By Tom Walker, Director, Assaye Risk
The ebb and flow of violence continued in Iraq this week with many religious pilgrims targeted and killed by suicide bombers, predominantly in Baghdad and Nineveh provinces.
Kurdish fighters have also continued to secure and fortify their positions in northern Syria and along the Iraqi border having routed islamist forces for much of the past 2 months. So secure are they of their recent gains that Kurdish forces have moved to establish an interim administration.
Control over Syria's northeast has in recent months swung back and forth however as Kurdish militia prevailed earlier this month a committee of Kurdish and other groups said it was now time to set up an administrative body to run the region. In a statement to Reuters a Kurdish official said that "In light of the current circumstances which Syria is going through, and in order to fill an administrative vacuum ... we see is as utmost necessity to reach a transitional, pluralistic, democratic administration," This strengthening of the Kurdish position will continue to be a key feature of the Syrian conflict and will continue to bear strong influence over regional politics and governmental decision making, especially in Iraq and Turkey.
Thursday and Friday saw suicide bombers strike against multiple religious targets and military sites in Mosul and Baghdad, amongst others.
On Thursday two suicide bombers blew themselves up minutes apart at an Iraqi army base, killing at least 16 soldiers in a set of coordinated attacks. The first suicide bomber detonated his charge at the main gate of the military base in Tarmiya, north of Baghdad, and the second struck a group of soldiers who had gathered to evacuate the wounded in a simple yet now infamous method of attack.
A further eight people were also killed in random car and roadside bombings across Iraq on Thursday, mainly in Baghdad province.