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Last update: June 2022

General information

Babil governorate is located in the central part of Iraq, south of Bagdad governorate, and shares borders with Baghdad, Anbar, Kerbala, Najaf, Qadissiya, and Wassit governorates. The districts of Al-Musayab, Al-Mahaweel, Al-Hilla, and Al-Hashimiya constitute the governorate of Babil. Hilla city is its capital. The Iraqi CSO estimated the governorate’s population for 2021 at 2 231 136, roughly evenly split between urban and rural residents. The majority of the population is Shia Arab, with a Sunni minority. Agriculture is the predominant sector of Babil governorate’s economy. Babil is of strategic importance as it is situated along a main highway used by Shia pilgrims from northern and central Iraq into Karbala and Najaf.

Background of the conflict

In 2014, ISIL overran Jurf Al-Nasr town and declared an official province for its activities in northern Babil. However, in the autumn of the same year ISF and Shia militias launched an offensive against the ISIL stronghold and recaptured Jurf Al-Nasr. With ISIL losing this territory, local Sunnis, who were mostly from the Al-Janabi tribe, were expelled by Shia militias. Their homes were looted and destroyed, affecting 120 000 residents. Since then, the town is controlled by PMF and ISF.

In the years since, ISIL carried out a few large-scale attacks (notably in Hilla in 2016) and retained some influence in Jurf Al-Nasr and northern Babil. In 2019, a deadly attack in Karbala was allegedly conducted by an ISIL cell from Jurf Al-Nasr. Sources reported in March 2021 that Shia militias controlling Jurf Al-Nasr blocked returns of civilians, IDPs included, denying entry even to Iraqi government officials.

The large-scale protests that erupted in Baghdad in early October 2019 affected Babil as well. At the end of the same month, armed guards in Hilla opened fire on protesters, killing 11 of them and injuring dozens of others.

Actors: control and presence

In January 2021, Iraq’s Interior Minister confirmed that the police and other forces had already taken over control in Babil governorate from the army. The governorate is under the military responsibility of the Mid-Euphrates Operations Command (MEOC). ISF forces have been controlling checkpoints along the Baghdad–Babil highway, in collaboration with PMF and other forces.

The PMF, especially Iran-backed groups, maintain a heavy presence in the Baghdad Belts and the borderlands between Babil and Anbar governorates. In September 2021, the PMF Operations Commands announced that its forces had launched a large-scale operation to clear the Jurf Al-Nasr area of ISIL fighters. As of early 2021, the town of Jurf Al-Nasr remained under the control of Kata‘ib Hezbollah (KH), an Iranian-backed Shia militia opposed to current Prime Minister Mustafa Kadhimi. Jurf Al-Nasr is of great importance for KH as a military hub for its operations. The group retained medical rehabilitation facilities for its fighters and extensive private prisons with more than 1 000 illegal detainees in the area.

Jurf Al-Nasr, with its extensive KH base, has been referred to as the prime target of ISIL attacks within the governorate. However, there have been several reports of ISIL cells being dismantled and/or members of the group being arrested in Babil’s north in recent months. Overall, it has been reported that ISIL attacks in Babil have been rare in recent years in comparison with other parts of Iraq.

Nature of violence and examples of incidents

Attacks against logistical support convoys for the US-led International Coalition against ISIL were reported on the highway between Qadissiya and Babil governorates, on the international highway passing through Babil, on the Hilla highway, in the city of Hilla itself, and in the town of Jableh. Reportedly, these incidents have rarely resulted in casualties, although one attack along the Qadissiya–Babil highway in September 2020 killed a member of the Iraqi security forces and injured two others.

Jurf al-Nasr area remains the main target of ISIL threats and attacks in Babil. Attacks against PMF have taken the form of IED and car bombs. Several killings of PMF members as well as ISIL members in clashes were reported in Jufr A-Nusr in late 2020 and early 2021. The area also witnessed alleged ISIL attacks on electric power infrastructure in the same period.

In the context of the renewed protests against unemployment and corruption, violent clashes between protesters and security forces were reported in the city of Hilla in March and May 2021. Moreover, tribal violence in the town of Iskandariya and unspecified acts of violence in the run-up to the October 2021 parliamentary elections were reported.

In autumn 2021, authorities announced that security forces had foiled an explosives attack on pilgrims heading to Karbala. IED attacks on supply convoys for the US-led International Coalition forces travelling through Babil reportedly often occurred, although rarely resulting in casualties.

Incidents: data

In the reference period, ACLED reported 64 security incidents in Babil (average of 1 security incident per week) of which 38 incidents were coded as remote violence/explosions, 15 as battles and 11 as violence against civilians. UNAMI[28] recorded 2 armed conflict-related incidents, 1 taking place from 1st August to 31 December 2020 and 1 from 1st January until 31 October 2021.

Geographical scope

The majority of the incidents took place in Al-Musayab district, especially in the Jurf al-Nasr.

Civilian casualties: data

In the reference period, UNAMI recorded a total of 2 civilian casualties (1 death and 1 injury) in the aforementioned armed conflict-related incidents. More specifically, 1 casualty was reported in 2020 and 1 casualty from 1st January until 31 October 2021.


As of 30 September 2021, 16 938 IDPs were registered in Babil governorate, the vast majority of which concentrated in Al-Musayab district. IOM documented 43,460 IDPs originating from Babil and documented no returns to Babil.

Further impact on civilians

In 2021, ISIL reportedly launched attacks on the electric power infrastructure in the Jurf Al-Nasr area and at unspecified locations in Babil. As of end of 2020, around 290 701 square metres of Babil governorate’s area were reported to be cluster munition-contaminated. As of the end of 2021, the area contaminated by explosive remnants of war in the governorate has been listed as 1 457 446 square metres.

In autumn 2021, authorities announced that security forces had foiled an explosives attack on pilgrims heading to Karbala. There have also been frequent reports of IED attacks on supply convoys for the US-led International Coalition forces travelling through Babil, although such incidents have reportedly rarely resulted in casualties.

Looking at the indicators, it can be concluded that in the governorate of Babil, there is, in general, no real risk for a civilian to be personally affected within the meaning of Article 15(c) QD.

Main COI references: Security 2022, 2.2

Babylon 15c 2022 no real risk


[28] UNAMI data focuses on armed conflict-related incidents, which have directly impacted civilians (causing civilian casualties) and the civilian nature of property and protected areas (such as civilian houses, cropland, schools, health facilities and mosque), see ‘Indicators of indiscriminate violence, number of incidents’.