Weekly Security Update for 1st September 2010

National Overview

The total number of hostile incidents reported nationally was 125 this week, down from 132 incidents during the last reporting period. There was a significant rise in the number of recorded incidents in the north central region with slight rises in the west, south central and south east regions. The north dropped slightly, but of note is the reduction in incidents in Baghdad that fell from 51 officially reported incidents to just 34.

The holy month of Ramadan, in its third week, has seen once of the most well coordinated country wide attacks ever in Iraq. On 25 Aug approximately 13 cities were targeted with various forms attack from suicide attacks to Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices and complex attacks. This resulted in between 50 – 75 deaths across the country; Ramadan is still thought to offer an excellent opportunity for insurgents to exploit due to the lax security across the country.

The last US combat brigade pulled out of Iraq on 19 Aug, a key milestone in the withdrawal of American forces more than seven years in Iraq and earlier than the advertised date of 31 Aug. Since this withdrawal there has been much speculation as to whether this withdrawal was undertaken too early, and whether the Iraqi Security Forces are in a position to secure the country robustly. The President of the U.S., Barack Obama, announced this on 31 Aug and reiterated that Iraq was now a ‘sovereign’ state.

On 22 Aug three 107mm rounds landed with in the Basra Contingency Operating Base killing one U.S. soldier. This was the first U.S. casualty since the withdrawal from Iraq of the last U.S. combat troops.

25 August – Iraq wide attacks

Iraqi insurgents carried out what seems to be a very well coordinated chain of attacks across Iraq that targeted a large number of Iraqi cities. It has been reported that approximately 75 people have been killed along with an estimated 400 being wounded. Most of the attacks targeted the Iraqi Police and Army contingents and it is thought that 27 of the dead are actually Iraqi Security Forces.

Iraq country-wide attack locations – 25 August 2010

The majority of the attacks appear to have taken place between 0615hrs and 1200hrs with further sporadic attacks continuing throughout the day.

The purpose of these attacks could have been to send a message that the insurgents can still strike anywhere in Iraq. While many of the targets were relatively soft, casualties appear to have been fairly limited in almost all cases. Most of the attacks killed fewer than 10 people; the only attack that registered a high casualty rate was a car bomb in Kut, which killed approximately 30.

Various tactics were used in the string of attacks, including suicide bombers, Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices, other Improvised Explosive Devices, armed raids and, in at least one case, a follow-on attack after an explosion likely targeting first responders. Insurgents have carried out coordinated attacks before but never on so many cities simultaneously.

Attacking such large number of locations in a coordinated manner could show that a number of different cells were involved and communicated with each other across Iraq. Although the extent of planning and coordination is unknown, it does show that a significant amount of prior planning and communication must have been involved. Even though these attacks seem well coordinated it does not mean that there is an insurgent capability in Iraq that reflects a very close-knit ‘unit’ of smaller cells. It does, however, serve as a reminder that a broad insurgent base is still very much active across Iraq and can almost flex their muscles at will.

Baghdad

Reported incidents in Baghdad have decreased this week from 51 to 34. For the last three weeks the number of incidents had climbed, this is the lowest number of incidents for six weeks.

The International Zone was targeted on two occasions this month. The majority of attacks this week took the form of an Improvised Explosive Devices with half of the incidents being of this nature.

Of note is the attack that took place on 25 Aug when five different areas of Baghdad were attacked during the 25 Aug coordinated country-wide attacks. A suicide truck bomber killed 15 people and wounded at least 56 others in an attack on a police station and parts of a police station in Baghdad’s northern Qahira district also collapsed and surrounding houses were severely damaged when another device exploded nearby.

Although there has bee a reduction in the number of Under Vehicle Improvised Explosive Devices reported this week, there have still bee seven attacks this week in the city with one attack resulting in the death of two civilians and two separate attacks on the Iraqi Security Forces on 28 Aug

Basra

It has been a relatively quiet week this week in terms of the number of incidents in Basra.

There have been just four incidents this reporting period, one attack from Indirect Fire against the COB, an Explosively Formed Projectile attack against a U.S. Forces convoy, and two Improvised Explosive Device attacks. Of particular note is the attack that took place on 25 Aug in Basra city involving what is thought to have been a Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device. This was part of what seem to be a well coordinated attack across the country. Casualty figures in the Basra attack are thought to be no dead but up to a dozen wounded. The last attack of similar magnitude took place on 10 May of this year when a number of cities were again attacked by insurgents in another coordinated attack resulting in approximately 100 dead.

The last Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device attack in Basra took place on 07 Aug and that came just three months after the 10 May attack that also used the same kind Improvised Explosive Devices. Between 13 and 17 July there was a heightened threat around the Basra COB from this form of attack, but nothing actually materialised. The Iraqi Security Forces have suspected that an AQIZ cell has been operating in the province; the Iraqi Police Service reported on 22 Aug that Basra police forces had seized two vehicles which have been improvised as car bombs to be detonated in a local market in central Basra. No further information has been received since, regarding this discovery.

Earlier in the month on 01 Aug an Iraqi Army search operation uncovered a large weapons cache at a property south of Az Zubayr. Amongst other weaponry and equipment, the cache consisted of Improvised Explosive Device magnets, 200 cables with detonation devices and 75 Improvised Explosive Device detonators. This equipment could easily have been used for the production of Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices; the fact more have detonated and been found since this cache was located suggests the devices used in the 07 Aug attack were already built or there is much more equipment out there for the manufacture of this kind of device.

On 22 Aug at 0550hrs the Basra Contingency Operating Base was targeted by three rounds of 107mm Indirect Fire. The three Points of Impact (POI) were reported, resulting in the death of a U.S. soldier,

This was the fourth Indirect Fire attack so far on the Basra Contingency Operating Base during August and the third since 15 Aug, July has seen the busiest month in 2010 in terms of Indirect Fire with five separate attacks.

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