The Islamic State killed two senior Iraqi generals in a coordinated suicide assault on a military headquarters in Anbar province. Six suicide bombers, including a German and a Tajik, executed the deadly attack.
The Islamic State claimed credit for killing Major General Abdel Rahman Abu Raghif, the deputy commander for the Anbar Operations command, and Brigadier Safin Abdel Majid, the commander of the 10th Iraqi Army Division, in an assault on “the main headquarters where the operations are managed,” according to a statement that was obtained and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group. The base is located in the Al Tarrah area near Lake Thar Thar, which is north of Ramadi, according to the jihadist group. The Iraqi military is attempting to wrest control of Ramadi, Fallujah, and other cities and towns that fell to the Islamic State between January 2014 and the end of May 2015.
The suicide assault was carried out “in revenge for our brother Abu Radhi al-Ansari (emir of the rural sector of al-Khaldiya),” the Islamic State said. It was executed by six fighters, who were identified as “Abu Hamza al-Ghazawi, Abu al-Darda’ al-Tunisi, Abu Muqatil al-Almani, Abu Muhammad al-Jazrawi, Abu al-Farouq al-Shami, and Abu Anas al-Tajiki.” The nom de guerres indicate that the fighters were from Germany, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Tunisia, and Syria. The jihadists used “four explosives-laden vehicles and two DShK-mounted vehicles” in their attack. Additionally, the Islamic State claimed it shot down an Iraqi military headquarters.
The attack and the deaths of the two Iraqi generals were confirmed by news reports from the region. According to RFE/RL, three Iraqi soldiers were killed along with generals Raghif and Majid. The Islamic State said that “dozens of officers and soldiers” died in the assault, but this claim cannot be confirmed.
The Islamic State has targeted and killed senior Iraqi generals in suicide operations in the past. In December 2013, one month before taking control of Fallujah and other towns in Anbar province, a suicide assault team killed the commander of the Iraqi Army’s 7th Division, the commander of the 28th Brigade, and 16 officers and soldiers in an attack in the of Rutbah in Anbar. The decapitation strike put the Iraqi military in Anbar in disarray, and helped the Islamic State, which at that time was still part of al Qaeda’s network, take over territory in the province.
The suicide assault, or coordinated attack using one or more suicide bombers and sometimes a follow-on assault team, is a tactic frequently used by the Islamic State, al Qaeda and its branches, as well as allied groups such as the Afghan Taliban, the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. Suicide assaults are commonly executed by jihadist groups in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and Nigeria.
The Islamic State has used the suicide assault to demoralize and strike fear into the hearts of Iraqi troops, and often uses five or more suicide bombers during a single attack. This tactic has allowed the jihadist group to overwhelm Iraqi forces. Between May 15 and May 17, the Islamic State deployed 30 suicide bombers during its operation to take control of Ramadi, the provincial capital of Anbar. Two months prior, the Islamic State deployed 13 suicide bombers in Ramadi in a single day. Many of the bombers were foreigners, and included a Belgian, an Australian, a Chechen, an Uzbek, a Moroccan, a Tunisian, an Egyptian, and two Syrians.
The Islamic State has touted its foreign suicide bombers that have executed attacks in Iraq. Suicide bombers from Western countries such as France, England, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Australia, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, Syria, Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, China, and Russia have carried out numerous attacks for the jihadist group in Iraq.
Are you a dedicated reader of FDD's Long War Journal? Has our research benefitted you or your team over the years? Support our independent reporting and analysis today by considering a one-time or monthly donation. Thanks for reading! You can make a tax-deductible donation here.