The Islamic State claims to have executed 729 “martyrdom operations” in Iraq, Syria and Libya during the first eight months of 2016. The figure comes from monthly data published by Amaq News Agency, a propaganda arm of the so-called “caliphate” that releases infographics summarizing the group’s suicide attacks.
Amaq’s most recent infographic was released on Sept. 5. It indicates that the jihadists carried out 81 “martyrdom operations” in the month of August alone.
Most of the Islamic State’s suicide bombings, 431 of the 729 claimed (59 percent) since the beginning of the year, have been launched inside Iraq. Approximately 40 percent of these (174 of 431) have occurred in Anbar province, where the jihadists were engaged in fierce battles with Iraqi government forces and Iranian-backed Shiite militias during much of the year. Salahuddin (101 suicide attacks), Nineveh (71), Baghdad (47), and Kirkuk (18) are the next most frequently targeted areas.
The Islamic State launched 268 suicide attacks in Syria (37 percent of the total) during the first eight months of the year. Aleppo province (106) was hit most frequently, followed by Hasakah (40), Deir Ezzor (34), Homs (27) and Raqqa (25) provinces.
The remaining 29 “martyrdom operations” took place in Libya, with 26 of these occurring in Sirte, the Islamic State’s base of operations in North Africa. The data demonstrates how the battle for Libya has evolved since the beginning of the year. Amaq claimed only one suicide attack in Libya from January through April. But the infographics show that the pace picked up beginning in May, with nine such bombings in Sirte that month. The uptick reflects the fact that Libyan militias loyal to the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) began their offensive on the city that same month. Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s loyalists have lost significant ground since then.
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