The insurgency kicked off the New Year with a coordinated suicide/roadside bomb offensive in Baghdad and northern Iraq. Thirteen bombs total were detonated; nine bombs in Baghdad alone over the span of three hours; two in Kirkuk; one in Tikrit; and one in Muqdadiyah. The targets were Iraqi Security Forces and U.S. Soldiers.
Will the attacks were coordinated, they weren’t very effective. Twenty were wounded, and the majority were civilians. Two of the attacks appeared to be manned by suicide bombers, who killed themselves with very little to show. The rest of the attacks appeared to be bombs planted within vehicles parked alongside the roads.
The coordinated effort and timing of the attacks draws suspicion that this was an al Qaeda operation, however the utter failure to produce mass casualties is curious, as the limited number of suicide bombers. Suicide attacks are the domain of al Qaeda and their jihadi allies and affiliates such as Ansar al-Sunnah. There is the possibility the attack was conducted by the Baathist elements of the insurgency, with some assistance of the jihadis. The targets of the attacks, U.S. And Iraqi Security Forces, indicates this is a distinct possibility.
The inability to produce mass casualties with thirteen strikes and the fact there were only two suicide bombers available for such a well coordinated attack deserves further investigation. If this attack was al Qaeda sponsored, it was an uncharacteristically poorly executed attack.
While the New Year’s Day bombings were a bust, today’s suicide attack in Baqubah as far more effective. A suicide car bomber rammed into a bus load of Iraqi police recruits, killing five and wounding thirteen, many of whom were badly burned.
As the insurgency conducts their terror offensive, joint Iraqi and Coalition forces continue small scale operations in the north. Near Udhaim, “71 suspects, including 25 of the country’s most-wanted, were detained by Iraqi soldiers in raids.” A known Baath party leader and twenty-two suspected insurgents are detained in multiple raids in around Muqdadiyah and Tal Afar. The Baath party leader was targeted based on local intelligence. Further raids in Hawija, Kirkuk and Tal Afar net two more insurgents and four large weapons caches. The Iraqi Security Forces continue to provide a more active role in the operations.
Along the western branch of the Euphrates River, Coalition and Iraqi forces continue to uncover weapons caches. Operation Red Bull in the Triad region of Haditha, Haqlaniyah and Barwana unearthed 82 caches. And during Operation Green Trident “more than 1,000 artillery and mortar rounds were unearthed along with scores of rocket propelled grenades and hand grenades” near the town of Al Latifiyah.
With the insurgency and al Qaeda largely defeated and rendered ineffective along the western stretch of the Euphrates River Valley, al Qaeda appears to be shifting operations northward. The suicide operations and roadside bombs, the only effective tools al Qaeda and the insurgency has brought to bear has failed to derail the joint Coalition and Iraqi campaign out west, and is unlikely to do so up north.