Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Breaking Down IS’s Latest Car Bomb Campaign In Iraq


Iraq is in the middle of the latest Islamic State car bomb campaign. It started in May 2015 and has been characterized by over 100 vehicle borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) per month. The new wave coincides with the end of major offensive operations by the group as well as IS being thrown on the defensive in Anbar and Salahaddin. The joint forces have also improved their abilities to cope with these types of attacks mostly via the use of anti-tank missiles. That’s led to the vast majority of these devices being destroyed in the last few months. It’s unknown how many more months this will last, but it appears that VBIEDs will be IS’s main form of defense and offense for the foreseeable future.

The latest VBIED wave started in May 2015. Before that there had been 61 car bombs in January, 68 in February, 180 in March, and 77 in April. The surge in March was due to a push by IS to seize Ramadi and a jump in attacks in Salahaddin. After the Ramadi attempt failed the number of VBIEDs went back down the next month. Then, starting in May there were 127 VBIEDs, 122 in June, 177 in July, 324 in August, 155 in September, 178 in October, and 155 in November. The huge jump in these attacks in August was due to IS trying to fend off a new government effort to retake Baiji and the nearby refinery. However, the numbers are so high compared to the others it’s likely that the joint forces were inflating their claims about facing car bombs in Salahaddin that month.

While Anbar and Salahaddin have led the country in car bombs each month since May the campaign has also included new targets as well. Baghdad was a prime target with 13 in May, 15 in June, 20 in July, 23 in August, before dropping to 13 in September, 6 in October, and 5 in November. Diyala was another victim with 5 in May, 2 in June, 6 in July, 13 in August, and then down to 7 in September, 3 in October, and 1 in November. Kirkuk had no VBIEDs from May to July, but then 3 in August, 4 in September, and 1 in November. The same thing happened in Ninewa that had no car bombs in May and June, and then 11 in July, 3 in August, and 21 in November in response to the Sinjar offensive there. Finally, southern Iraq was a focus with attempts on Karbala and Najaf in June, Karbala again in August and September, until one finally hit its target in Basra in October. This showed that IS had the capability to deliver a car bomb in almost every part of the country.

Just as this new offensive began the joint forces greatly improved their defenses. This came in the form of Russian Kornet missiles largely provided by Iran, Forgere missiles from Italy and AT-4 missiles from the United States. From January to May with the exception of March, 72% of car bombs found their targets. That changed from June to November when only 18% were successful. Before the joint forces could only use gunfire to try to stop an on coming VBIED, which usually did not work. That was especially true if IS used armored vehicles like Humvees. The delivery of the anti-tank missiles has dramatically changed the situation and saved hundreds of lives.

The last time IS launched a massive wave of car bombs was before it took Mosul in 2014. This time there probably wont be a big move afterward. IS is currently on the defensive. Looking at attack trends across Iraq since the start of last year it is apparent that the group is focusing upon consolidating its hold upon its strongholds rather than making moves on new areas of the country. The result is that sending out a huge number of car bombs may be it’s major form of violence for the foreseeable future.

Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIEDs) 2015 in Iraq
Month
Total Car VBIEDs
Successful VBIEDs
Destroyed VBIEDs
Jan
61
45
16
Feb
68
52
16
Mar
180
63
117
Apr
77
67
10
May
127
77
50
Jun
122
31
81
Jul
177
71
106
Aug
324
49
275
Sep
155
24
131
Oct
178
25
153
Nov
155
9
155

Anbar - Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIEDs) 2015 in Iraq
Month
Total Car VBIEDs
Successful VBIEDs
Destroyed VBIEDs
Jan
25
18
7
Feb
8
3
5
Mar
82
36
46
Apr
34
28
6
May
88
52
36
Jun
32
14
18
Jul
106
31
75
Aug
92
15
77
Sep
95
11
84
Oct
97
5
92
Nov
99
1
98

Babil - Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIEDs) 2015 in Iraq
Month
Total Car VBIEDs
Successful VBIEDs
Destroyed VBIEDs
Jan
3
2
1
Feb
5
3
2
Mar
2
1
1
Apr
2
2
0
May
-
-
-
Jun
-
-
-
Jul
-
-
-
Aug
1
0
1
Sep
-
-
-
Oct
4
3
1
Nov
-
-
-

Baghdad - Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIEDs) 2015 in Iraq
Month
Total Car VBIEDs
Successful VBIEDs
Destroyed VBIEDs
Jan
5
2
3
Feb
6
6
0
Mar
6
6
0
Apr
24
24
0
May
13
11
2
Jun
15
8
7
Jul
20
19
1
Aug
23
11
12
Sep
13
7
6
Oct
6
5
1
Nov
5
2
3

Diyala - Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIEDs) 2015 in Iraq
Month
Total Car VBIEDs
Successful VBIEDs
Destroyed VBIEDs
Jan
2
2
0
Feb
8
5
3
Mar
1
1
0
Apr
3
2
1
May
5
4
1
Jun
2
2
0
Jul
6
6
0
Aug
13
5
8
Sep
7
3
4
Oct
3
1
2
Nov
1
0
1

Kirkuk - Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIEDs) 2015 in Iraq
Month
Total Car VBIEDs
Successful VBIEDs
Destroyed VBIEDs
Jan
1
1
0
Feb
4
4
0
Mar
6
4
2
Apr
1
1
0
May
-
-
-
Jun
-
-
-
Jul
-
-
-
Aug
3
3
0
Sep
4
0
4
Oct
-
-
-
Nov
1
1
0

Ninewa - Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIEDs) 2015 in Iraq
Month
Total Car VBIEDs
Successful VBIEDs
Destroyed VBIEDs
Jan
5
5
0
Feb
9
7
2
Mar
-
-
-
Apr
2
0
2
May
-
-
-
Jun
-
-
-
Jul
11
0
11
Aug
3
-
3
Sep
-
-
-
Oct
-
-
-
Nov
21
3
18

Salahaddin - Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIEDs) 2015 in Iraq
Month
Total Car VBIEDs
Successful VBIEDs
Destroyed VBIEDs
Jan
20
15
5
Feb
28
24
4
Mar
80
12
68
Apr
10
9
1
May
21
10
11
Jun
55
7
48
Jul
34
15
19
Aug
188
15
173
Sep
35
3
32
Oct
68
11
57
Nov
37
2
35

KRG & South - Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIEDs) 2015 in Iraq
Month
Total Car VBIEDs
Successful VBIEDs
Destroyed VBIEDs
Jan
-
-
-
Feb
-
-
-
Mar
Basra 1
0
1
Apr
Irbil 1
0
1
May
-
-
-
Jun
Karbala 7
Najaf 1
0
0
7
1
Jul
-
-
-
Aug
Karbala 1
0
1
Sep
Karbala 1
0
1
Oct
Basra 1
1
0
Nov
-
-
-

SOURCES

NINA, “Iraly offers an anti-armor weapon to the Peshmerga forces,” 2/4/15
- “Kornet Missile System Destroyed 130 Targets Of ISIS Over Past Months,” 6/20/15
- “US Sends 2000 Anti- Tank Missiles,” 6/2/15

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