Iraq

Spotlight on Global Jihad (December 24-30, 2020)

Like every year, ISIS supporters have posted posters on social media threatening to carry out attacks against Christians around the world with the approach of Christmas. In practice, no such terrorist attacks have been carried out to date by ISIS operatives or their supporters. In Borno State, in northeastern Nigeria, ISIS claimed responsibility for burning down houses and churches in Christian villages (although it is unclear whether this was done in the context of Christmas).
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Spotlight on Iran (December 13, 2020 – December 27, 2020)

In recent days, senior Syrian officials declared that Damascus does not intend to demand the withdrawal of Iranian forces from the country. An adviser to President Assad stated that Syria does not demand the departure of Iran or Hezbollah from the country, and that Russia too can not ask Syria to remove Iranian forces from its territory. Syrian sources reported about an agreement reached between Iran and Russia concerning the deployment of their forces in the Albu Kamal region along the Syrian-Iraqi border. In an interview to an Afghan television station, the Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammad Javad Zarif, discussed the activities of the Afghan Fatemiyoun Brigade, a militia operating under the guidance of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) in Syria.
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Spotlight on Global Jihad (December 17-23, 2020)

Routine attacks continued in ISIS’s various provinces in Syria, Iraq and throughout Africa and Asia. Noteworthy examples . Syria: routine activity continued in the area of Deir al-Zor and Al-Mayadeen and in the desert region west of the Euphrates Valley. Prominent modus operandi of ISIS’s attacks included targeted killings and the activation of IEDs against vehicles and soldiers of the SDF and the Syrian army. Iraq: the activity in northern and western Iraq consisted primarily of activating IEDs and targeted killings. The Iraqi Counterterrorism Unit has issued a report summarizing its activity against ISIS in 2020. According to the report, in the past year, 206 ISIS operatives were killed and 292 were apprehended.
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Spotlight on Global Jihad (December 16-10, 2020)

Routine attacks continued in ISIS’s various provinces in Syria, Iraq and throughout Africa and Asia. Noteworthy examples: Syria: Clashes continue between ISIS and the Syrian army and forces supporting it in the desert region in eastern Syria. Iraq: ISIS’s intensive activity in northern and western Iraq continued, in the form of sniper fire, mortar shell fire, and attacking positions and compounds of the Iraqi security forces. The Sinai Peninsula: ISIS’s activity in northern Sinai continued, in the form of activating IEDs, targeted killings, and sniper fire. Somalia: ISIS released a video vehemently attacking Al-Qaeda and its affiliated Al-Shabaab movement. Afghanistan: ISIS fired 10 rockets, claiming that they were aimed at the military part of Kabul International Airport.
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Spotlight on Iran (November 29, 2020 – December 13, 2020)

The recently appointed Syrian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Faysal al-Miqdad, arrived for an official visit in Tehran. In light of growing criticism in Iran arguing that the volume of trade between Iran and Syria and Iraq is insufficient, the Iranian Organization for Trade Development published updated data concerning the volume of Iranian exports to Syria. The Iranian Ambassador to Iraq, Iraj Masjedi, confirmed in a television interview that the commander of the Qods Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Esmail Qa’ani, recently visited Iraq and met with senior Iraqi officials. The Reuters news agency reported about Iran’s efforts to expands its influence in the religious sphere in Iraq, though the development of the Shia holy sites in Iraq.
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Spotlight on Global Jihad (December 3-9, 2020)

Routine attacks continued in ISIS’s various provinces in Iraq, Syria and throughout Africa and Asia. Noteworthy examples: Iraq: ISIS operatives continued their attacks, in the form of activating IEDs, sniper fire, targeted killings, and attacks on the Iraqi security forces and their facilities. Syria: ISIS’s guerrilla attacks continued in the Euphrates Valley and in the desert region of eastern Syria, mainly in the form of activating IEDs, targeted killings, and firing light weapons at vehicles.
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Iraq

The Republic of Iraq (الجمهورية العراقية – Al-Jumhūrīyya Al-‘Irāqīyya) borders with Turkey in the north, Syria and Jordan in the west, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in the south, and Iran in the east. Iraq has a population of over 31 million, the vast majority of whom are Arabs (97% Muslim, 65% Shiite and 35% Sunni). In northeastern Iraq there is an autonomous Kurdish entity known as Iraqi Kurdistan. There are no relations between the State of Israel and Iraq, and Iraq refuses to recognize Israel.

After the Iraq war, the country was run by a coalition of countries that had invaded Iraq, headed by the United States. In 2005, civilian control was transferred to the interim Iraqi government that was appointed after a general election for a temporary parliament, which was held for the first time in the history of Iraq. In 2006, a permanent Shiite government was formed, and thus a change of government took place in Iraq, which had been in the hands of the Sunnis up to that time. In December 2011, the last American soldiers stationed in Iraq left the country.

After the fall of Saddam Hussein, a branch of Al-Qaeda was established in Iraq, headed by Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi. This branch later evolved into ISIS. This branch, which enjoyed widespread support among the Sunni population in Iraq, carried out terrorist attacks directed against Shiite civilians and against the Iraqi regime. In 2014, in the city of Mosul, ISIS declared the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate and took control of vast areas in western and northwestern Iraq, with the intention of taking control of the Iraqi capital Baghdad as well. In the years that followed, through efforts by the Iraqi security forces and local militias supported by the United States, these areas were liberated and ISIS slowly began to lose its power.