|Jared Kushner of the New York Observer. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
From ISHM a brief synopsis - Follow the link to their website for the entire story. Link at bottom of this post.
- ISIS Militants Launch Surprise Attack in Tikrit, Killing 30 - On April 4, at least 10 ISIS militants dressed as police officers attacked a police checkpoint in Tikrit, targeting security forces and civilians in the area. The fighting extended into the morning of April 5, resulting in 30 fatalities, including five of the attackers. One day after the incident, 250 members of the Badr Organization PMU deployed to the center of Tikrit to boost security. Local officials have stated that, after this force augmentation, the security situation in Tikrit is stable. The attack in Tikrit comes after a week of operations across Salah ad-Din Province in an attempt to restore security to that area.
- Iraqi Security Forces Establish Evacuation Corridors for Civilians in Western Mosul; Civilian Casualties, Atrocities Continue - In a significant departure from previous shelter-in-place policies in both western and eastern Mosul, the Iraqi Federal Police announced on April 3 that it established an evacuation corridor for civilians in Mosul’s Old City. This route is reportedly designed to allow civilians to leave the area before Iraqi Security Forces advance toward the al-Nouri Mosque. A sharp rise in the number of civilian casualties during operations to clear western Mosul may prompt local residents to use the new corridor. However, ISIS militants have executed civilians who attempt to flee; on April 3 Qayyarah South Hospital received the bodies of 20 women and children who were killed while trying to reach ISF positions. Further adding to this confusion, the Iraqi Air Force dropped thousands of leaflets over ISIS-controlled areas in western Mosul, Anbar Province, and Hawija on April 5, urging civilians to stay in their homes. These actions come after the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) reported on April 1 that 543 civilians were killed in Iraq during the month of March, the vast majority of which were in Ninewa Province. The same day, the U.S.-led international coalition revealed that coalition airstrikes unintentionally killed at least 229 civilians in Iraq and Syria since August 2014, although this figure does not include civilian casualties from the March 17 incident in western Mosul (previously reported in ISHM).
- Operations in Western Mosul Progress Slowly; ISIS Bombards Eastern Mosul - As Iraqi Security Forces continue their operations to clear western Mosul of ISIS, militants have responded by firing indiscriminately into previously cleared areas in both eastern and western Mosul. On April 6, ISIS shot down an Iraqi helicopter, killing the two pilots. Elsewhere in Ninewa Province, airstrikes against ISIS positions continue, primarily in the areas surrounding Tal Afar and Baaj, southwest of Mosul.
- Security Forces Restart Offensive in Anbar as IDPs Flee Toward Qa’im - On April 2, approximately 10,000 civilians fleeing ISIS-held areas reached Qa’im, 20 kilometers from the Syrian border in western Anbar Province. As of December 2016, there were 14,000 IDPs in Qa’im, and the recent arrivals have strained the town’s humanitarian capacity. One day later, Iraqi and U.S.-led coalition warplanes struck ISIS positions in areas around Qa’im. On April 4, a large contingent of tribal fighters, supported by the U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, launched an operation to clear a 40 kilometer area in western Anbar, marking the relaunch of combat ground operations to clear militants from the province.
- Local Officials Raise Kurdish Flag Over Kirkuk, Sparking Row with Ankara - On April 3, Kirkuk Governor Najmaddin Karim met with a delegation from the Kurdish Ministry on Martyrs and Anfal Affairs, one week after reaching an agreement to raise the Kurdish flag alongside the Iraqi flag over Kirkuk’s government buildings. Immediately following this week’s meeting, the Kirkuk Provincial Council voted to demand a referendum on Kirkuk joining the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region of Iraq. On April 4, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan’s Chief of Public Relations met with UNHCR coordinator for Kurdistan, Monica Noro, to obtain a UN endorsement for Kirkuk’s flag-raising decision. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan weighed in on the issue, stating that the cost of maintaining the Kurdish flag in Kirkuk would be “high” and that Turkey would “cut off” relations with Iraqi Kurdistan if the flag is not lowered.
- Jared Kushner Visits Iraq with Gen. Joseph Dunford - On April 3, Jared Kushner, Senior Advisor and son-in-law to U.S. President Donald Trump, met with Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi to discuss the fight against ISIS and post-ISIS U.S. troop levels in Iraq. He accompanied the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford.