- Iraqi and US Commanders Hold Security Talks; Controversial PMF Commander Released For Lack Of Evidence; IHEC Disqualifies 135 Candidates – Between June 4-8, PM Kadhimi and other Iraqi officials held separate talks with the French President, and the Foriegn Ministers of Denmark and the UK. The discussion focused on bilateral relations, countering terrorism, and support for the October elections. On June 5, senior U.S and Iraqi military commanders discussed implementing the security aspects of the third round of strategic dialogue talks between the U.S. and Iraq. On June 6, the Iraqi President condemned a Turkish airstrike that killed three people in Makhmour refugee camp in Erbil, while Ankara insisted that Iraq must expel PKK fighters from the camp. On June 6, several lawmakers predicted an election delay after parties filed appeals objecting to articles in the elections law. On June 7, a judge ordered the release of PMF commander Qassim Musleh, for “lack of evidence” in the assassination of activist Ehab al-Wazni last month. The Supreme Judiciary Council said Musleh was not in Iraq at the time of al-Wazni’s murder. On June 9, Iran’s Quds Force commander reportedly arrived in Baghdad to meet with political and militia figures to address tensions between Kadhimi and the militias following Musleh’s arrest. On June 9, IHEC disqualified 135 candidates for running for office while being active military service members, a violation of elections law. more…
- Explosion Near A Baghdad Shrine Kills Four; Peshmerga Fighters Killed In a PKK Ambush; Rockets, Drones Target Sites With US Military Presence – On June 3, an explosion at a restaurant in the highly protected Shia shrine area of al-Kadhimiya in Baghdad killed four people and injured 36 others. Authorities said a propane canister caused the blast, but subsequently arrested nine suspects for orchestrating the bombing. On June 5, KRG officials said that PKK fighters ambushed a Peshmerga force in Duhok, killing five members. On June 5, a Turkish airstrike targeted the Makhmour refugee camp in Erbil, killing three people. On June 6, air defenses at Ain al-Assad air base intercepted and downed two drones. Hours later, a rocket landed in the vicinity of the Baghdad Diplomatic Support Center inside the perimeter of the Baghdad International Airport. On June 9, three rockets struck Balad air base in Salah al-Din. On the same day, three drones targeted Baghdad Airport. On June 7, gunmen killed a senior Iraqi intelligence officer in eastern Baghdad. more…
- Fire Destroys Camp For Yazidi IDPs; Saddam Era Mass Grave Discovered In Diyala; COVID Infections Remain Steady At 4,000 Per Day – On June 4, a massive fire burned down 400 tents and injured several people in the Sharya Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp in Duhok. The blaze also affected 1,400 people. On June 6, authorities discovered a mass grave between the Kifri and Khanaqin districts in Diyala. Officials said that the site contains a large number of remains of people who were likely victims of Saddam Hussein’s regime. On June 7, a study showed that COVID-19 caused an average income loss of 16% among Iraqis between March and December 2020, and pointed to an increase in gender-based violence and insecurity. On June 7, defense lawyers for five imprisoned Duhok journalists and activists said that they resubmitted a second and final appeal to overturn their convictions. On June 10, Iraq authorities said of COVID-19 infections reached 1,242,540. The average number of new cases was 4,025 per day during the last 7-day period, compared to an average of 4,008 per day during the 7-day period ending June 3. The total number of people who received the COVID-19 vaccine reached 679,151. more…
- Iran To Increase Gas Supplies To Iraq; Baghdad Reveals Ambitious Plan To Build Eight Nuclear Reactors – On June 4, the al-Qayyarah oil field in Ninewa resumed production at 10,000 bpd after a 14 month shut-down. On June 4, the Electricity Ministry said that Iran will increase gas supplies to Iraq following an agreement with the Trade Bank of Iraq on arrears due to Iran. On June 6, the Agriculture Ministry said that it contained a bird flu outbreak in poultry farms in Basra that killed more than 60,000 birds. On June 8, Iraqi and Chinese officials signed an agreement to renovate the Nasiriyah International Airport. The Dhi-Qar governor said the airport would provide 2,000-3,000 job opportunities. On June 8, an Iraqi official said that the government developed a $40 billion plan to build eight nuclear-powered power plants to address the projected increase in demand for electricity. 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.
On June 4, French President Emmanuel Macron expressed Paris’ support for the upcoming Iraqi elections during a call with Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi. Macron also welcomed the May 7 resolution to send UN election monitors to Iraq. The leaders also discussed the operations against ISIS, bilateral cultural and economic relations, and providing a hospitable environment for French companies to invest and operate in Iraq.
On June 5, senior U.S and Iraqi military commanders met in Baghdad for the first round of technical security talks per the April 7 strategic dialogue talks. The commanders reaffirmed the outcomes of the second round strategic dialogue talks held on April 7, and agreed to develop a time table for U.S. combat troops redeployment outside Iraq, and a framework for the long-term security relationship between the two countries. The Iraqi Joint Operations Command said that a second round of technical meetings will be held in Baghdad or Washington, next month or in August.
On June 6, Iraqi President Barham Salih condemned a Turkish airstrike that killed three people in Makhmour refugee camp in Erbil province. Salih called the attack “a dangerous escalation that threatens citizens’ lives and refugees,” and said that it violated international and humanitarian laws. On June 9, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said that Iraq “must expel” Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) fighters from the camp, adding that clearing the region of PKK fighters was the Iraqi government’s responsibility, but that “Turkey would do it alone if it has to.” He revealed that Turkey was in talks with Iraqi officials in this regard.
On June 6, Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod met with the Iraqi Prime Minister al-Kadhimi and other officials in Baghdad to discuss bilateral economic relations, NATO’s mission, and the efforts to rebuild areas damaged by the war with ISIS. Koford said that Denmark will contribute an additional DKK 50 million ($8.18 million) to the UN’s Iraqi reconstruction fund. He added that his country will also “assist with holding the elections, enhance social cohesion, and support Iraq in combating militias in order to stop attacks targeting diplomatic missions.” Koford’s visit coincided with the reopening of Copenhagen’s embassy in Baghdad.
On June 6, several lawmakers said that Parliament blocs have submitted appeals to the Federal Supreme Court objecting to articles in the elections law. Salim Hamza, a member of the Legal Affairs Committee, said that the appeal could postpone the elections for four or five months. Sources said in May that political parties were “secretly” mulling an agreement to postpone the October elections
On June 8, British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab met with Prime Minister al-Kadhimi, and other officials in Baghdad and Erbil, and discussed various cooperation aspects. Raab and Kadhimi signed a strategic partnership to reaffirm London’s commitment to Iraq and to “further deepen and strengthen our friendship,” according to a statement from the UK’s Foriegn Ministry. The talks also included Baghdad’s efforts to battle COVID-19, economic reform plans, and the upcoming elections. Raab announced £1 million ($1.4 million) in aid to the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) to “ensure a free and fair process for the Iraqi people.” In the Kurdistan Region, Raab talks with President Nechirvan Barzani included Peshmerga reform efforts, the fight against ISIS, and media freedoms issues.
On June 7, an Iraqi judge ordered the release of Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) commander Qassim Musleh, 12 days after he was detained on terroism charges. The judge cited lack of evidence as the reason for release. On June 9, authorities freed Musleh who was received by a small cheering crowd in Baghdad. In his first statement upon release, Musleh implied that foreign political pressure was behind his arrest. On June 9, the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) clarified that authorities suspected Musleh involvement in the assassination of Ehab al-Wazani in May, adding that Musleh’s passport records showed that he was not in Iraq at the time of that murder. SJC also said that it couldn’t find any evidence, direct or indirect, linking Musleh to al-Wazni’s killing. The arrest of Musleh in May raised tensions between Kadhimi and PMF militia leaders, and caused an armed standoff between angry PMF fighters and Iraqi security forces inside the Green Zone.
On June 8, dozens of unemployed engineers protested in front of the state-run Maysan Oil Company in Amara city, demanding job opportunities. The protestors rejected in October 2020 programs proposed by the Oil Ministry to employ 250-300 engineers.
On June 9, sources said that the Iranian Quds Force commander Ismael Qaani arrived in Baghdad to meet with political and militia figures. The sources added that the meeting was to address ongoing tensions between Kadhimi and Iran-backed militias following Qassim Musleh’s arrest in late May.
On June 9, the Iraqi Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) disqualified 135 candidates from running in the October elections. IHEC’s spokesperson. Jumana al-Ghalai, said the candidates violated article nine of the elections law by running for office while being active military service members.
On June 3, an explosion at a crowded restaurant within a highly protected Shia shrine area of al-Kadhimiya neighborhood in northern Baghdad killed four people and injured 36 others. The Iraqi Security Media Cell said that initial forensic evidence indicated that a propane canister caused the blast. The next day, ISIS claimed responsibility for the explosion, and said it was an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). On June 6, the Iraqi National Security Service said it detained individuals investigators suspected of orchestrating the bombing, adding that ISIS recruited a member of the security force charged with protecting the shrine zone to place the bomb. On June 7, a security source said that authorities detained nine suspects so far.
On June 3, an IED exploded near an International Coalition supply convoy traveling on the highway connecting Basra and Dhi-Qar provinces. There were no reports of casualties or damage.
On June 3, an IED exploded near a civilian vehicle inTel Afar district in western Ninewa province. A police source said the blast injured two children.
On June 3, an IED explosion toppled a power tower in eastern Ninewa province, causing a power shortage throughout the region. On June 9, IED explosions heavily damaged two power towers in Kirkuk province. A third tower on the same line was also damaged in an unspecified “sabotage” incident.
On June 4, gunmen killed a PMF fighter in Tarmiyah district in northern Baghdad.
On June 4, ISIS militants attacked a PMF checkpoint in the village of al-Lihaib in al-Muqdadiyah district, in Diyala province. The attack injured a PMF fighter and damaged a thermal surveillance camera. On June 7, clashes between the PMF and ISIS militants in Khanaqin district in northeastern Diyala, killed a PMF fighter and injured another. A security source said that PMF fire killed an ISIS militant.
On June 5, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) officials said that fighters from the PKK ambushed a Peshmerga force in al-Amadiya district in Duhok province with rockets, killing five Peshmerga members and injuring at least another five. The Iraqi Defense Ministry condemned the attack as a “cowardly terrorist attack.” The PKK denied ambushing the Peshmerga, and said that its fighters only fired warning shots when the force “of 50 armored vehicles” approached its checkpoint, implying that a land mine could have caused the Peshmerga casualties. On June 7, a Peshmerga commander and family members accused the PKK of kidnapping two Peshmerga officers in Sinjar district in western Ninewa province. On June 8, a Peshmerga member was killed by apparent sniper fire during a joint mission with Iraqi Border Guards in Zakho district in northwestern Duhok.The KRG’s Peshmerga Ministry blamed the PKK for the killing.
On June 5, a Turkish airstrike targeted the Makhmour refugee camp in Erbil province. The strike killed three people. The attack followed a threat by Turkish President Recep Erdogan to ‘clean up’ the camp, which hosts thousands of Kurdish refugees from Turkey. On June 7, a Turkish missile targeted PKK tunnels in a secluded mountain area in Duhok province. Turkish warplanes also bombarded Mount Kista and Barawi Bala. The Turkish military has been conducting a large-scale operation against the PKK in Iraq since late April.
On June 6, air defenses at Ain al-Assad air base intercepted and downed two drones near the base that hosts U.S. forces in Anbar province. There were no reports of casualties or damage. The base has been the target of drone and rocket strikes in the past, including one that occurred on May 24. On June 6, a rocket landed in the vicinity of the Baghdad Diplomatic Support Center (BDSC), a U.S. facility inside the perimeter of the Baghdad International Airport. Operation Inherent Resolve’s spokesperson, Wayne Maratto, said that the attack didn’t cause casualties or damage. On June 9, three rockets struck Balad air base in Salah al-Din province, without causing casualties or damage. A security source said that the rockets landed near the F-16 hangars, and that militants launched them from al-Khalis district in Diyala province. Hours later, the Iraqi Security Media Cell said that three drones targeted Baghdad International Airport, adding that one was downed, “while the details regarding the other two drones were to be released later.” A security source said the drones were hovering above the military base within the airport. An Iraqi security official said they heard two rockets. Another official said initial findings indicated that there had been a drone attack that set an International Coalition trailer on fire. There were no reports of casualties. The U.S. military said in May that it was actively working on methods to detect and intercept drones, calling the efforts a ”top priority.”
On June 7, gunmen killed a senior Iraqi intelligence officer in eastern Baghdad. A statement by the Iraqi Intelligence Service said the victim, a colonel, was the head of the al-Rasafa intelligence office in Baghdad.
On June 9, a security source said that ISIS militants killed a civilian and injured another when they attacked a home in the Riyadh subdistrict in western Kirkuk province.
On June 10, a security source said an IED explosion injured two armed men when they attempted to infiltrate the Jurf al-Sakhr district in Babylon province.
On June 10, a security source said at least seven people suffered injuries when assailants with batons attacked protestors gathered in the al-Sheikh Saad subdistrict in southern Wasit province, to demand the resignation of local officials.
On June 4, a massive fire burned down 400 tents and injured several people in the Sharya Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp in Duhok province. The Iraqi Migration and Displacement Ministry said that the blaze affected 1,400 people in the camp, which hosts more than 15,000 Yazidis. The Free Yezidi Foundation described the incident as “infuriating,” and criticized the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR) for not providing fire extinguishers in IDP tents. The agency said it was “saddened” by the incident, adding that “we are working with local authorities and partners to determine needs and appropriate ways to provide assistance to the affected families.” The following day, Iraq’s Migration Ministry said that affected families would receive between IQD500,000 and IQD1,000,000 ($345-$685) in cash assistance, new mattresses, blankets, and clothing.
On June 6, Iraqi authorities announced the discovery of a mass grave between the Kifri and Khanaqin districts in the Diyala province. The state-funded Martyrs Foundation said that the site contains a large number of remains of people who were likely victims of Saddam Hussein’s regime.
On June 6, CBC reported that the Canadian military is investigating its own handling of reported potential war crimes by Canadian-trained Iraqi security forces that never made it up the chain of command. Sources said Canadian military investigators interviewed Canadian soldiers who said that Iraqi security personnel they trained near Mosul almost three years ago showed them videos of Iraqi soldiers raping a woman to death, and torturing and executing suspected ISIS prisoners.
On June 7, a study about the implications of COVID-19 in Iraq released by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in collaboration with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the UN’s Human Settlement Program (UN-Habitat), showed that COVID-19 caused an average income loss of 16% among Iraqis between March and December 2020. There were geographical and gender disparities in this income loss, with the study observing greater reduction in income for women-headed households. The study also found that while community tensions decreased, gender-based violence and insecurity increased. The economic downturn in Iraq most negatively affected daily workers and households by delaying income and creating job loss. The study recommended that the Iraqi government, the UN, and development partners should pay special attention to the needs of Iraq’s vulnerable populations, establish sustainable service systems and infrastructure, and create realistic goals in pursuit of the 2030 agenda.
On June 7, defense lawyers for five imprisoned Duhok journalists and activists said that they resubmitted a second and final appeal to Erbil’s Court of Cassation to overturn their convictions, following a ruling by the Court of Appeals in May that upheld the prison sentences for the five men. Defense lawyer Darbaz Wsw expected the court to rectify previous court decisions by “reducing” the sentence or freeing them. Authorities charged the men with several “crimes,’ including meeting U.S. and Germans diplomats. Since then, foreign diplomats and human rights watchdogs have condemned the convictions.
On June 8, Sinjar police announced the discovery of a mass grave containing human remains that authorities believe belong to 11 Yezidi victims of ISIS in Sinjar district in Ninewa province. The grave is one of 85 mass graves that authorities have discovered in the area since 2014.
On June 10, the Iraqi Ministry of Health said the total number of COVID-19 infections reached 1,242,540. This is an increase of 28,173 cases from the 1,214,367 reported on June 3. Of these cases, 65,919 are currently in hospitals, including 441 being treated in ICUs. These numbers represent a decrease of 2,765 in hospitalizations and an increase of 51 in ICU admissions since June 3. Ministry data indicated that there were 546 new COVID-19 deaths since June 3, bringing the total from 16,102 to 16,648. The total number of recoveries increased from 1,129,221 to 1,159,973. The average number of new cases was 4,025 per day during the last 7-day period, compared to an average of 4,008 per day during the 7-day period ending June 3. In the past 24 hours, the areas with the highest case counts were Baghdad with 1,533 cases, Basra with 602 cases, Wasit with 380 cases, Sulaymaniyah with 279 cases, Najaf with 251 cases, and Dhi Qar with 239 cases. To date, Iraq has tested a total of 10,851,837 samples for COVID-19. The total number of people who received the COVID-19 vaccine reached 679,151, including 22,695 who received their shots on June 10.
On June 4, the al-Qayyarah oil field in Ninewa province resumed production at 10,000 bpd after a 14 month shut-down due to protests at export terminals, OPEC output restrictions, and crude transport disputes. The field has a production capacity of 30,000 bpd.
On June 4, Electricity Ministry spokesperson Ahmed Moussa said that Iran will increase gas supplies to Iraq in the next few days, following an agreement with the Trade Bank of Iraq on arrears due to Iran. Moussa said that the gas supplies will support electricity production and help meet rising demand during the summer months. He added that while the Ministry needs 70 million cubic meters of gas for power production in the summer, Iran has been providing only 20 million cubic meters.
On June 5, Iraqi Transportation Minister Nasr al-Shibli inaugurated the opening of a trade exchange yard between Iraq and Iran at al-Shalamjah border crossing. The ministry said the yard will facilitate trade, and provide 500-600 job opportunities.
On June 6, the Agriculture Ministry said that it contained a bird flu outbreak in poultry farms in Basra province. A day prior, the Ministry’s Director General of Public Health Riyad al-Halfi said a medical examination showed that a person in Basra had contracted the virus, but did not show any symptoms and was in stable condition. Ministry spokesperson Hamid al-Nayef said that “things are under control, and we are doing our best to prevent the spread of the disease” in the province, adding that the bird flu is confined to farms between the Safwan and Zubair districts. Basra’s Livestock Department said that more than 60,000 chickens died in one farm as a result of the bird flu. al-Nayef attributes infections to smuggled birds and eggs from Turkey.
On June 8, the Iraqi and Chinese officials signed an agreement to renovate the Nasiriyah International Airport in Dhi-Qar province. Dhi-Qar governor Ahmed al-Khafaji said the airport would provide 2,000-3,000 job opportunities, and encourage religious tourism. He added that the contracted company, the China State Construction Engineering Corporation, should complete the project within two years.
On June 8, the Iraqi Radioactive Sources Regulatory Authority chairman Kamal Latif said that the government developed a $40 billion plan to build eight nuclear reactors in different regions that can generate 11 gigawatts of power. He told Bloomberg that the government is reviewing an agreement with Russia, and considering South Korean interest in building the reactors. He added that the project’s construction would take about five years. Latif said that power demand is expected to reach 42 gigawatts by 2030. Iraq currently generates 18.4 gigawatts while demand can reach a peak of 30 gigawatts in July and August.
IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties
Casualties Due To IEDs from June 3, 2021 - June 10, 2021The following table includes both civilian and security forces who were either injured or killed due to improvised explosive devices (IEDs), vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs), or suicide attacks.
|06/03/21||Telafar district, Ninewa Province||0||2|
|06/03/21||Al-Kadhimiyah, Baghdad Province||4||36|
|06/10/21||Jurf al-Sakhr district, Babylon province||0||2|
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 Enabling Peace in Iraq Center.