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Main developments in Iraq’s Al-Anbar province
As part of ISIS’s efforts to purge the Al-Anbar province from pockets of resistance, the siege of the city of al-Baghdadi, located near the Al-Assad airport, continued. According to people in the area, around 90% of the city has fallen into the hands of ISIS and at least 1,000 ISIS operatives are taking part in the campaign. An ISIS video about the fighting in al-Baghdadi shows ISIS operatives riding in American armored vehicles and making use of American weapons in their war against the Iraqi security forces and their allies, the Sunni tribes (Washington Post and Reuters, February 13, 2015).
On February 22, 2015, the ISIS information office in the Kirkuk province published a video showing 21 prisoners, including 16 Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, three officers from the emergency police force in Kirkuk and two senior Iraqi Army officers. The video shows the prisoners dressed in orange jumpsuits, being led to cages and displayed in the streets to the cheers of the masses. Later they kneel, with an ISIS operative armed with a knife or a rifle standing behind each of them. The prisoners also include senior Iraqi Army officers (a brigadier general and a lieutenant colonel) (ISIS-affiliated forum, February 22, 2015).
Iraqi security forces reported the arrest of two relatives of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS. According to Iraqi security forces, both hold senior positions in ISIS (PUK Media, February 15, 2015).
ISIS has published photos from the graduation ceremony of a military course in the Nineveh province, in which about 65 operatives took part. The course was held at the Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi training camp. The photos from the graduation ceremony show masked operatives marching, doing sports exercises and hand-to-hand combat exercises and receiving weapons training (ISIS-affiliated Twitter account and website, February 19, 2015).
In the Diyala province, ISIS carried out two suicide bombing attacks against the Iraqi Army:
On February 18, 2015, a suicide bombing attack against an Iraqi Army position was carried out by means of a truck bomb. The attack was carried out in a village located about 133 km northeast of Baghdad. The suicide bombing attack was carried out by an ISIS operative codenamed Abu Ahmed the Tunisian (ISIS-affiliated Twitter account, January 17, 2015).
On February 16, 2015, a suicide bombing attack was carried out using a captured Iraqi Army APC. The attack was carried out against an Iraqi Army outpost by a suicide bomber codenamed Abu al-Baraa al-Shami. Photos uploaded to an ISIS-affiliated Twitter account show the preparations for the attack, the suicide bomber driving the APC, the APC exploding, the destruction of the outpost, the bodies of Iraqi Army soldiers, and the weapons captured by ISIS (ISIS-affiliated Facebook account, February 16, 2015).
Written by: The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC)