Islamic State attacks Iraqi troops near Fallujah

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The Islamic State raises its flag over a base near Fallujah.

The Islamic State killed more than a dozen Iraq of soldiers and policemen in an attack near Fallujah in Anbar province, where the government has been trying to dislodge the group for the past year.

The Associated Press reported that the Islamic State attacked Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) positions outside of Fallujah on Aug 16. According to the AP, “four suicide attackers drove explosives-laden military vehicles into government forces’ barricades.”

The assault coincided with the release of an Islamic State video that showcases its forces overrunning a military outpost in Saqlawiyah near Fallujah. The video, which is from 2014, shows jihadists attacking the base with armored personnel carriers packed with explosives and a ground assault team. The Islamic State seized tanks, armored personnel carriers, Humvees, and other vehicles. The bodies of dozens of dead Iraqi security personnel are displayed.

The jihadist group took over Fallujah in January of 2014, nearly six months before it overran large portions of Iraq. Last month, Iraqi forces and their Iranian-backed Shiite militia allies started an offensive to try and retake the city as well as Ramadi, the provincial capital of Anbar. The Iraqi offensive has made little gains in the past two months.

The US military is providing air support for the Iraqi military and the Iranian-backed militias. In the last week, US Central Command said it executed seven airstrikes in and around Fallujah. On Aug 16, four airstrikes “destroyed two ISIL [the dated acronym for the Islamic State] buildings, an ISIL VBIED, two ISIL heavy machine guns and an ISIL obstruction,” while another airstrike near Habbaniyah in the Fallujah-Ramadi corridor “struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed three ISIL vehicles and an ISIL fighting position.” In addition, two airstrikes “destroyed two ISIL mortar firing positions and an ISIL vehicle” near Habbaniyah yesterday.

Screenshots from the Islamic State video from 2014:

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Correction: This article has been updated; the video released by the Islamic State was from 2014, and not from last week as initially reported.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of The Long War Journal. Caleb Weiss is an intern at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a contributor to The Long War Journal.

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11 Comments

  • Jason Weldon says:

    I think the only ones telling the truth over there are these Allah dedicated murderers.

    The Iraqi govt seems be saving face more than telling the truth of a bitter fight in stark cold reality so the world will wake up. If the jihadist have a few more victories I don’t see how the coalition can remain United.

  • Marco says:

    I see the base had a fine wall made up of T barriers.

    Any defensive work has to be manned by capable and willing other wise it becomes a barrel and you are the fish.

  • Marco says:

    Let’s put it this way. If you have a fort and you don’t aggressively patrol and maintain OPs & LPs, your fort becomes a death trap and your tomb.

  • mike merlo says:

    just more evidence that the ISIS/ISIL Counter Offensive Launched in reply to the Iraqi Government & Iranian’s efforts targeting Tikrit is winning. Instead of the much vaunted Iraqi Iranian Mosul Offensive, that was hyped & ‘trumpeted’ by just about every ‘watcher'(not me of course) of the Iraqi Syrian Theater, it would appear that some time within the next few months Baghdad & the Bagram Intl Airport will find themselves on the receiving end of a very serious effort on the part of ISIS/ISIL. What a mess.

    • Green1Delta says:

      I think you are right. Of course I suspect they will take a break November-February to let all the mud dry up around Baghdad. But who knows, maybe ISIS likes to operate in the rain/mud, I haven’t been paying that much attention.

  • John says:

    How can a trained army be so inattentive, complacent and inept? Is there any sense of dedication to duty? How does four lumbering M-113s get close to a barrier which has MBTs and ATGMs available when there is no concealment or cover to their approach?

    • mike merlo says:

      @ John

      there are able to get close because they’ve mastered the art/tactic(s) of concealment, camouflage, diversion, movement & synchronization(timing). Oft times when attacking a static position as depicted in the pictures ISIS/ISIL will place a large amount of explosives as close as they can to the target by muscling it into place with one or more teams of people using wheeled carts. They will also simultaneously engage in concealing & camouflaging vehicles as close as they can. They oft times accomplish these objectives by engaging a part of the static target in a combined small arms mortar attack at night forcing(luring?) the knuckleheaded Iraqi’s & Iranians to zealously defend the ‘wall(s)’ under attack while having their bomb teams put explosives into position. They will dig trenches/pits deep enough to hide around 1/2, give or take, of a vehicle from view while concealing the rest using some form of camouflage that oft times incorporates the ‘lay of the land.’ They will also dig into a roadside berm(s) & conceal a vehicle there. They will also move vehicles next to standing structure(s) & conceal the vehicle with material that resembles the structure. The night time assaults also allow them to conceal the noise of the vehicles as they’re moving them into place.

      Oft times before assaulting a static position they detonate the placed explosives followed by VBIED’s then their assault teams. You can tell by looking at the pictures all the ‘ingredients’ I’ve mentioned are there to be exploited. You’ll also notice from one of the pics the explosion created a massive dust cloud(the equivalent of smoke) with assault vehicles in its wake. ISIS/ISIL is very creative when it comes to these types of tactics. Besides its also very basic stuff that’s been around for thousands of years of warfare.

  • m3fd2002 says:

    You have to wonder what Iraq would be like if the US didn’t supply air assets/intelligence to the Shia dominated government.

  • irebukeu says:

    Looking at the picture of the very powerful VBIED exploding, I can only wonder what effects that would have on incapacitating any troops on the far end of the base away from the explosion. How helpless would they be to the exploitation forces following in the APC’s ?

    I also think what a mistake it would be to put American or western troops inside of those bases as advisors as is now being suggested as a reasonable course of action by the administration, as they would be at the mercy of the tertiary quality of the defending Iraqi forces.

  • Dan A says:

    Is it fair to say that the Iraqis have lost the majority of Abrams against ISIS that have been lost in the tank’s history?

    • Green1Delta says:

      Yes, I think that would be a very fair hypothesis foregoing an actual study of the numbers. The only ones that I saw knocked out in person were in Baghdad during the Mahdi Army uprising of April 2004–and that was just two. Other than that I don’t know of too many US-crewed tanks being combat lost. And we see tons of wrecked M1s in these ISIS reports.
      Blackhawk!

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