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Second Iraqi Civil War
Map of proposed Iraq split
What the rebel groups planned for the Mesopotamian region.
Date 16 February 2015 — 27 November 2020
Location Iraq, spillover in Syria and Turkey
Result Treaty of Baghdad
  • Creation of a Shia-Sunni coalition
  • Recognition of an independent Kurdistan

Flag of Iraq (2004-2008) Northern Iraqi People's Front
Flag of Kurdistan Iraqi Kurdistan

Flag of Iraq (2004-2008) Northern Iraqi People's Front
Flag of the Ba'ath Party Ba'ath Party Loyalists

Flag of Kurdistan Iraqi Kurdistan
Flag of Syria (1932-1958; 1961-1963) Free Syrian Army


Flag of Iraq Iraqi government

Proposed flag of Iraq (first proposal, 2008) Southern Iraqi Army

  • Shiite militias

Flag of Syria Syria
Flag of Iran Iran

ISIS flag Islamic State
Flag of Iraq (2004-2008) Tariq Al-Hashimi

Flag of Kurdistan Massoud Barzani

Flag of Iraq Nouri Al-Maliki
Flag of Iraq Saadoun Al-Dulaimi

Proposed flag of Iraq (first proposal, 2008) Babaker Zebari

ISIS flag Abu Al-Baghdadi

Flag of Iraq (2004-2008) 27,000
Flag of Kurdistan 35,000

Flag of Iraq (2004-2008) 470,000
Logo of the Army of the Men of the Naqshbandi Order 19,000
Flag of Kurdistan 60,000
Flag of Syria (1932-1958; 1961-1963) 23,000
Total: 572,000


Flag of Iraq 48,000

Proposed flag of Iraq (first proposal, 2008) 380,000
Flag of Syria 4,000?
Flag of Iran 3,500
Total: 387,500

Estimated at 70,000—100,000
Casualties and losses
45,673 killed or missing, 63,291 wounded 31,805 killed or missing, 47,322 wounded 40,000—55,000 killed, unknown wounded
An estimated 350,000 civilians were killed or wounded, and some 400,000 were displaced

The Second Iraqi Civil War was an internal conflict in Iraq, with spillovers into Syria, that occurred from February 2015 to November 2020.


The government of Iraq had been controlled by the Shia Muslim minority, while the majority of the population is Sunni Muslim. The divide became great when, in June 2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) invaded northern Iraq, and was joined by many Sunni Muslims. Many Sunnis in the Iraqi army defected and joined ISIS. However, the government of Iraq was able to handle the issue with ISIS with a military offensive in the north of the country in December 2014 and January 2015, which caused ISIS to retreat and lose many of the gains it initially made during its summer offensive into northern Iraq. But the damage was done, the Sunni majority began rioting across the country against the Shia-dominated government. The government responded by trying to quell the protests, which failed, as they only intensified. Radical Sunnis began attacking Shia Muslims.

The situation quickly escalated when, in Mosul, a city liberated from ISIS control, a group of influential Sunni leaders founded a movement that they called the Northern Iraqi a People's Front. It demanded a greater voice for Sunnis in the government. However, Prime Minister Al-Maliki declared it to be a terrorist group and ordered the arrest of its leaders. This sparked outrage, and Iraqi police were prevented from arresting the leaders, who escaped to Erbil, which is located in Kurdistan. Meanwhile, the Kurdish leaders became emboldened by the act of protest against the government in Baghdad, and began making demands for independence, as they hosted the leaders of the Northern Iraqi movement. The movement was under overall command of Tariq Al-Hasimi, a Sunni politician.

Course of the war

2015: The beginning

The Northern Iraqi movement generated a harsh response from the Baghdad government. A force of 25,000 troops, both Iraqi army and Shiite militias, was ordered to take control of the Kurdish city of Erbil in response. In the resulting Battle of Erbil, the Kurdish forces, numbering some 40,000 men, held off the enemy advance. The Iraqi government force was defeated outside the city and forced to retreat.





2020: The endgame


Opposing forces

Iraqi government order of battle (2015)

Southern Iraqi order of battle (2015—20)

Northern Iraqi and allies order of battle (2015—20)