Northern Iraq (North and North Central Regions – including the KRG)
Incident levels in the Northern Region rose during this reporting period to 27 in total, compared with 18 during the previous week. This represents a significant increase on the weekly average of 20 for 2012 and a departure from the previous two weeks, where consecutive decreases were witnessed. Despite this increase, overall levels of activity appear to have reached a plateau.
Of particular note were attacks in Rabia, Tal Afar, and Badush. Ordinarily, violence in the Northern Region is focussed in Mosul, however, nine incidents from this week occurred elsewhere in Ninawa, possibly indicating that extremists are expanding their area of operations – perhaps a by-product of Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) gains in Mosul over recent weeks.
AQI in Mosul is likely expanding its “support zones” in the rural districts outside Mosul and the movement has a strong track record of dispersing from the city to the countryside and smaller towns when under pressure. Incidents this week include twelve improvised bomb attacks, three under vehicle bombs, the successful interception of a car bomb, the murder of a criminal court official and eight shooting related attacks.
Of note were two separate improvised bomb attacks in Zummar district, northwest of Mosul, targeted the Iraq-Turkey strategic oil pipeline. The attacks come two weeks after ISF disarmed four devices emplaced near an oil pipeline in Bay Hassan in Kirkuk province. The location of these latest attacks – Zummar – while not part of the ‘official’ KRG is an area controlled by Kurdish Peshmerga forces. Attacks on the Iraq-Turkey pipeline in Ninawa are usually undertaken to the southwest of Mosul.
This reporting period witnessed 36 reported incidents in the North Central Region, compared with 41 incidents for the previous week. This was the second consecutive week of decreased activity in the North Central Region, bringing the overall incident count closer to the 2012 average of 31 per week. It should be stressed that despite an overall drop in incidents, the lethality of attacks this week suggests that the security situation in Diyala and Salah Ad Din remains fragile.