On Thursday, June 15, an Iraqi official announced that Islamic State (IS) militants had used explosives to disable three electrical towers between Hit and Al-Baghdadi (also called Khan Al-Baghdadi), a town to the northwest of Ramadi in Anbar province. No casualties were reported. The explosion caused a power outage throughout Al-Baghdadi, which also disrupted the town’s water supply. It is unclear when the town, which is located very near to the Ayn al-Asad Airbase, is expected to regain power.
IS militants have carried out similar attacks against other electrical grids in Anbar province as the group continues to target areas outside Mosul, where it has lost significant control to government forces.
The attack also comes as Muslims in Iraq and around the world celebrate the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. In recent years, IS, as well as other groups, have called on their fighters to perpetrate attacks during Ramadan, which the group has called a "holy month of jihad." So far during Ramadan in 2017, major attacks have been carried out in London, Baghdad, and Tehran, killing dozens.
In Iraq this year, a suicide bomber killed more than 20 people in a market near the Shi'a city of Kerbala on Friday, June 9. IS has claimed responsibility for the attack, which came ten days after a bombing in Baghdad killed more than 25 civilians. The Baghdad attack occurred as Iraqis were gathered en masse in the streets and restaurants of the city to break the daily Ramadan fast. During Ramadan 2016, Baghdad witnessed one of its deadliest attacks ever when an IS suicide bomber killed more than 300 people in the Karrada neighborhood.
Individuals in Anbar province are advised to monitor developments to the situation and to anticipate a prolonged power outage in the Al-Baghdadi area. More broadly, all those present in Iraq are advised to remain aware of their surroundings and to report any suspicious behavior. It is advised not to eat, drink, or smoke in public throughout this period to avoid drawing undue attention to yourself. Travelers are also advised to allow additional time for travel and to avoid any form of public demonstration or public gathering.
The security environment in Iraq remains complex. Although travel is permissible in some areas, other areas should be considered strictly off limits. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to all travel.