Iraq attacks at lowest since 2014
BAGHDAD - The number of attacks in Iraq has fallen to its lowest since the Islamic State group declared a "caliphate" in 2014, a study said Wednesday, with the jihadists reduced to scraps of territory.
"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," the Britain-based Jane's Terrorism and Insurgency Centre (JTIC) said.
"The 126 attacks in October represented almost half the peak recorded in January, while the 102 fatalities represented an 80.0 percent decrease from November 2016."
The drop in violence came as Iraqi troops forced IS from the last few towns it held along the border with Syria, reducing its territory to just a few pockets of sparsely populated desert.
The defeats are the latest in a punishing campaign by government forces backed up by air strikes by a US-led coalition that has seen IS ousted from its major strongholds, including Iraq's second city Mosul.
As the group has lost ground it has increasingly turned to "asymmetric operations, typified by low-level attacks targeting the security forces and higher profile attacks against civilian sectarian targets," the JTIC said.
In October, the jihadists carried out 15 suicide attacks that claimed seven lives, with the security forces succeeding in disrupting the vast majority of the attempts, the study said.
In a sign of how perilous the situation remains in Iraq, a suicide car bomber on Tuesday killed 24 people in an attack on a busy market in a town north of Baghdad. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
While IS has lost territory in Iraq, it has also been ceding ground across the border in Syria, where it was forced from its last urban stronghold by regime forces last week.