out with 27 of 52 VBIEDs being used against them in February. This trend started in the second half of 2014, and has continued to the present day. This was due to a change in strategy as IS had to first concentrate upon seizing territory during its summer offensive, and is now trying to re-take it, which means attacking hard targets rather than civilians.

Even though security incidents went down in Anbar, deaths saw a dramatic increase in February. From January to February incidents went from 161 to 122, while the number killed jumped from 318 to 577. The latter was due to a wave of mass executions by IS. The group has always carried out these types of murders, such as on February 12 when it killed 16 in Anbar including one boy. Then in the middle of the month it took most of Baghdadi and began large scale killings. February 15 it killed three police there, followed by another 27 civilians on February 16. In the following days it executed another 239 in the city, while burning 103 in Hit and Rawa. By the end of the month most of Baghdadi was cleared, but it showed that the insurgents still had large offensive capabilities in the governorate. The ISF and tribes on the other hand remain overextended. Baghdad has watched as most of the province was taken over since December 2013, while doing little about it. It did send in reinforcements from outside of Anbar to retake Baghdadi, but that was because it threatened Assad Air Base, which is right outside the city, and is a major training facility for the United States. Otherwise the pro-government forces’ operations have been largely ineffective, because they lack the manpower to hold any area. For example, since Prime Minister Haider Abadi took power in September 2014, there have been 16 operations in the Ramadi area, yet IS has gained ground there over that same time period. The government is more focused in other parts of the country, and until that changes Anbar will remain in jeopardy.

In Babil the Islamic State is trying to regroup and attacks have slowly crept up as a result. In October IS’s long time base in Jurf al-Sakhr was finally taken by the ISF and militias. That led to a dramatic improvement in security in the governorate. Attacks went from 47 in September to 44 in October to 36 in November and 27 in December. Since then the numbers have been going in the opposite direction with 29 in January and 34 in February. Almost all of these incidents now occur in the north in places like Mahmudiya, Latifiya, and Yusifiya. Still, IS is nowhere near as strong as it once was.

The number of casualties increased in Baghdad due to some mass casualty VBIED attacks. Deaths went from 357 in January to 437 in February, and the wounded went from 980 to 1,069. Shootings, Improvised Explosive Devices and Sticky Bombs remained largely the same between the two months, but car bombs went from 2 to 6. Those resulted in 46 deaths and 98 injured. Still, the main driver of insecurity in the province was IEDs, with more than 100 such detonations in the last two months, the highest amounts in the last 14 months.

In January Badr Organization head Hadi Ameri and a local ISF general claimed that Diyala was free of insurgents. That was a huge exaggeration. The security operation only targeted the Muqtadiya area in the center of the governorate, which temporarily dispersed insurgents from the area, but they quickly regrouped in other parts of Diyala. That was shown by the fact that there were 53 incidents in January and 51 in February. Casualties saw a dramatic drop however from 820 in January to 142 in February, but that was because a number of mass graves were discovered at the start of the year. Otherwise militants are back at work in the governorate.

Where there was a real improvement in security was in Kirkuk. There attacks went from 54 in January to 13 in February. Those occurred on just 10 days out of the month. This was a big change, because the month before IS launched major offensives against the peshmerga in several towns, topped off by an assault upon Kirkuk city itself. IS has either undergone a massive regrouping or it shifted forces to other areas.

IS also continued with its attempt to re-take territory in Ninewa, but with nothing to show for it. Throughout the month it attacked positions to the south and west of Mosul such as Sinjar and Makhmour. Casualties however continue to be led by executions by the Islamists. During the month it executed 84 people mostly in Mosul, while 73 dead Yazidis were discovered in Sinjar and Zummar, and another 23 in a mass grave in Zummar as well. That was 72% of the total deaths during February. This is the deadly price that the province is paying for being occupied by the Islamic State.

Salahaddin was much like Anbar with the ISF, tribes and militias overstretched. In December and January the pro-government forces strung together a number of successful security operations such as in Baiji only to prove unable to hold them. Like in Anbar, insurgents attacked across the province to try to spread out their opponents, and keep them off balance. This included a new round of attacks upon the Samarra area, especially Mikshifa, which was struck ten times during the month. This strategy will be put to the test as the ISF and militias have begun a major campaign to clear Tikrit and the surrounding area in March. IS will continue to attack other areas to draw away forces and threaten supply lines. The government’s forces will also be under scrutiny to see whether it can take a major Sunni city. It should have the advantage in men and material, as the militants have not been able to stand up and stop any previous operations of this size.

SOURCES

AIN, "Car bomb goes off in southwestern Baghdad," 2/22/15
- "ISIL executes 50-year female employee within Nineveh PC," 2/11/15
- "Mass grave seized western Mosul," 2/2/15

Alsumaria, "Daash executed a woman in Mosul," 2/10/15
-"Daash organization executed two doctors in Mosul for refusing to treat its wounded," 2/14/15

eKurd, "Iraqi Kurdistan News in brief - February 24, 2015," 2/24/15

Al Forat, "20 Persons gunned by ISIL in Mosul," 2/8/15
- "Civilians killed, injured in southern Baghdad," 2/26/15

Independent Press Agency, "Daash executed an Iraqi journalist in Mosul," 2/21/15

Iraq Times, "37 Martyrs and wounded in suicide bombings targeting the headquarters of the army in Samarra," 2/9/15
- "Toll rises double bombing in Diyala to 85 martyrs and wounded," 2/28/15

Kurd Press, "IS executes senior army officers in Mosul," 2/12/15

Al Mada, "Daash executed former candidate for parliament in central Mosul," 2/10/15

Mamuzini, Hazhar, "IS Executes 30 People for Refusing to Join Fight," Bas News, 2/14/15

Al Masalah, "A mass grave with the remains of 23 people in Zammar," 2/5/15

Millet, "Peshmerga and Yazidi Mass Graves Found," 2/4/15

NINA, "Daash Executes A Boy For Criticizing Them In Facebook," 2/12/15
- "Daash executed people and cut off the hands of another in central Mosul," 2/13/15
- "Daash Kidnap 28 Police, Three Bodies of Them Found," 2/15/15
- "The IS elements executed a Christian cleric in Mosul," 2/2/15
- "The IS executed a police officer with the rank of Brigade Adnan al-Lahibi south of Mosul," 2/5/15
- "The IS executed five shiekhs of al-Luhaib tribe south of Mosul," 2/19/15
- "The IS executed three lawyers in Mosul," 2/23/15
- "Local residents: Intensive spread of the IS in the city of Mosul, two police officers in Nineveh executed," 2/1/15
- "A suicide Bomber, Driving a Military Vehicle, blows himself Up Near a Border Station Between Iraq and Saudi Arabia," 2/28/15

Radio Free Iraq, "01 February 2015," Daily Updates from Anbar, 2/1/15

Al Rayy, "Daash executed five army officers in central Mosul," 2/9/15
- "Daash execute one of the elders of a mosque in Mosul for refusing to take a sermon under its guidance," 2/13/15

Shafaq News, "Baghdad bomb toll rises to 30 dead and 55 wounded," 2/24/15
- "Iraqi official: Daash executed 27 policemen and threw their bodies in the river," 2/16/15
- "ISIS execute two young men in central Mosul," 2/21/15

Today Online, "Second Yazidi mass grave unearthed in Iraq this week," 2/7/15

Yacoub, Sameer, "Attacks kill 19 people in Iraq," Associated Press, 2/22/15
- "Attacks Kill 37 People in and North of Iraq's Capital," Associated Press, 2/28/15
- "Bombs in Iraq, Including Twin Blasts in Busy Street, Kill 40," Associated Press, 2/24/15