October has been a month of deadly protests in Baghdad and in the provinces south of the capital. At least 433 were killed, and thousands were wounded. Due to difficulty of reporting in this environment, the number of casualties is estimated. So far, 255 deaths have been reported in protest-related incidents throughout October; this figure includes security personnel. Over 11,000 demonstrators have been wounded. A break in the protesting during the Arbaeen religious holiday helped tamp down on those figures. Once protests resumed, they were as deadly as in the beginning of the month. Although some rioting has been reported, security and militia forces have been blamed for much of the violence.
The total number of killed outside of protest violence was 183; another 27 were found in a mass grave. Eighty people were wounded. With the focus on protests, ISIS-related violence may have been unreported this month. During September, violence involving the Islamic State left 264 killed or found in graves, and 111 wounded.
At least 64 civilians, 28 security personnel, and 76 militants were killed. Also, 20 civilians and 55 security personnel were wounded. And, 27 ISIS members were unearthed from graves. One U.S. soldier was killed during a non-combat incident. In the Turkey-Kurdistan Workers’ Party (P.K.K.) conflict, 14 guerrillas were killed, and three were wounded. Two Iraqi civilians were accidentally wounded during a Turkish attack as well.
In recent political news:
Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani warned of “civil conflict, chaos and destruction” should security or paramilitary forces escalate the violence. He also seemed to take specific issue with Iranian interference. Qassem Soleimani, head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force traveled to Baghdad this week for meetings concerning the protests.
In the cities:
In Baghdad, tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered for what is described as the biggest protest since the fall of Saddam Hussein. One woman was killed by a tear gas canister, and 350 others were wounded. Five dead were reported the previous night. Amnesty International reported that security forces were using grenades that are 10 times heavier than standard issue, and purposefully aiming at protesters.
About 3,000 protesters were reported in Diwaniya.
In other news:
Three militants were killed during an operation in Garma.
Also, French jets bombed a number of suspected ISIS tunnels in northern Iraq as part of its mission with the Coalition. Coalition strikes were reported in Dabs and Makhmour, but it is unclear if these were part of the French operations or separate.