Friday prayers also dominated events in Al-Anbar which saw huge turn outs at anti GoI rallies in both Ramadi and Fallujah, however despite the insurgent focus on the Syria / Iraq border there was also continued rocketing of ISF facilities and an increase in the number of assassinations against prominent Iraqi civilians working for the GoI suggesting that insurgent groups remain keenly interested in trying to influence events around the protest movement.
Attacks in the towns on the periphery of the national capital were unremarkable this week with a near continuous rate of low yield IED strikes taking place along the major arterial routes into Baghdad. This was entirely in keeping with local Sunni terrorist activity and does not represent any change in threat for Western or other foreign concerns transiting these roads. In Baghdad SAF attacks predominated, mainly in western districts, involving further Sunni terrorist penetration of Sadr City following recent VBIED attacks of the past weeks.
Continued protest activity at several locations including the International Zone has continued to escalate sectarian tensions and, as with other major urban centres in Iraq, a clear theme for the week in Baghdad and surrounding areas has been the marked increase in intimidation and sectarian assassination killings. Sunni areas of Baghdad have been abuzz with talk of a fresh campaign of targeted assassinations and intimidation by Shia militants, allegedly to frighten them from joining in the street protests that have been happening across the country. In the sprawling Jihad district of Baghdad, security was stepped up last week after threatening fliers were distributed claiming to be from the Mukhtar Army. They warned Sunni residents to leave or face "great agony". The Mukthar Army, or Jaish al-Mukhtar ("The Army of the Chosen"), first came to notice in the first week of February 2013 and appears to have been set up under the auspices of Iraqi Hezbollah to "protect" the Shi'a community from terrorism.