Baghdad Province is formally under government control but Shia militias are prominently present. Along with the Iraqi security forces, they carry out security checks and maintain order in Baghdad, which is a source of concern for the minority Sunni population, who fears a resumption of the 2006-2007 civil war.
ISIS is still committing bomb attacks in Baghdad and the surrounding areas. Despite the many checkpoints set up by the police, the army and Shia militias, car bombs, roadside IEDs and suicide bombers still cause casualties among the civilian population every day. With a monthly average of 300 dead and 700 injured, the toll from bomb attacks and other violent incidents has been stable since the start of 2015. There has been a slight decrease of spectacular car bomb attacks, but attacks using lesser quantities of explosives are increasing. A very large number of casualties are civilian. Since the end of 2015, ISIS has resumed its attacks using military means and tactics, but such attacks are still very exceptional (only 2 so far) compared to the dozens of bomb attacks.
Several Shi’a militias are also active in Baghdad-City and Province, where they are searching for ISIS members, maintaining order and patrolling Shi’a neighbourhoods. This leads to many abuses against civilians, such as arbitrary arrests, ill-treatment and disappearances. Corpses are found every day but it is rarely possible to identify those responsible, because militia members operating independently and criminal gangs resort to the same methods, for instance abducting civilians for ransom.
Sunnis in Baghdad are more at risk than Shias to fall victim to Shia militias, who act with impunity as the authorities are unwilling or unable to curb them.
There seem to be no clear geographical differences: the violence affects the whole of the capital city and the surrounding province; no neighbourhood is spared by the bomb attacks.
There are about 600,000 internally displaced persons in Baghdad province. Most of them have fled ISIS-controlled regions and areas affected by fighting between ISIS and the army, backed by Shia militias. Most IDPs live with host families or in rented accommodation, often in precarious financial circumstances, and are dependent on humanitarian aid. Almost all IDPs declare that they would like to go home as soon as the situation permits. A small number of them have already returned to towns and areas conquered on ISIS but the number of incoming IDPs is still higher.
Daily life in Baghdad is affected in several ways by the violence. Movements across the city are complicated by the numerous checkpoints but Baghdad remains a functioning megalopolis, in spite of security risks and poor infrastructure. The city is not under siege, essential supplies are available and the main roads are open (including the road to the international airport). On the other hand, the deterioration of the economic situation, due to lower than expected state revenues, war spendings and the economic disorganisation caused by the displacement of more than 3 million Iraqis, has fuelled popular discontent with the current government. There were many demonstrations against the government’s failure to ensure basic infrastructures and above all against rampant corruption. Security is tight around these demonstrations, which have not been targeted by bomb attacks so far.
The schools are open and health care is available even though health facilities are under pressure. In the autumn of 2015, an outbreak of cholera in Baghdad could be stopped.
As a result of an increase in violence and terrorist acts, the security and human rights situation in Iraq has deteriorated since 2013 and further escalated with the ground offensive that IS launched in June 2014. This has led to a bloody internal armed conflict. Citizens are being targeted by the conflicting parties for ethnic, religious or political reasons. In 2015, the military pressure on IS increased and the Iraqi Security Forces, backed by Shia militias and the Peshmerga, recaptured some areas from it. In 2016, IS lost more ground to government forces. The recapture of IS-controlled areas has clearly led to an improvement in the general security situation in Iraq. In 2017, violence continued to decrease in Baghdad.
The available information shows that there are still significant differences in the level of violence and the impact of the IS ground offensive according to the region considered. These strong regional variations characterise the security and human rights situation in Iraq. This means concretely that the situation in Central Iraq is different from the situation in South Iraq and the Kurdish Autonomous Region.