CrisisWatch

Tracking Conflict Worldwide

CrisisWatch is our global conflict tracker, an early warning tool designed to help prevent deadly violence. It keeps decision-makers up-to-date with developments in over 70 conflicts and crises every month, identifying trends and alerting them to risks of escalation and opportunities to advance peace. In addition, CrisisWatch monitors over 50 situations (“standby monitoring”) to offer timely information if developments indicate a drift toward violence or instability. Entries dating back to 2003 provide easily searchable conflict histories.

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Middle East & North Africa

Iraq

Iran-backed armed groups targeted Israel, Turkish airstrikes on Kurdish militants persisted, and Islamic State (ISIS) attacks killed several soldiers; govt requested end to UN assistance mission.

Iran-backed groups maintained regional pressure on Israel. Following unprecedented escalation between Iran and Israel in April, Tehran-aligned Islamic Resistance in Iraq claimed over two dozen drone and missile attacks on Israel, including cities of Tel Aviv, Haifa, Eilat, Ashkelon as well as Nevatim military base; attacks proved ineffectual. Israeli military 30 May reported interception of cruise missile, likely launched from Iraq, aimed at Israel-occupied Golan Heights.

Türkiye targeted Kurdish militants; Kurdistan leader made rare visit to Iran. Amid ongoing preparations for potential large-scale operation in summer, Türkiye carried out airstrikes targeting alleged Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Hakurk, Gara and Qandil regions of Kurdistan region, claiming to have killed dozens of PKK members (see Türkiye); PKK IED attack 22 May killed Turkish soldier. Kurdistan President and Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) leader Nechirvan Barzani 5 May arrived in Iranian capital Tehran, meeting President Raisi and Supreme Leader Khamenei; meetings sought to normalise ties and overcome historic tensions. Barzani sought Iran’s support to delay Kurdistan regional elections, reflecting KDP’s perceived disadvantage vis-à-vis its rival after Supreme Court annulled eleven quota seats under de facto control of KDP.

ISIS staged deadly attacks. In deadliest ISIS attack in months, group 13 May killed six soldiers in Mutaibijah town between Salah al-Din and Diyala governorates. ISIS 15 May killed one soldier in al-Dibis district, Kirkuk governorate; 22 May killed one between Diyala and Salah al-Din provinces.

Govt requested end of UN assistance mission in Iraq (UNAMI). Govt 12 May confirmed PM Sudani had requested that UN Sec-Gen end UNAMI mandate by end of 2025, arguing mission established in 2003 is no longer necessary for political stability; minority groups opposed decision given UNAMI’s role in resolving territorial disputes and tensions over budget between Erbil and Baghdad. Meanwhile, parliament 18 May convened to elect speaker of parliament for second time since Nov but failed to award either of top nominees required simple majority; brawl between two opposing Sunni MPs ended session prematurely.

Middle East & North Africa

Iraq

Iran-backed armed groups carried out first strikes on U.S. targets in Iraq and Syria in months, govt engaged U.S. on withdrawing U.S.-led coalition troops and Turkish President Erdoğan made landmark visit.

Iran-backed groups resumed attacks on U.S. forces after lull. Marking first such attack since early Feb, rockets launched from Zummar town, Ninewa governorate, 21 April targeted U.S. base in Syria; U.S. next day shot down drones near Ain al-Asad air base in Anbar governorate. Islamic Resistance in Iraq 1 April claimed aerial attack that struck building in Israeli city Eilat; group throughout April claimed series of unconfirmed attacks on Israeli targets. Amid direct hostilities between Iran and Israel, govt 13-14 April closed airspace and PM Sudani 16 April claimed no drones or missiles were fired at Israel from Iraq (see Iran, Israel-Palestine and Conflict in Focus). 

Iraq and U.S. discussed troops’ drawdown, PM Sudani visited Washington. U.S. and Iraq 8 April held third round of talks within Higher Military Commission on drawdown of U.S.-led anti-Islamic State mission in Iraq. PM al-Sudani 15 April met U.S. President Biden in U.S. capital Washington, signing some twenty agreements, committing to talks on security cooperation and announcing plans to hold joint Security Cooperation Dialogue. Lack of clarity on future of U.S.-led coalition’s mandate risks raising tensions between govt and Iran-aligned paramilitary groups who are pushing for U.S. withdrawal.

Erdoğan made first state visit since 2011, as Turkish strikes persisted. Erdoğan 22 April met PM Sudani in capital Baghdad and Kurdish authorities in Erbil, signing 25 cooperation agreements, including on security, energy and water management; Erdoğan also claimed pair discussed “joint steps” against Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) ahead of suspected Turkish summer offensive. Clashes with PKK 9 April killed Turkish soldier; Turkish military 15 April launched airstrikes in mountains Asos and Hakurk areas of north.

Baghdad-Erbil tensions improved. Ahead of Sudani’s visit to U.S., Federal Finance Ministry 4 April said it released funds to pay March salaries of civil servants and social security beneficiaries in Kurdistan region, easing tensions between Baghdad and Erbil over delayed payments.

Middle East & North Africa

Iraq

Tensions mounted between Baghdad and Erbil as Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) announced regional election boycott, while Türkiye struck Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK); lull in attacks by Iran-backed groups persisted.

Relations between Baghdad and Erbil remained under stress. KDP 18 March announcedboycott of Kurdistan’s June parliamentary elections over Federal Supreme Court ruling in Feb to annul minority seats in parliament, most of which are allocated to KDP-dominated areas; minority Christian and Turkmen parties also announced boycott. KDP’s decision may have also been motivated by Supreme Court mandating Baghdad to centrally disburse Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) employee salaries. In sign of deteriorating ties, KRG PM Barzani’s deputy chief of staff 18 March said KDP was considering “outright exit from Iraq’s political process”.

Govt banned PKK to boost ties with Türkiye, which continued attacks on group. Ahead of expected visit by Turkish President Erdoğan in April – which would mark his first visit in over twelve years – high-level Turkish delegation led by FM Fidan 14-15 March visited Iraqi capital Baghdad and jointly met senior ministers, chairman of Hashd al-Shaabi, and KRG interior minister. Meeting established joint permanent commission on counterterrorism, water governance, trade and transportation, and Baghdad also designated PKK as “banned organisation”. Signalling possible escalation of anti-PKK campaign in coming months, Erdoğan 18 March announced that Iraqi border would be entirely secured by summer. Meanwhile, Turkish airstrike 8 March reportedly killed two civilians in Duhok governorate. Turkish security forces 4 and 19 March announced killing of two of PKK’s “youth leaders” in Sulaymaniyah governorate, while clashes with PKK 19 March killed Turkish soldier; Türkiye same day responded with round of airstrikes in Kurdistan. Türkiye 23 March “neutralised” twelve PKK members in Metina region (see Türkiye).

Iran-backed Iraqi groups refrained from attacking U.S. Pressure from Iran and Iraqi govt appeared to prevent attacks by Iran-backed groups on U.S. assets, continuing lull since early Feb; hiatus could end, however, with potential Israeli offensive in Gaza’s Rafah (see Israel-Palestine). Islamic Resistance in Iraq 1, 5, 6, 11, 20 March claimed launching drones at Israeli targets.

Middle East & North Africa

Iraq

U.S. launched wave of retaliatory airstrikes against Iran-backed groups following killing of soldiers in Jan, as calls grew for foreign troops’ expulsion; hostilities between Türkiye and Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) continued.

U.S. retaliated against Iran-backed groups, which appeared to cease attacks in Iraq. In response to 28 Jan drone attack killing three U.S. soldiers in Jordan, attributed to Iran-backed Islamic Resistance in Iraq, U.S. 2 Feb launched most substantial retaliatory operation in Iraq and Syria since escalatory cycle began in Oct with strikes on more than 85 military targets; in Iraq, targets included bases and weapons facilities of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Hashd al-Shaabi, and resistance factions. Notably, strikes killed sixteen Hashd fighters and one civilian and injured at least two dozen in al-Qaim and Akasht, Anbar province. Govt accused U.S. of breaching Iraqi sovereignty. In further escalation, U.S. drone strike 7 Feb killed Kata’ib Hizbollah commander Abu Baqr al-Saeedi and two others in Baghdad. Following Iran’s Quds Forces commander’s visit to Baghdad late Jan where he reportedly instructed armed groups to lie low, no attacks from Iran-backed groups were recorded, despite Kata’ib Hizbollah rescinding its late Jan suspension of attacks; for now, it appears that escalation has reached ceiling, although attacks conducted by Iraqi groups in Syria may continue.

U.S. attacks fuelled calls for withdrawal of foreign troops. Following U.S. assassination of al-Saeedi, resistance and Hashd al-Shaabi leaders demanded govt deliver timeline for ending U.S.-led coalition’s mandate. Over 100 parliamentarians 8 Feb signed motion to pass law expelling foreign troops; however, parliament 10 Feb failed to convene for vote on expelling U.S. troops, as Kurdish, Sunni, and almost half of Shia legislators boycotted session, indicating widespread reluctance for rushed withdrawal. Iraq and U.S 11 Feb resumed talks on drawdown of forces.

Türkiye-PKK conflict continued in north. Turkish defence ministry 4 Feb announced killing or capturing five PKK fighters. Turkish defence ministry 17 Feb announced PKK attack on base in northern Iraq killed Turkish soldier. Security officials said alleged Turkish strike 20 Feb killed two in Akre region, Dohuk governorate.

Middle East & North Africa

Iraq

Iran launched first direct attack in Iraq since Gaza war and hostilities between U.S. and Tehran-backed militias escalated; region braced for retaliation after Iraqi umbrella group killed U.S. troops in Jordan.

Gaza war continued to fuel escalation. In first direct Iranian attack since start of war in Gaza, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps 15 Jan launched three missiles at house of prominent Kurdish businessman in Kurdistan’s regional capital Erbil, killing at least four; like similar strike in March 2022, Iran claimed attack targeted Mossad activities, which Kurdistan Regional Govt (KRG) denied. Meanwhile, U.S. 4 Jan struck Iran-backed Harakat al-Nujaba group in capital Baghdad, reportedly killing four, including commander of paramilitary coalition Hashd al-Shaabi. U.S. for first time acknowledged use of ballistic missiles by Iran-backed umbrella group Islamic Resistance in Iraq in 20 Jan attack on Ain al-Asad base in Anbar governorate, injuring several personnel. In major escalation marking first fatal strike on U.S. forces since Gaza war, drone attacks by Islamic Resistance in Iraq, likely operating in Syria, 28 Jan killed three U.S. personnel in north-eastern Jordan (see Jordan). U.S. and Iraq late Jan began formal talks on withdrawal of U.S. forces. Militant group Kataib Hizbollah 30 Jan announced suspension of attacks on U.S. forces “to prevent embarrassment” of Iraqi govt.

Türkiye-PKK attacks intensified in north. Late Dec spate of attacks on Turkish troops continued, as PKK 5 Jan killed five soldiers in attack on military base and clash 12 Jan killed nine Turkish soldiers. In response, Türkiye 12-16 Jan launched airstrikes in both northern Iraq and Syria, targeting PKK/People’s Protection Units militants. Ankara also increased attacks on Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), party based in Sulaymaniyah province; Turkish FM Hakan Fidan 16 Jan threatened “further measures” if PUK did not change its attitude toward PKK.

Baghdad and Erbil ended budget dispute; Islamic State (ISIS) maintained activity. After KRG President Barzani’s 13 Jan visit to Baghdad, govt next day agreed to allocate monthly funds to KRG, marking shift from previous arrangement of loans. Suspected ISIS militants 6 Jan reportedly attacked Hashd al-Shaabi forces in Salah al-Din governorate, killing two; 14 Jan killed three soldiers near Haditha town.

Middle East & North Africa

Iraq

Iran-backed groups and U.S. traded deadly attacks amid Israel-Gaza war, country held first provincial elections in a decade, and lethal clashes occurred in north between Türkiye and Kurdish militants.

Iran-backed militias attacked U.S. assets, U.S. conducted retaliatory strikes. Iran-linked groups throughout Dec continued multiple attacks targeting U.S. troops at Ain al-Asad base, Anbar governorate, and Hareer base, Erbil governorate; groups launched attacks into eastern Syria targeting U.S. bases. Notably, U.S. drone 3 Dec killed five Iran-linked militants in Kirkuk governorate. Rockets 8 Dec targeted U.S. embassy in capital Baghdad in first attack on non-military U.S. asset since outbreak of Gaza war (see Israel-Palestine) and rockets same day struck Ain al-Asad airbase; in response, govt took stance against groups, established investigative task force and 14 Dec announced detention of several affiliates of groups. Kataib Hizbollah 25 Dec attacked Erbil airbase, injuring three U.S. personnel; U.S. same day struck three Kataib Hizbollah and Harakat al-Nujaba sites, killing one and injuring eighteen; govt condemned U.S. strike as “hostile act”.

Country held first provincial elections in ten years. Iraq 18 Dec held first provincial elections since 2013 in which Shia Coordination Framework reportedly won 101 of 285 seats. In southern governorates, Shiite State of Law Coalition, tied to former PM Nuri al-Maliki, and Nabni coalition, tied to Popular Mobilisation Forces, stood out among Shia parties. In Kirkuk governorate, where voter turnout reached highest nationwide at 66%, Kurdish parties such as Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and Kurdistan Democratic Party won most votes.

Türkiye-Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) clashes killed twelve Turkish soldiers. Marking escalation in casualties, clashes with PKK 22-23 Dec killed twelve Turkish soldiers in north; Turkish Defence Minister 27 Dec said retaliatory attacks struck 71 sites in Iraq and Syria, “neutralizing” 59 Kurdish fighters. Meanwhile, two explosive-laden drones 30 Dec struck Peshmerga base in Primam, north of Erbil; regional authorities blamed “government-linked outlaw groups”.

In another important development. Clashes in Baghdad between militiamen loyal to Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and rival Asaib Ahl al-Haq (AAH) group 26 Dec reportedly injured two, after AAH erected portraits of slain Iranian general Qassem Soleimani.

Middle East & North Africa

Iraq

U.S. launched first deadly strikes on Iran-backed militias after facing dozens of attacks since Israel-Hamas war; Supreme Court removed Parliament Speaker amid forgery scandal.

U.S. forces struck Iran-backed militias in first airstrikes since Israel-Hamas war. U.S. as of 29 Nov tallied around 74 attacks against its forces in Iraq and Syria since 17 Oct – of which approximately half occurred in Iraq – that injured around 60 personnel. Notably, two drone attacks 9 Nov targeted Ain al-Asad airbase, Anbar governorate, and al-Harir airbase, Erbil governorate. IED same day struck U.S.-led coalition convoy near Mosul Dam. Two drones 20 Nov targeted Harir air base in Erbil. Close-range ballistic missile 20 Nov struck Ain al-Asad airbase, injuring eight, which prompted U.S. to use airborne gunship to respond, killing at least one alleged militant of Kata’ib Hizbollah – associated with Iran-backed umbrella group Islamic Resistance in Iraq. In further escalation, U.S. 21 Nov carried out second series of airstrikes, killing eight Kata’ib Hizbollah members in Jurf al-Sakhar area; group vowed retaliation. While pace of attacks on U.S. declined as Gaza truce took effect late Nov (see Israel-Palestine), further attacks claiming significant casualties could trigger escalatory spiral toward wider conflict.

Federal Supreme Court suspended Parliament Speaker. Supreme Court 14 Nov terminated Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi’s tenure following accusations that he forged resignation letter of MP from Halbousi’s Taqqadum party, Layth al-Dulaimi, who was also suspended; Sunni parties are expected to appoint new speaker before Dec provincial elections. In response, Taqqadum party same day announced resignation of three govt ministers and boycott of parliament; PM Sudani 20 Nov rejected resignations. In separate case, Halbousi faces investigation for alleged relations with company tied to former Israeli PM Ehud Barak, illegal under anti-normalisation law.

In other important developments. Islamic State (ISIS) bomb and gun attack 30 Nov killed eleven civilians in Muqdadiyah city, Diyala province. Türkiye 13 and 17 Nov claimed operations killed total nineteen PKK members and its intelligence services 17 and 20 Nov reportedly eliminated senior PKK members; PKK attack 26 Nov killed three Turkish soldiers. Unknown gunmen 20 Nov reportedly attacked office of Kurdish politician Shakhawan Abdullah in Kirkuk city.

Middle East & North Africa

Iraq

Iran-backed armed groups could further escalate attacks on U.S. forces as Israel expands military campaign in Gaza; Türkiye intensified airstrikes on Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

Iran-backed groups targeted U.S. after Israel-Hamas war erupted. Following outbreak of war between Hamas and Israel on 7 Oct (see Israel-Palestine), Iran-aligned “resistance groups” – including Asaib Ahl al-Haq, Badr Organization and Kataib Hezbollah – stated readiness to support Palestinians, threatening to strike U.S. assets across region. U.S. 31 Oct revealed its forces in Iraq and Syria had suffered 27 attacks with drones or rockets since 7 Oct, of which sixteen occurred in Iraq and caused minor injuries to personnel; attacks come after months-long period of informal truce. Israeli ground operations in Gaza may fuel further such attacks and prompt calls from Iran-aligned politicians for withdrawal of U.S. troops. Notably, drone attacks 18 Oct targeted U.S. forces at Ain al-Assad airbase, Anbar governorate, and al-Harir airbase, Erbil governorate. Rocket attack next day targeted Ain al-Assad airbase and three Katyusha rockets struck international coalition base near Baghdad airport. Coalition of Sunni insurgent groups Islamic Front for the Iraqi Resistance claimed drone attack on 21 Oct targeting Ain Al-Assad airbase. Meanwhile, thousands 13 Oct responded to calls of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to demonstrate in solidarity with Palestine in capital Baghdad.

Türkiye escalated strikes on PKK targets following Ankara attack. In response to 1 Oct PKK attack in Turkish capital Ankara (see Türkiye), Türkiye escalated attacks targeting PKK in northern Iraq; notably, 1, 3, 4 Oct struck PKK targets along Turkish border, including Metina, Gara, Hakurk, Qandil, and Asos governorates. Turkish FM Hakan Fidan 4 Oct announced all PKK infrastructure, including energy facilities, were “legitimate targets”. Iraqi Kurdish authorities 26 Oct announced ten PKK members were killed in airstrikes in Erbil and Dohuk provinces.

In other important developments. Military and Kurdish Peshmerga forces 22 Oct clashed in dispute over control of strategic military posts previously held by PKK, reportedly in Makhmour district between Erbil and Ninewa governorates, killing four. Iran 2 Oct said Iraq had implemented some parts, but not all, of border security arrangements requiring it to relocate Iranian oppositions groups.

Middle East & North Africa

Iraq

Protests turned deadly in Kirkuk city, govt relocated Iranian Kurdish groups away from Iranian border under pressure from Tehran, and Türkiye struck Kurdish militants in north.

Clashes over Kurdish Democratic Party’s (KDP) presence in Kirkuk killed four. Following protests by Arab and Turkmen residents of Kirkuk city late Aug over govt decree to hand building used by Iraqi army back to KDP in line with deal between Baghdad and Erbil, KDP supporters 2 Sept held counterprotest demanding demonstrators unblock Kirkuk-Erbil highway, creating standoff with police acting as buffer. As clashes between sides erupted, security forces opened fire and killed four Kurds and injured over dozen; security forces next day deployed to city. Supreme Court 3 Sept issued temporary ruling delaying handover of building; absent lasting solution, violence could flare up again in run up to Dec provincial polls.

Govt began relocating Iranian Kurdish opposition groups. Ahead of 19 Sept deadline set by Iran for Iraq to disarm Iranian Kurdish opposition parties based in Kurdistan region, FM Fuad Hussein 12 Sept said Iraq had started relocating groups from Iranian border to undisclosed camps; Hussein next day visited Iranian capital Tehran to urge Iran not to resort to military action amid concern Iranian forces may stage operation to create buffer zone on Iraqi territory. Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI) and Komala parties reportedly vacated bases in Erbil governorate, while Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK) – affiliated to Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) – refused to hand over weapons; deployment of Iraqi border guards reportedly caused tensions with PKK, raising prospect of violent escalation between pair.

Türkiye continued strikes on PKK targets. In north, clashes 6 Sept killed Turkish soldier. Authorities from Iraq’s Kurdistan region 17 Sept reported Turkish drone strikes killed four PKK members, including one senior member, near Sinjar mountains; drone strike next day killed three members of Peshmerga in Arbat airfield near Sulaymaniyah city. Reportedly, Turkish security forces 27 Sept targeted another seasoned PKK member near Sulaymaniyah. Maritime dispute with Kuwait surfaced. Supreme Court 4 Sept nullified ratification of 2013 Iraq-Kuwait treaty regulating maritime navigation in Khor Abdullah channel.

Maritime dispute with Kuwait surfaced. Supreme Court 4 Sept nullified ratification of 2013 Iraq-Kuwait treaty regulating maritime navigation in Khor Abdullah channel.

Middle East & North Africa

Iraq

Hostilities intensified between Türkiye and Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in north, parties formed lists ahead of provincial elections in Dec, and Islamic State (ISIS) continued low-scale insurgency.

Türkiye escalated drone strikes on PKK. Turkish drone 6 Aug killed two PKK militants in separate strikes in Sulaymaniyah and Dohuk governorates; 9 Aug killed two PKK members in separate strikes in Sulaymaniyah. Clashes between Turkish forces and PKK 9-10 Aug killed at least six Turkish soldiers in Zap region, Dohuk governorate; Türkiye 10 Aug responded with airstrikes, killing four PKK members. Türkiye 24 Aug launched drone strikes in Erbil governorate, killing seven PKK members. IED 25 Aug killed Turkish soldier in north. Turkish FM Hakan Fidan 22 Aug visited capital Baghdad and Erbil, declaring “we will clear this virus [PKK] from Iraq together”.

Shiite parties formed separate lists for forthcoming provincial elections. Ahead of provincial polls set for 18 Dec, party registration 14 Aug closed with 303 registered parties and 37 coalitions. Shiite Coordination Framework parties decided to compete separately through multiple lists, including former PM Nuri al-Maliki’s State of Law coalition and Hadi al-Ameri’s Fateh alliance comprising many Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF)-affiliated groups; scattered coalition reflects parties’ competing local interests, particularly in south. While Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s movement continued boycott of formal politics, it could back independents.

ISIS continued attacks as govt discussed role of U.S. forces. ISIS 7 Aug attacked PMF position in Salah al-Din governorate, killing one. Clashes between French/Iraqi forces and ISIS cell 28 Aug killed French soldier in Salah al-Din. UN experts 14 Aug warned that ISIS still commands 5,000-7,000 members in Iraq and Syria. Defence Minister Thabit Muhammad al-Abbasi 7 Aug met U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in U.S. capital Washington to discuss defence partnership beyond defeat of ISIS; continued presence of around 2,500 U.S. troops is recurring issue of contention, particularly for pro-Iran parties that constitute governing coalition and in wake of reports that U.S. forces recently bolstered presence at Ain-al-Asad airbase.

In another important development. Iran 28 Aug said it agreed with Iraq that “armed separatists and terrorist groups” in Kurdistan would be disarmed before 19 Sept.

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