Security In Iraq, Feb 15-21, 2016 | Musings on Iraq

After a two year low in casualties the previous week, violence was back up to its normal level from February 15-21, 2016. The heaviest fighting continued in Anbar, while Baghdad was still the most dangerous province in the country. In Kirkuk and Ninewa the Islamic State also executed a large number of people, and there was an uptick in attacks upon the Peshmerga in the latter. This could be the face of violence in Iraq for the rest of the year with IS focusing upon terrorist attacks upon cities, and insurgent attacks in the rest of the country.

There were 130 reported attacks the third week of February. That was up from the 119 recorded the week before, which was the lowest amount since 2013. That dip was a pause in operations by the Islamic State after it launched a huge number of counter attacks after it lost Ramadi. Now security appears to be back to what it was before that.

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Khanasser 25.02 | Colonel Cassad

In general, the battle for Khanasser showed that the caliphate can achieve initial successes by surprise and tactical tricks, but in direct collision with the shock troops of the Syrian army with the support of Russian air power, The calpihate’s lack of heavy weapons and the lack of an entrenched defense, and in spite of the persistence in the defense, make it difficult for ISIS to hold captured positions.

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Syrian Army Attacks ISIS From Two Flanks to Reopen Aleppo Supply Road | Al-Masdar

Over the past 24 hours, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) has launched a major counter-offensive on ISIS fighters that have established themselves in a dozen villages that run along the highly supply line between Hama and Aleppo. Nevertheless, ISIS still controls some 7 miles of the road and temporarily entered areas firmly held by government forces since 2013.

Yesterday, Tiger Forces (elite SAA branch) and Hezbollah (Lebanese paramilitary) attacked ISIS from the north and have subsequently recaptured Rasm al-Nafl village while advancing to the outskirts of Shallalah al-Kabirah village. Furthermore, the Syrian Arab Army – primarily backed by the pro-government Liwaa Al-Quds Brigade – successfully entered Khanasser while clashes are ongoing inside this strategic town.

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