The following research is based on information gathered by Flashpoint analysts and data collections. For last month’s report, click here.
Iraqi Shiite Insurgent Attacks: 5 Key takeaways
1) Of 38 total attacks, 29 of them were IEDs aimed at private contractors of the U.S. military
Iraqi Shiite insurgents carried out approximately 38 separate attacks in January 2022 targeting the U.S. military, U.S. diplomatic facilities, and other U.S. interests in Iraq. Twenty-nine of the incidents (76%) consisted of IED attacks targeting private contractor convoys supplying the U.S. military. There were also at least four 107mm rocket launches and five drone aircraft attacks targeting the U.S. embassy and Green Zone in Baghdad, Baghdad International Airport, Ain al-Assad Air Base in Iraq’s western Anbar Province, and Balad Air Base north of Baghdad (where American contractors are working to assist the Iraqi military).
2) Nearly 30% of attacks were in Baghdad Province
The Iraqi provinces that were most frequently the site of attacks by Shiite insurgents targeting the U.S. military and U.S. interests in January 2022 were:
- Baghdad Province (29%)
- Babylon Province (18%)
- Al-Muthanna Province (16%)
- Al-Qadisiyya Province (16%)
- Anbar Province (8%)
- Basrah Province (6%)
- Saladin Province (5%)
- Dhi Qar Province (3%).
3) Multiple insurgent factions lay claim to U.S.-targeted attacks
At least 10 (26%) of the total Iraqi Shiite insurgent attacks targeting U.S. interests during January 2022 were specifically claimed by insurgent faction “Ashab al-Kahf”—making it the dominant such group. Four attacks (11%) were claimed by the insurgent faction “Al-Muhandis Revenge Brigades.” Three attacks each (8%) were claimed by the factions “Ulul Azm” and “Brigades of Qasim al-Jabarin.” A handful of other attacks were claimed by the factions Saraya Ababil, Liwa Khaibar, Saraya Awliya Al-Dam, and Liwa Fatih Khaybar. At least a third of the total number of reported Iraqi Shiite insurgent attacks in January 2022 were never claimed by any known faction.
4) Attacks are increasing in number
Attacks by Iraqi Shiite militias and insurgents have sharply increased after a tenuous ceasefire during the fall of 2021 ended and demands by Shiite militias and insurgents for the total withdrawal of U.S. forces by December 31 went unheeded. Indeed, total numbers of attacks are now matching levels not seen since August 2021. However, the levels of violence still appear to fall well short of the apocalyptic prognostications made by Shiite insurgent spokesmen in the weeks leading up to January.
Related reading: Profile and Exclusive Interview with Iraqi Shiite Insurgents Ashab al-Kahf
5) Potential usage of Iranian-built attack drones
The month of January saw a major upsurge in drone attacks by Iraqi Shiite insurgents. Only one organization took responsibility for any of these attacks, a previously unknown faction calling itself “Saraya Ababil.” The group also released what is believed to be the first video footage (see: image) showing the Iranian-built attack drones being used in the ongoing attacks. The primary targets for Shiite insurgent drone attacks in Iraq, in descending order, are
- Ain al-Assad Air Base
- Baghdad’s Green Zone
- Baghdad Airport
- Balad Air Base
- Al-Harir Air Base in Iraq’s Erbil Province
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