By Patrick Martin and ISW Iraq Team
Key Take-Away: ISIS conducted a wave of explosive attacks across Iraq aimed at disrupting the forward operations of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF). Coalition-trained elements of the ISF, supported by local forces, converged on Hit District in western Anbar and the village of al-Nasr, west of Makhmur, conducting operations aimed at recapturing areas on key ground lines of communication. ISIS launched a responsive wave of suicide attacks in both Hit and Makhmur, as well as in the vicinity of Baghdad, primarily aimed at hard targets in order to arrest the ISF’s forward progress and to force a contraction of security forces towards Baghdad and central Iraq. The attacks included suicide attacks on April 4 in Basra and Dhi Qar Provinces, areas that have not seen spectacular attacks since October 2015 and June 2014, respectively. The attacks, combined with the spectacular attacks in Babil Province on March 6 and 25, indicate that ISIS is reconstituting capabilities in southern Iraq. Continued spectacular attacks and instability in the southern provinces would have the potential to seriously restrict the ability of the ISF and Popular Mobilization to conduct operations in northern and western Iraq, as forces would need to redeploy to southern Iraq, an area where few ISF formations are present, to re-establish security.