Thursday, May 5, 2016

More On Syria’s Support For Iraq’s Insurgency 2011-2012

The Syrian government was one of the earliest supporters of the Iraq insurgency. Fearing that U.S. presence next door, Damascus began allowing its nationals and other foreign fighters go to Iraq even before the 2003 invasion. The Syrians maintained that backing all the way up to 2012 even when their own country fell into war.  

Iraqi officials complained about Syria’s support for militants throughout 2011. At the end of January a group of insurgents were caught in Anbar crossing over from Syria. (1) The head of the provincial security committee claimed they got aid from the Syrian government. He went on to say that Syria would remain a threat to Iraq as long as President Assad remained in power. That was before the Syrian conflict had started however. When that finally began, Damascus still found time to maintain its role in Iraq. In April the Anti-Terrorism Police arrested 12 officers who were involved in insurgent attacks over the last two years with help from Syrian intelligence. (2) The next month a member of the Anbar council blamed Damascus for the lack of security in Iraq because it was still allowing militants to use its territory. (3) Finally, in November Deputy Interior Minister Adnan al-Asadi claimed that Baathists in Syria were working with the Islamic State of Iraq to carry out suicide bombings. Those all showed that as Syria fell into its own armed conflict that first year it was still actively involved in trying to undermine Baghdad. Foreign fighters and Iraqis were still based in its territory and using it as a safe haven to bring in money, material, and men for operations in Iraq. These networks were all created before the U.S. invasion under the supervision and active support of Damascus and its various security and intelligence agencies.

Another sign of Syria’s nefarious activities was its hosting of the Iraq Baath party. Many top Baathist functionaries fled to Syria after the U.S. invasion where President Assad attempted to co-opt them. For example, in November 2011, Syria’s Arrai TV aired a recording of Izzat al-Duri, the head of the Naqshibandi insurgent group criticizing Baghdad’s arrest of Baathists. By July 2012 when the Syrian war was really getting underway the two wings of the Baathist Party, one led by Mohammed Yunis al-Ahmad and the other by Duri were still being hosted by Syrian intelligence. (4) Their situation was getting difficult at that time as Iranians and Hebzollah fighters were trying to hunt them down, forcing many to move to other countries. Today the Naqshibandi is no longer active having been eclipsed and beaten into submission by the Islamic State. Its suspected that some of its cadres are still in Syria however.

Damascus was an active supporter of Iraq’s insurgency at least up to 2012. That was only abated when the Syrian war fully broke out and the Assad government had other things to deal with. Ironically, today there are thousands of Iraqis organized by Iran fighting for the same Syrian government. Some of the insurgent groups it supported are now fighting Assad as well. The instability and violence that Syria helped foster has now come back to haunt it.


1. Alsumaria, “Anbar: Syria still poses a risk on Iraq if regime is not changed,” 6/17/11

2. Al-Sabah, “12 Arrested Iraqi Policeman Acted For Syrian Intelligence Officers,” MEMRI Blog, 4/18/11

3. Aswat al-Iraq, “Better Security Due Syrian Occupation With Internal Affairs,” 5/24/11

4. “Iraqi Baathists in Syria Are Running Out of Friends,” Al-Zaman


Aswat al-Iraq, “Better Security Due Syrian Occupation With Internal Affairs,” 5/24/11

Ibrahim, Waleed, “Saddam deputy surfaces in audio recording: TV report,” Reuters, 11/11/11

Al-Laithi, Nidal, “Iraqi Baathists in Syria Are Running Out of Friends,” Al-Zaman, 7/22/12

Al-Sabah, “12 Arrested Iraqi Policeman Acted For Syrian Intelligence Officers,” MEMRI Blog, 4/18/11

Al-Salhy, Suadad, “U.S. pullout gives al Qaeda space in north, west Iraq,” Reuters, 11/18/11

Al-Sumaria, “Anbar: Syria still poses a risk on Iraq if regime is not changed,” 6/17/11

United States Department of State Bureau of Counterterrorism, “Country Reports on Terrorism 2011,” July 2012

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Sadr Trying To Play Kingmaker In Iraq

Moqtada al-Sadr is attempting to become the pre-eminent party boss in Iraqi politics. After years of trying he finally co-opted the anti-corruption protest movement in Baghdad. That culminated in his followers temporarily taking over the Green Zone in the heart of the capital during the weekend. He has also become one of Prime Minister Haidar Abadi’s only supporters as he attempts to push through his reform package for the government. As Sadr has done before he wants to turn his pull with the Iraqi street into political power by dictating terms to the prime minister and threatening the other elites with future demonstrations if they do not comply.

Moqtada al-Sadr was able to take over the protest movement in Iraq to push his agenda. The latest demonstrations started in 2015. As usual they demanded an end to corruption, better services like electricity, and political reform. Sadr first called out his followers to join them in August. He then attempted to gain credibility with the masses by ordering his deputy premier Bahaa al-Araji to resign his position when Prime Minister Haidar Abadi announced that he was dismissing his deputies to save money. Then in February 2016 Sadr announced his own reform program that included a new non-partisan, technocratic cabinet like the one the prime minister suggested. He then gave Abadi a 45 day deadline to enact change. In the meantime he would hold more demonstrations. By March his people started a sit-in outside the Green Zone, culminating in Sadr himself walking into that sector and having his own personal protest. Finally, on April 30 Sadrists led crowds into the Green Zone occupying the area for the weekend. There were all kinds of complaints by Iraqi politicians against these actions, calling it mob rule to claiming it was the end of the post-2003 political order. Similar views were expressed in the foreign press. Mob rule might be the closest of those evaluations. Sadr has tried to take over these demonstrations unsuccessfully for years now. In 2016, he finally succeeded. His followers were able to co-opt the protesters’ and then impose his demands. He can now use them to threaten and intimidate the other ruling elite. That’s exactly what the march through the Green Zone was meant to do. Sadr did not want to overthrow the governing system as some claimed, but control it instead.

Sadr has also thrown around his weight in parliament and with Prime Minister Abadi. First, as Abadi pushed his reform package the other parties that backed him began peeling away, while Sadr’s Ahrar bloc remained with him. At the same time, the Sadrists became increasingly critical of the premier. For example, in November 2015 and January 2016 the bloc complained that Abadi wasn’t pushing hard enough on his changes. In February, a Sadr spokesman claimed the prime minister had missed a great opportunity to reform the government. Later that month the movement threatened to withdraw their support for Abadi if he didn’t move forward with his program, followed by remarks about a no confidence vote against him. Sadr then created a committee, which came up with 90 nominations for Abadi’s new cabinet. Finally, when the PM got his ministerial candidates before parliament in April the Sadrist MPs joined a sit in protest, which attempted to dismiss Speaker of Parliament Salim al-Jabouri, a strong ally of Abadi. Sadr then pulled his members and said the demonstrations should end so they could vote on Abadi’s ministers. All of these moves highlighted Sadr’s attempts to become the new boss in Iraqi politics. He wasn’t just satisfied with being a backer of the premier, he wanted to dictate the terms of his reform package using threats, protests, and jabs. His move to join the protesting MPs who tried to vote out Speaker Jabouri was meant to cut Abadi’s allies so that he would become more dependent upon Sadr. Just as the protests outside and eventually inside the Green Zone were meant to pressure the premier’s actions, Sadr’s machinations within the government were meant to strong arm Abadi to comply with Moqtada’s demands.

It is unclear what will become of Sadr’s strategy. Abadi’s attempt to take the ministries away from the ruling parties has angered almost everyone. That has fractured the dominate Shiite National Alliance with Dawa splitting between pro-Abadi and pro-Maliki factions, and the Supreme Council abandoning the PM. Again that is part of Sadr’s plans to make Ahrar the only bloc that Abadi can rely upon outside of his own Dawa members. On the other hand, the political discord makes it almost impossible to get anything through parliament, which is necessary to change the government. Sadr’s coercive methods must also be trying on Abadi’s nerves. In the end, Sadr could just be adding to the dysfunction in Baghdad, which would undermine his goal of becoming the kingmaker as paralysis will ensure rather than any meaningful change.


AIN, “Araji responds to Sadr order and resigns,” 8/10/15

eKurd, “Iraqi Kurds demand fair share in next cabinet to support Abadi,” 2/23/16

Iraq News Network, “Sadr directed his deputies to vote on the dismissal of the president of parliament,” 4/19/16
- “Sadrist: Abadi failed and weak,” 3/19/16

Kazimi, Nibras, “What is happening in Iraq?” Talisman Gate, Again, 2/23/16

Al Mada, “Abadi facing criticism from the Liberals and Citizens and dissatisfaction by the marjariya on the reluctance on reforms,” 1/11/16
- “Abadi mortgages the small committee and excludes the Ministers of Defense and Electricity,” 3/28/16
- “The Citizens and Liberals: the formation of a front for reform depends on Abadi obeying his partners,” 11/6/15
- “Karbala backstage meeting: the coalition parties proposed the nomination of technocrats for the ministries and independent bodies,” 3/7/16
- “Prime Minister will resort to Plan B in event of failure to convince the masses of his reforms,” 3/14/16
- “Protest in solidarity with Abadi’s decisions and want to hold the corrupt accountable,” 8/9/15
- “Rapprochement between State of Law and the Supreme Council paves the way for partial modification of nine ministries,” 3/17/16
- “Sit in deputies in parliament hall sign a code of conduct for the formation of a new government,” 4/12/16

Martin, Patrick with Anagnostos, Emily, Bessette, Rachel and Werman, Hannah, “Warning: Iraq’s Shi’a Parties Split Over Cabinet Reshuffle Amidst Protests,” Institute for the Study of War, 3/25/16

Middle East Eye, “Iraq’s Abadi unveils new cabinet list as Sadr ends protests,” 3/31/16

Morris, Loveday, “Protesters leave Baghdad’s Green Zone a day after ransacking parliament,” Washington Post, 5/1/16

New Sabah, “Abadi identifies two paths of reform and choice of ministers reached an advanced stage,” 2/29/16

NINA, “Tens Of Thousands Of Sadrist And Civil Activists Arrive To Tahir Square,” 3/11/16

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, “Iraq’s Sadr Calls On Followers To Join Protests,” 8/24/15

Raheem, Kareem and Kalin, Stephen, “Iraq’s Sadr begins sit-in inside Green Zone to push for reforms,’ Reuters, 3/27/16

Reuters, “Powerful Iraq Shi’ite cleric says PM’s position at stake unless he reforms,” 2/26/16

Sotaliraq, “Sadr calls for demonstration in their millions next Friday in Tahrir Square,” 2/22/16
- “Sadr’s spokesman: Abadi missed a great opportunity and he could have overcome the crisis,” 2/21/16

Trofimov, Yaroslav, “Cleric’s Role Reversal Upends Iraq’s Political Order,” Wall Street Journal, 3/30/16

Xinhua, “Followers of Shiite cleric begin sit-in protest near Baghdad’s Green Zone,” 3/18/16
- “Prominent Shiite cleric urges Iraq’s protesting legislators to end sit-in,” 4/20/16

Zeed, Adnan Abu, “How religious movements gained the upper hand in Iraqi protests,” Al Monitor, 4/6/16

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Security In Iraq, Apr 22-28, 2016

Violence jumped in Iraq the fourth week of April 2016. The Islamic State picked up its terrorist operations and executions during the week leading to the increase. There was also the usual fighting in areas where the government was carrying out security operations. The week’s spike may mean that in fact, IS is carrying out a spring offensive.

There were 160 incidents during the fourth week of April. That compared to 124 the third week, 141 the second, and 144 the first. Attacks often go up and down throughout each month, and April 22-28 was one of those high points.

Baghdad had the most incidents with 72 followed by 24 in Ninewa, 22 in Anbar, 16 in Diyala, 14 in Salahaddin, 9 in Kirkuk, 2 in Babil, and 1 in Karbala.

There were 413 deaths and 524 wounded during the week. That was the highest total casualties, 937, since the last week of February when there were 1,061 reported in the press.

The dead were made up of 5 Sahwa, 29 Peshmerga, 30 Hashd, 42 members of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), and 307 civilians. 2 Sahwa, 14 Peshmerga, 42 Hashd, 56 ISF, and 410 civilians were also wounded.

Ninewa had the highest number of deaths with 204. There were another 113 in Baghdad, 45 in Salahaddin, 33 in Anbar, and 9 in Diyala and Kirkuk each.

There was still major fighting going on in Anbar. In the middle of April the town of Hit in western Anbar was freed. Since then the Iraqi forces have tried to clear out the surrounding towns and moved into the Hit-Haditha valley. A new Garma operation was announced the second week of April, but was going through the same areas like Subhait and Albu Jasim that were fought over in February and March. The effort to take the Garma district has gone on for two years now. The government’s forces got to the center of the town, but were never able to take it from the Islamic State, and as time passed, they got caught churning through the outside areas again and again. The Hashd led effort outside Fallujah led to the clearing of Albu Khanfj and Albu Abdul. Finally, at the start of March a massive sweep was made from Samarra in central Salahaddin to the Thar Thar Lake in northern Anbar. The Iraqi forces claimed this as a huge victory, but during the fourth week of April, they went right back into Thar Thar. This is a huge rural area, which the government has no possibility of holding for any length of time. All this fighting in Anbar took a toll on the leadership of the ISF. The chief of staff of the 7th Division, the commander of the 27th Brigade from that division were both killed, and the 7th Brigade commander was wounded. On another front an estimated 200 people died and were injured by IEDs in Ramadi after political and religious leaders encouraged them to return to the city before removing the bombs had seriously begun. Overall, the government is expanding its control over the major areas in Anbar. The problem continues to be holding onto the smaller towns, which continue to switch hands in many places.

Violence in Baghdad shot back up from April 22-28. During the third week of April the number of incidents in Baghdad saw a large drop to just 59. That was due to demonstrations in the capital demanding government reforms. Every time they occur the Islamic State has reduced its attacks. In the fourth week, incidents went back up to 72 with very high levels of violence on days when there were no protests. As usual the south was the hardest hit with 2 car bombs, 1 sticky bomb, 5 shootings, and 13 IEDs for a total of 26 incidents. After that there were 14 in the north, 13 in the west, 12 in the east, and 5 in the center. The four car bombings from April 22-28 were the most in the province since the first week of October 2015 when there were also four. Those bombings pointed to another escalation in terrorist activity by the Islamic State in Baghdad, which has been going on for months now as it losses on the battlefield.

In Diyala there was a new wave of attacks on the capital of Baquba. That included a suicide bomber attacking a market, a car bomb being discovered and dismantled before it could go off, and two mortar attacks.

Ninewa saw clashes and attacks upon the ISF and Peshmerga, and a new string of large scale executions by the Islamic State. The Makhmour operation got going again with two towns taken at the end of the week. IS counterattacked four times in the district. The militants also fired rockets on Peshmerga positions twice. In Mosul, Qayara and Makhmour IS executed 141 people and blew up two churches. Finally a coalition air strike was blamed for killing 36 civilians in Mosul.  

Tensions in Tuz Kharmato got out of control again in ethnosectarian violence between Arab Shiite Hashd units, Shiite Turkmen, Peshmerga, and Kurdish irregulars. This was a replay of the heavy fighting that occurred in the town in November. In total, the press had 43 dead and 65 wounded. The town is explosive because of all the agendas at work. There are several different Hashd groups in the area, all competing with each other. Attacks and harassing Kurds is one outgrowth of this rivalry. Local Turkmen and Kurds feel threatened by each other and the armed forces in Tuz, and regularly carry out small scale violence against each other, and readily join in when heavy fighting breaks out. That all adds up to an explosive situation, which will continue to go off in the foreseeable future as long as armed groups instead of the government are in charge of the area.

In a further sign that the Islamic State was moved back into the Baiji district in Salahaddin, the Hashd started a new operation in Siniya at the very end of the month, and a suicide car bomb was destroyed there as well. The Hashd led forces moved to the northeast after it freed Baiji and this has allowed the militants to re-infiltrate.

Finally, there were four successful car bombs in Iraq during the week, all in Baghdad. They cost the lives of 23 people and wounded another 79. The Iraqi forces claimed to have destroyed another 28 with one each in Diyala and Salahaddin, 7 in Ninewa, and 19 in Anbar.

Violence In Iraq 2015-16
3,032 + 150
2,565 + 1,499
1,952 + 646
2,153 + 405
3,198 + 4,024
2,440 + 760
1,668 + 3,003
1,455 + 124 + 1,322
1,252 + 5,920
Jan 1-7
Jan 8-14
Jan 15-21
Jan 22-28
Jan 29-31
Feb 1-7
Feb 8-14
Feb 15-21
Feb 22-29
Mar 1-7
Mar 8-14
Mar 15-21
Mar 22-28
Mar 29-31
Apr 1-7
Apr 8-14
Apr 15-21
Apr 22-28

Security By Province Apr 22-28, 2016
22 Incidents
33 Killed: 11 ISF, 22 Civilians
110 Wounded: 9 ISF, 101 Civilians
4 Shootings
1 IED+
1 Suicide Bomber
5 Mortars
1 Rockets
9 Suicide Bombers Killed
12 Suicide Car Bombs Destroyed
7 Car Bombs Destroyed
2 Incidents
5 Wounded: 5 Civilians
1 Shooting
2 IEDs
72 Incidents
113 Killed: 3 Hashd, 5 Sahwa, 15 ISF, 90 Civilians
315 Wounded: 2 Sahwa, 3 Hashd, 36 ISF, 274 Civilians
18 Shootings
40 IEDs
4 Sticky Bombs
1 Suicide Bomber
3 Suicide Car Bombs
1 Car Bomb
1 Suicide Bomber Killed
16 Incidents
9 Killed: 1 ISF, 8 Civilians
16 Wounded: 2 ISF, 14 Civilians
3 Shootings
2 IEDs
1 Suicide Bomber
4 Mortars
1 Car Bomb Destroyed
1 Incident
1 Rockets
9 Incidents
9 Killed: 9 Civilians
5 Wounded: 2 ISF, 3 Civilians
4 Shootings
2 IEDs
1 Mortar
1 Suicide Bomber Arrested
24 Incidents
204 Killed: 9 ISF, 20 Peshmerga, 175 Civilians
8 Wounded: 8 Peshmerga
9 Shootings
28 IEDs
2 Rockets
8 Suicide Bombers Killed
7 Suicide Car Bombs Destroyed
14 Incidents
45 Killed: 3 Civilians, 6 ISF, 9 Peshmerga, 27 Hashd
65 Wounded: 6 Peshmerga, 7 ISF, 39 Hashd, 13 Civilians
8 Shootings
3 Mortars
1 Suicide Car Bomb Destroyed

Car Bombs In Iraq Apr, 2016
Car Bombs
Apr 1
Hit, Anbar
Apr 2
Hit, Anbar – 3 destroyed
Apr 3
Apr 4
Baghdadi x2, Anbar
Meshada & Taji, Baghdad
Basra, Basra
Baghdadi, Rashad, Shihabi, Subhait, Anbar – 21 destroyed
Abu Ghraib, Baghdad – 2 destroyed
Nasir, Ninewa – 6 destroyed
Siniya, Salahaddin – 2 destroyed
Apr 5
New Baghdad, Baghdad
Baghdadi & Subhait, Anbar – 9 destroyed
Tal Ahmed, Kirkuk – 1 destroyed Makhmou, Nasir, Ninewa – 13 destroyed
Apr 6
Kubaisa, Anbar – 3 destroyed
Nasir, Ninewa – 7 destroyed
Apr 7
160 Kilo, Garma, Hit, Anbar – 7 destroyed
Tal Ahmed, Kirkuk – 3 Destroyed
Hardan, Ninewa – 2 destroyed
Shirqat-Baiji Road, Salahaddin – 2 destroyed
7 – 81 Destroyed
Apr 8
Hit, Anbar – 10 destroyed
Makhmour, Ninewa – 7 destroyed
Apr 9
Albu Bali, Anbar
Hit & Subhait, Anbar – 6 destroyed
Apr 10
Bashir, Kirkuk – 3 destroyed
Nasir, Ninewa – 1 destroyed
Baiji, Salahaddin – 2 destroyed
Apr 11
Apr 12
Hit, Anbar – 1 destroyed
Nasir, Ninewa – 2 destroyed
Apr 13
Makhmour & Nasir, Ninewa – 3 destroyed
Apr 14
Makhoul, Salahaddin – 1 destroyed
1 – 36 Destroyed
Apr 15
Apr 16
Haj Ali, Ninewa – 4 destroyed
Apr 17
Khasfa, Anbar – 1 destroyed
Apr 18
Bashir & Tel Ahmed, Kirkuk – 5 destroyed
Apr 19
Baghdadi, Anbar – 3 destroyed
Apr 20
Apr 21
Saqlawiya, Anbar – 1 destroyed
Bashir, Kirkuk – 1 destroyed
Siniya, Salahaddin – 4 destroyed
0 – 19 Destroyed
Apr 22
Apr 23
Arab Jabour & Rashidiya, Baghdad
Siniya, Salahaddin – 1 destroyed
Apr 24
Apr 25
New Baghdad & Shakha, Bahgdad
Baghdadi, Anbar – 3 destroyed
Apr 26
Apr 27
Albu Tapah, Garma, Hit Valley, Thar Thar – 10 destroyed
Apr 28
Boutaya & Dolab, Anbar – 6 destroyed
Baquba, Diyala – 1 destroyed
Mahana, Ninewa – 7 destroyed
4 – 28 Destroyed


Adel, Loaa, "Commander of army's commandos regiment wounded in confrontations west of Ramadi," Iraqi News, 4/23/16
- "International coalition foils suicide attack on Baghdadi's eastern entrance," Iraqi News, 4/25/16

eKurd, "iraqi Kurdistan News in brief - April 27, 2016, 4/27/16

Al Maalomah, "17 martyrs and wounded from the security forces north of Baghdad from a suicide bomber blowing up," 4/23/16
- "The death of one civilian and wounding three others in a suicide bombing east Baquba," 4/26/16
- "The destruction of three Daash car bombs east of Fallujah," 4/27/16
- "The martyrdom and wounding more than 200 people by booby-trapped houses in Ramadi," 4/29/16
- "Security forces clear three areas in Fallujah, killing 20 Daash members," 4/24/16
- "Two suicide bombers killed by aerial bombardment in Thar Thar," 4/27/16

Al Mada, "Daash bombed in al-Baghdadi complex by Internatoinal Alliance targeting rocket launchers," 4/27/16
- "Death toll in suicide bombing north Baghdad up to 35 dead and wounded," 4/23/16

Mamoun, Abdelhak, "6 Iraqi army members killed, wounded in car bomb explosion south of Baghdad," Iraqi News, 4/25/16
- "150 ISIS fighters killed in cleansing battles of al-Karma District," Iraqi News, 4/23/16
- "ISIS military official al-Karma killed in cleansing battles in eastern Fallujah," Iraqi News, 4/6/16
- "ISIS security official of Karma District killed in eastern Fallujah," Iraqi News, 4/10/16
- "Jazeera Operations forces kill 21 ISIS members west of Ramadi, 203 IEDs dismantled," Iraqi News, 4/28/16
- "Security forces foil suicide attack in Karma District, 7 ISIS members killed," Iraqi News, 4/28/16
- "Security forces fully liberate Doulab area, dozens of ISIS members killed," Iraqi News, 4/26/16
- "Security forces liberate Albu Naim area in Heet, dozens of ISIS members killed," Iraqi News, 4/23/16

NINA, "30 Terrorists Killed, A Village South of Mosul Controlled By Daash Besieged," 4/27/16
- "Defense Ministry announces the return of more than /41/ thousand families to Haditha District," 4/23/16
- "Federal Police: A Military Operation Starts To Liberate Tharthar Area," 4/22/16
- "Four families killed in bombing by the international coalition east of Mosul," 4/22/16
- "The popular crowd confirms the liberation of more than 5000 square kilometers of the basin in the Thar Thar operations," 3/6/16
- "Security Forces Foil An Attack For Daash South Of Mosul," 4/28/16

Salaheddin, Sinan, "Iraq: Car Bombing in Baghdad Kills at Least 12 Civilians," Associated Press, 4/25/16

Sarhan, Amre, "Army brigadier wounded by ISIS shelling in al-Doulab area west of Heet," Iraqi News, 4/25/16
- "Iraqi joint forces kill 18 ISIS fighters in batles in al-Karma east of Fallujah," Iraqi News, 3/19/16

Sotaliraq, "Car Bomb dismantled near Baquba government building," 4/28/16
- "Killing Chief of Staff of 7th Division commander in explosion west Baghdad," 4/23/16
- "Killing and wounding of 11 soldiers in a second car bomb attack in Baghdad," 4/23/16

Al-Sumaria, "Baghdad Operations announced the death of one soldier and wounding four others blown up in Husseiniya," 4/23/16
- "Start process of freeing the regions in valley in Anbar," 4/23/16