Northern Iraq (North and North Central Regions – including the KRG)
The Northern Region reported 44 incidents this week, with all occurring in Ninawa Province. While this is a relatively high figure, it falls within what can currently be considered normal parameters. Once again Mosul was the primary focus of activity; however there were also several incidents along the Tigris River Valley, though fewer than has been the case in recent weeks, and in the west of the province, where armed clashes between Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and insurgent/smuggler groups continue. In Mosul the largest proportion of attacks targeted ISF, with standoff improvised explosive device (IED) attacks predominating and shooting incidents much reduced. There was a particular concentration of IEDs in the southwest of the city, though the reason for this is not yet clear. On 31 December there were twenty violent incidents recorded across the province, including a number of disarmed or ineffective devices, possibly indicating a failed attack-series over 30-31 December, timed perhaps to coincide with the Arba’een period. The occurrence elsewhere, particularly in the North Central Region, of a surge in reporting over the same two days, also supports this assessment.
The North Central Region reported 93 incidents during the period, an exceptionally high figure and more than double the current weekly average. While activity was relatively evenly spread throughout the region, there were ‘hot spots’ of activity in Baquba, Kirkuk City and its environs, Tuz Khormato and Shirqat. The target set was broad, with mass-casualty attacks targeting both Shia and Turkomen communities, and standoff attacks on ISF. ISF continued with a high level of operations, with a particular concentration occurring in Diyala following an exceptionally active month there in December. A substantial proportion of this week’s activity occurred on 31 December, with the majority of activity centred on Salah al-Din, though there were also devices in Kirkuk and Diyala, including one targeting Shia pilgrims in Khalis. This spike in activity again indicated a failed attack-series across northern and central areas of Iraq; defined as a failure due to the high incidence of ineffective devices and poor coordination.
Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) – No significant incidents were reported during the period in the provinces that comprise the KRG (Dahuk, Erbil and Sulaymaniyah).