During a press briefing yesterday, Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) spokesman John Dorrian showed reporters a picture of a captured vehicle-borne improvised explosive (VBIED) device that is being used for training. (The photo can be seen below.)
The VBIED “was stopped with 50-caliber weapons fire” and carries “a significant amount of armor plating” in the front, Dorrian said. “And what that does is it protects the driver so he can maneuver the VBIED into position and then detonate the explosives that are in there.”
The captured VBIED is used as part of the training conducted for Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Iraqi security forces, as they are going “into a dense urban-type fight in order to take Mosul.” The training teaches “the forces how to react to that threat” and utilize “the appropriate weapon so that they can stop those,” Dorrian explained.
An accompanying article on the Defense Department’s site notes that US-led “coalition airstrikes have destroyed more than 60 vehicle bombs since Iraqi and Kurdish forces began the operation to liberate Mosul” on Oct. 17.
As The Long War Journal has previously reported, the Islamic State has carried out dozens of “martyrdom operations” during its defense of Mosul. Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s men purportedly launched 108 suicide attacks in the first three weeks of the battle alone. That claim is based on a simple tally of the statistics provided by Amaq News Agency on its infographics. [See FDD’s Long War Journal report, Islamic State defends Mosul with dozens of suicide bombers.]
Subsequently, Amaq News released an infographic (seen below) covering the fourth week of the battle. Twelve (12) “martyrdom operations” were carried out during the fourth week of the Mosul operation, according to Amaq. This brings the total number of claimed suicide attacks to 120 during the first month of the fight for the Iraqi city. Many (but not all) of these suicide bombings utilized VBIEDs.
It is impossible to independently verify the statistics provided by Amaq. But The Long War Journal assesses that the figures are generally consistent with the scale of the fighting. However, some of these suicide attackers likely failed to reach their intended target.
The Pentagon’s claim that 60 VBIEDs have been destroyed in and around Mosul adds some credence to Amaq’s claims. It is clear that the Islamic State has dozens of VBIEDs prepared for the battle. The Islamic State may be exaggerating the efficacy of these VBIEDs, but its statistics regarding the number of deployed suicide bombers are credible given independent reports provided by both the US military and other sources.
Not all of these VBIEDs are as heavily armored as the one used in the coalition’s training. For example, the vehicle shown below was also allegedly used as a vehicle bomb, according to Amaq. Such smaller vehicles may increase the jihadists’ maneuverability on the battlefield.
A smaller VBIED used during the battle for Mosul:
Amaq’s infographic for the fourth week of the battle for Mosul: