Safe Return



Summary: Security incidents during this reporting period included seven operations by Iraqi security forces (ISF) in which the ISF arrested at least 31 suspected terrorists, including a person described as the “Mufti” of ISIS. The ISF also removed or disposed of a number of IEDs and other explosives during two other operations in Mosul and Hamdaniyah. Conversely, there was one attack with an improvised explosive device (IED) that seriously wounded two policemen, and the ISF found two bodies of civilians killed by bullets in unknown circumstances. In al-Hadhar to the south, ISIS militants renewed their attacks on the positions of the popular mobilization forces (PMF) in the district. In addition, Turkish warplanes launched new airstrikes against the YBS militia in Sinjar, killing the militia’s top commander.

Note: locations are approximate

Security Incidents

On January 11, security forces found the dead bodies of two men in their twenties who died of bullet wounds to the head and chest. The bodies were found in the Wadi Hajar cemetery south of Mosul and were handed over to forensics for identification.

On January 11, the PMF said its forces with the PMF brigades 25 and 44 have launched a new security operation to clear the al-Hadhar Jazira region of ISIS cells.

On January 12, intelligence units with the Iraqi army’s 16th division arrested three individuals suspected of carrying out terrorist attacks against civilians and the ISF in Hamam al-Alil and the Qayyara checkpoint south of Mosul.

On January 12, Ninewa police, acting on a report about foreign objects, uncovered an explosive belt, a rocket, mortar rounds and other explosives near al-Nouri mosque in west Mosul. The explosives were disposed of without incident.

On January 13, Iraqi army units arrested five ISIS members trying to infiltrate a village (unnamed) west of Mosul. The suspects were taken in for further questioning.

On January 13, an IED exploded against a passing police patrol near the Qayyara junction south of Mosul, severely injuring two policemen.

On January 13, the Ninewa operations commander said ISF in the province launched a large operation across western Ninewa looking for ISIS cells. Initial results said the ISF arrested 14 suspected ISIS members in Badush, Ayadhiyah, Muhalabiya and outlying villages. The commander said the ISF confiscated weapons and too the suspects in for further questioning.

On January 14, Ninewa police arrested a suspected terrorist in Tel Abta subdistrict south of Mosul. The Interior Ministry said the suspect managed the medicine supply chain for ISIS during its occupation of Mosul.

On January 14, intelligence units with the Iraqi army’s 16th division arrested three suspected terrorists in the Abu Jradi village near Hamam al-Alil south of Mosul.

On January 15, Turkish warplanes struck a vehicle used by members of the Sinjar protection units (YBS) in the Hittin compound in the Sinuni subdistrict, northwest of Sinjar. The airstrike killed five YBS members including the militia’s commander, Zardasht Shingali.

On January 15, the PMF said that bomb squads of its 30th brigade removed 25 IEDs from farmlands near the Hamdaniyah junction east of Mosul and safely disposed of them.

On January 15, Ninewa police arrested four suspected ISIS members at the Nasr checkpoint south of Mosul on the Mosul-Baghdad road. One of the suspects was a member of the Hisba organization while the others were ISIS fighters during its occupation of Mosul.

On January 16, the ISF arrested Abu Abdul-Bari, a man who was described as the ISIS “Mufti” and said to be involved in ISIS executions, especially of local clerics. He’s also said to be responsible for the demolition by bombs of the Nabi Younis mosque during the ISIS occupation. The suspect was arrested in Hay al-Mansour neighborhood in west Mosul.

On January 17, PMF sources said that units of its 44 brigade repulsed an attack by ISIS militants in al-Hadhar south of Mosul. The PMF said the clashes lasted for hours and resulted in equipment losses and casualties among the attackers.

Officially launched in June 2019, Ninewa-ISHM and Security Bulletins utilize information collected from community-based monitors; Iraq-based Arabic, Kurdish, and English news sources; data from aid agencies; and social media posts, verified and fact-checked by EPIC’s research team. This weekly bulletin is part of Safe Return, a project to support the safe and voluntary return of IDPs who have survived severe human rights abuses to their homes in Ninewa. Safe Return is made possible with the generous support of the American people through USAID in partnership with Heartland Alliance International.

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