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Iraq terror attacks and resultant fatalities hit lowest level since Islamic State caliphate declared in 2014

22 November 2017 Matthew Henman

October experienced the lowest monthly totals in both non-state armed group attacks and subsequent fatalities since the Islamic State's formation of the 'caliphate' in June 2014 – highlighting the extent of the degradation of the group's armed campaign in Iraq.

October headline figures:

  • 126 attacks by non-state armed groups during the month: a substantial 21.2% decrease in the average daily number of attacks, from 5.2 in September to 4.1 in October.
  • Average 4.1 attacks per day also represented an even larger 37.9% decrease from the average 6.6 attacks per day over the preceding 12 months.
  • Total of 102 non-militant fatalities recorded as a consequence of violence initiated by non-state armed groups represented a major 50.7% decrease in the average daily number of fatalities, from 6.7 in September to 3.3 in October.
  • Average 3.3 fatalities per day in October represented a larger 75.0% decrease from the average 13.2 fatalities per day over the preceding 12 months.

The decrease in attacks in October was part of an ongoing trend of shrinking monthly attack totals since July 2017

A wider overall decrease in violence has been observed since a peak recorded in June 2016. However, while the decrease in attacks in September was accompanied by an increase in resultant non-militant fatalities, these associated deaths shrank drastically in October alongside the fall in attacks.

Both non-state armed group attacks and resulting fatalities represented the lowest monthly totals since the formation of the Islamic State and the declaration of the caliphate in June 2014, highlighting the extent of the decrease in operational activity by the group in Iraq. While this process has been ongoing since June 2016, the pace of operational decline has increased over the previous 12 months; the 126 attacks in October represented almost half the peak recorded in January, while the 102 fatalities represented an 80.0% decrease from November 2016.

Attacks and fatalities, Nov 2016-Oct 2017

The recorded figures underline the extent of the degradation of the Islamic State's armed campaign in the country

As JTIC has highlighted over previous months, the steady territorial degradation of the Islamic State's self-proclaimed caliphate has increasingly led the group to revert to asymmetric operations, typified by low-level attacks targeting the security forces and higher profile attacks against civilian sectarian targets.

The absence of any mass casualty violence meant that these Islamic State attacks resulted in 76.6% fewer fatalities in October, and proportionally the group decreased from accounting for 63.4% of fatalities in September to 29.4% in October. This was reflected in specific operations conducted by the group. For instance, in September the Islamic State conducted 22 suicide attacks, resulting in 93 fatalities. This dropped to 15 attacks and seven fatalities in October. Notably, 80.0% of those 15 attacks were either disrupted by the security forces prior to detonation or resulted in no fatalities beyond the attacker/s – an increase from 72.7% in September.

Number of attacks, Iraq Oct 2017

Notes about the report

The intelligence cut-off date for this report was 20 November 2018. JTIC defines non-state armed groups as actors, not part of a state, who engage in violent activity for political or ideological objectives. Information from social media that could not be verified through conventional and trusted news sources is not included in the report.

The content from this blog post is compiled from Jane's Terrorism and Insurgency Centre. To request a demonstration or for more information visit Jane's Terrorism and Insurgency Centre.

Matthew Henman, Associate Director of Jane's Terrorism and Insurgency Centre (JTIC), IHS Markit
Posted 22 November 2017


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