May 5, 2019

Weekly Iraqi Security and Humanitarian Report for week ending May 2, 2019

Key Takeaways:
  • Iraqi Officials Meet Foreign Counterparts as Saudi Arabia and Iran Compete for Influence – On April 6, Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi arrived in Tehran. He met with the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei who told Mahdi to “work to get American troops out of Iraq quickly.” On April 7, Iraqi Oil Minister Thamer al-Ghadhban met with Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh. The two leaders reached an agreement pertaining to the development of two oil fields shared by both nations. On April 17, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi arrived in Saudi Arabia for a two-day visit and met with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz in Riyadh. On April 20, a “Stability and Development” conference led by Iraqi Speaker of the House of Representatives Mohammed Halbusi was held in Baghdad hosting top parliamentary officials from Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, Kuwait, Syria, and Jordan. On April 25, the Iraqi-Russian Joint Committee signed a number of agreements to increase business relations and investments between the two nations during the Chamber’s eighth meeting. On April 26, Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani spoke on the phone with United States Vice President Mike Pence. On April 28, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu arrived in Baghdad for a visit and travelled to Basra. On April 30, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin. The delegation that arrived with Abdul-Mahdi included several Iraqi ministers. On May 2, Abdul-Mahdi arrived in Paris. He will meet with several French leaders including French President Emmanuel Macron to discuss increasing the investment of French companies in Iraq and reconstruction.
    more…
  • Militants Attacks Persist Throughout Iraq Despite Security Operations; Iraq Offers to Try and Jail Foreign ISIS Fighters; ISIS Releases New Video Featuring al-Baghdadi – On April 6, the Iraqi military received six additional US-made F-16 fighter jets. On April 10, a roadside bomb exploded in the al-Shoura district south of Mosul. The blast killed Sheikh Hassan al-Hadidi, a tribal leader, and injured his son and nephew. On April 10, France24 reported that three Iraqi government officials acknowledged that Iraq has offered to try accused foreign fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in Baghdad in exchange for compensation from European countries and the United States. On April 11, Iraq’s Interior Ministry announced that the Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Forces (ICTS), supported by the international coalition and the Iraqi Army, began large-scale operations in the Hamrin Mountains in northern Iraq to drive out ISIS cells in the area. On April 14, the Iraqi government began setting trial dates for nearly 900 suspected members of ISIS captured as they emerged from ISIS territory in Syria. On April 17, gunmen affiliated with ISIS attacked a federal police vehicle in Kirkuk Province and killed a senior security official. On April 19, Iraqi security forces conducted an operations in Hawija in Kirkuk province that allegedly resulted in the deaths of 12 ISIS members. On April 22, al-Mada reported that the U.S. military established its first helipad in western Anbar province. On April 29, ISIS released an 18-minute video featuring the organization’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. more…
  • Foreign Donors Pledge Additional Support for Iraq; Torture Persists in Mosul Prison; Iraq Seeks to Detain More Families with Perceived Links to ISIS; Yezidi Community Refuses to Welcome Children Born of Rape – On April 6, the Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS) announced that more than 270 families in the Salah ad-Din province have been displaced due to the flooding in Iraq. On April 10, the World Food Programme (WFP) announced that the Government of Japan contributed $9.2 million to allow the organization to transition from humanitarian to more development-related assistance in Iraq. On April 16, the British Secretary of State for International Trade, Liam Fox announced that the United Kingdom will increase trade support by about $1.3 billion to focus on providing more public services for citizens in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region. On April 18, Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report about the persistence of torture occurring at a prison in Mosul. On April 25, UN-Habitat and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) handed over 502 homes to returnees in the Sinjar District, Ninewa Province. On April 24 the Yezidi Supreme Spiritual Council issued a religious edict reiterating its acceptance of all rescued Yezidis who were kidnapped by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). The statement implicitly recognized the children born to Yezidi mothers as a result of rape in ISIS captivity as Yezidi and welcomed their return. A few days later, the Yezidi Supreme Spiritual Council reversed its position. On April 30, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) issued a report on the impediments faced by Iraqi children displaced from areas formerly under the control of ISIS in obtaining civil documentation. NRC estimated that about 45,000 children in displacement camps do not have any civil documentation. On May 2, The Washington Post reported that senior officials in Iraq are campaigning to create a detention camp for the about 30,000 Iraqis who lived in Syria under ISIS rule until their last territorial stronghold was lost.
    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.
Iraqi Officials Meet Foreign Counterparts as Saudi Arabia and Iran Compete for Influence
On April 6, Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi arrived in Tehran. He met with the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei who told Mahdi to “work to get American troops out of Iraq quickly.” The leaders also discussed  possible future agreements between the two countries, including sharing the electrical network, gas pipelines, and railroads between Iraq and Iran as well as cleaning the Shatt al-Arab River stretching along the border between the two countries.
On April 7, Iraqi Oil Minister Thamer al-Ghadhban met with Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh. The two leaders reached an agreement pertaining to the development of two oil fields shared by both nations: the Naft Shahr oilfield located in the Kermanshah province of Iran and Diyala province and the Khorramshahr oilfield on the border of the Khuzestan province of Iran and Basra province.
On April 17, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi arrived in Saudi Arabia for a two-day visit. Abdul-Mahdi met with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz in Riyadh. Abdul-Mahdi restated his desire to improve relations between the two nations in all sectors. The two leaders signed 13 memoranda of understanding in various areas such as trade and energy. On April 18, the Iraq-Saudi Business Forum took place in Riyadh during which ministers from both countries discussed the issues of electricity, network repair, oil, and gas.
On April 20, a “Stability and Development” conference led by Iraqi Speaker of the House of Representatives Mohammed Halbusi was held in Baghdad hosting top parliamentary officials from Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, Kuwait, Syria, and Jordan. Iraq attempted to embody its desired role as a mediator for its neighboring countries while the visiting delegations promised to help reconstruct and develop Iraq after the devastation caused by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).
On April 25, the Iraqi-Russian Joint Committee signed a number of agreements to increase business relations and investments between the two nations during the Chamber’s eighth meeting. Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed Ali al-Hakim led the Iraqi delegation while Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov led the Russian delegation. Some of the agreements were in sectors such as trade, energy, electricity, mineral resources, housing, and sports.
On April 26, Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani spoke on the phone with United States Vice President Mike Pence. The two leaders discussed security within Iraq’s disputed territories and how the United States could help to bring stability to those areas. They also discussed increasing relations between the United States and the KRI.
On April 28, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu arrived in Baghdad for a visit and travelled to Basra. Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani met with Çavuşoğlu to discuss security on their shared border, water disputes, and the presence of Turkish troops in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). Çavuşoğlu reported that Turkey wants to open two consulates in Najaf province and in Kirkuk province as well as to reopen the Turkish consulate located in Basra province. Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed al-Hakim met with Çavuşoğlu and expressed that Iraq is against any military actions that target Turkey. On April 29, Çavuşoğlu met with Deputy Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Qubad Talabani to discuss how to strengthen the relationship between the KRI and the Turkey. Çavuşoğlu also statedthat he hopes to increase the annual volume of trade between Turkey and Iraq to $20 billion and work with Iraq to combat the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
On April 30, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin. The delegation that arrived with Abdul-Mahdi included several Iraqi ministers. The two leaders announced that the German company Siemens will work in Iraq to complete an electricity project worth $14 billion. Merkel stated that Germany will assist Iraq in increasing security as well as the reconstruction of areas affected by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). Abdul-Mahdi then met with German Federal Chancellor Frank-Walter Steinmeier. On May 2, Abdul-Mahdi arrived in Paris. He will meet with several French leaders including French President Emmanuel Macron to discuss increasing the investment of French companies in Iraq and reconstruction.
Militants Attacks Persist Throughout Iraq Despite Security Operations; Iraq Offers to Try and Jail Foreign ISIS Fighters; ISIS Releases New Video Featuring al-Baghdadi
On April 5, the Iraqi Air Force conducted two airstrikes southwest of Daquq in Kirkuk province that reportedly killed 14 fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).  Iraq’s Defense Ministry released a statement saying that the recent rainfall compelled militants to leave their dugouts in Qarha Valley where several ISIS hideouts are located. Iraqi security forces regularly carry out operations in the region.
On April 6, the Iraqi military received six additional US-made F-16 fighter jets. The Spokesman for the Iraqi Security Media Center, Brigadier Yahya Rasool, stated that, with the new delivery, the Iraqi military now has 27 fighter jets. The Iraqi government ordered a total of 36 fighter jets; the rest of the jets are set to arrive in the coming months. The Iraqi military uses fighter jets to carry out operations against pockets of militants for the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).
On April 7, the Kurdish outlet Rudaw reported that militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) are taking advantage of the security vacuum in the disputed territories between the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). An ISIS cell resides near Mount Qaraqosh in Makhmour,Erbil province, and continues to launch attacks against villagers. Local residents reported that ISIS fighters have been imposing taxes and carrying out attacks, pushing some families to relocate to northern villages in the Kurdistan region. Some villagers photographed alleged ISIS militants freely moving around towns and explained that ISIS fighters appear in villages every few nights and steal what they need, including livestock and food.
On April 8, clashes broke out between fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and Tribal Mobilization Forces (TMF) in Al-Madham village in Anbar province. The confrontation resulted in the death of four ISIS militants.
On April 10, a roadside bomb exploded in the al-Shoura district south of Mosul. The blast killed Sheikh Hassan al-Hadidi, a tribal leader, and injured his son and nephew. ISIS and its predecessor, the Islamic State in Iraq, repeatedly targeted communal leaders to intimidate those cooperating with the central government and to enable their infiltration and takeover of communities.
On April 10, France24 reported that three Iraqi government officials acknowledged that Iraq has offered to try accused foreign fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in Baghdad in exchange for compensation from European countries and the United States. Iraq has asked for $2 million per fighter per year of incarceration to cover the operational costs of the process.
On April 11, Iraq’s Interior Ministry announced that the Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Forces (ICTS), supported by the international coalition and the Iraqi Army, began large-scale operations in the Hamrin Mountains in northern Iraq to drive out cells of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in the area. During the operation, security forces killed 12 ISIS insurgents and dismantled 11 different hideouts used by ISIS to regroup and organize attacks. Security forces also seized weapons and ammunition from the hideouts. On April 14, airstrikes targeting ISIS cells in the area north of Baquba reportedly killed a commander of the Islamic State and four other fighters. The Counter Terrorism Service did not release the name of the commander but claimed that he was in charge of Islamic State forces in Harmin. On April 28, Major General Saad, the commander of the joint operations headquarters, announced the launching of a second security operation to locate and clear ISIS cells in the Hamrin Mountains. The operation involves  federal police forces, Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), and the international coalition and is coordinated by the Salah ad-Din Operations Command.
On April 14, the Iraqi government began setting trial dates for nearly 900 suspected members of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) captured as they emerged from ISIS territory in Syria. The militants were transferred to Iraqi custody by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in batches last month. A court official disclosed that the SDF also handed over interrogation files for the arrested fighters and that ISIS members will be tried in groups. The government in Iraq has already tried thousands of ISIS militants and sentenced hundreds to death. On April 21, the Karkh Criminal Court tasked with adjudicating the nearly 900 ISIS fighterssentenced four militants to death by hanging; a judicial source stated that they were Iraqi and were sentenced under Iraq’s Anti-Terrorism Law.
On April 16, the Iraqi army, with the support of the U.S.-led coalition, conducted air strikes in Daquq in Kirkuk province, targeting a cell of fighters for the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). The military operation reportedly killed 20 ISIS insurgents.
On April 17, gunmen affiliated with Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) attacked a federal police vehicle in Kirkuk Province and killed a senior security official. Two other police officers were injured during the assault. The incident occurred during the day and the perpetrators fled to an unknown location in the Hamrin mountains following the incident.
On April 19, Iraqi security forces conducted an operations in Hawija in Kirkuk province that allegedly resulted in the deaths of 12 members of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), including four leaders. Counter-terrorism forces also destroyed ISIS hideouts containing weapons and equipment.
On April 22, al-Mada reported that the U.S. military established its first helipad in western Anbar province. The presence of the landing pad grants U.S. forces the ability to quickly operate in the western Desert of Iraq up to the Syrian border. U.S. motives are unclear. A source told the Iraqi paper that the landing pad is under substantial protection by U.S. forces.
On April 25, Major General Saad, the commander of the joint operations headquarters, stated that a counter-terrorist operation in Daquq in Kirkuk province resulted in the deaths of six members of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and the destruction of eight hideouts. A tunnel used by ISIS militants was also demolished.  
On April 26, a group of insurgents attacked Beit al-Sumti village between Muqdadiyah district and Abi Saida district in Diyala province. The incursion resulted in the death of one villager and the injury of two others.
On April 27, a group of insurgents of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) surrounded a group of Kurdish civilians in the Ali Rash plains in Qaraj while they were searching for truffles.  A Peshmerga commander confirmed that the militants took one of the individuals hostage. Peshmerga officers have warned citizens to avoid areas lacking sufficient security protection by either Iraqi or Kurdish forces. ISIS militants have carried out similar attacks in the last few months.
On April 29, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) released an 18-minute video featuring the organization’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The video marks the first appearance by al-Baghdadi since he declared the ISIS caliphate in Mosul in 2014. In the video, Baghdadi praises recent terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka, a revenge attack for the territorial loss in Baghouz, and urged militants to seek vengeance for jailed and killed ISIS members. Last month, the Wall Street Journal reported that Baghdadi was most likely hiding in the stretch of desert near the Iraqi-Syrian border, but security officials are uncertain whether Baghdadi’s resides in Iraq or Syria. Hisham al-Hashemi, a security advisor to the Iraqi government, reported that the search for Baghdadi was narrowed to four possible locations either in the desert in Anbar province in western Iraq or in the eastern desert of Homs in Syria.
Foreign Donors Pledge Additional Support for Iraq; Torture Persists in Mosul Prison; Iraq Seeks to Detain More Families with Perceived Links to ISIS; Yezidi Community Refuses to Welcome Children Born of Rape
On April 6, the Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS) announced that more than 270 families in the Salah ad-Din province have been displaced due to the flooding in Iraq.The severe weather has caused some farms to sink and over 60 houses to be encircled by water. The ICRS has taken several measures to help families including the provision of first aid to several families in the village of Qadiriyah and the allocation of emergency teams along the Tigris River to provide first aid and psychosocial support to the affected.
On April 7, Iraqi President Barham Salih sent a draft bill of the Yezidi Female Survivors’ Law to to parliament. The law would classify the Yezidis killed in 2014 as genocide victims and would establish a national day on August 3 to commemorate the day that the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) stormed Sinjar. Under the law, Yezidi women would be provided with care, housing, and educational opportunities, as well as given priority for government positions. A monthly salary would be supplied to these women as well as free land or housing. Finally, those who committed crimes against the Yezidi population would not be able to be granted general or special amnesty.
On April 10, the World Food Programme (WFP) announced that the Government of Japan contributed $9.2 million to allow the organization to  transition from humanitarian to more development-related assistance in Iraq. These funds will be used to provide food and cash to about 200,000 displaced people and increase livelihood opportunities for about 13,000 returnees.This contribution is part of the overall assistance package from Japan totalling $63 million.
On April 16, the British Secretary of State for International Trade, Liam Fox announced that the United Kingdom will increase trade support by about $1.3 billion to focus on providing more public services for citizens in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region. This contribution brings the total trade support from the UK to Iraq to over $2.5 billion.
On April 16, the Iraqi Minister of Health, Dr. Alaa Alwan in partnership with representatives from the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF announced the launch of National Polio Immunization Days in Baghdad. Health teams went to several houses throughout the week and made sure that vulnerable children, such as internally displaced persons (IDPs) were vaccinated. The Ministry of Health also launched an awareness campaign calling on parents to vaccinate their children through radio and video broadcast as well as social media.
On April 18, Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report about the persistence of torture occurring at a prison in Mosul. New testimonies gathered by the organization show that torture persisted at least through early 2019. The first report about this phenomenon was released in August 2018 and since then HRW has sent two letters to the Iraqi government, requesting information on the measures taken to investigate the documented practice of torture. The Iraqi government has not responded to the request. Iraqi judges reportedly fail to investigate these torture allegations.
On April 23, Kurdistan 24 reported that “reverse migration” is happening in Iraq due to returnees to northern Ninewa Province leaving their towns, to which they have returned, and going back to the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). Anas-Akram al Azzawi, a member of the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights (IHCHR) stated that the reverse migration is taking place because of the lack of security, stability, and basic services in Ninewa province. After the emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), almost two million people were displaced to the KRI from Iraq and Syria. Recently, many internally displaced persons (IDPs) had begun to return to their places of origin, but the lack of services, sense of insecurity and slow pace of reconstruction have caused a substantial amount  of people to fall back into displacement.
On April 25, UN-Habitat and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) handed over 502 homes to returnees in the Sinjar District, Ninewa Province. The Government of Germany funded the reconstruction through the UNDP’s Iraq Crisis Response and Resilience Programme (ICRRP). This project reconstructed damaged houses in order for internally displaced persons (IDPs) to be able to return to their homes. The project was also supported by the Global Lands Tool Network (GLTN); the network helped employ 684 Yezidi community members for the rehabilitation activities, 44 percent of them being women.
On April 24 the Yezidi Supreme Spiritual Council issued a religious edict reiterating its acceptance of all rescued Yezidis who were kidnapped by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). The statement implicitly recognized the children born to Yezidi mothers as a result of rape in ISIS captivity as Yezidi and welcomed their return. A few days later, the Yezidi Supreme Spiritual Council reversed its position, following a push-back among members of the Yezidi community. The council is the highest Yezidi religious institution. According the Yezidi faith, only children born to parents who are both Yezidi can be considered members of the community. To date, children born to Yezidi mothers as a result of rape have not been welcomed by the Yezidi community, and their mothers had to place them in orphanages if they wished to return to their community after emerging out of ISIS captivity.
On April 30, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) issued a report on the impediments faced by Iraqi children displaced from areas formerly under the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in obtaining civil documentation. NRC estimated that about 45,000 children in displacement camps do not have any civil documentation, out of a total of about 80,000 such children across Iraq. Children born under the Islamic State of Iraq and al- Sham (ISIS) rule were provided birth certificates that are not recognized by the Iraqi government. Without documentation, the children do not have access to education, healthcare, and other basic rights and services such as receiving vaccinations.
On May 2, The Washington Post reported that senior officials in Iraq are campaigning to create a detention camp for the about 30,000 Iraqis who lived in Syria under the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) until their last territorial stronghold was lost. The officials cite security reasons for this decision, but humanitarian groups are strongly opposed to this plan, since it would entail denying the freedom of movement of camp residents. Currently, families with perceived links to ISIS are housed in several camps across Iraq, where they face restrictions on freedom of movement, and some are denied aid and sexually exploited by camp management and security personnel in the camps.
IED Incidents and Resulting Casualties

Casualties Due To IEDs April 5, 2019 - May 2, 2019

The 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.
DateLocationDeathsInjuries
04/06/19Hilla, Babylon Province01
04/07/19al-Mashtal, Baghdad02
04/08/19Haditha district, Anbar Province10
04/09/19el-Mazkour, Diyala Province12
04/09/19Hawija District, Kirkuk Province02
04/10/19Mullah Abdullah, Kirkuk Province21
04/10/19Baji, Salah ad-Din Province00
04/10/19al-Qaim, Anbar Province02
04/10/19al-Shoura district, Ninewa Province12
04/10/19al-Multaqa, Kirkuk Province15
04/10/19Babylon, Babel Province03
04/11/19Fallujah, Anbar Province03
04/11/19Mullah Abdullah, Kirkuk Province21
04/13/19al-Makhisa, Diyala Province02
04/14/19Mosul-Baghdad Road, Ninewa Province00
04/15/19Riyadh, Kirkuk Province01
04/16/19Fallujah, Anbar Province017
04/17/19Baquba, Diyala Province10
04/19/19Baquba, Diyala Province20
04/19/19Mosul, Ninewa Province00
04/19/19Baghdad, Baghdad Province00
04/20/19Mosul, Ninewa Province23
04/22/19Haditha, Anbar Province27
04/25/19Khanaqin, Diyala Province01
04/25/19Taza, Kirkuk Province02
04/27/19Baiji, Salah ad-Din Province12
04/28/19Shoura District, Mosul03
04/29/19Tal Afar, Ninewa Province33
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 Education for Peace in Iraq Center.
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