Despite reports of heavy losses, Daesh remains strong in Iraq

Published July 5th, 2015 - 06:38 GMT

A year after Daesh took control of Ninawah and Saladin provinces in the north, parts of Diyala province in the east, Anbar in the west, and Kirkuk in the north, the militant group now controls around 40 percent of Iraq’s territory, including oil fields producing nearly 80,000 barrels of oil per day.

Despite its battles with government forces and pro-government militias, in addition to international coalition airstrikes, Daesh is still cohesive, as evidenced by its daily battles in Iraq.

The international coalition includes more than 60 countries, led by the U.S. It was founded in August 2014 with the aim of fighting Daesh and stopping its expansion throughout Syria and Iraq.

These forces have succeeded in expelling Daesh from many regions across different Iraqi provinces, but the group is still launching an increasing number of attacks, taking advantage of suicide bombers within its ranks and weapons and combat equipment, which it has captured from the Iraqi army over the past year.

What follows is a layout of the regions Daesh has spread to in Iraq:

Ninawah province (north) 

Daesh took control of Mosul, Ninawah's capital, on June 10, 2014, after the collapse of the Iraqi army and police in the region.

In August 2014, Daesh took control of the Mosul Dam in the east of the city as well as the town of Zammar that includes the Zala and Batma oil fields, which produce 20,000 barrels per day.

Daesh also controls the towns of Sinjar and Rabia and the district of Makhmur – all regions previously under the control of northern Iraqi peshmerga forces, the Kurdish Regional Government’s armed militia.

The peshmerga were later able to retake control of these regions, but Daesh still gets around 7,000 barrels of oil daily from the Qaiyarah oil field in south Mosul.

Daesh currently controls Mosul city, as well as Tal Afar city and the Ninawah hillside to the west of Mosul, a region largely inhabited by Turkmens and Shabak, a Shia sect.

With support from the international coalition, peshmerga forces have retaken control of areas previously controlled by Daesh in Ninawah, without the participation of Iraqi government forces or pro-government militias.

Kirkuk province (north)

Southern Kirkuk, inhabited mainly by Sunni Arabs, fell under Daesh control at the same time as Mosul in June 2014.

Iraqi army forces were in charge of defending the area when it fell. Daesh also took control of the Khabbaz oil field in the south of the city after throwing out the peshmerga in January 2014.

Khabbaz produces 35,000 barrels of oil per day.

The peshmerga returned three days later with help from the international coalition, and retook control of the Khabbaz oil field as well as the Northern Oil & Gas company’s building.

Daesh currently controls around 20 percent of the disputed land between central Iraqi government forces and northern Iraqi regional forces.

Both the Iraqi army forces, led from an operational base in Saladin province, and peshmerga forces, are working to repel Daesh attacks in the western region of Kirkuk, without the participation of al-Hashd al-Shaabi forces.

Saladin province (central-north)

Daesh militants attacked Saladin province on June 11, 2014, and within hours took control of Tikrit, the provincial capital, and Baiji district, which contains the biggest oil refinery in Iraq, after the withdrawal of Iraqi troops without fighting.

Around a month after taking control of Tikrit, Daesh expanded southwards in the province to take the Aalas and Ajeel oil fields, which produce around 20,000 barrels of oil per day.

Within a month, Daesh took control of around 50 percent of the province’s territory.

Following a series of counter-operations at the end of last year, however, Daesh lost control of many of its positions, the most important of which was Tikrit, which was taken back in March 2014 by Iraqi forces supported by al-Hashd al-Shabi and the international coalition.

Daesh also lost control of Baiji district along with the oil fields in the north of the province.

Daesh still controls 10 percent of the province’s territory in areas north of Tikrit.

The Iraqi army and police, al-Hashd al-Shaabi and Sunni tribal forces are in charge of repelling Daesh attacks in the province.

Anbar province (west)

Fallujah, one of the province’s largest cities, was the first area Daesh took control of.

Daesh quickly progressed at the expense of Iraqi army forces, and took control of the border crossing with Syria on June 20, 2014, and reinforced its progress by taking control of Hiit city in October 2014.

Last month, Daesh was able to add Ramadi, the provincial capital, to the areas subject to its control, thus expanding its influence to 90 percent of Anbar’s territory, which by itself represents a third of Iraq’s territory.

The control of government forces is limited to a few areas east and west of Ramadi and next to the Tharthar region.

Iraqi security forces have recently reinforced its positions near Ramadi, in preparation for what it calls “a plan to retake the city.”

Iraqi army and police forces, al-Hashd al-Shaabi forces, and Sunni tribal fighters are responsible for blocking Daesh attacks and preparing to storm areas under Daesh control.

Diyala province (east)

Last August, Daesh took control of 20 percent of Diyala province, including the Hamrin mountain ridge, following the withdrawal of Iraqi army and peshmerga forces.

Daesh also took control of the Adheem district and the water dam in the same month, and cut off the international road which connects east Iraq to the capital Baghdad.

Iraqi army, peshmerga and al-Hashd al-Shaabi forces, however, soon retook control of Adheem district and other areas last November.

The government officially announced that the province was free from Daesh influence last January.

Where we are now

Despite Daesh losing many areas that it controlled last year in the eastern province of Diyala and northern province of Saladin, it still controls most of the cities and areas in the provinces of Ninawah and Anbar.

Iraqi forces, al-Hashd al-Shaabi militias and peshmerga forces are working to retake these areas from Daesh, along with air support from the international coalition, led by the U.S., which continues to launch air raids against Daesh positions.


© Copyright Andolu Ajansi

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