Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Islamic State Car Bomb Campaign In Iraq’s Salahaddin

In July 2015 the Islamic State initiated its latest car bomb campaign in Iraq. Salahaddin has been a major focus of this new offensive with a huge amount of vehicle borne improvised explosive devices (VBIED) being launched there in August. Like in Anbar, almost all of these bombs are being used against the government’s forces, especially in the Baiji area, which the Islamic State has effectively used as a diversionary target for the last several months. Salahaddin however is not only a target of these VBIEDs but a base for further attacks in Anbar and Baghdad provinces.

Salahaddin has seen the most car bombs in Iraq from June to August 2015. There were 50 VBIEDs in the governorate in June with 43 of them destroyed before reaching their target. That went down to 34 car bombs in July as IS began its new campaign and started hitting new areas of the country. Then in August they shot up to 188 VBIEDs with 173 destroyed. That was a total of 272 car bombs, more than Baghdad that saw 58 and Anbar that had 230 during that same period. Since June 608 of these types of bombs have been used with 44% of them taking place in Salahaddin.

Almost all of the car bombs in Salahaddin have been used in the Baiji area, which is in the northern section of the province above Tikrit. From June to August 6 VBIEDs were launched against the Samarra area in the south, 10 in the Tikrit district in the center, 13 in other locations, and 236 in Baiji. The refinery in that last district was heavily contested after the fall of Mosul and Tikrit in June 2014. IS originally wanted to capture the facility to use in its oil industry, but that proved impossible as Baghdad constantly sent reinforcements there. By early 2015 IS decided to use the district as a diversion from its real focus, which was Anbar. From April to May the militants seized the largest amount of the facility to date, and then the day it seized Ramadi it began blowing up the refinery and retreated. After the Anbar offensive began in July IS again launched heavy attacks into Baiji seizing several sections of the town and surrounding villages, which again succeeded in bringing in government reinforcements. IS has perfected small and medium sized infantry attacks beginning usually with a mortar barrage, then a truck or bulldozer bomb that is used to break through government defenses such as berms, usually followed by suicide car bombs that attempt to infiltrate into the security forces and Hashd’s positions, and then finished off with an infantry assault. The intensity of this fighting was shown in two stretches from August 15-17 and August 22-25 when 115 car bombs were used in Baiji with another 28 on August 20.

The Islamic State appears to have four main areas it produces VBIEDs in Salahaddin. One is obviously in Baiji. IS holds many of the small towns in the rural areas outside of the refinery, which are likely used to put together the bombs. The Hamrin Mountains in the east is another source of these bombs, which are likely sent out to hit the Tikrit and Samarra areas. A third is probably around Samarra where IS continues to carry out hit and run attacks and bombings. Finally, the fourth area is in the south around Taji and Tarmiya. These camps are used to send car bombs into neighboring Anbar and Baghdad.

Car Bombs In Salahaddin Jun-Aug 2015

Car Bombs
50 – 43 Destroyed
34 – 19 Destroyed
188 – 173 Destroyed

Top Car Bomb Targets By Province Jun-Aug 2015
Baghdad 58
Anbar 230
Salahaddin 272
Total Car Bombs Jun-Jul 608

Location of Car Bombs in Salahaddin
# of Car Bombs
Samarra Area
Tikrit Area
Baiji Area

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