Iraqi insurgency (2011–14)
|Insurgency in Iraq
|Part of the Arab Winter, and the Persian Gulf Conflicts|
A map of the situation in Iraq, as of 2 October 2015. For a map of the current military situation of Iraqi insurgency, see here.
|Commanders and leaders|
| Abu Dua
Izzat Ibrahim ad-Douri
Mohammed Younis al-Ahmed
| Muqtada al-Sadr
Abu Mustafa al-Sheibani
Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis
|Ahmad Abu Risha|
|Army of the Men of the Naqshbandi Order: 2,000-3,000 Islamic Army in Iraq: 10,400 (2007) al-Qaeda: 1,000-2,000
|Special Groups: 7,000
Badr Brigade: 10,000
|Iraqi Security Forces
600,000 (300,000 Army and 300,000 Police)
Awakening Council militias - 30,000
1,156 policemen and 949 soldiers killed
2,286 policemen and 1,759 soldiers wounded
919+ killed, 3,504 arrested
6,746 killed and 10,511 wounded
(Government figures, December 2011 – December 2013)
(Iraq body count figures, December 2011 – December 2013)
The Iraqi insurgency, later referred to as the Iraq Crisis, escalated after the withdrawal of U.S. troops in 2011, resulting in violent conflict with the central government, as well as sectarian violence among Iraq's religious groups.
The insurgency was a direct continuation following the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. After the U.S. military's withdrawal, the level of violence rose, as Sunni militant groups stepped up attacks targeting the country's majority Shia population to undermine confidence in the Shia-led government and its efforts to protect people without American backup. Armed groups inside Iraq were increasingly galvanized by the Syrian Civil War, with which it merged in 2014. Many Sunni factions stood against the Syrian government, which Shia groups moved to support, and numerous members of both sects also crossed the border to fight in Syria.
In 2014, the insurgency escalated dramatically following the conquest of Mosul and major areas in northern Iraq by the Sunni rebel group Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), thereby merging the new conflict with the Syrian Civil War, into a new, far deadlier conflict.
The Iraq War[nb 1] was a protracted armed conflict that began with the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, which toppled the government of Saddam Hussein. However, the war continued for much of the next decade as an insurgency emerged to oppose the occupying forces and the post-invasion Iraqi government. The United States officially withdrew its troops from Iraq in 2011, but the insurgency and various dimensions of the civil armed conflict have continued.
The invasion began in 2003 when the United States, joined by the United Kingdom and several coalition allies, launched a "shock and awe" surprise attack without declaring war. Iraqi forces were quickly overwhelmed as U.S. forces swept throughout the country. The invasion led to the collapse of the Ba'athist government; Saddam was captured and later executed by a military court three years later. However, the power vacuum following Saddam's fall, the mismanagement of the occupation and the sectarian policies of various militias led to a lengthy insurgency against U.S., coalition forces and Iraqi government forces as well as widespread sectarian violence between Shias and Sunnis. The United States responded with a troop surge in 2007; the heavy American security presence and deals made between the occupying forces and Sunni militias reduced the level of violence. The U.S. began withdrawing its troops in the winter of 2007-2008. The winding down of U.S. involvement in Iraq accelerated under President Barack Obama. The U.S. formally withdrew all combat troops from Iraq by 2011.
The Bush administration based its rationale for war principally on the assertion that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and that Saddam's government posed an immediate threat to the United States and its coalition allies. Some U.S. officials accused Saddam of harboring and supporting al-Qaeda, while others cited the desire to end a repressive dictatorship and bring democracy to the people of Iraq. After the invasion, however, no substantial evidence was found to verify the initial claims about WMDs. The rationale and misrepresentation of pre-war intelligence faced heavy criticism within the U.S. and internationally.
As a result of the war, Iraq held its multi-party elections in 2005, and Nouri al-Maliki later became Prime Minister the following year. The Maliki government enacted policies that was widely seen as having the effect of alienating the country's Sunni minority, which worsened sectarian tensions. In 2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) launched a military offensive in Northern Iraq and later declared a worldwide Islamic caliphate, eliciting another military response from the United States and its allies. The Iraq War caused hundreds of thousands of civilian and military casualties (see estimates). The majority of the casualties occurred as a result of the insurgency and civil conflicts between 2004 and 2007.
||It has been suggested that this section be split into a new article titled Timeline of the Iraqi insurgency (2011). (Discuss) Proposed since March 2015.|
As previously planned, the last US combat troops were withdrawn from Iraq in 2011, with security responsibility in the hands of the Iraqi Armed Forces. On 15 December, martial closing ceremony was held in Baghdad putting a formal end to the U.S. mission in Iraq. This ceased direct U.S. combat involvement in the war. The last 500 soldiers left Iraq under cover of darkness and under strict secrecy early on the morning of 18 December 2011, ending the U.S. military presence in Iraq after nearly nine years. In 22 December 2011 at least 72 were killed and more than 170 wounded in a series of bombings across Baghdad, while nine others died in various attacks in Baqubah, Mosul and Kirkuk.
||It has been suggested that this section be split into a new article titled Timeline of the Iraqi insurgency (2012). (Discuss) Proposed since March 2015.|
A number of bombings took place in Baghdad and Nasiriyah, killing 73 and leaving 149 injured. The bombing in the southern Iraqi city was targeted at crowds of Shi'ite Muslims and killed at least 44, injuring more than 80 others. It was the first major attack in Nasiriyah since a suicide attack against an Italian army base killed 28 in November 2003, including 19 Italians. The ISIL claimed responsibility.
A suicide bomber detonated his explosives amid a crowd of Shi'ite pilgrims in Basra, killing 53 and injuring 141. This was the deadliest attack in the city since car bombs in April 2004 killed at least 74. On January 27 – A suicide bomber attacked a funeral procession in Baghdad's Zaafaraniyah district, killing 32 and injuring more than 70 others. On February 23 – A series of attacks across 15 Iraqi cities left 83 killed and more than 250 injured. The Islamic State of Iraq claimed responsibility two days later. On March 5 – A gang of gunmen disguised in military-style uniforms and carrying forged arrest warrants killed 27 police and then hoisted the battle flag of al-Qaeda in a carefully planned early morning attack in Anbar Governorate. On March 20 – A wave of attacks centered on Baghdad and Kerbala killed at least 52 and left more than 250 injured. The Islamic State of Iraq claimed responsibility. On April 19 – More than 20 bombs exploded across Iraq, killing at least 36 people and wounding almost 170. The ISIS claimed responsibility. On June 4, A suicide bomber killed 26 people and wounded almost 200 at the offices of a Shiite foundation in Baghdad, sparking fears of sectarian strife at a time of political crisis. The attack in the center of the capital was followed later by an explosion near a Sunni religious foundation, causing no casualties. On June 13, At least 93 people were killed and over 300 wounded in a series of highly coordinated attacks across Iraq. The ISIS claimed responsibility.
On July 3, Explosions in Diwaniyah, Karbala, Taji and Tuz Khormato killed 40 and injured 122 others. On July 22, Car bombs killed 23 and wounded 74 in Baghdad, Mahmoudiyah and Najaf. On July 23, Coordinated attacks across Iraq killed 116 and left 299 injured. The ISIS claimed responsibility. On July 31, Attacks across Iraq killed 24 and injured 61, most of them in twin car bombings in Baghdad. On August 13, at least 128 people were killed and more than 400 wounded in coordinated attacks across Iraq, making them the deadliest attacks in the country since October 2009, when 155 were killed in twin bombings near the Justice Ministry in Baghdad. On September 9, A wave of attacks across the country killed at least 108 and left more than 370 others injured. On September 30, A string of attacks occur in at least 10 Iraqi cities, killing 37 and injuring more than 90 others, most of them civilians. On October 27, a wave of attacks during the Eid al-Adha holiday across Iraq killed at least 46 and left 123 injured. Most incidents occurred in Baghdad, Taji, Mosul and Muqdadiya. On October 28, a Car bombings during the last day of Eid left 15 people dead and 33 injured in Baghdad. On November 6, a car bombing outside an army base in Taji killed 31 people and injured at least 50 others, most of them soldiers. The blast struck as troops were leaving the base and potential recruits were lining up for job interviews. On November 14, Insurgents staged a number of attacks on the eve of the Islamic New Year, killing 29 and injuring at least 194 others. The deadliest incidents took place in Kirkuk and Hilla, where at least seven bombings killed 19 and left 129 wounded. Other attacks took place in Baghdad, Mosul, Kut, Fallujah and Baqubah. On November 27, At least 29 people are killed and 126 wounded in eight car bombings across Iraq.
Two days of consecutive attacks across northern and central Iraq on December 16 and 17 killed at least 111 and injured 299 others. A significant part of the casualties were from a series of blasts in Kirkuk, Baghdad and Tuz Khormato, where at least 34 died and 154 others were injured. Other incidents took place in Mosul, Tarmiyah, Diwaniyah, Dujail, Tikrit and Baqubah, among others. Most of the attacks appeared to target police officers and members of the Iraqi Army.
Sunni protests (2012)
After a period of calm, renewed political tension within Iraq led to renewed protests, this time mostly centered around the country's Sunni minority. The main cause for upheaval was the ongoing standoff between Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi and Prime Minister al-Maliki, but strained relationships with the Kurdish autonomous regions added to the scene. On December 23, 2012, several thousand Iraqis marched against al-Maliki, responding to his moves against al-Hashemi and other influential Sunni leaders.
On 4 January, a car bombing in Musayyib killed 28 Shi'ite pilgrims and injured 60 others as they were returning from Karbala. In mid-January, a suicide bomber killed a prominent Sunni MP and six others in Fallujah, two days after Finance Minister Rafi al-Issawi survived an assassination attempt in the same city. The parliamentarian, Ayfan Sadoun al-Essawi, was an important member of the Sons of Iraq committee in Fallujah and part of the opposition to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. A suicide truck-bomber also attacked the headquarters of the Kurdistan Democratic Party in Kirkuk, killing 26 and leaving 204 injured. A similar attack against another Kurdish office in Tuz Khormato killed 5 and wounded 40. Later that month, a suicide bomber blew himself up during a funeral for a politician's relative in the city of Tuz Khormato, killing 42 and leaving 75 others wounded. In addition, protests by Sunni Muslims in Iraq against the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki turned deadly in Fallujah, as soldiers opened fire on a crowd of rock-throwing demonstrators, killing 7 and injuring more than 70 others. Three soldiers were later shot to death in retaliation for the incident, and clashes erupted in Askari, on the eastern outskirts of Fallujah. Security forces were placed on high alert as a curfew and vehicle ban were brought into effect. In a statement, Maliki urged both sides to show restraint and blamed the incident on unruly protesters. He also warned that it could lead to a "rise in tension that al-Qaida and terrorist groups are trying to take advantage of".
In February, a suicide car-bomber detonated his vehicle near the provincial police headquarters in Kirkuk, killing at least 36 and injuring 105 others. Among the wounded was Major General Jamal Tahir, the city's chief of police, who had survived a previous attack at almost the same spot two years earlier. Three additional attackers were killed after the initial blast, as they attempted to throw grenades at security forces. Several officers who survived the attack reported that the first bomber was driving a police car and wearing a uniform. When guards at the gate stopped him to check his credentials, he detonated his explosives.
In early March, unidentified gunmen ambushed a Syrian Army convoy escorted by Iraqi soldiers in the Battle of Akashat, killing 48 Syrians and 13 Iraqis. The assault took place near the desert border between the two nations in Iraq's Al Anbar Governorate. Authorities suspected the Free Iraqi Army, Jabhat al-Nusra, or al-Qaeda in Iraq of being behind the attack. A week later, the Islamic State of Iraq claimed responsibility for the attack, stating that they had "annihilated" a "column of the Safavid army," a reference to the Shia Persian dynasty that ruled Iran from 1501 to 1736. The group also claimed that the presence of Syrian soldiers in Iraq showed "firm co-operation" between the Syrian and Iraqi governments. In mid-March, a series of coordinated attacks across the capital Baghdad and several major cities in the north and central parts of the country killed at least 98 people and left 240 others injured. The wave of violence was directed mostly at Shia civilians and took place on the tenth anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq War. The Islamic State of Iraq later claimed responsibility for the attacks.
In April, a tanker bomb exploded at the police headquarters in Tikrit, killing at least 42 people and injuring 67 others. Insurgents attacked an oil field near Akaz in a remote part of Al Anbar Governorate, killing 2 engineers and kidnapping a third one. Other attacks across the country left a prison warden in Mosul dead and 11 others injured, including the mayor of Tuz Khormato and at least four journalists, who were stabbed by unknown assailants in a series of attacks on media offices in the capital Baghdad. Five days later, a suicide bomber killed 22 and injured 55 at a political rally for a local Sunni candidate in Baqubah. On April 23, Iraqi Army units moved against an encampment set up by protesters in Hawija, west of the city of Kirkuk, sparking deadly clashes and reprisal attacks across the country. According to army officers, the operation was aimed at Sunni militants from the Naqshbandi Army, who were reportedly involved in the protests. A total of 42 people were killed and 153 others injured, with most of them being protesters - only 3 soldiers were confirmed dead and 7 others wounded. The incident sparked a number of revenge attacks, that soon spread out across much of the country. Minister of Education Mohammed Tamim resigned from his post in response to the Army's operation, and was followed later by Science and Technology Minister Abd al-Karim al-Samarrai. Insurgents from the Naqshbandi Army completely captured the town of Sulaiman Bek, about 170 km north of Baghdad, after heavy fighting with security forces on April 25, only to relinquish control of it a day later, while escaping with weapons and vehicles. More than 340 were killed and 600 others injured in the four days of heaviest violence, while attacks continued after that at a pace higher than earlier in the year.
In late May, the Iraqi government launches Operation al-Shabah (Phantom), with the stated aim of severing contact between al-Qaeda in Iraq and the Syrian al-Nusra Front by clearing militants from the border area with Syria and Jordan.
From December 2013 onwards, the rise of ISIS (or as it is also known, ISIL), a major belligerent in the Syrian Civil War, has transformed the insurgency into a regional war that includes Syria, Iran and a large coalition of Western and Islamic forces led by the United States.
An independent UK/US group, the Iraq Body Count (IBC) project compiles reported Iraqi civilian deaths from violence during the Iraq War, including those caused directly by coalition military action, the Iraqi insurgency, and those resulting from excess crime. The IBC maintains that the occupying authority has a responsibility to try and prevent these deaths under international law. It shows a total range of at least 133,371 to 150,344 civilian deaths in the whole conflict as of December 15, 2014.
Following are the monthly IBC Project civilian death totals, from the US pullout in December 2011 onwards.
The IBC includes non-paramilitary police forces as civilians, and members of the Iraqi Army & paramilitary/militia when the death is a result of summary execution. The IBC does a constant check on all its reports, and publishes weekly updates to its monthly casualty table. Consequently, the figures for the last few months in the table above should always be considered preliminary and will be marked in italic until confirmed by IBC.
Iraqi government figures
The Iraqi government releases its own figures, usually on the first day of each month. These are almost always significantly lower than other estimates and often even contradict with news reports, leading to an apparent "under-reporting" of casualty figures, although after the escalation of violence in the summer of 2013 the casualty tolls began to "catch up" with independent estimates. Most news outlets still report on these, and JustPolicy.org  has a running estimate based on the Lancet study  with the rate of increase derived from the Iraq Body Count.
The Iraqi government also compiles the number of wounded from these three categories, as well as the number of killed and captured insurgents. From the beginning of December 2011 until the end of June 2014, at least 25,277 Iraqis have been injured according to these reports, including 3,095 police officers and 3,209 members of the Iraqi Army. During the same period, 1,929 insurgents were killed, while a total of 5,529 suspects were arrested.
Following the escalation of violence in June 2014, AFP stopped updating the table at Google Docs. The Iraqi government reported that in July 2014, 1,669 people (1,401 civilians, 185 soldiers and 83 policemen) were killed. An additional 2,104 people were wounded, including 246 soldiers and 153 policemen. It did not provide a number for killed or captured insurgents. In October 2014, 865 civilians and 417 security forces members were killed, according to the United Nations. In contrast, the Iraqi government reported a total figure of 1,725 civilians and members of the security forces for the month.
Month by month
- This section includes both AFP and Iraqi government estimates, and as such, is intended as an addition to the tables above.
Several dozen were killed within the first few days after U.S. withdrawal on December 18, 2011. At least 337 casualties were inflicted by the wave of violence during December 20–26. About 200 died in January, with Al-Arabiya channel claiming mortal casualties to be at least 151 people. The Iraqi Body Count (IBC) claimed 451 casualties in January, including injuries. In February, the death toll across Iraq reached 278 according to IBC. 74 people were killed between March 1–8 according to IBC, and a total of 112 were killed in Iraq in March, according to government figures. At least 126 Iraqis were killed in April, while 132 Iraqis were killed in sectarian violence in Iraq in May 2012. June marked a significant spike in violence, with a major attack occurring on average every three days. At least 237 were killed during the month, with an additional 603 people left injured.
July 2012 was the deadliest month in Iraq since August 2010, with 325 deaths; 241 civilians, 40 police, and 44 soldiers. The month also saw 697 people being wounded by violence; 480 civilians, 122 police, and 95 soldiers. The rise in violence was linked to Sunni insurgents trying to undermine the Shia led government. According to government figures, at least 164 Iraqis were killed during August 2012 – 90 civilians, 39 soldiers and 35 policemen, with 260 others injured. September was a particularly bloody month, with government reports citing at least 365 deaths (182 civilians, 95 soldiers and 88 policemen) and 683 injuries (453 civilians, 120 soldiers and 110 police). Government casualty tolls released for the month of October showed a total of 144 people were killed (88 civilians, 31 policemen and 25 soldiers), and another 264 were wounded, including 110 civilians, 92 policemen and 62 soldiers. At least 166 people were killed throughout Iraq in November 2012 according to government casualty tolls, and 208 died in December, including 55 policemen and 28 soldiers. During January 2013, at least 246 people were killed nationwide (including 30 policemen and 18 soldiers), while 735 others were injured. Government figures remained low in February 2013, with a total of 136 killed (88 civilians, 22 soldiers and 26 policemen) and 228 injured. There was a slight increase in March, when according to government sources 163 were killed and 256 injured nationwide, though officials in Baghdad stressed that these numbers did not include the Kurdish regions.
According to figures released by the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), April 2013 was the deadliest month in Iraq in over five years, with a total of 712 people were killed and 1,633 were wounded in acts of terrorism and violence. Conditions continued to deteriorate in May when UNAMI reported a total of 1,045 Iraqis were killed and another 2,397 wounded in acts of terrorism and acts of violence, making it one of the deadliest months on record. The figures include 963 civilians and 181 civilian police killed, while 2,191 civilians and 359 civilian police were wounded. An additional 82 members of the Iraqi Security Forces were killed and 206 were injured.
The United Nations keeps its own statistics on casualties, and according to their reports, 2,101 Iraqis were killed in violent attacks in June 2012, compared with 1,832 in the first half of 2011.
In July 2014, according to Antiwar.com, 5,698 people were killed, including 3,961 insurgents. The rest were civilians and security forces. For the following month, Antiwar.com reported 1,642 civilians and security forces and 3,112 militants died. In September, per Antiwar.com, 1,158 civilians and security forces were killed, along with 2,632 militants. Finally, in October, 1,572 civilians and security forces died, in addition to 4,990 militants, as reported by Antiwar.com.
- Armenia - provided aid to persecuted Yazidis in Iraq on August 2014.
- Australia - Australia delivered humanitarian aid to Iraqi Kurds on August 2014.
- United Arab Emirates - UAE provided aid for Iraqi refugees in Kurdistan on August 2014.
- United Kingdom - UK announced that its planes were to drop emergency aid to Iraqi refugees on August 2014.
- History of Iraq (2011–present)
- List of modern conflicts in the Middle East
- Northern Iraq offensive (June 2014)
- Northern Iraq offensive (August 2014)
- Military intervention against ISIL
- Sexual violence in the Iraqi insurgency
- Shia–Sunni relations
- Syrian Civil War
- The conflict is also known as the War in Iraq, the Occupation of Iraq, the Second Gulf War, Gulf War II, and Gulf War 2. The period of the war lasting from 2003 to 2010 was referred to as Operation Iraqi Freedom by the United States military.
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