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Iraq Situation Report: November 10 2014, by: Ahmed Ali, Sinan Adnan, and Brian Fisher

Key Takeaway: 

The weekend reports of the killing or wounding of the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, have not yet been confirmed. The lack of confirmation will result in continuing speculation about Baghdadi’s fate and the future strength of ISIS in both Iraq and Syria. The Iraqi government, with the reported backing of U.S. advisors and Apache helicopters, continue to reinforce the strategic al-Asad airbase in western Anbar province in western Iraq. Al-Asad is a major Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) base in western Iraq that is still under Iraqi government and ISF control. ISIS has targeted it in the past, and if ISIS seeks to contest the location again, it will likely be for the purpose of defending its position in the nearby town of Hit to the south, and possibly also to signal that it is not halting operations in light of rumors that Baghdadi has been killed. In the south, Iraqi Shi’a militias are now increasingly visible and active. Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq (AAH) – a militia backed by the Iranian government – conducted a military parade in southern Iraq’s Maysan province showcasing what it claims to be ISF equipment reclaimed from ISIS in the recently-cleared area of Jurf al-Sakhar in northern Babil. AAH has been fighting ISIS in different parts of Iraq along with other Iraqi Shi’a militias within the Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs). The parade in Amarra is a projection of force by AAH in the south intended to capitalize on the group’s role in fighting ISIS and is also likely aimed to gain supporters in an area where its historical rival, the Sadrist Trend, is normally dominant. Given this development, it will be important to watch for the reaction of the Sadrist Trend and its military wing, the Peace Brigades, in southern Iraq, Baghdad, and on the battlefield.            

Source: Institute for the Study of War Iraq Updates


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