The overall level of violence in Iraq has fallen since much of ISIS was destroyed or driven from the country, but the cells left are resorting to "increasingly brazen" tactics, including in at least six instances in which they set up fake checkpoints to capture or kill civilians or security personnel, according to a new government report.
"[T]hese incidents in Iraq’s north raise particular concerns. They are increasingly brazen," says the report by the Lead Inspector General for Overseas Contingency Operations. "Many are assassinations of local leaders -- a hallmark of the 2009-2013 insurgency led by ISIS’s precursor. And they are concentrated in areas where the government has lauded ISIS’s defeat."
With respect to the callback to another ugly time in Iraq's history, Iraq's ambassador to the U.S., Fareed Yasseen, told Foreign Policy last month, “ISIS’s proto-state no longer exists. Their flag doesn’t fly over Iraqi territory. But that doesn’t mean they’ve disappeared. They are reverting to old tactics used by al Qaeda before 2014.”
As seen above, the IG report mapped out the locations of such attacks and other bombings and assassinations to the north of Baghdad. It said at least 158 acts of violence have occurred, and nearly 400 people have been killed so far in 2018 alone.
"All of these factors indicate at least a rudimentary effort to undermine Iraqi government efforts to restore governance and security in these areas. Violence in northern Iraq suggests that ISIS operatives and sleeper cells are working to build insurgent infrastructure and will likely continue to disrupt governance and stabilization efforts going forward," the report says.
Primary Source: Lead IG Report to Congress (PDF)
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