Mapping and tracking reports of renewed ISIS attack in Iraq’s Kirkuk-Hawija area

By SETH J. FRANTZMAN

On February 24th several members of the PMU reportedly came under attack from ISIS on a road from Kirkuk to Hawija in Iraq. It is unclear how many of the Hashd al-Shaabi or Shia militia fighters were killed. The attack comes amidst rumors of attacks on Kirkuk itself.

On the same day as the attack on the PMU, Al-Arabiya notes: “Commander of the second special operations in the Iraqi army, Maj. Gen. Maan al-Saadi, warned ISIS and Peshmerga forces on Friday that the national army will ‘crush’ anyone that approaches the outskirts of Kirkuk.”

I asked counter-terror expert Powel Wojcik to try to quantify the number of recent attacks. “There are 35 unique claims for February alone – Samarra, Tikrit, North Baghdad, Hawijah, southern and south-east Kirkuk, Diyala with January extending to Anbar, a lot or Ramadi, Fallujah, Mosul areas. From 35 February claims, 14 are related to Kirkuk and Hawijah.”

Alex Mello argued in a thread on Twitter on Feb. 25 “Past week was probably the deadliest for ISF since Mosul ended last summer. Ambushes & outpost overruns in Nimrud, Badush, Baaj, out in Rutbah and the massacre in rural Kirkuk, on top of slow burning rural assassination campaign targeting Sunnis leaders and tribal forces.”

I covered the battle for Hawija closely. I wrote about why it was important on Sept. 21, 2017, interviewed the coalition about it on October 1, and wrote a conclusion about it on October 5.  After I wrote a thread in October 2017 about how the operation was timed to coincide with Iraq’s desire to take back Kirkuk into federal hands, which means it was rushed.

What follows is an attempt to track and map the recent uptick in attacks.

April 13

Shelling of “ISIS remnants” near Hawija and Federal Police find IEDs near Riyadh village

25 killed in Shirqat

April 11

Brigade 56 involved in clashes with ISIS near Dibs, one killed

April 12

ISIS attacked PMU south of Kirkuk

April 9

Six fake checkpoint incidents reported

April 10

PMU fighter killed in attack on checkpoint in Hawija

April 8

Large scale ops launched near Kirkuk 

April 5

Iraq conducts another operation next to Kirkuk

April 4

Rumors of pressure to deploy Peshmerga closer to Kirkuk

April 3

ISIS regrouping – Foreign Policy

April 1

The White Flags – Buzzfeed

March 27

Report: Kurds in villages around Daquq flee as ISIS operates openly, arriving at night to buy supplies

March 25

Reports of a fake checkpoint run by ISIS near Kirkuk road to Hawija

March 22

4 policemen kidnapped

March 21

Calls for another operation in Kirkuk

March 20

21 civilians killed at false checkpoint near Kirkuk

Battles in Tuz district

PMU says it concluded 3-week operation in Kirkuk

March 19

2 killed at false security checkpoint between Kirkuk and Hawija

March 15

“It now takes 8 hours to drive from Erbil to Baghdad because of Kirkuk troubles and checkpoints” – traveller in Iraq posted on FB

Federal Police conclude Hawijah operation

March 13

Iraq security operation “secures” 17 villages amid low level insurgency near Kirkuk

March 12

David Witty on Twitter: 5 killed in terrorist attacks in Kirkuk & Ninawa provinces, Iraq, yesterday. 18 killed when 2 false security checkpoints were set up on 2 main roads. Some victims burned to death inside their cars. Another 7 killed in attack on house in south Ninawa

March 8

Five ISIS sleeper cells broken up in west Kirkuk

Threat called “Harvest of Kirkuk” by Al-Naba

Screen Shot 2018-03-08 at 11.33.43 PM

According to the Al-Naba article ISIS made 58 attacks in Kirkuk during the last 80 days “including assassinations, using explosive belts, blowing up houses, frontal attack, suicide car bomb, IED killing and wounding 153 Iraqi security forces.”

March 4

8 ISIS reported killed near Kirkuk, could be same report as on March 3

March 3

6 ISIS killed in Kirkuk

3 Peshmerga wounded in ISIS attack near Kifri

ISIS claims to have shot down a US balloon “spying” east of Tikrit

February 28

Fazel Hawramy writes “Another Isis attack in Kirkuk area, Brigade 16th of Hashd (PMF) Turkmani claims to have killed 15 Isis militants near Bashir village southwest of Kirkuk, one Hashd killed and one wounded”

Federal Police held a press conference in Hawija about security

February 27

David Witty: “Iraqi PM agrees to create a joint operations room for Kirkuk province that will include Peshmerga. Peshmerga says it has not been informed.”

Haider Sumeri: ISF “must launch a huge clearing op in Kirkuk’s Hawijah district as soon as possible. Da’ish sleeper cells concentrating in the area. Then a push is needed deep into the heart of one of Da’ish’s two recuperation bases, the Himreen mountains (Anbar desert is the other).”

February 26 

Attack in Kirkuk’s Musala “neighborhood was directed against an Iraqi counterterrorism convoy,”

February 25

Alleged bombing of PMU HQ in Kirkuk

ISIS attack on Khabazah oil field near Kirkuk, two killed; map shows the same

February 23

Reports Iraq forces “abandoned” positions.

Hezbollah al-Nujabaa movement at funeralof the “27 martyrs” from HawijaScreen Shot 2018-02-25 at 6.14.13 PM.png

PMU convoy targeted from Hawija to Kirkuk, several killed

February 19

East of Hawija near Al-Riyadh ISIS claimed an ambush that killed up to 30 PMU, CNN reported the same. Claims PMU was “lured” into a trap and ISF didn’t coordinate; US embassy condemns attack

February 18

PMU forces kidnapped near Hawija

February 9

ISOF detains man wanted for assassinating a professor in Kirkuk

February 7

Operation against the “white flags” near Tuz

February 5

US comments about ISIS presence in Hawija, Daquq

Brigade 56 fighting ISIS near Hawija, footage

January 31

Three ISIS killed in villages by PMU near Hawija

“The Major General Anwar al-Danouq was shot dead in the village of Tal Khadija, which is part of the Rashad administrative district and southwest of Kirkuk. Incident took place in one of the farms adjacent to the village.

January 30

Federal police op near Hawija against ISIS

January 28

ISIS claims it destroyed an electricity transmitter near Hawija

January 25

Six ISIS terrorists killed near Hawija

January 24

Anti-ISIS ops east of Hawija and Riyadh towns

January 22

16 ISIS killed and 2 PMU wounded

January 20

Brigade 56 sees action against ISIS in Hawija

January 14

“presence of ISIS in Rabza, Marzouk and Al-Arabid”

January 13

ISIS claims it killed 2 PMU in Al-Abassi near Hawija

January 12

ISIS kills 3 villagers near Hawija

January 9

Five villages “purged” of ISIS by PMU near Hawija

January 6

9th armored and PMU 2nd brigade aid in operation to clear 25 villages around Hawija

January 5

ISIS claims attack on PMU and near Rubaydah al-Asriyah

January 3

ISF launch operation for six days to clear ISIS from around Hawija

January 2

Map of PMU targets for anti-ISIS operation Hawija

December 31

Peshmerga warn ISIS still active in Hawija

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