Updates for June 6-12, 2015
- The U.S. is deploying an additional 450 military advisors to Iraq. This decision comes in the aftermath of the May 17 fall of Ramadi and this mission and the advisors will be based in eastern Anbar province. The deployment of these advisors will likely boost the confidence of Iraqi Sunni tribes who are fighting ISIS.
- Clashes continued in Anbar province as Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) are pressuring ISIS in areas east of Fallujah particularly in the Garma area. ISF also conducted operations in the vicinity of Haditha and al-Baghdadi sub-districts and these operations are likely intended to pressure ISIS in western Anbar.
- In Salah ad-Din province in the north, clashes continued in Baiji, home to Iraq’s largest oil refinery, and there are ongoing operations in the Hamrin mountain areas between Salah ad-Din and Diyala provinces.
- Senior member of the Diyala Provincial Council, Karim al-Juburi denied that the UN has suspended its activities in the province. The denial comes in the aftermath of news that the UN suspended its activities in light of the kidnapping of the UN’s office chief in the province. Also in Diyala, a fire at an IDP camp in Khanaqin burned down 43 tents but caused no casualties.
450 New U.S. Military Advisors to Iraq Amid Iraqi Parliamentary Speaker’s Visit
On June 10, the White House announced that the United States government will deploy 450 extra U.S. military advisors to Iraq. The advisors will be based in al-Taqqadum air base in Habbaniyah in eastern Anbar province. These new advisors will provide training to Iraqi forces and Iraqi Sunni tribes. Additionally, the new advisors will work on engaging Iraqi Sunni tribes in Anbar province and will have the responsibility of assisting Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) in retaking Anbar areas from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). Also this week, the Speaker of Iraq’s Council of Representatives (CoR), Salim al-Juburi, visited Washington for high-level meetings with U.S. officials. Speaker Juburi raised the needs of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) during his public appearances.
Eastern Anbar Major Effort for Anti-ISIS Forces
On June 7, the Baghdad Operations Command (BOC) announced that security forces launched an attack on Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) hideouts in Garma area, east of Fallujah in Anbar province. Reportedly, the attack resulted in destroying three Vehicle-Borne Improvised Devices (VBIEDs). On the same day, the Iraqi army and Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs) launched a joint military operation in al-Hamra and al-Maqila areas in northern Garma. On June 8, the Iraqi army and PMU launched a joint operation targeting ISIS in the Rashad area in the vicinity of Garma.
On June 9, anti-ISIS forces launched used rockets to target ISIS elements in Fallujah reportedly killing 22 ISIS militants. The Iraqi Military Intelligence Directorate further stated that amongst those killed were four foreigners. Four ISIS vehicles were also destroyed. On the same day, the Iraqi army and the federal police averted a Suicide VEST attack by five suicide bombers in the al-Amiriyat al-Fallujah Municipal building, south of Fallujah. A source in the Anbar Operations Command confirmed that the five militants killed were wearing explosive vests. On the same day, the Iraqi Security Forces launched operations to disrupt ISIS presence in the Haditha and al-Baghdadi districts, western Anbar.
ISIS Focused on the Hamrin Mountains
On June 7, the Iraqi Security Forces and PMUs reportedly cleared ISIS from the municipal building in Baiji, north of Tikrit. However, ISIS was reportedly still in control of six neighborhoods in northern Baiji in addition to a sub-district. The operation included the participation of Iraqi army aviation. On June 9, a Federal Police (FP) force and the PMUs launched a joint operation targeting ISIS in the Hamrin mountains area, east of Tikrit. The FP commander, Raed Shakir Jawdat stated that ISIS was seeking to control an area in Hamrin mountain and that this operation was preemptive. On June 11, an FP force targeted ISIS again in the Hamrin mountains.
UN has not Suspended Activities in Diyala
On June 6, member of the Diyala provincial Council, Karim al-Juburi, denied that the United Nations has suspended its work and activities in Diyala. Juburi stated that the United Nations is currently working to build low-cost houses in the areas of Muqdadiyah and Sherwen. On June 9, a fire broke out in an Internally Displaced Person (IDP) camp that houses about 14,000 families in Khanaqin. The fire burned 43 tents in total; there were no casualties, but a number of IDPs were injured, and there was some material damage. Ghazi Ali Agha, the Manager of Khanaqin Migration, attributed the cause of the fire to the close distances between the tents. On June 10, the Minister of Construction, Tariq al-Kikhani, announced the allocation of over 100 billion dinars to for the rehabilitation of Diyala’s infrastructure given the clashes between the anti-ISIS forces and ISIS. Kikhani stated that 91 billion dinars will be allocated to rehabilitation and construction projects in the province and 10 billion dinars to the rehabilitation of roads and bridges projects.
Ahmed Ali is a Visiting Senior Fellow and the Director of the Iraq Security and Humanitarian Monitor at the Education for Peace in Iraq Center. He would like to thank Abdul Bhat and Tarai Zemba for research support.