Why have ISIS attacks escalated in Iraq?

Why have ISIS attacks escalated in Iraq?

Shafaq News / ISIS continues to pose a significant threat in Iraq, presenting challenges through insurgency tactics and targeting security forces.

Despite military setbacks, ISIS militants have adapted, forming small, elusive squads that operate in remote and rugged terrain, making it challenging for security forces to conduct effective search and clearance operations.

In light of these ongoing security concerns, experts emphasize the importance of enhancing intelligence efforts and deploying advanced technology, such as drones and thermal cameras.

Additionally, there is a growing consensus among analysts regarding the necessity of expanding troop deployments to secure rear lines and bolster defenses against ISIS incursions.

Recent Attacks

In just three days, Iraqi security forces faced two attacks perpetrated by ISIS militants.

The first occurred last Monday in Al-Aith area between Saladin and Diyala governorates, resulting in the death of six Iraqi Army personnel, including a regiment commander, and injuring seven others.

The most recent attack took place on Wednesday at a checkpoint on the outskirts of the Dumez district within the Kirkuk governorate, resulting in injuries to three Iraqi Army soldiers.

In response, security forces initiated a "major" operation from three axes in Al-Aith as a countermeasure to the attack. "The top security leadership in Baghdad received the investigation results into the attacks. Several security directives were issued following the incident, including implementing a new security plan that involves reinforcing the area with additional forces, sealing security gaps, and installing thermal cameras to monitor the movements of terrorist groups," a security source revealed to Shafaq News Agency.

The source confirmed that security forces have already begun to apply the new deployment strategy and are taking necessary measures to track down those responsible for the attack.

Exploiting Distractions

Member of the Parliamentary Security and Defense Committee Mohammed Al-Mohammadi highlighted that "ISIS has transformed into small units that can disappear in desert areas and valleys in Saladin and Kirkuk, particularly in the Hamrin Mountains and Wadi Al-Shay, where there are dense vegetation that can conceal large numbers of ISIS elements."

Al-Mohammadi pointed out to Shafaq News Agency that "intelligence efforts are weakened in these areas due to the absence of shepherds as a result of drought, prompting them to leave these areas. Moreover, no military units are in the desert, necessitating the expansion of defense lines towards urban areas."

"In al-Anbar governorate, a significant portion of the desert needs to be brought under the control of security forces, and the same approach should be taken in Saladin."

He suggested that "security forces must employ advanced technology such as thermal cameras and drones in desert areas, alongside intelligence efforts."

In the thick of efforts to end the Global Coalition Coalition presence in Iraq, Al-Mohammadi stated that "ceasing cooperation with the Global Coalition will either occur when terrorism is completely eradicated or when the country is fully capable in terms of security. However, the current battle is technological, as the enemy is hidden and exploits distractions to carry out attacks. Therefore, Iraq needs the Coalition until the technology for monitoring remote areas away from populated areas is completed."

Noteworthy, Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani considered on April 19, 2024, that the justifications for the presence of the U.S.-Global Coalition in Iraq "have ended," indicating that "efforts are underway to transition relations with Coalition countries to broader and more extensive security cooperation stations."

The Threat Endures

British Ambassador to Iraq Stephen Hitchen has noted that the recent ISIS attack in Saladin last Monday does not halt Iraq's progress but serves as a reminder that the threat persists.

He stated on X, "Every day, the bases of stability grow stronger in Iraq. Yesterday's attack by Dae'sh (ISIS) will not halt that progress but is a reminder that the threat endures. Peace to the martyrs, consolation to the bereaved and swift healing to the injured ."

Additionally, security and strategic expert Ahmed Al-Sharifi pointed out that ISIS's threat remains active, with the organization's capability for insurgency and attacks still viable.

"Initially, the organization relied on a philosophy of crossing borders, and it remains capable of breaching borders through infiltration operations, particularly exploiting areas classified as porous, such as the mountainous range extending from the Syrian-Turkish border to Diyala and the outskirts of Baghdad."

Regarding the necessity of the existence of the Global Coalition and the United States, Al-Sharifi clarified that "security deterrence strategies differ from military deterrence in that they rely on technological efforts in confronting and engaging threats."

He highlighted the importance of distinguishing between human intelligence efforts and technological intelligence, stating that "human intelligence efforts are weakened in the green zones where ISIS appears and operates due to the lack of visual surveillance and human monitoring, which can provide early warning to security sectors. Therefore, it is imperative to utilize technological efforts, including electronic warfare and thermal cameras."

Furthermore, security expert Sarmed Al-Bayati stressed the necessity for "enforcing airspace sovereignty over Iraq, monitoring ISIS from the air, and conducting aerial intelligence. However, there is no need for it on the ground, as Iraq possesses sufficient numbers of highly trained fighters."

Al-Bayati reaffirmed that "there is a need for intelligence presence on the ground, thermal cameras, and drones, as well as conducting foot patrols in restricted areas, i.e., areas inaccessible to security forces' vehicles, which ISIS exploits by hiding in them."

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