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ISIL insurgency in Iraq (2017–present)
This article is about the insurgency in Iraq after the defeat of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. For the previous ISIL insurgency after the withdrawal of US troops in 2011, see Iraqi insurgency (2011–2013). For the insurgency in Iraq after the US invasion in 2003, see Iraqi insurgency (2003–2011).
The ISIL insurgency in Iraq is an ongoing low-intensity insurgency that began in late 2017 after the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) lost territorial control in the War in Iraq of 2013 to 2017. ISIL and allied White Flags fought the Iraqi military (largely backed by the United States and other countries conducting airstrikes against ISIL) and allied paramilitary forces (largely backed by Iran).
ISIL insurgency in Iraq (2017–present)
Part of the Iraqi conflict (2003–present)

Fighters of a self-defense group in northeastern Iraq in June 2018. ISIL still has a presence in remote areas of the country, often attacking small villages and forcing the locals to fight or flee.[12]
Date9 December 2017 – present
(3 years, 5 months and 4 days)
Location
Western and northern Iraq
Status
Belligerents
Iraqi Turkmen Front
Rojava (cross-border cooperation since May 2018)[2]
CJTF-OIR
Supported by:
 Netherlands[10]
Wilayat al-Iraq (since mid-2018)[11]
White Flags
Commanders and leaders
Masoud Barzani
Maj. Gen. Sirwan Barzani
Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi 
Abu Fatima al-Jaheishi
Abu Ahmad al-Alwani
Hiwa Chor
Assi al-Qawali (POW)
Units involved
Strength
 Iraq Iraqi Armed Forces:
168,000 (plus 150,000 Popular Mobilization Forces)[14]
 United States:
5,000 soldiers and 150 Marines[15]
 United Kingdom: 400[16]
Islamic State:
15,500–17,100 (2018)[17]
White Flags:
500–1,000[18]
Casualties and losses
Unknown
18 killed,[19][20] 2 HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopters crashed
Unknown killed, 1,280+ captured (as of June 2020)[21]
Context
The insurgency is a direct continuation of the War in Iraq from 2013 to 2017, with ISIL continuing armed opposition against the Shia-led Iraqi Government. Along with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), other insurgents fighting the government include a group known as the White Flags which is reportedly composed of former ISIL members and Kurdish rebels and is believed by the government of Iraq to be part of Ansar al-Islam and possibly affiliated with al-Qaeda.[22] The group operates mostly in the Kirkuk Governorate and has used an assortment of guerilla tactics against government forces. In September 2017, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIL, called on ISIL supporters around the world to launch attacks on Western news media and continued in his message the ISIL must focus on combating the two-pronged attack on the Muslim Ummah; these statements marked a departure from previous rhetoric which was focused on the state building of ISIL and heralded a shift in ISIL's strategy toward a classical insurgency.[23]
Course of the insurgency
Since ISIL's loss of all territory in Iraq in late 2017 which was declared as Iraq's victory over ISIL and widely seen as an end to the war, and declared as such by Iraq's Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi,[24] multiple incidents of violence have occurred being carried out by the conflicting sides, in spite of Iraq's declaration of victory over ISIL the group is widely seen as far from gone and continues to retain a presence throughout Iraq, and still capable of carrying out attacks and skirmishes with pro-government forces.[25] ISIL has been waging a guerrilla war with a strong presence in the governorates of Kirkuk, Diyala, Saladin, and Sulaymaniyah, with local forces largely ill-equipped and inexperienced, ISIL has also taken advantage of the areas rough terrain to carry out operations. ISIL has also made a notable presence in the cities of Kirkuk, Hawija and Tuz Khurmato and has carried out attacks at night in rural areas.
ISIL fighters also reportedly move through villages during the day without interference from security forces, and locals have been asked by ISIL to give fighters food and give information on the whereabouts of Iraqi personnel, locals have also stated that ISIL fighters will frequently enter into Mosques and ask for Zakat to fund the insurgency. Among ISIL's operations include assassinations, kidnappings, raids and ambushes.[26]
According to the Pentagon, as of fall 2018 ISIL was still stronger than it was between 2006–2007, when the group declared the Islamic State of Iraq during its incarnation as al-Qaeda in Iraq, citing a UN report which claimed that ISIL still had 20,000–30,000 fighters in Syria and Iraq. That claim of strength was simultaneously tempered though, with the Pentagon saying that ISIL had lost all of its territory and fighters were scattered, making them much less of a threat. The Pentagon predicted that ISIL will lose strength because of their dispersion in a way similar to what happened to al-Qaeda, while also warning that ISIL is still in a position to make a comeback.[27]
Following ISIL's defeat they have been greatly weakened and violence in Iraq has been sharply reduced in 2018. 95 people lost their lives during the month of May, the lowest figure in 10 years.[28]
Timeline
2018
January–April
Between January and February 2018, Iraqi security forces and Peshmerga clashed with the White Flags around parts of the Kirkuk and Saladin governorates for control of oil fields which the Iraqi government claims the group's priority is. The Iraqi government said in the clashes the composition of the White Flag's fighters are ISIL members and individuals linked to the Kurdish mafia, the government also alleges that the Kurdistan Region allowed oil theft to occur in the area while it was under their control and enabled ISIL for their own interests.[18]
In March 2018, in two separate attacks ISIL reportedly killed 10 individuals including a pro-government Sunni tribal Sheikh along with his son and guests at his house in the town of Al-Shirqat south of Mosul, in the other attack ISIL killed 5 individuals from the same family whom were Iraqi Turkmen and Shia at a fake checkpoint set up by the group posing as Iraqi security forces.[29]
June–September
October
1st Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment of the US Army drill with the Battelle DroneDefender in Iraq, 30 October 2018. US troops anticipate ISIL units deploying drones during reconnaissance or attacks
November
December
2019
January–July
Further information: Sinjar clashes (2019)
August
September
Play media
Coalition airstrike on ISIL positions, Qanus Island, Iraq, September 2019
October
November
26 November 2019 - Six ISIL members were killed following a police chase in the area of Wadi al-Karha, southwest of Kirkuk.[103]
December
2020
January
March
See also: Withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq (2020–2021)
8 March 2020 - Two American soldiers were "killed by enemy forces while advising and accompanying Iraqi Security Forces during a mission to eliminate an ISIS terrorist stronghold in a mountainous area of north central Iraq", according to the U.S.-led coalition in Baghdad.[109] The two U.S. Marine Raiders were killed in the Qara Chokh Mountains near Makhmur.[110]
April
April 28 - A militant wearing a suicide vest attacked the Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism Directorate in the Qadisiyah neighborhood of Kirkuk, wounding three Iraqi security personnel. Iraqi government officials blamed the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.[111]
May–November
May 2 - At least ten members of the PMF were killed in an attack by ISIS.[112]
December
December 14 - 42 ISIS fighters were killed by Iraqi forces in the Nineveh governorate[113]
2021
January
February
March
April
May
May 1 - 3 Peshmerga fighters, including a captain, were killed after ISIL militants attacked Peshmerga positions close to the village of Qaya Bashi, Kirkuk. An Iraqi Brigadier General and another officer were killed by an ISIS IED blast in Akashat, west of Anbar province.[171][172][173]
May 5 - ISIL militants destroyed two oil wells and killed an Iraqi policeman at the Bay Hassan oil field in Kirkuk province.[174]
See also
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Last edited on 6 May 2021, at 20:40
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