|Part of Iraqi insurgency|
Map showing current situation in Anbar.
For a war map of the current situation of Iraq, see here.
Anbar Tribes Revolutionary Council
|Commanders and leaders|
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi|
Abu Waheeb
Izzat Ibrahim ad-Douri
Abdullah al-Janabi
Ali Hatem al-Suleiman
23x15px Ishmael Jubouri
23x15px Khalil al-Hayeeti†
|Saeed Fleih al-Osman†|
|Casualties and losses|
|2,055 killed, 528 captured||500–6,000 killed, 12,000 deserted|
|924 civilians killed, 480,000 IDPs (UNHCR estimate)|
Clashes in western Iraq began on 30 December 2013 when Iraqi security forces cleared up a Sunni protest camp in Ramadi. Tribal militias battled against the Iraqi Army. After the Iraqi Army withdrew from Anbar province to cool the situation on 31 December, militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) occupied parts of the Iraqi cities of Fallujah and Ramadi, in the predominantly Sunni Al Anbar governorate. Following the arrival of ISIS, most tribal militias in Ramadi allied themselves with government forces to counter them.
Background[edit | edit source]
Clashes broke out in the Ramadi area on 30 December 2013 as security forces tore down what is considered a main Sunni Arab anti-government site, and continued for two more days. On 1 January 2014, militants in the city sporadically clashed with security forces and torched four police stations, but the clashes had subsided by the next day. The violence also then spread to Fallujah, where police abandoned most of their positions and militants burned some police stations.
Groups involved[edit | edit source]
There are several groups comprising the non-ISIS armed opposition. Army of the Men of the Naqshbandi Order (JRTN) were also said to be part of the Sunni opposition to the Iraqi government. The Military Council of the Tribal Revolutionaries, the largest of the non-ISIS groups, appears to include a number of groups previously involved in the Iraqi Insurgency including the JRTN, 1920 Revolution Brigade, the Islamic Army in Iraq, the Jaish al-Rashideen, Iraqi Hamas, and the former Mujahideen Shura Council of Abdullah al-Janabi.
A second group, known as the Anbar Tribes Revolutionary Council is headed by Sheikh Ali Hatem al-Suleiman. This group, unlike the MCTR, doesn't actively advocate the overthrow of the Iraqi government but instead is limited in ambition to defending Anbar from what it sees as aggression from the Iraqi central government.
The final group is known as the Army of Pride and Dignity, although the group is distinct from the group of the same name formed by Sheikh Ali Hatem Suleiman following the 2013 Hawija clashes. This group is heavily decentralized, with no clear structure or leadership.
2013[edit | edit source]
December[edit | edit source]
On 30 December 2013, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said that Iraqi Army soldiers would depart restive cities in Anbar province, but reversed that decision the following day.
2014[edit | edit source]
January–February – Fall of Fallujah and the Battle of Ramadi[edit | edit source]
Army forces, as of 2 January, remained outside Ramadi. On 3 January, al-Qaeda-linked militants took over several police stations in Fallujah. In early morning, tribal and ISIS fighters advanced into areas in central Ramadi and deployed snipers on one street, a police captain said. A police colonel said the army had re-entered into areas of Fallujah, between Ramadi and Baghdad, but that around a quarter of it remained under ISIS and tribal control. Soldiers and pro-government armed tribesmen held the rest and had also surrounded the city. However, another senior officer, a police lieutenant colonel, said that while soldiers had been deployed around the city, they had yet to enter Fallujah. More than 100 people were killed during the day as Iraqi police and tribesmen battled militants.
On 4 January, the Iraqi government lost control of Fallujah to ISIS. The Iraqi Army also shelled Fallujah with mortars to try to wrest back control from the militants and tribesmen, killing at least eight people, according to unnamed tribal leaders and officials. Unnamed medical sources in Fallujah said another 30 people were wounded in the shelling. On 6 January, Iraqi security forces, backed by tribal fighters, regained control of the centre of Ramadi. However, clashes continued in the surrounding areas the next day, while in the city centre, government offices, hospitals and markets reopened. On 7 January, Iraqi missile strikes on Ramadi killed 25 militants. On the same day, unidentified gunmen also killed seven police officers, including a captain, in an attack at a security checkpoint on a highway north of the city of Samarra. Though no group claimed responsibility for the attack, police officials suspected the ISIS militants. As of 8 January, in addition to Fallujah, ISIS had control of the Anbar cities of Al-Karmah Hīt, Khaldiyah, Haditha, Al Qaim and parts of Ramadi and Abu Ghraib, along with numerous smaller settlements in Anbar
On 8 January, an unnamed Iraq police captain confirmed that an overnight offensive by security forces and tribal fighters aimed at dislodging ISIS from south Ramadi was repulsed by the insurgents after seven hours of heavy fighting. On 9 January, Iraqi security forces, backed by tanks, engaged in heavy fighting with ISIS militants in the Albubali area, between Ramadi and Fallujah. On 10 January, clashes erupted between Iraqi special forces and ISIS in al-Bubali village between Fallujah and Ramadi. On the same day, tribesmen and police retook two areas of Ramadi. On 14 January, Sunni fighters, including ISIS, overran several more areas of Ramadi. On 16 January, the Iraqi army, backed by Sunni tribesmen, managed to retake the city of Saqlawiyah in a counterattack against ISIS.
On 17 January, the ISIS militants in Fallujah called on people to join them in their fight against the government, but earlier in the day, Iraqi media reported that security forces had retaken several key areas of Ramadi. On 19 January, the Iraqi army launched an operation in Ramadi. The advance was halted after eight police and tribal militia members were killed in clashes. The next day, an unnamed Iraqi official suggested that the ISIS had sufficient heavy weapons[where?] capability to threaten Baghdad. On 21 January, the Iraqi army, backed by Sunni tribesmen, continued to attack key neighbourhoods of Ramadi in attempt to retake control from ISIS. The next day, the defence ministry claimed that at least 50 militants were killed in air strikes against militant targets in Anbar.
On 26 January, according to witnesses, ISIS militants were reported to have captured five Iraqi soldiers near Fallujah. ISIS also seized six army Humvees and set fire to some of them after clashes with security forces near the city of Fallujah which was captured by militants a few weeks ago. It was further reported that at least seven people were killed by Iraqi army airstrikes and artillery fire. On 30 January, Iraqi Defense Ministry spokesman Mohammad al-Askari said that security forces and their allied tribal fighters regained control of Albu Farraj, north of Ramadi, as well as Al-Nasaf, on the western outskirts of Fallujah; he called these areas an "important base" for ISIS. On 31 January, according to a statement by Ministry of Defence, the 39th Brigade of the Iraqi army, reinforced by the Iraqi Air Force with support from tribal fighters, killed 40 militants and captured ISIS' headquarters in Fallujah.
On 1 February, the Iraqi army and police, with the support of pro-government militias, launched another offensive against ISIS in Ramadi and Fallujah. At least 35 militants were killed and large amounts of weaponry were seized in the clashes in the militant-held neighborhoods of Malaab, Dhubat, and Street 60 in Ramadi. On 3 February, the Ministry of Defence reported that the Iraqi army and its allied tribesmen killed 57 ISIS militants in advance of a possible assault on Fallujah, which was held by the rebels. On 8 February, Anbar Governor Ahmed Khalaf Dheyabi sent an ultimatum to ISIS calling on them to surrender within a week.
On 9 February, 13 ISIS members were killed in Ramadi's Malab area. On 12 February, a senior ISIS leader, Abo Majid al-Saudi, was killed alongside seven other members of the group in eastern Ramadi. On 15 February, the Iraqi Joint Command announced that during a raid in the al-Milahma, Albu Shihab and Khalidiya areas several ISIS members were killed. On 18 February, 45 ISIS gunmen were killed, including Syrian and Afghan fighters. On 19 February, an ISIS leader, Abd Khaliq Mahedi, turned himself to the Chairman of Sons of Iraq Council, Mohamed al-Hayis, and declared his support to the security forces in combating ISIS. On 28 February, a bomb attack in Haditha killed the pro-government Sunni tribal Sheikh and councilman Fleih al-Osman and six of his fighters, while five civilians were wounded, according to police chief Colonel Farouq al-Jughaifi.
March–May – Government counter-attack[edit | edit source]
On 13 April, pro-government tribal fighters took control of the Fallujah Dam.
On 7 May, reports emerged that Iraqi Security forces were planning a major strike to reclaim territories in Fallujah, Garma, Duwylieba and Jurf al-Sakhar. At this time, it was confirmed that ISIS took full control of Fallujah.
On 9 May, the military launched its offensive and by 18 May, security forces regained control of the international expressway east of Fallujah and captured 16 villages and towns around the city.
June – ISIS offensive[edit | edit source]
On 3 June, at least 18 people were killed and 43 wounded in shelling of Fallujah.
On 7 June, gunmen linked to ISIS took students at the University of Anbar hostage after killing a number of guards and destroying "a bridge leading to the main gate." The crisis was resolved when students were permitted to leave several hours later, departing the campus in buses provided by the local government. No students were reported to have been injured during the incident.
On 12 June, an Iraqi Border Patrol battalion stationed along the Syrian border abandoned its positions in the face of advancing ISIS forces to break out to the relative safety of the Kurdish-controlled town of Sinjar in Nineveh. However, the convoy of 60 trucks and hundreds of border police were thrown into disarray and panic when a small force of ISIS vehicles attacked them en route. By the time Kurdish forces arrived, the police force had been completely routed and decimated with an unknown number of killed and captured, while others fled into the desert leaving all their vehicles behind. Only two policemen managed to arrive at Sinjar on foot.
On 19 June, ISIS captured Hussein's Al Muthanna Chemical Weapons Facility near Lake Tharthar, roughly 45 miles northwest of Baghdad, in an area which had firmly come under control rebel control by this point. Later in the evening, fighting broke in Al-Qaim, near the border with Syria, and lasted until around noon the next day with most of the town coming under militant control. 34 members of the Iraqi security forces were killed in the clashes.
Two days later, ISIS captured the Al-Qaim border crossing with Syria after Syrian rebels retreated. The town itself and the surrounding area had also been fully secured by ISIS.
Humanitarian consequences[edit | edit source]
There were over 380,000 internally displaced persons by mid-March 2014, 300,000 of whom were displaced mostly during the previous six weeks. According to the UNHCR, most people were displaced "due to insecurity around Fallujah and Ramadi" and had "fled to outlying communities in Anbar province," though "60,000 persons have fled to more distant provinces." There were a total of 336 killed and 1,562 injured, as of the same date.
Response[edit | edit source]
The U.S. confirmed in January 2014 that to assist with the fight against groups in this area, they were speeding up supply of equipment to Iraq, including Hellfire missiles, ScanEagle UAVs, and Raven UAVs. Iran also offered support. Iraqi journalist Ali Nashmi suggested Persian Gulf states like Saudi Arabia and Qatar were aiding ISIS.
References[edit | edit source]
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- All gates of Fallujah Dam open, says Esawi
- Iraqi army tightens grip on Fallujah's outskirts
- Iraqi army withdraws from the areas adjacent to Syria and Jordan
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- Commander of Nagshabandiya Movement killed in western Anbar
- IraqiNews.com statistics: 591 ISIL elements killed in April
- Iraqi army faces death and desertions as it struggles with Anbar offensive
- Thousands flee Iraq government assault on rebel-held Falluja
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- ISIS takes control of Tal Afar
- U.S. considers air strikes, action with Iran to halt Iraq rebels
- ISIL militants seize Iraqi-Syrian border point
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- UN: Clashes in Iraq's Anbar displaced 300,000 - Middle East - Al Jazeera English
- National Iraqi News Agency - NINA
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