Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Islamic State Shifting Car Bombs To Assaults On Government Forces In Iraq


Iraq has witnessed a dramatic drop in car bombs in recent weeks. There was a two year low in the number of vehicle borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) successfully detonated in December. One major reason is that the Islamic State (IS) has been using VBIEDs more and more as part of tactical assaults upon pro-government forces. Many of these case are either not reported or the bombs are destroyed before reaching their target. January 2015 provide a perfect example in this shift in the use of car bombs in Iraq.

More than half of the successful car bombs in January 2015 were used as part of attacks upon the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and their allies. From January 1 to 27 there were 36 VBIEDs detonated. Of those 24 were used against the army, police, militias, and tribes aligned with Baghdad. On January 22 for example a suicide car bomber attacked the Taji military base in southern Salahaddin as soldiers were leaving for weekend leave. The explosion killed 14 including 8 soldiers and wounded 21 others. That same day a suicide VBIED was used against a checkpoint in Horan, Anbar killing one soldier and wounding three. Two days earlier Anbar experienced ten VBIEDs. In Nikhaib an army camp was hit followed by a charge at the base. Sheikh Ahmed Abu Risha’s compound was also attacked in a similar manner along with the Howaz district in Ramadi, which faced seven car bombs, mortar fire and an attempt to seize the area by the Islamic State that was repulsed. Similarly on January 16 a suicide car bomber targeted a militia camp outside of Samarra, Salahaddin that killed 22 people. These types of attacks have two main goals. One is to break defenses of hard targets such as the Taji army base and Sheikh Abu Risha’s home. Others are meant to undermine general security in an area such as attacking checkpoints, and may be to soften an area before a larger attack is planned.

Car Bombs Iraq Jan 1-27, 2015
Date
Location
Target
Dead
Wounded
Jan 1
Anbar
N/A


Jan 4
Baghdad
Hotel



Salahaddin
N/A

5
Jan 5
Anbar
Checkpoint
4 Soldiers
7 Soldiers
Jan 7
Ninewa x2
Checkpoint
4
3
Jan 8
Babil
N/A
7
21

Ninewa
N/A
8
2

Salahaddin x5
Checkpoint


Jan 9
Ninewa
Peshmerga



Ninewa
Peshmerga


Jan 11
Salahaddin
Army Base




Baiji refinery
1 ISF
3 ISF
Jan 15
Diyala
Café
1
15

Anbar
Checkpoint
2 ISF
6 ISF
Jan 16
Anbar
N/A
1 Militiaman
1 Militiaman

Salahaddin
Militia base
22, 2 Militiamen

Jan 19
Anbar
N/A

2 Police, 3 Soldiers

Babil
N/A
3
10
Jan 20
Anbar
Army Base
3 Police & Sahwa
18 Police & Sahwa

Anbar
N/A/
2 Sahwa
13 Sahwa

Anbar
Abu Risha compound



Anbar x7
ISF

4
Jan 22
Salahddin
Army base
8 Soldiers
6 Militiamen
21 Soldiers

Anbar
Checkpoint
1 Soldier
3 Soldiers
Jan 24
Diyala
N/A
1
4


The Islamic State’s predecessor Tawhid wal Jihad led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi introduced the car bomb to Iraq’s insurgency after the 2003 invasion. Originally it was simply a terror weapon aimed at causing civilian casualties and stoking sectarian tensions. Since then, IS has increasingly shifted to using VBIEDs to achieve military goals. Now roughly one third to one half of these types of attacks each month are for tactical purposes. Many of these bombings are not reported, while many more are destroyed on the way to their targets. This partially explains why the total number of car bombs has dropped since December. IS can be expected to continue to shift more of its resources to these types of operations as they are trying to win back lost territory and regain the initiative.

SOURCES

AIN, "5 IPs injured southern Tikrit," 1/4/15
- "7 Peshmerga elements killed, injured western Mosul," 1/7/15

Alsumaria, "Killing one and wounding four others by a car bomb east of Baquba," 1/24/15

eKurd, "Iraqi Kurdistan News in brief - January 10,2015," 1/10/15

Iraq Oil Report, "Iraqi forces repel IS attacks on key locations," 1/13/15

Iraq Times, "54 martyrs and injured in Samarra five bombings," 1/8/15
- "A car bomb exploded at a gathering of the army south of Tikrit," 1/11/15

Al Mada, "16 people injured in car bombing central Baquba," 1/15/15
- "Killing and wounding at least 13 people in a car bomb south of Baghdad," 1/19/15

Mamoun, Abdelhak, "Anbar police repels ISIS' deadliest attack in Ramadi," Iraqi News, 1/21/15

Al Masalah, "A suicide car bomb blast in Tarmiya," 1/15/15

NINA, "22 / people, killed in the outskirts of Samarra," 1/16/15
- "Break News. Battles ongoing between army and terrorists at Habbaniyah hills," 1/1/15
- "A car bomb explosion near the Palestine Hotel in central Baghdad without injuries," 1/4/15
- "Four Soldiers Killed, Seven Wounded In Suicide Attack In A Border Post Between Iraq And Saudi," 1/5/15
- "One Soldier Killed, Three Others Injured In A Car Bomb On A Bridge In Western Anbar," 1/22/15
- "A suicide truck bomb foiled in Ramadi," 1/19/15
- "Two of awakening killed, 13 others wounded, including a police, in a suicide attack north-east of Ramadi," 1/20/15

Radio Free Iraq, "20 January 2015," Daily Updates from Anbar, 1/20/15

Al Rayy, "Martyrdom and wounding a number of elements of the popular brigades coming from Karbala by a suicide attack in the area of Rahaliya," 1/16/15

Sadiq, Hoshmand, "Eight Syrian Kurdish Peshmerga Killed on Zumar Frontline," Bas News, 1/8/15

Shafaq News, "ISIS controls Abu Risha's host place and a suicide bombing in Nikhaib," 1/20/15

Yacoub, Sameer, "Bombings kill 14 soldiers, militiamen in Iraq," Associated Press, 1/22/15
- "Suicide attacks kill 23 in Iraq," Associated Press, 1/8/15

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