Learn more about Iraqi insurgency
Invasion – Post-invasion (Insurgency – Civil War)
The Iraqi insurgency arguably started as resistance to a perceived long term occupation following the 2003 US Invasion of Iraq, also known as the Second Gulf War or the Iraq War - but it has since evolved into a true Iraqi Civil War with clear Sectarian overtones and significant international implications. This asymmetric war is being waged by Iraqi citizens, almost certainly with assistance from both foreign governments and "NGO's" (loosely termed). The campaign is referred to by its supporters as the Iraqi resistance, and by some of its opponents (especially the Iraqi Government and the Coalition military) as "anti-Iraqi forces"<ref>Insurgent Ambush Kills 24 Iraqi Police 27 October 2006</ref>.
The first phase of the insurgency began shortly after the 2003 US Invasion of Iraq and before the establishment of a new sovereign Iraqi government. Originally, the insurgents targeted the coalition force (forces from 31 countries, with most from the United States and the United Kingdom) and the interim government (eg., the Coalition Provisional Authority) formed under the occupation.
Many militant attacks have been directed at the police and defense forces of the new Iraqi government. They have continued during the transitional reconstruction of Iraq as the new Iraqi government has developed under the auspices of the United Nations. 47% of the Iraqi population, and up to 88% among the Sunni Arab minority<ref>http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/pipa/articles/home_page/165.php?nid=&id=&pnt=165&lb=hmpg2</ref>, see military attacks on Coalition forces as legitimate opposition to what they perceive as a colonial occupying power, but Iraq's democratically elected government currently (Nov 2006) welcomes the U.S. presence in the country. Iraq's deep ethnic and sectarian divides have been a major dynamic in the insurgency, with the insurgency finding much weaker support from some segments of the population than others.
A 140-page Human Rights Watch Report is the most detailed study to date of abuses by insurgent groups. <ref>http://hrw.org/reports/2005/iraq1005/</ref>
The Iraqi insurgency is composed of at least a dozen major guerrilla organizations and perhaps as many as 40 distinct groups. These groups are subdivided into countless smaller cells. Due to its clandestine nature, the exact composition of the Iraqi insurgency is difficult to determine. Because most of these insurgents are civilians fighting against an organized domestic army and a foreign occupying army, many consider them to be guerrillas. :
- Ba'athists, the armed supporters of Saddam Hussein's former nomenclature, e.g. army or intelligence officers;
- Nationalists, mostly Sunni Muslims, who fight for Iraqi self-determination;
- anti-Shi'a Sunni Muslims who fight to regain the prestige they held under the previous regime (these three categories are often indistinguishable in practice);
- Sunni Islamists, the indigenous armed followers of the Salafi movement, as well as any remnants of the Kurdish Ansar al-Islam;
- Foreign Islamist volunteers, including those often linked to al Qaeda and largely driven by the Sunni Wahabi doctrine (the two preceding categories are often lumped as "Jihadists");
- Patriotic Communists (who have split from the official Iraqi Communist Party) and other leftists;
- Militant followers of Shi'a Islamist cleric Muqtada al-Sadr
- Members of the Badr Organization, a militant arm of the prominent shi'a political party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq.
- Criminal insurgents who are fighting simply for money; and
- Nonviolent resistance groups and political parties (not technically part of the insurgency).
 Iraqi insurgency organizations
Major Iraqi guerrilla groups include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Mujahideen Shura Council
- Mahdi Army (Jaish-i-Mahdi)
- Badr Organization
- Fedayeen Saddam
- Al-Qaeda in Iraq (Tantheem Al-Qaeda fi BiladirRafidain)
- Jaish Ansar al-Sunna
- Mohammad's Army (Jaish Mohammed)
- Islamic Army in Iraq (Al-Jaish Al-Islami fil-Iraq)
- Iraqi National Islamic Resistance (Moqawama al-Islamiya al-Wataniya, "1920 Revolution Brigades")
- Islamic Resistance Movement (Harakat Al-Moqawama Al-Islamiya)
- Islamic Front for the Iraqi Resistance (al-Jabha al-Islamiya lil-Moqawama al-Iraqiya - JAMI)
- Jaish al-Mujahideen
- Jaish al-Rashideen
- Asaeb Ahl el-Iraq (Factions of the People of Iraq)
- Black Banner Organization (ar-Rayat as-Sawda)
- The Return (al-Awda)
- Wakefulness and Holy War
- Mujahideen Battalions of the Salafi Group of Iraq
- Liberating Iraq's Army
- Abu Theeb's group
- Jaish Abi Baker's group
- Islamic Salafist Boy Scout Battalions (Kataab Ashbal Al Islam Al Salafi)
An English article detailing the many insurgency groups is in Epimenedes' An Inventory of Iraqi Resistance Groups.
The Ba'athists include former Ba’ath Party officials, the Fedayeen Saddam, and some former agents of the Iraqi intelligence elements and security services, such as the Mukhabarat and the Special Security Organization. Their goal, at least before the capture of Saddam Hussein, was the restoration of the former Ba'athist regime to power. The pre-war organization of the Ba'ath Party and its militias as a cellular structure aided the continued pro-Saddam insurgency after the fall of Baghdad, and Iraqi intelligence operatives may have developed a plan for guerrilla war following the toppling of Saddam Hussein from power. Following Saddam's capture, the rhetoric of the Ba'athist insurgents gradually shifted to become either nationalist or Islamist, with the goal of restoring the Ba'ath Party to power as it once was seemingly out of reach. Many former Ba'athists have adopted an Islamist façade in order to attract more credibility within the country, and perhaps support from outside Iraq. Others, especially following the January 2005 elections, became more interested in politics.
The fall of Baghdad effectively ended the existence of the Fedayeen Saddam as an organized paramilitary. Several of its members died during the war. A large number survived, however, and were willing to carry on the fight even after the fall of Saddam Hussein from power. Many former members joined guerilla organizations, collectively known as the Iraqi insurgency that began to form to resist the U.S-led occupation. By June, an insurgency was clearly underway in the central and northern Iraq, especially in an area known as the Sunni Triangle. Some units of the Fedayeen also continued to operate independently of other insurgent organizations in the Sunni areas of Iraq. On November 30, 2003, a U.S. convoy traveling through the town of Samarra in the Sunni Triangle was ambushed by over 100 Iraqi guerillas, reportedly wearing trademark Fedayeen Saddam uniforms.
Nationalists from the Sunni Arab regions are drawn from former members of the Iraqi military as well as other Sunnis. Their reasons for opposing the coalition vary between a rejection of the foreign presence as a matter of principle to the failure of the multinational forces to fully restore public services and to quickly restore complete sovereignty. Some Iraqis who have had relatives killed by coalition soldiers may also be involved in the insurgency. Most likely, the majority of the low-level members of the indigenous Sunni insurgency (such as foot soldiers) fall under this broad category. A smaller number of Shi'a nationalist fighters also exist, who are usually recruited from left-wing backgrounds. Sunni nationalists are mainly left-wing or, more commonly, ex-regime adherents.
Some of these insurgents pursue the restoration of the power previously held by the Sunni minority in Iraq, who controlled all previous Iraqi regimes since the departure of the British in the 1950s. One former minister in the interim government, Ayham al-Samarai, "launched a new political movement, saying he aimed to give a voice to figures from the legitimate Iraqi resistance. 'The birth of this political bloc is to silence the skeptics who say there is no legitimate Iraqi resistance and that they cannot reveal their political face,' he told a news conference." <ref>Iraqis Unhappy with the Bush vow to stay on. aljazeerah.info News archives</ref> There are some groups of Sunni Islamists who have taken a more explicitly anti-Shi'a role and frequently engage in revenge killings; these are mainly vigilante groups of local significance (as are most of their Shi'a counterparts).
 Muqtada al-Sadr
Supporters of the young Shi'a Islamist cleric Muqtada al-Sadr are largely young, unemployed and often impoverished men from the Shi'a urban areas and slums in Baghdad and the southern Shi'a cities.<ref name=al-Sadr_supporter_demographics>Fairweather, Jack. "Sadr City slum divided over firebrand cleric as calm returns", Telegraph.co.uk, Telegraph Group, 2004-04-14. Retrieved on 2006-10-06.</ref> The Mahdi Army area of operation stretches from Basra in the south to the Sadr City section of Baghdad in central Iraq (some scattered Shi'a militia activity has also been reported in Baquba and Kirkuk, where Shi'a minorities exist).
Sadr was suspected by U.S. and Iraqi authorities of ordering the assassination of a returning moderate Shiite cleric, Imam Abdul Majid al-Khoei, in Najaf on April 12 2003. On April 5 2004, a warrant was issued for Sadr's arrest in connection with this killing; this, in addition to the closing of his newspaper al-Hawza on March 29, the arrest of one of his aides and other actions to suppress his movement, led to an armed attack by the Mahdi Army in April 2004. This initial attack in southern Iraq was suppressed by June. A second attack by his militia, centered in a mosque in Najaf, began in August; this was resolved in an agreement brokered by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. Since that point, Sadr's opposition to the multinational occupation has been mainly in the realm of politics. Since the handover of sovereignty, the Mahdi Army has been maintained as an organized force. Sadr supporters also continue to engage in peaceful resistance such as the large protests in Baghdad on April 9 2005.
Supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr are driven by a variety of beliefs and grievances which combine both the nationalist and ultra-conservative religious tendencies of the movement. They believe that the U.S. and UK are foreign occupiers and oppressors, that they have failed to live up to their promises, and that Islamic law must eventually be established in Iraq. Al-Sadr's movement also opposes any breakup of Iraq along ethnic, religious, or other lines.
During his group's active militant phase, Al-Sadr enjoyed wide support from the Iraqi people. A poll by the Iraq Center for Research and Studies found that 32% of Iraqis "strongly supported" him and another 36% "somewhat supported" him, making him the second most popular man in Iraq, behind only Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. The Mahdi Army is believed by some sources to number between 3,000 and 10,000 guerrillas.
After the December 2005 elections in Iraq, al-Sadr's party captured 32 seats giving him substantial political power in the divided Iraqi Parliament. In January 2006, he used these seats to swing the vote for prime minister to Ibrahim al-Jaafari, giving al-Sadr a legitimate stake in the new Iraqi government and allying al-Jaafari with the controversial cleric.
On November 27, 2006, a senior American intelligence official told reporters that the Iranian-backed group Hezbollah had been training members of the Mahdi Army. The official said that 1,000 to 2,000 fighters from the Mahdi Army and other Shiite militias had been trained by Hezbollah in Lebanon, and a small number of Hezbollah operatives have also visited Iraq to help with training. Iran has facilitated the link between Hezbollah and the Shiite militias in Iraq, the official said. "There seems to have been a strategic decision taken sometime over late winter or early spring by Damascus, Tehran, along with their partners in Lebanese Hezbollah, to provide more support to Sadr to increase pressure on the U.S.," the American intelligence official said.<ref>MICHAEL R. GORDON and DEXTER FILKINS. "Hezbollah Said to Help Shiite Army in Iraq", New York Times, November 27, 2006.</ref>
 Shiite militia
Iraqi troops have fought battles with Shia militiamen in the southern town of Diwaniya on August 28 2006, amid an upsurge in violence in which dozens of people have died. At least 19 soldiers were killed and more than 40 people were wounded in Diwaniya. Officials said some 40 gunmen from the Mahdi Army had also died. Government forces had lost control of parts of the city, officials said. A spokesman for the Diwaniya general hospital said 34 bodies had been brought in, including soldiers and seven civilians and two militiamen. Local leaders are quoted as saying the gunmen in Diwaniya have split from the Mahdi Army after rejecting a call from their radical leader to take part in Iraq's political peace process. Members of the militia have set up their own checkpoints in the town, eyewitnesses said, and the government has sent large numbers of reinforcements. Insurgents have carried out almost daily attacks against Iraqi and coalition targets since the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003. Thousands of Iraqis have died in apparently sectarian attacks in the past four months alone.<ref name=bbc.co.uk-08-28>"Fierce battles in south Iraq city", 2006-08-28publisher=BBCurl=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/5293278.stm.</ref>
The southern, Iran-linked Badr Organization is seeking to establish an Islamic Republic of Iraq.
Smaller Shiite militias that have split off from the Mahdi Army have also been active; the most notorious is the one led by Abu Deraa. After the naming of Sadr-linked Ali al-Shameri as health minister, Shiite militias have infiltrated the Iraqi health care system.
The Shiite militias have presented Mr. Nouri al-Maliki with perhaps the greatest conundrum of his administration given the capture of Amarah . American officials have pressed him hard to disarm the militias and rid the state security forces of their influence. Yet Mr. Maliki has hesitated to move against them, particularly the Mahdi Army and Badr Organization, for fear of alienating fundamentalist Shiite leaders inside his fractious coalition.<ref name=newyorktimes-10-20>"Attack on Iraqi City Shows Militia’s Power", 2006-10-20publisher=The New York Timesurl=http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/20/world/middleeast/21iraqcnd.html?ex=1318996800&en=a542d37a1dff56f9&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss.</ref>
 Sunni Islamists
The Sunni Islamists are composed of Iraqis belonging to the Ikhwan movement and/or the Salafi branch of Sunni Islam, who advocate a return to the pure Islam of the time of the Prophet Mohammed and oppose any foreign non-Muslim influence. The beliefs of Salafi Islam are roughly similar to the Wahabi sect of nearby Saudi Arabia (of which Osama bin Laden is a member). One difference is that Salafis in Iraq do not usually condone intolerance towards the Shi'a. Hard-line clerics and remaining underground cells of the Muslim Brotherhood in Iraq have helped provide support for the indigenous militant Islamist movement.
Emerging as the most public face supportive of the insurgency, is the founder of the ultra-conservative Association of Muslim Scholars, Sheikh Hareth al-Dhari.
 Foreign insurgents
When Saddam Hussein was captured in December 2003, several documents were found in his possession. One particular document, which was apparently written after he lost power, appeared to be a directive to his Ba'athist loyalists warning them to be wary of Islamist mujahideen and other foreign Arabs entering the country to join the insurgency. The directive supposedly shows Saddam having concerns that foreign fighters would not share the same objectives as Ba'ath loyalists (i.e. the eventual return of Saddam to power and the restoration of his regime). A US official commenting on the document stressed that while Saddam urged his followers to be cautious in their dealings with other Arab fighters, he did not order them to avoid contact or rule out co-operation. Bruce Hoffman, a Washington counter-terrorism expert stated that the existence of the document underscores the fact that "this is an insurgency cut of many different cloths...[and] everybody's jockeying for their position of power in the future Iraq." Many experts believe that fighters from other countries who have flocked to Iraq to join the insurgency are motivated by animosity toward the United States and the desire to install an Islamic state in place of the Ba'ath Party's secular regime.<ref>Saddam warning on Islamist forces, The Age, January 16, 2004.</ref>
Foreign insurgents consist mostly of Arab fighters from neighboring countries, who have entered Iraq, primarily through the porous desert borders of Syria and Saudi Arabia, to assist the Iraqi insurgency. Many of these fighters are Wahhabi fundamentalists who see Iraq as the new "field of jihad" in the battle against U.S. forces. It is generally believed that most are freelance fighters, but a few members of Al-Qaeda and the related group Ansar al-Islam are suspected of infiltrating into the Sunni areas of Iraq through the mountainous northeastern border with Iran. The U.S. and its allies point to Jordanian-born Al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi as the key player in this group. Zarqawi was considered the head of an insurgent group called Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad ("Monotheism and Holy War") until his death on June 7, 2006, which according to U.S. estimates numbers in the low hundreds.
Usage of the term "foreign fighters" has received criticism as being Western-centric because, taken literally, the term would encompass all non-Iraqi forces, including coalition forces.<ref>Yamin Zakaria, Iran & Iraq: Blunders of the Ayatollahs. February 06 2005.</ref><ref>Charles Shaw, Unembedded, Independent. Newtopia Magazine.</ref> <ref>This is a Resistance Movement, Whether We Like It or Not by Robert Fisk. Democracy Now, 30 October 2003.</ref> Zarqawi himself has taken to taunting the American occupiers about the irony of the term: "Who is the foreigner, O cross worshippers? You are the ones who came to the land of the Muslims from your distant corrupt land." (Communiqué of 10 May 2005<ref>Communication for Al-qaeda's Jihad committee in Mesopotamia</ref>). Zarqawi's group has since announced the formation of the Ansar platoon, a squad of Iraqi suicide bombers, which an AP writer called "an apparent bid to deflect criticism that most suicide bombers in Iraq are foreigners." <ref>Iraq suicide bombers, Yahoo news, June 21 2005.</ref>
While it is not known how many of those resisting the U.S. occupation in Iraq are from outside the country, it is generally agreed that foreign fighters make up a very small percentage of the insurgency. Major General Joseph Taluto, head of the 42nd Infantry Division, said that "99.9 per cent" of captured insurgents are Iraqi.<ref>Phil Sands, 'Good and honest' Iraqis fighting US forces September 6 2005, 06:25 (UAE)</ref> The estimate has been confirmed by the Pentagon's own figures; in one analysis of over 1000 insurgents captured in Fallujah, only 15 were non-Iraqi. <ref>Pepe Escobar, The Sunni-Shia power play</ref> According to the Daily Telegraph, information from military commanders engaging in battles around Ramadi exposed the fact that out of 1300 suspected insurgents arrested in five months of 2005, none were non-Iraqi, although Colonel John Gronski stated that foreigners provided money and logistical support: "The foreign fighters are staying north of the [Euphrates] river, training and advising, like the Soviets were doing in Vietnam" In September 2006, the Christian Science Monitor reported, "It's true that foreign fighters are in Iraq, such as the late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. But they are a small minority of the insurgent force, say administration critics. Most Iraqi mujahideen are Sunnis who fear their interests will be ignored under Iraq's Shiite-dominated government. They are fighting for concrete, local political goals - not the destruction of America." The paper quoted University of Michigan history professor Juan Cole: "If the Iraqi Sunni nationalists could take over their own territory, they would not put up with the few hundred foreign volunteers blowing things up, and would send them away or slit their throats."<ref>Peter Grier, "Is war in Iraq a shield against attacks at home?" Christian Science Monitor (18 September 2006) p. 3.</ref>
Despite the low numbers of foreign fighters their presence has been confirmed in several ways and coalition forces believe the majority of suicide bombings are believed to be carried out by non-Iraqi foreigners. Kenneth Katzman, a Middle East expert with the Congressional Research Service, stated in June 2005: "I still think 80 percent of the insurgency, the day to day activity, is Iraqi - the roadside bombings, mortars, direct weapons fire, rifle fire, automatic weapons fire...[but] the foreign fighters attract the headlines with the suicide bombings, no question."
On September 7 2005, an Iraqi Army Captain claimed that Iraqi forces arrested 150 non-Iraqi Arabs in Tal Afar. But other accounts of the same battle do not mention these arrests, and U.S. Army commander Colonel H. R. McMasters said the "vast majority" of insurgents captured there were "Iraqis and not foreigners." Iraqi journalist Nasir Ali claimed that there were "very few foreign combatants" in Tal Afar and charged "Every time the US army and the Iraqi government want to destroy a specific city, they claim it hosts Arab fighters and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi."
There are allegations that the U.S. government has attempted to inflate the number of foreign fighters in order to advance the theory that the insurgency is not a local movement. U.S. Army Specialist Tony Lagouranis spoke about his job identifying many of the bodies after the assault on Fallujah:
- We had women and children, old men, young boys. . . [U.S. commanders] were trying to prove that there were a lot of foreign fighters in Falujah, so that was mainly what we were going for. Very few of them had foreign IDs. . . In an effort to, sort of, "cook the books", you know, they would find a Qu'ran on the guy and the Qu'ran was printed in Algeria and they'd mark him down as an Algerian, or guys would come in with a black shirt and khaki pants, and they'd say, well, this is the Hezbollah uniform, and so they'd mark him down as a Lebanese. Which was ridiculous. . . I did say something to the Staff Sergeant, and, you know, I just got yelled down.<ref>Interview with U.S. Army Specialist Tony Lagouranis on Democracy Now!</ref>
 Abu Musab al-Zarqawi
The U.S. Government described Zarqawi as the single most dangerous and capable insurgent operative to work against the U.S.-led coalition and its Iraqi allies, responsible for a large number of major attacks. There are signs that an increasing rift is developing between supporters of al-Zarqawi, including both foreign guerrillas and some Iraqis who have adopted a hard-line Wahhabi philosophy, and the nationalists and more moderate religious elements of the insurgency. The main source of the divide is over the suicide bombings that have inflicted heavy Iraqi civilian casualties, along with disagreements about whether to cooperate with the Shi'a and their insurgency. However, the publicity given to Zarqawi has ensured that he has become an iconic figure to various Sunni Islamist groups, regardless of the actual scope of his influence, by much the same process that has made Osama bin Laden a symbol of the causes of various Islamist groups following the events of September 11 2001.
The extent of Zarqawi's influence is a source of much controversy. Zarqawi was reported killed in action in March 2004 in "a statement signed by a dozen alleged insurgent groups" (CBS/AP). His Jordanian family then held a funeral service on his behalf, although no body has been recovered and positively identified. Iraqi leaders have denied the presence of Zarqawi in Fallujah prior to the U.S. attack on that city in November 2004. Zarqawi's existence has even been questioned, for example by Pepe Escobar, an antiwar op-ed writer for the Asia Times.  There exists considerable biographic information on Zarqawi suggesting that he is best described as a former street thug of limited education; it is improbable that he actively fulfils the often-claimed role of "terrorist mastermind" and in fact could be better described as a "terrorist celebrity". Actual involvement of Zarqawi in significant terrorist incidents is not usually proven, although his group often claims it perpetrated bombings. As al-Qaeda is an "opt-in" group (meaning that everyone who agrees to some basic Wahabi moral tenets and the fundamental goals may consider himself a member), it is most likely that "Al-Qaeda in Iraq" is a loose association of largely independent cells united by a common strategy and vision, rather than a unified organization with a firm internal structure.
On June 8th, 2006, Iraqi officials confirmed that Zarqawi was killed by two 500lb laser guided bombs dropped from an F-16 the previous evening. Abu Ayyub al-Masri, an Egyptian who was trained in Al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan has taken his place.
A document found in Zarqawi's safe house indicates that the terrorist group was trying to provoke the U.S. to attack Iran in order to reinvigorate the insurgency in Iraq and to weaken American forces in Iraq. "The question remains, how to draw the Americans into fighting a war against Iran? It is not known whether American is serious in its animosity towards Iraq, because of the big support Iran is offering to America in its war in Afghanistan and in Iraq. Hence, it is necessary first to exaggerate the Iranian danger and to convince America and the west in general, of the real danger coming from Iran...". The document then outlines 6 ways to incite war between the two nations. Iraqi national security adviser Mouwafak al-Rubaie said the document, shows al-Qaeda in Iraq is in "pretty bad shape." He added that "we believe that this is the beginning of the end of al-Qaeda in Iraq."
On August 21, 2006, Jill Carroll, a journalist for the Christian Science Monitor, published part 6 of her story detailing her capitivity in Iraq. In it, she describes how one of her captors, who identified himself as Abdullah Rashid and leader of the Mujahideen Shura Council in Iraq, conveyed to her that "The Americans were constantly saying that the mujahideen in Iraq were led by foreigners...So, the Iraqi insurgents went to Zarqawi and insisted that an Iraqi be put in charge." She continued by stating: "But as I saw in coming weeks, Zarqawi remained the insurgents' hero, and the most influential member of their council, whatever Nour/Rashid's position...At various times, I heard my captors discussing changes in their plans because of directives from the council and Zarqawi."
 Schism between foreign insurgents and Iraqi insurgents
Large-scale terrorist attacks against civilians carried out by foreign fighters, as well as the interpretation of Islam that they attempt to impose on the local population in areas under their control, have increasingly turned Iraqis against them, in some cases breaking out into open fighting between different groups in the insurgency   . There are signs that local Islamist insurgent groups have also increasingly caused the population to turn against them    
Opinions differ on how broad this schism is - terrorism expert Jessica Stern warned that "in the run-up to the war, most Iraqis viewed the foreign volunteers who were rushing in to fight against America as troublemakers, and Saddam Hussein's forces reportedly killed many of them." This opinion contradicts Iraqi scholar Mustapha Alani, who says that these foreigners are increasingly welcomed by the public, especially in the former Ba'athist strongholds north of Baghdad.
While some have noted an alliance of convenience that existed between the foreign fighters and the native Sunni insurgents, there are signs that the foreign militants, especially those who follow Zarqawi, are increasingly unpopular among the native insurgents. In the run-up to the December 2005 elections, Sunni insurgents were warning al Qaeda members and foreign fighters not to attack polling stations. One former Ba'athist told Reuters, "Sunnis should vote to make political gains. We have sent leaflets telling al Qaeda that they will face us if they attack voters." And a Sunni insurgency leader specifically commented on Zarqawi: "Zarqawi is an American, Israeli and Iranian agent who is trying to keep our country unstable so that the Sunnis will keep facing occupation."
By early 2006, the split between the Sunni insurgents and the Zarqawi-led foreign fighters had grown dramatically, and Sunni insurgents began targeting al Qaeda forces for assassination. One senior intelligence official told the Telegraph that Zarqawi had fled to Iran as a result of the attacks. In response to al Qaeda killings in Iraq, Sunni insurgents in al-Anbar province led by former Ba'athist intelligence officer Ahmed Ftaikhan formed an anti-al-Qaeda militia called the Anbar Revolutionaries. All of the militia's core members have relatives who have been killed by al-Qaeda in Iraq, and they have sought to prevent foreign jihadis from entering the country. The group "claims to have killed 20 foreign fighters and 33 Iraqi sympathizers.". The schism became all the more apparent in when a tape claiming to be from the Mujahedeen Shura Council urged Osama Bin Laden to replace Al Qaida in Iraq's current head with an Iraqi nationale. The Mujahedeen Shura Council, however, issued a statement shortly afterwards denying the authenticity of this tape.
 Non-violent groups
Apart from the armed insurgency, there are important non-violent groups that resist the foreign occupation through other means. The National Foundation Congress set up by Sheikh Jawad al-Khalisi includes a broad range of religious, ethnic, and political currents united by their opposition to the occupation. Although it does not reject armed insurgency, which it regards as any nation's right, it favors non-violent politics and criticizes the formation of militias. It opposes institutions designed to implement American plans, such as the former Iyad Allawi government and the U.S.-organized national conference designed as the antecedent to a parliament. <ref>Jonathan Steele, The Iraqi Leader Seeking a Peaceful Path to Liberation: A New Party unites Shi’as, Sunnis, Kurds and Christians. Guardian/UK, July 16 2004.</ref> Although the CPA enforced a 1987 law banning unions in public enterprises, trade unions such as the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU) and Iraq's Union of the Unemployed have also mounted effective anti-occupation opposition. <ref>David Bacon, Iraq's Labor Upsurge Wins Support from U.S. Unions. FPIF Commentary. July 28 2004.</ref>
Trades unions, however, have themselves been subject to attacks from the insurgency. Hadi Saleh of the IFTU was assassinated under circumstances that pointed to a Ba'athist insurgency group on 3 January 2005. No trades unions support the armed insurgency.<ref>David Bacon, Murdered Iraqi Trade Unionist Trapped Between U.S. and Insurgents. News Analysis, Pacific News Service, Jan 26 2005.</ref>
Another union federation, the General Union of Oil Employees (GUOE) opposes the occupation and calls for immediate withdrawal but was neutral on participation in the election. Whereas the GUOE wants all foreign troops out immediately, both the IFTU and the Workers Councils call for replacement of U.S. and British forces with neutral forces from the UN, the Arab League and other nations as a transition. <ref>USLAW Statement on the Iraqi Labor Solidarity Tour of U.S.</ref> Many unions see the war as having two dimensions: military and economic. The GUOE has won strikes against both the Governing Council for pay raises and against Halliburton over the use of foreign workers. 
 Insurgency tactics
Insurgent tactics vary widely, as well as the targets. Jihadist elements of the insurgency favor the use of car bombs, kidnappings, hostage-taking, shootings and other types of attacks to target Iraqi "collaborators" and U.S. forces with little regard for civilian casualties. Other groups claim to target their attacks on U.S. forces and avoid the targeting of civilians.
For most attacks, the Iraqi guerrillas operate in small teams of five to ten men in order to maintain mobility and escape detection. Larger attacks involving as many as 150 men have appeared on occasion since April 2004 (although large units had also appeared in a few instances beforehand, such as a battle near the Syrian border town of Rawa on June 13, 2003 and a large ambush of a U.S. convoy in the town of Samarra on November 30, 2003).
All of the following methods of attack are designed to allow insurgent teams to strike quickly and escape detection afterwards.
 Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs)
Many Iraqi guerrilla attacks against coalition targets have taken the form of attacks on convoys and patrols using improvised explosive devices, or IEDs. These explosive devices, made from former Iraqi military munitions and explosive materials, are concealed or camouflaged along main roads and detonated when a convoy or patrol passes. In the chaos after the war, massive looting of the infrastructure, and most catastrophically, munitions, occurred. According to the Pentagon, 250,000 tons (of 650,000 tons total) of ordnance was looted, providing an almost endless source of ammunition for the insurgents.
The method of detonation has varied as the U.S. has adapted to insurgent tactics; originally using simple wires, U.S. forces later became skilled at observing such devices, and cell-phones and garage-door openers were used as detonator transmitters. These devices were remote-wired up to 100 meters from the IED detonator to avoid jamming by counter-offensive devices and, most recently, infrared lasers have been used as the initiators. 155 mm artillery shells rigged with blasting caps and improvised shrapnel material (concrete, ball bearings, etc.) have been the most commonly used, but the makeshift devices have also gradually become larger as multinational forces add more armor to their vehicles. There is also evidence from the insurgent propaganda videos that aviation bombs of 500 lb have been used as IEDs.
The improvised explosives are often hidden behind roadside rails, on telephone poles, buried in the ground or in piles of garbage, disguised as rocks or bricks, and even placed inside dead animals or under road. This has emerged as the most lethal and favored method the insurgents have developed to attack coalition forces, and the number of these attacks have steadily increased. IEDs are generally used as the initiators in an ambush on coalition forces, or detonated in tandem, in order to catch in the open the gathering rescue forces after the first explosion.
In addition, Iraqi guerrillas have frequently launched ambushes of military convoys and patrols, using AK-47 assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades. Soft-skinned humvees have been the most commonly targeted. The congested and constricted terrain of the urban areas, and in the rural areas, palm groves and other crops, offer cover and concealment for insurgents launching ambushes.
These attacks are usually broken off before support can be called in, in traditional guerrilla fashion. Direct ambushes of U.S. forces have declined, however, to avoid insurgent casualties as U.S. defenses improve (armored Humvees and tanks are unaffected by insurgent AK-47 fire). The percentage of multinational forces casualties from mines or improvised explosives has risen to 70%.
Ambushes against the poorly protected Iraqi police and security forces, however, have proven very lethal. There have been isolated cases of larger ambushes, such as an attack on a coalition convoy in Samarra on November 30, 2003 that involved 100 fighters and a massive ambush of a coalition convoy in Sadr City on April 4, 2004 by Mahdi Army militiamen numbering over 1000 men.
 Sniper Tactics
The Iraqi guerrillas also use sniper tactics against private contractors, Iraqi and U.S soldiers.
As of December 3, 2006, 40 U.S soldiers and three British Soldiers have been killed by sniper fire in Iraq since the beginning of the invasion. Private security contractors have also been targeted; on March 22, 2004 two Finnish businessmen were shot and killed by snipers in Baghdad. Two private security contractors, one British and one American (the last working for Blackwater USA, have also been killed by sniper insurgents. Soldiers tell of a supposed member of the insurgency who is alleged to be a very accurate sniper. Nicknamed Juba, he is said to have killed and wounded up to a hundred United States soldiers.
 Mortar and rocket strikes
Another common form of attack involves hit-and-run mortar or rocket strikes on coalition bases or locations associated with the Iraqi government or a foreign presence. Insurgents fire a few mortar rounds or rockets and quickly escape before their position can be identified and effective counter-fire directed. Insurgents use urban areas heavily populated by civilians as firing positions to discourage counter-fire, and in the countryside, palm groves and orchards are used for concealment. Insurgents commonly mount mortar tubes in the rear cargo area of civilian trucks allowing them to drive away from the launch position before counter-fire or coalition troops can reach them.
This method is very inaccurate and rarely hits the intended target, since the guerrillas do not have time to aim properly, but casualties are still periodically inflicted by incoming mortar rounds and rockets. Improvised multiple-rocket launchers have also been used to target specific buildings in urban areas.
 Attacks on aircraft
Since the beginning of November 2003 military helicopters have also been increasingly targeted. The insurgents, often concealed in palm groves, lie in wait for the helicopters and then attack the helicopter, usually from the rear. The weapons used include rocket-propelled grenades and heat-seeking shoulder fired missiles such as the SA-7, SA-14, and in one case the SA-16. Countermeasures taken by helicopter pilots, such as flying very low at a high speed, have considerably reduced the number of helicopters shot down, by reducing the time of target acquisition. Recently, the tactic of flying low has increased the vulnerability of these vehicles to .50 caliber machine gunfire. Helicopters, including Apache gunships, have been severely damaged or destroyed when multiple machine gunners have engaged helicopters at close ranges of 50-400 meters. At this range, the kinetic energy of these bullets is sufficient to penetrate the helicopter's armor.
Another new tactic used by the insurgents to bring down helicopters is the so-called "aerial IED". Basically an explosive charge designed in a way to force the blast straight up into a flight path, this new type of IED may have been responsible for the downing of several helicopters.
This following list contains most of the aircraft downed during combat operations in Iraq since the beginning of the invasion:
|03/22/03||2 Mk 7 Sea Kings||Both Collided||Persian Gulf||7 killed||UK|
|03/30/03||UH-1N Huey||Crashed||South Iraq||3 killed||US|
|04/02/03||F/A-18C||Shot down||Karbala||1 killed||US|
|04/04/03||AH-1W Super Cobra||Shot down||Ali Aziziyal||2 killed||US|
|04/07/03||F-15E||Shot down||Tikrit||2 killed||US|
|04/08/03||A-10A||Shot down||Baghdad||pilot safe||US|
|05/09/03||UH-60 Black Hawk||Crashed||Tigris river||3 killed||US|
|05/19/03||CH-46F Sea Knight||Crashed||Tigris river||5 killed||US|
|06/12/03||AH-64 Apache||Shot down||Baghdad||pilots safe||US|
|11/02/03||CH-47 Chinook||Shot down||Fallujah||16 killed||US|
|11/07/03||UH-60 Black Hawk||Shot down||Tikrit||5 killed||US|
|11/15/03||2 UH-60 Black Hawk||Shot down||Mosul||17 killed||US|
|12/11/03||AH-64 Apache||Shot down||Mosul||pilots safe||US|
|01/02/04||Kiowa OH-58||Shot down||Fallujah||1 killed||US|
|01/08/04||UH-60 Blackhawk||Shot down||Fallujah||5 killed||US|
|01/23/04||Kiowa OH-58||Crashed||Mosul||2 killed||US|
|01/25/04||Kiowa OH-58||Crashed||Mosul||2 killed||US|
|02/25/04||Kiowa OH-58||Crashed||Baghdad||2 killed||US|
|04/07/04||Kiowa OH-58||Shot down||Baquba||pilots safe||US|
|04/11/04||AH-64 Apache||Shot down||Baghdad||2 killed||US|
|08/05/04||UH-1N Huey||Shot down||Najaf||crew safe||US|
|12/15/04||PZL W-3WA Sokół||Crashed||Karbala||3 killed||Poland|
|01/26/05||CH-53E Super Stallion||Crashed||Al-Anbar||31 killed||US|
|01/28/05||Kiowa OH-58||Crashed||Baghdad||2 killed||US|
|01/30/05||C-130K Hercules||Shot down||Baghdad||10 killed||UK|
|04/21/05||Mi-8||Shot down||Baghdad||9 killed||Bulgarian Security Company|
|05/26/05||Kiowa OH-58||Shot down||Ba’qubah||2 killed||US|
|06/27/05||AH-64D Apache||Crashed||Taji||2 killed||US|
|11/02/05||AH-1W Super Cobra||Shot down||Ramadi||2 killed||US|
|01/13/06||Kiowa OH-58||Shot down||Mosul||2 killed||US|
|01/16/06||AH-64 Apache||Shot down||Mishahda||2 killed||US|
|04/01/06||AH-64D Apache||Shot down||Baghdad||2 killed||US|
|05/06/06||Westland Lynx||Shot down||Basra||5 killed||UK|
|05/14/06||AH-6M||Shot down||Baghdad||2 killed||US|
|07/13/06||AH-64D Apache||Shot down||Baghdad||pilots safe||US|
|11/27/06||F-16C Falcon||Crashed||Anbar Province||1 killed||US|
Insurgent saboteurs have also repeatedly assaulted the Iraqi oil industry. Guerrillas, using either rocket-propelled grenades or explosives, regularly destroy portions of oil pipeline in northern Iraq, and had expanded to southern Iraq by April 2004. This sabotage hampers the activities of the Iraqi government and the foreign occupation forces by reducing oil revenues. Among the reasons the insurgency gives for sabotage is to prevent or limit American control of Iraq's hydrocarbon reserves. Efforts to bring oil production back to pre-war levels have been repeatedly frustrated by these attacks.
There have also been allegations of attacks on water pipelines and the electrical grid by the Iraqi insurgents, although there is controversy as to whether the incidents in question did indeed represent intended sabotage.
 Suicide bombers
Main article: Suicide bombings in Iraq since 2003
Since August 2003, as the U.S-led coalition forces gradually strengthened their defenses, suicide car bombs have been increasingly used as weapons by guerrilla forces. The car bombs, known in the military as "vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices", have emerged as one of their most effective weapons, along with the roadside improvised explosive devices. They are often driven by suicide bombers and directed against targets such as Iraqi police stations, recruiting centers for the security services, and U.S. convoys. They have a number of benefits for the insurgency: they deliver a large amount of firepower and inflict large amounts of casualties at little cost to the attackers. However, large numbers of Iraqi civilians are usually killed in such attacks (see below). The suicide car bombings also have a psychological effect by lowering the morale of troops.
 Non-military and civilian targets
There have also been many attacks on non-military and civilian targets, beginning in earnest in August 2003 and steadily increasing since then. These include the assassination of Iraqis cooperating with the Coalition Provisional Authority and the Governing Council, considered collaborators by the guerrillas, and suicide bombings targeting the United Nations headquarters, the Jordanian Embassy, Shi'a mosques and civilians, the International Red Cross, Kurdish political parties, the president of the Iraqi Governing Council, hotels, Christian churches, diplomats and restaurants. Armed and unarmed Iraqi police and security forces are also targeted, because they are also considered collaborators. Sometimes they are killed in ambushes and sometimes in execution-style killings. Militants have targeted private contractors working for the coalition as well as other non-coalition support personnel.
The origin of the large-scale bombings is considered by many observers to most likely be foreign fighters, former Iraqi secret service operatives, or a combination of the two. It is believed that most of the actual suicide attackers are from outside Iraq, although they most likely are facilitated by Iraqis. The network of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is frequently blamed by the U.S. and the Iraqi government for suicide attacks on non-military targets.
Coalition officials and some analysts suspect that the aim of these attacks is to sow chaos and sectarian discord. Coalition officials point to an intercepted letter suspected to be from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, in which he makes the case for attacking Shi'a in order to provoke an anti-Sunni backlash and thereby galvanize the Sunni population in support of the insurgents, as evidence. While hardcore Wahhabi mujahideen among the insurgency may indeed desire a sectarian civil war, other insurgents (both Sunni and Shiite) charge that the coalition is attempting to instill a fear of civil war as part of a divide and conquer strategy.
Though attacks on civilians tend to kill much larger numbers of people in comparison to attacks on coalition forces, unverifiable figures from a November 2004 "left hook" blog article suggest that such attacks may comprised a very small proportion (4.1%) of insurgent activity from late 2003 to 2004. The same article asserts that the vast majority (75%) of attacks are directed at coalition forces.
A 2005 Human Rights Watch report analyzes the insurgency in Iraq and highlights "the groups that are most responsible for the abuse, namely al-Qaeda in Iraq, Ansar al-Sunna and the Islamic Army in Iraq, which have all targeted civilians for abductions and executions. The first two groups have repeatedly boasted about massive car bombs and suicide bombs in mosques, markets, bus stations and other civilian areas. Such acts are war crimes and in some cases may constitute crimes against humanity, which are defined as serious crimes committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population."<ref>http://www.hrw.org/english/docs/2005/10/03/iraq11804.htm</ref>
 Assassinations, kidnappings and beheadings
See main article: Foreign hostages in Iraq
Assassination of local and government officials, translators for coalition forces, employees at coalition bases, informants, and other (so-called) collaborators has been a regular occurrence. Assassinations have taken place in a variety of ways, from close-range small arms fire and drive-by shootings to suicide car-bombers ramming convoys.
Kidnapping, and in some cases beheadings, have emerged as another insurgent tactic since April of 2005. Foreign civilians have borne the brunt of the kidnappings, although U.S. military personnel have also been targeted. After kidnapping the victim, the insurgents typically make some sort of demand of the government of the hostage's nation and give a time limit for the demand to be carried out, often 72 hours. Beheading is often threatened if the government fails to heed the wishes of the hostage takers. Several individuals, including an American civilian (Nicholas Berg) and a South Korean (Kim Sun-il), among others, have been beheaded. In many cases, tapes of the beheadings are distributed for propaganda purposes. However, 80% of hostages taken by insurgents have been peacefully released. Jill Carroll, a journalist for the Christian Science Monitor, was kidnapped in early 2006, and although later let go, her Iraqi translator was killed.
The goal of the kidnappings appears mainly to be to terrify foreign civilians into immobilization and to attract media attention and possibly inspire recruits. Almost all of the kidnappings have been conducted by radical Sunni groups on the fringe of the insurgency. The Mahdi Army, as well as the nationalist and more moderate religious elements of the Sunni insurgency, have rejected kidnapping as a legitimate tactic.
 Attacks on security forces
Another insurgent tactic that has been increasingly used since April 2004 includes large-scale assaults and raids on the Iraqi police their police stations and compounds of Iraqi security forces, whom insurgents view as collaborators, involving platoon-sized elements or larger, often up to 150 men. Large-scale attacks have also been occasionally advanced against U.S. forces. They have been launched both by Sunni insurgents in cities such as Ramadi, Fallujah, and al-Qaim, and by Shiite militiamen in cities such as Baghdad, Najaf, and Kufa during the twin uprisings of 2004. Some attacks may combine multiple weapons and tactics at once, such as rocket-propelled grenades, mortars, and car bombs. Although these attacks usually fail militarily, they are designed to convey an impression of strength on the part of the guerillas (part of the psychological warfare campaign) and to sow general chaos.
Iraqi insurgents have released propaganda videos such as . These videos seem to mostly consist of footage of combat, executions or suicide attacks. These videos are posted online as recruiting tools, as last testaments of suicide bombers, demonstrate attacks and demoralize public opinion.
 Analysis and polls
A series of several polls have been conducted to ascertain the position of the Iraqi public further on the insurgency and the coalition occupation. The polls consistently find the following:
- Between 45% and 88% of Iraqi Sunni Arabs consider armed attacks on U.S. forces legitimate and justified resistance.
- The greatest support for the insurgency is in al-Anbar province. There have been many insurgencies in the Diyala province.
- Polls suggest the majority of Iraqis disapprove of the presence of coalition forces.
- A majority of both Sunnis and Shi'as want an end to the occupation as soon as possible, although Sunnis are opposed to the occupation by somewhat greater margins. <ref>Survey Finds Deep Divisions in Iraq; Sunni Arabs Overwhelmingly Reject Sunday Elections; Majority of Sunnis, Shiites Favor U.S. Withdrawal, New Abu Dhabi TV / Zogby Poll Reveals. Zogby International, January 28 2005.</ref>
Polls conducted in June 2005 suggest even more anti-occupation sentiment; most alarming to U.S. policymakers is rising support for the insurgency. According to the Boston Globe (10 June 2005): "a recent internal poll conducted for the U.S.-led coalition found that nearly 45 percent of the population supported the insurgent attacks, making accurate intelligence difficult to obtain. Only 15 percent of those polled said they strongly supported the U.S.-led coalition."<ref>Bryan Bender,  Insurgency seen forcing change in Iraq strategy, New aim to bring Sunnis into fold. Globe Staff, June 10 2005.</ref> A later 2005 poll by British intelligence said that 45% of Iraqis support attacks against coalition forces, rising to 65% in some areas, and that 82% are "strongly opposed" to the presence of foreign troops.<ref>Sean Rayment, Defence Correspondent, </ref> Demands for U.S. withdrawal have also been signed on by one third of Iraq's Parliament.<ref>Abdel-Wahed Tohmeh, 83 MPs Ask al-Jaafari to Put a Timetable for the Withdrawal of Foreign Troops. June 22 2005.</ref> These results are consistent with a January 2006 poll that found an overall 47% approval for attacks on US-led forces. That figure climbed to 88% among Sunnis. Attacks on Iraqi security forces and civilians, however, were approved of by only 7% and 1% of respondents respectively. 87% favored a U.S. withdrawal, but only 23% believe the U.S. would actually withdraw if asked. 80% believed the U.S. plans permanent bases in Iraq.
A September 2006 poll of both Sunnis and Shiites found that 71% of Iraqis wanted the U.S. to leave within a year, with 65% favoring an immediate pullout and 77% voicing suspicion that the U.S. wanted to keep permanent bases in Iraq. 61% approved of attacks on U.S. forces.
A great deal of attention has been focused on how much success the guerrillas have had in consolidating support among the Iraqi population. It appears the Iraqi insurgency retains a degree of popular support in the "Sunni triangle," especially in cities like Fallujah. The tribal culture of the area and its concepts of honor, the prestige many received from the former regime, and civilian casualties resulting from intense coalition "counter-insurgency" operations have resulted in the opposition of many Sunni Arabs to the occupation.
Polls indicate that the greatest support for the insurgency is in al-Anbar province, a vast area extending from the Syrian border to the western outskirts of Baghdad. This is attributed to a number of reasons, including a lack of opportunities for members of the old regime, lack of employment, tribal customs, suspicion of outsiders, and the religious conservatism of the area. Coalition "counter-insurgency" operations have suffered heavy casualties in the province.
Some observers, such as political scientist Wamidh Nadhmi, believe that the major division in Iraq is not along ethnic and religious divisions nor between the general population and violent groups, but between those who collaborate with the foreign occupation and those who resist it.
U.S. and British forces tend to suffer fewer casualties in the Shiite and Kurdish areas outside the "Sunni triangle." Many, however, especially in the Shiite community, although supportive of the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, are very unhappy with the occupation. Farther north in the Kurdish areas, there is some pro-U.S. sentiment and a strong opposition to the groups constituting the insurgency.
Support for the insurgency is less strong in the Shi'a areas of the country than in the Sunni areas since the Shi'as, like the Kurds, did not dominate the ruling factions of the old regime. Shi'as have also been influenced by a moderate clerical establishment under Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani that has advocated a political solution. However, Muqtada al-Sadr (a radical Shi'a cleric who has advocated militant insurgency) has drawn support from a portion of the Shi'a community, mainly young and unemployed men in urban areas. Sadr's support varies region by region; while likely not drawing considerable support in Najaf (a stronghold of the clerical establishment which was occupied by Sadr's militia and has been the scene of some of the heaviest fighting), some polls have indicated Sadr's support among the Shi'as of Baghdad may be as high as 50%. However, this support did not translate into direct electoral winnings for Sadr supporters during the January 2005 elections.
Spontaneous peaceful protests against the occupation have appeared in Shi'a areas. The Shi'a intellectuals and the upper classes, as well as the inhabitants of rural regions in the south and followers of more moderate clerics such as Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, tend to cooperate with the coalition and the Iraqi interim government and eschew militant protest. Sistani's political pressure is largely credited with enabling the elections of January 2005.
The Shi'a and Kurdish populations of Iraq have had long histories of strained relations with past Iraqi regimes, which have long been dominated by the Sunni. Their favored status in Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion is also a factor attributed to the fewer instances of attacks against coalition forces in Shi'a and Kurdish regions of the country. This is in contrast to the more radical Muqtada al-Sadr, who draws his support from the lower classes and much of the Shiite urban population. Both united, however, on the United Iraqi Alliance ticket that brought in the largest share of the votes in the January 2005 elections.
 Scope and size of the insurgency
The most intense Sunni insurgent activity takes place in the cities and countryside along the Euphrates River from the Syrian border town of al-Qaim through Ramadi and Fallujah to Baghdad, as well as along the Tigris river from Baghdad north to Tikrit. Heavy guerilla activity also takes place around the cities of Mosul and Tal Afar in the north, as well as the "Triangle of Death" south of Baghdad, which includes the "-iya" cities of Iskandariya, Mahmudiya, Latifiya, and Yusufiya. Lesser activity takes place in several other areas of the country. The insurgency is believed to maintain a key supply line stretching from Syria through al-Qaim and along the Euphrates to Baghdad and central Iraq, the Iraqi equivalent of the Ho Chi Minh trail. A second "ratline" (the U.S. term) runs from the Syrian border through Tal Afar to Mosul.
Although estimates of the total number of Iraqi guerrillas varies by group and fluctuates under changing political climate, the latest assessments put the present number at between 12,000 and 20,000 hardcore fighters, along with numerous supporters and facilitators throughout the Sunni Arab community. At various points U.S. forces provided estimates on the number of fighters in specific regions. A few are provided here (although these numbers almost certainly have fluctuated):
- Fallujah (mid-2004): 2000-5000 (in a November 2004 operation, the Fallujah insurgency has been destroyed or dispersed, but has been staging a comeback, albeit not to former strength, in the course of 2005)
- Samarra (December 2003): 2000
- Baquba (June 2004): 1000
- Baghdad (December 2003): 1000 (this number may have increased by a significant amount)
Guerilla forces operate in many of the cities and towns of al-Anbar province, due to mostly ineffective Iraqi security forces in this area. There is extensive guerilla activity in Ramadi, the capital of the province, as well as al-Qaim, the first stop on an insurgent movement route between Iraq and Syria. as of 2006 Recent reports suggest that the Anbar capital Ramadi has largely fallen under insurgent control along with most of the Anbar region, as a result the US is sending an extra 3,500 marines to reestablish control of the region.  
Baghdad is still one of the most contested regions of the country. Insurgents are waging intense guerilla warfare and some Sunni neighborhoods such as Adhamiya are largely under insurgent control. Suicide attacks and car bombs are near daily occurrences in Baghdad. The road from Baghdad to the city airport is the most dangerous in the country, if not the world. Iraqi security and police forces have also been significantly built up in the capital and, despite being constantly targeted, had enjoyed some successes such as the pacification of Haifa Street, Haifa street however has recently seen a massive surge of insurgent activity.
Insurgents are also vigorously contesting control of the ethnically diverse northern city of Mosul, with much of the city, especially the western Arab half, slipping in and out of their control.
Recent intelligence suggests that the base of foreign terrorist operations has moved from Anbar to the religiously- and ethnically-mixed Diyala province. In response to a law allowing for the partitioning of Iraq into autonomous regions, members of the Mutayibeen Coalition, one of Iraq's largest Sunni insurgent groups, allegedly claimed the creation of an Islamic state encompassing parts of 6 of Iraq's 18 provinces on October 15. Yet another show of defience came on October 18 when Sunni insurgents brazenly paraded in Ramadi. Similar parades were held two days later in several towns across western Iraq, two of which occurred within two miles of US military bases.
By October 2006, small radicalized militias had seemed to overshadow the larger and more organized Sunni groups which had composed the insurgency previously. As disagreements emerged in pre-existing insurgent groups for reason ranging from the rift in the sunni insurgency between foreign and iraqi insurgents, competition between Mahdi Army and Badr Brigade, and anger over various decisions such as Muqtada al Sadr's agreement to join the political process, dozens of insurgent groups sprung up across the country, though particularly in Baghdad where the US army has listed 23 active militias. Residents have described the capital as being a patchwork of militia run fiefs. As a result of the insurgencies splintering nature, many established leaders in the insurgency seemed to lose influence. This was particularly illustrated on October 19, when members of the Mahdi army briefly seized control of Amarah. The attack, while demonstrating the influence of the Madhi army, is believed to have originated as a result of contention between local units of the Madhi army and the allegedly Badr brigade run security forces, and the timing suggested that neither Al Sadr nor his top commanders had known known or orchestrated the offensive.
 Rate of attacks and casualties
Main article: Casualties of the conflict in Iraq since 2003
In the July 4, 2005 issue of Newsweek, Fareed Zakaria reports that "insurgents launched 700 attacks against U.S. forces last month, the highest number since the invasion. They are getting more sophisticated, now using shaped charges, which concentrate the blast of a bomb, and infrared lasers, which cannot be easily jammed. They kill enough civilians every week that Iraq remains insecure, and electricity, water and oil are still supplied in starts and stops." <ref>Fareed Zakaria, Don't Make Hollow Threats. August 22 2005.</ref>
As of July 16, 2006, 2547 U.S. soldiers, 114 British soldiers and 113 soldiers from other nations have died in Iraq. 18,777 U.S. soldiers had been wounded.<ref>Pat Kneisler, Michael White, and Evan D., Iraq coalition casualties count. Operation Enduring Freedom Fatalities.</ref> According to the Pentagon, over 5500 American soldiers have deserted since the beginning of the conflict in Iraq. While the Pentagon says that the rate of desertion is at normal levels, several servicemen have said that their desertion is connected with the war in Iraq. Pentagon spokesman have disagreed, stating very few have deserted because of the war but rather for the typical reasons of personal problems and difficulty adjusting to military life. They further state the figures show desertions have actually dropped since their height in pre-war 2001, trending down strongly ever since.
Since Coalition forces do not usually release public "body counts", it is very difficult to determine the exact number of Iraqi Insurgents killed by US. Forces, however several sources have given good estimates based on known intelligence and figures. A Washington Post Op-Ed article on November 22, 2005, estimated the number of insurgents killed in action in Iraq at between 45,000 and 50,000. This figure is fairly reliable, and is supported by several independent monitoring sites including "Jane's Intelligence Online", and the RAND Corporation. Insurgents usually wear civilian attire (see the Lagouranis quote under "Foreign insurgents" above), wounded or killed fighters are regularly recovered by local citizens, and numbers of killed enemy fighters have sometimes been proven to be inflated for propagandistic reasons.
 Iraqi coalition counter-insurgency operations
Main article: Iraqi coalition counter-insurgency operations
Toward the end of June 2004, the Coalition Provisional Authority transferred the "sovereignty" of Iraq to a caretaker government, whose first act was to begin the trial of Saddam Hussein. Fighting continued in the form of an insurgent rebellion against the occupying forces as well as the new Iraqi government, with a small fraction of the insurgency composed of non-Iraqi Muslim militant groups like Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda (see "Foreign insurgents" above). The new government began the process of moving towards open elections, though the insurgency and the lack of cohesion within the government itself, has lead to delays. Militia leader Muqtada al-Sadr took control of Najaf and Coalition forces attempted to dislodge him. Through July and August a series of skirmishes in and around Najaf culminated with the Imman Ali Mosque under siege, only to have a peace deal brokered by al-Sistani in late August. Al-Sadr then declared a national cease fire, and opened negotiations with the American and government forces on disbanding his militia and entering the political process.
 History of the Insurgency</div>
Main article: History of Iraqi insurgency
(This is the latest entry; see the main article for the prior history)
 November 2005
- Insurgent terrorism, question of Iraqi reconciliation, and talks of multinational troop withdrawals
On 8 November three gunmen assassinated Adel al-Zubeidi, the defense lawyer in the trials of Saddam Hussein for Taha Yassin Ramadan, a former Iraqi Vice President under Saddam Hussein. On the same day, Italian state-owned channel Rai News 24 aired Fallujah, The Hidden Massacre, a controversial documentary in which Iraqi people and ex-U.S. soldiers report that white phosphorus, a reported "chemical weapon", and Mk-77 napalm bombs were used by the U.S. Army against civilians in Fallujah last year.
On November 12 the United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan made a surprise visit to Iraq. He expressed support for an Arab League conference discussing how to bring reconciliation to Iraq's many factions. Annan expressed that the world should supports the Iraqi political process, urging the mainstream Sunnis to join the process and isolate the hardcore Sunni-based insurgency. That same day, four individuals died following a car bomb in Baghdad. On 13 November Iraqi president Jalal Talabani stated that it could be possible that Iraqi troops could replace UK forces by the close of 2006 through a gradual withdrawal of forces. He did not endorse an immediate withdrawal of the multinational forces. He stated that would be a "catastrophe" for Iraq and would lead to civil war.
On 10 November at least 30 people died following an insurgent suicide bomb attack on a restaurant in Baghdad. The explosion could be heard several miles away. Al-Qaeda in Iraq sent a message that it was responsible. On the same day, police find the bodies of 27 people. They had been tied up and shot near the border with Iran.
On 18 November the United States House of Representatives reject a Republican resolution, proposed by Duncan Hunter, "expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately" by a vote of 403-3 after Jack Murtha stated that the "[multinational] troops have become the primary target of the insurgency. [...] They are united against U.S. forces and we have become a catalyst for violence". Jean Schmidt, during the debate, read a letter from a United States marine called those wishing to "cut and run" from Iraq "cowards". The marine later claimed to have never said this. The following day, U.S. President George W. Bush rejected calls for a timetable for withdrawing US troops from Iraq, stating "we will stay in the fight" and the reasons why he believes the American presence in Iraq should continue. Bush also states that defeating the insurgency cannot be done militarily, and it has to be defeated politically.
Elsewhere on the 18th, a series of bombings killed 74 Shia worshippers and injuring 75 at two mosques (the Sheik Murad mosque and the Khaniqin Grand Mosque) in eastern Iraq, while in Baghdad two car bombs destroyed the blast wall protecting a hotel housing foreign journalists and killed eight Iraqis. Two car bombs exploded outside a Baghdad interior ministry building at the centre of a detainee abuse scandal.
On 20 November at least 40 people died following a series of attacks on Sunni Arab insurgents by Iraqi and American attacks. Eight insurgents were killed in a conflict between joint U.S-Iraqi forces and insurgent gunmen occupying a house in Mosul. A mortar attack by insurgents was conducted near the house of the Diyalah governor in the east of Baquba. Insurgents killed 13 civilians and 20 wounded when one exploded a car bomb in a busy market in southeast Baghdad. Policemen on a highway in eastern Baghdad were attacked during their patrol by insurgents. The 98th UK soldier was killed in Iraq after terrorist elements within the insurgency set off a roadside bomb. British Ministry of Defence officials stated that "These are very small groups that operate in the area. They cause serious risk to both ourselves and the local population of Basra."
On November 21, five Iraqi civilians were shot by US troops as they approached a checkpoint in Baquba. Checkpoints are frequent targets by insurgents. U.S. troops have put up signs in Arabic telling people to stay back or risk being shot. The minibus failed to stop as it approached a roadblock.
On November 23 Khadim Sarhid al-Hemaiyim, one of the most important Sunni Arab Tribal leaders in Iraq, was shot dead, along with his three sons and a son-in-law, in Baghdad. The gunmen dressed as members of the new Iraqi Army. A spokesman for the Iraqi military stated that its forces were not involved in the killing. He added that it was likely that the gunmen were militants in disguise. Also on the 23rd, a suicide ambush by a car bomber killed 18 people, about half Iraqi Police, in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk.
On November 24 at least 30 people died following a car bomb outside a hospital in Mahmudiya when Iraqi police cars came near the bomber (and this caused light damage to a passing US military convoy). Laith Kubba, the Iraqi Prime Minister's spokesman, stated the insurgent attacks are increasing in the run-up to December's parliamentary elections. Also on the 24th, at least 25 people were injured (18 were killed) after a car bomb attack in Hilla. The police were lured into a market area by a smaller bombing, then the bomber set off a larger explosion by ramming a patrol car. Half of those killed were police officers and many of the wounded were also police.
On November 26 four Westerners were kidnapped in Baghdad, sparking a hostage crisis. All members of Christian Peacemaker Teams, the hostages are Norman Kember (74; British), Tom Fox (54; American), James Loney, (41; Canadian) and Harmeet Singh Sooden (32; Canadian). On November 29 a German woman (Susanne Osthoff) was kidnapped in Iraq. These have added up in the past year and a half to over 200 foreigners that have been abducted in Iraq by insurgents. Some of the hostages have been executed by their kidnappers. Osthoff was later released for ransom. Fox was later killed with a bullet to the head however Kember, Sooden and Loney were later rescued.
 See also
- Casualties of the conflict in Iraq since 2003
- Post-invasion Iraq, 2003–2006
- 2004 in Iraq
- 2005 in Iraq
- Al Qaeda in Iraq
- Consolation payment
- Sectarian violence in Iraq
- Juba (sniper)
- Hillbilly armor
- Zarqawi PSYOP program
- Challenge Project
 External articles
- "Insurgent Iraq: Links to full-text online articles and reports about the Iraqi insurgency". Compiled by Project on Defense Alternatives, March 2006. Updated 22 August 2006.
- "400 Days and Out: A Strategy for Solving the Iraq Impasse". Carl Conetta, Project on Defense Alternatives, 19 July 2005.
- "Frontline: The Insurgency" PBS Frontline Feb. 21, 2006
- "Iraqi Insurgency Groups". GlobalSecurity.org, 2005.
- "Electronic Propaganda in Iraq". wadinet.de (PDF)
- "Iraq's Insurgents: Who's Who". Washington Post, 19 March 2006.
- multimedia article by Australian Journalist Paul McGeogh of the Sydney Morning Herald
- "Who Are the Insurgents? Sunni Arab Rebels in Iraq" United States Institute of Peace Special Report, April 2005
- "The Iraqi Insurgent Movement" Christopher Alexander, Charles Kyle and William McCallister, Nov. 14, 2003
- Robert R. Tomes, Relearning Counterinsurgency Warfare, Parameters Spring 2004 http://www.carlisle.army.mil/usawc/Parameters/04spring/tomes.pdf
- Chehab, Zaki. Iraq Ablaze: Inside the Insurgency. I.B. Tauris. ISBN 1-84511-110-9.
- Enders, David. "Baghdad Bulletin:Dispatches on the American Occupation" University of Michigan Press (April 4, 2005) ISBN 0-472-11469-7
- Rogers, Paul. Iraq and the War on Terror: Twelve Months of Insurgency. I.B. Tauris. ISBN 1-84511-205-9.
 Middle East
- "An Inventory of Iraqi Resistance Groups." Al-Zawra (Baghdad). September 19, 2004.
- Biedermann, Ferry. "Portrait of an Iraqi Rebel." Salon. August 16, 2003, via globalpolicy.
- "Powell Denounces Iraqi Insurgent Leader." The Guardian (UK). August 13, 2004.
- "Crushing Iraq's insurgency may take up to 10 years." Middle East Online (UK). August 23, 2004.
- "In Western Iraq, Fundamentalists Hold U.S. at Bay." New York Times. August 29, 2004.
- "Najaf assault turns allies against US." Reuters. August 13, 2004.
- "Families return to devastated Falluja." Al-Jazeera. May 1, 2004.
- "Falluja breathes easy." Al-Jazeera. May 1, 2004.
- "U.S. War Crimes: Torture of Iraqi Prisoners Exposed." Tehran Times. May 1, 2004.
- "NYT: Shiite uprising may not be confined to al-Sadr followers." New York Times. April 8, 2004. Registration-free copies at Contra Costa Times and Smirking Chimp.
- Fisk, Robert. "Iraq on the brink of anarchy." The Independent (Fallujah). April 6, 2004.
- Rasan, Dhiya. "Resistance Reveals Post-US Plan." IWPR (Baghdad). February 23, 2004.
- "Diplomats stunned by abduction wave, Workers held in bid to force companies to leave." Detroit Free Press. July 27, 2004.
- "Al-Sadr's star fades among Iraqis." Mail & Guardian. August 30, 2004.
- "Saddam's Baath Party is back in business." Knight Ridder Newspapers. September 7, 2004.
- "Why the insurgency won't go away." Boston Review. October, 2004.
- "Secrets of Terror", Interview with Ryan Mauro, the author of the book Death to America: The Unreported Battle of Iraq ISBN 1-4137-7473-3
 Supportive of the Insurgency
- Iraqi Resistance Reports from albasrah.net.
- Soldz, Stephen. "Iraq Occupation and Resistance Report."
- "Iraqi resistance hailed in Brazil" Al-Jazeera.August 24, 2004.
- Kais al-Rubai, Ali. "Islamists Pledge Continued War on Coalition." IWPR (Baaqouba). May 14, 2004.
- "Sadr urges Iraqis to fight occupation." Al-Bawaba April 13, 2004. Sources claim negotiations with U.S.-led forces are progressing.
- "Washington Unleashes Bloodbath in Iraq." Tehran Times. April 29, 2004.
- Iraqi Resistance News and Discussion from Mirror of the World Foundation.