- Significant activity continues to be reported in Ayadhiya
- Routine pro-referendum rallies in Kurdish Region
- Five civilians found murdered north of Ramadi
- IED factory discovered during operation west of Baghdad
- Violence at demonstration in Dhi Qar
- Tribal fighting in Basra City
On 13 September, the Iraq Civil Aviation Authority Director, Fadil Kadi’ Baden, stated air traffic controllers have resumed work following the 12 September strike. Various reports indicate an agreement was reached with the Ministry of Transport, with their salary-based demands referred to Prime Minister Haidar al-‘Abadi. As such, no flight disruptions were reported at the Baghdad or Basra airports during this period. The potential for additional breakdowns remains a consideration for the future.
Significant activity continues to be reported in Qasabat al-Ra’I Village of the Ayadhiya sub-district, located north of Tal Afar. On 12 September, Iraqi Army airstrikes targeted a number of IS positions in the village, reportedly killing 30 insurgents including 11 suicide bombers as well as a ranking IS official from Tal Afar identified as Mohammed Mahdi Mohammed Farhan. Though such casualty counts are likely inflated in accordance with routine reporting practices, they highlight a continued significant presence of insurgents in this enclave.
On 13 September, reports surfaced that former Operation Inherent Resolve Commander Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend released a memo declassifying the location of 81 locations of unexploded ordnance (UXO) dropped by Coalition aircraft during the Mosul Campaign. This follows reporting last month that these locations would be released in order to support EOD removal efforts in areas of West Mosul. UXO from Coalition actions remains just a small portion of overall residual explosive threats in the city, which will likely take years to clear. Demining organizations continue to be stretched thin amongst prolific IED employment, and new commitments in Tal Afar.
In other Mosul-related developments, a Russian IS fighter that was previously captured in the city was sentenced to death by hanging. The fighter confessed to conducting “terrorist operations” against Iraqi security forces since 2015. This individual is the first Russian-born militant to receive a death sentence by the Iraqi government.
PUK and KDP officials have stated that the Kurdish parliament will resume sessions as ambitioned on 14 September, stating they have a sufficient number of MPs for quorum. This strongly indicates intent to convene without Gorran representation if an agreement is not reached for their support in accordance with previously noted threats. In any event, the proceedings that transpire on 14 September will be important to take note of as referendum reporters strive for some level of perceived legitimacy.
Kurdish President Massoud Barzani continues to vow that the referendum will proceed despite the Iraqi parliament’s vote calling the referendum constitutional. During a later news conference on 12 September, Prime Minister Abadi stated Kurds were continuing to “illegally export” Kirkuk’s oil, and called “upon the Kurdish leadership to come to Baghdad and conclude a dialogue” surrounding this focal point.
On 13 September, security forces found the bodies of a family of five members bearing gunshot wounds in the Jazzerat Albu Diab area, north of Ramadi. Initial reporting indicated the murders were criminally motivated and and did not involve terrorist intent, with additional confirmation of motivating factors necessary. These events follow another deadly incident in a suburb east of Ramadi on 4 September. Unnamed sources claimed gunmen raided a house in the Juwaybah area, killing a family of seven people.
However, the Anbar Police Command denied the deaths were caused by an attack event, claiming the family members died due to a fire caused by an electricity fault. Later reporting confirmed a large weapons cache was discovered in the building. The highly lethal nature of the 13 September shooting has renewed interest into the conflicting circumstances surrounding the 4 September incident. It will be important to monitor additional reporting pertaining to the likely perpetrating organization and motivations behind the 13 September shooting for additional insight.
On 12 September, the Baghdad Operations Command announced that security forces conducted a search and raid operation in a set of areas located west of Baghdad near the Anbar provincial border. Security forces reportedly found a factory used to manufacture IEDs and booby-trap vehicles that contained 175 IEDs and various IED materials. Although no arrests were reported, this incident forms a noteworthy security success. In conjunction with more routine cache finds in historic IS support zones located in the Baghdad Belt, such operations play an important role in moderating overall IS IED capabilities in the Baghdad security environment.
Late at night on 12 September, a tribal clash was reported in Ablah area in northern Basra, with one young individual reportedly killed after he was shot in the chest. On the morning of 13 September, tribal fighting was reported in the Five Mile area of Basra City, close to the Ablah area. Security forces responded but details remain limited. Also on the morning of 13 September, armed men exchanged small arms fire due to a tribal dispute in the Hussain neighborhood in western Basra City. Again, one individual was reported to have been killed as a result.
On 13 September, a heavy security presence was reported in Nasiriya City due to the visit of Prime Minister Haidar al-‘Abadi’s to Dhi Qar. Heightened security procedures were in evidence for the visit, with heavy deployment of security personnel in Nasiriya and near provincial buildings scheduled to be visited by the prime minister, including the Cultural Center and Dhi Qar Provincial Council. The Prime Minister was met at Nasiriya Airport by the Dhi Qar governor, Yahia al-Nasiri.
A number of contract workers at the Ghaziyah Electricity Station staged a demonstration to coincide with al-‘Abadi’s visit, taking the opportunity to demand their delayed salaries which are three months overdue. An anonymous source stated that clashes erupted between Riot Control Police and demonstrators and a press reporter claimed that a demonstrator was wounded during clashes between demonstrators and Haidar al–‘Abadi’s security detail, in front of al-Janub Hotel, when the guards fired their weapons into the air.
Iran signs deal to repair Syria’s power grid – Al Jazeera
The government of Syria has signed an agreement with Iran to repair parts of the war-torn country’s power grid, state media said, in an early sign of the major role Tehran is expected to play in Syria’s reconstruction. The two countries signed a memorandum of understanding on Tuesday during a visit by Syria’s electricity minister to Tehran, including building a power plant in the coastal province of Latakia with a capacity of 540 megawatts, Syrian state news agency SANA said.
Turkey’s Bid to Join EU Ruled Out for ‘Foreseeable Future’ – Bloomberg
Turkey got a sharp reminder that European Union membership is nowhere in sight as a result of growing EU concerns about President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s crackdown on political opponents and his bashing of countries in the bloc. Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, used an annual State of the Union speech on Wednesday to pour scorn over Erdogan’s track record since he survived a coup attempt in mid-2016.
Iran arrests Islamic State member, foils attacks: Revolutionary Guards – Reuters
The Iranian Revolutionary Guards arrested a member of Islamic State and foiled a plan for suicide attacks, a Guards commander said on Wednesday. Col. Amin Yamini, the Guards commander for the western Tehran suburb of Shahriar, did not say when the arrest was made but said the attacks were being planned for a 10-day Shi’ite religious holiday that begins next week.
Iranian Foreign Minister Meets Putin In Sochi Ahead Of Astana Talks – RFE/RL
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has met with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a visit to Russia’s Black Sea resort town of Sochi on September 13. The Kremlin press service confirmed the meeting but did not release details of the discussions.