Iraq War (2014–present)
|This article is missing information about what happened in 2015 in Iraq. (July 2015)|
|Iraq War (2014–present)|
|Part of the Arab Winter, the Persian Gulf Conflicts and the Spillover of the Syrian Civil War|
A map of the situation in Iraq, as of 1 July 2015. For a map of the current military situation of Iraqi insurgency, see here.
Military Council of Anbar's Revolutionaries
|Commanders and leaders|
Abu Mohammad al-Adnani
Izzat Ibrahim ad-Douri †
Abu Hashim al Ibrahim
Abu Mustafa al-Sheibani
Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis
Wathiq al-Battat (POW)
|Casualties and losses|
11,558+ killed and 5,841 captured
1,300+ killed, 6,000+ wounded and 55 missing/captured
|16,364 civilians killed and 25,340 wounded
(Government and UN figures, January 2014 – May 2015)
24,102 civilians killed
(Iraq body count figures, January 2014 – June 2015)
Total deaths: 35,513–43,251
(as of June 2015)
In 2014, the Iraqi insurgency escalated with the conquest of Fallujah and Mosul and major areas in northern Iraq by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS). This has resulted in the forced resignation of the Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, airstrikes by the United States, Iran, Syria, and at least a dozen other countries, the participation of Iranian troops and military aid provided to Iraq by Russia.
Between January and June 2014, ISIL militants seized at least 70% of the Anbar Province, including the cities of Fallujah, Al Qaim, Abu Ghraib and half of the provincial capital of Ramadi during the Anbar campaign.
In early June 2014, following its large-scale offensives in Iraq, ISIL seized control of Mosul, the second most populous city in Iraq, the nearby town of Tal Afar and most of the surrounding Nineveh province. ISIL also captured parts of Kirkuk and Diyala provinces and Tikrit, the administrative center of the Salahuddin Governorate, with the ultimate goal of capturing Baghdad, the Iraqi capital. ISIS was believed to have only 2,000–3,000 fighters up until the Mosul campaign, but during that campaign, it became evident that this number was a gross underestimate. There were also reports that a number of Sunni groups in Iraq that were opposed to the predominantly Shia government had joined ISIS, thus bolstering the group's numbers.[not in citation given] However, the Kurds—who are mostly Sunnis—in the northeast of Iraq, were unwilling to be drawn into the conflict, and there were clashes in the area between ISIL and the Kurdish Peshmerga.
In late June, ISIS militants captured two key crossings in Anbar, a day after seizing the border crossing at Al-Qaim. According to analysts, capturing these crossings could aid ISIL in transporting weapons and equipment to different battlefields. Two days later, the Syrian Air Force bombed ISIL positions in Iraq. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki stated: "There was no coordination involved, but we welcome this action. We welcome any Syrian strike against Isis because this group targets both Iraq and Syria."
At this point, The Jerusalem Post reported that the Obama administration had requested US$500 million from the US Congress to use in the training and arming of "moderate" Syrian rebels fighting against the Syrian government, in order to counter the growing threat posed by ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
On 29 June, ISIL announced the establishment of a new caliphate. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was appointed its caliph, and the group formally changed its name to the Islamic State. Four days later, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed caliph of the new Islamic State, said that Muslims should unite to capture Rome in order to "own the world." He called on Muslims the world over to unite behind him as their leader.
On 24 July, ISIL blew up the Mosque and tomb of the Prophet Yunus (Jonah) in Mosul, with no reported casualties. Residents in the area said that ISIS had erased a piece of Iraqi heritage. Jonah's tomb was also an important holy site in the Jewish heritage as well. A few days later, ISIL also blew up the Nabi Shiyt (Prophet Seth) shrine in Mosul. Sami al-Massoudi, deputy head of the Shia endowment agency which oversees holy sites, confirmed the destruction and added that ISIS had taken artifacts from the shrine to an unknown location.
In an August offensive, ISIL captured Sinjar and a number of other towns in the north of the country. Almost 200,000 civilians, mostly Yazidis, managed to flee from the fighting in Sinjar city, about 50,000 of them fled into the Sinjar Mountains, where they were trapped without food, water or medical care, facing starvation and dehydration. They had been threatened with death if they refused conversion to Islam. A UN representative said that "a humanitarian tragedy is unfolding in Sinjar." By the end of the month, ISIL massacred 5,000 Yazidi men, with killings running in the hundreds in different villages. In addition, during this latest offensive, the Islamic State advanced to within 30 km of the Iraqi Kurdish capital of Erbil in northern Iraq.
Prompted by the siege and killings of the Yazidis, on 7 August, President Obama authorized targeted airstrikes in Iraq against ISIL, along with airdrops of aid. The UK offered the US assistance with surveillance and refuelling, and planned humanitarian airdrops to Iraqi refugees. The US asserted that the systematic destruction of the Yazidi people by the Islamic State was genocide. The Arab League also accused the Islamic State of committing crimes against humanity.
On 13 August, U.S. airstrikes and Kurdish forces broke the ISIL siege of Mount Sinjar. Also, five days later, Kurdish Peshmerga ground troops, with the help of Iraqi Special Forces and the US air campaign, overran ISIL militants and reclaimed the Mosul Dam.
On 31 August, the United States, France, United Kingdom and Australia began humanitarian aid drops, like food, water and medical supplies, to help prevent a potential massacre against the Shi'a Turkmen minority in Amirli. The US also carried out air strikes on ISIS positions around and near Amirli. Iraqi officials stated that they had reached Amirli and broken the siege and that the military was fighting to clear the areas around the town. This is known to be the first major turning point against the ISIL in Iraq.
In September, the United States sent an additional 250 US troops to protect American personnel, while the first engagement of the British military against IS targets took place when a British Panavia Tornado jet dropped a Paveway IV bomb on "a heavy weapon position" operated by ISIS in northwest Iraq at the end of the month. In addition, Australia offered 200 special forces to the Kurds and 600 Australian troops landed in the UAE. The following month, Australia authorized its special forces troops to go to Iraq as part of the anti-ISIS coalition that day, as well as authorizing airstrikes.
Mid-October, ISIL forces captured the city of Hīt, after the 300-strong Iraqi Army garrison abandoned and set afire its local base and supplies and about 180,000 civilians (including refugees of the previous Anbar offensive) fled the area. Later that month, Operation Ashura is launched by Iraqi forces and Iranian-backed Shia militas, scoring a major victory and retaking the strategic town of Jurf al-Sakhar near Baghdad, and securing the way for millions of Shia pilgrims who were going to Karbala and Najaf On the Day of Ashura. Kurdish forces, meanwhile, recaptured Zumar.
On 21 October, ISIL seized terrain north of the Sinjar Mountains, thus cutting the area's escape route to Kurdish areas. The Yazidi militias then withdrew from there into the mountains, where the number of Yazidi civilian refugees was estimated at 2,000–7,000. The mountains had once again been partially besieged by ISIL.
In mid-November, Iraqi forces retook control of most part of the strategic city Baiji from the Islamic State and breaks the siege of the nearby oil refinery. However, by the following month, ISIL recaptured Baiji and reestablished the siege of the refinery.
On 17 December, Peshmerga forces, backed by 50 U.S.-led coalition airstrikes on ISIL positions, launched an offensive to liberate Sinjar and to break the partial ISIL siege of the Sinjar Mountains. In less than two days, the siege was broken. After ISIL forces retreated, Kurdish fighters were initially faced with clearing out mines around the area, but quickly opened a land corridor to those mountains, enabling Yazidis to be evacuated. The operation left 100 ISIL fighters dead.
Late on 21 December, Syrian Kurdish YPG fighters south of the mountain range reached Peshmerga lines, thus linking their two fronts. The next day, the YPG broke through ISIL lines, thus opening a corridor from Syria to the town of Sinjar. By the evening, the Peshmerga took control of much of Sinjar.
|This section requires expansion. (July 2015)|
On 2 March, Second Battle of Tikrit began and after more than a month of hard fighting, government troops and pro-Iranian Shiite militias overcame ISIL fighters and took Tikrit. This success was off-set in late May, by ISIL's capture of the provincial capital of Ramadi in Anbar province.
On 17 July, a suicide bomber detonated a car bomb in a crowded marketplace in the city of Khan Bani Saad during Eid al-Fitr celebrations, killing 120–130 people and injuring 130 more. Twenty more people were reported missing since the bombing.
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