No significant attacks occurred on December 13 against pilgrims during the culmination of Arbaeen. ISIS has historically targeted Arbaeen while millions of mostly Shi’a pilgrims descend on the city of Karbala.
The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) with the likely support of the Iraqi Shi’a militias within the Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs) applied heightened security measures that appear to have been effective in preventing ISIS operations against the pilgrims.
This coalition was also successful in deflecting ISIS attacks during the Ashura visit in early November 2014. Meanwhile, ISIS attacks north of Baghdad continued and met with ISF counter-attacks while the ISF and PMUs prepare to launch an operation against ISIS positions in Tikrit.
ISF and PMUs have attempted to clear Tikrit in the past with no success. Clearing Tikrit would give the ISF greater control over southern Salah ad Din and limit ISIS control to cities north of Baiji. ISIS is therefore defending along the Tigris and the Zaab rivers against multiple assaults at Mosul, Baiji, and Tikrit. Airstrikes against ISIS positions in Hawija and Kirkuk support the campaign against ISIS on the Tigris.
ISIS may attempt a preemptive attack against ISF positions in Samarra and Baiji, both attacked earlier this week. Meanwhile, ISIS is attacking along the Euphrates, making gains west of Ramadi following gains near Hit earlier this week. ISIS may attempt to accelerate these gains at Haditha, isolating al-Asad airbase to the greatest extent.
Source: Institute for the Study of War Iraq Updates