On the evening of 5 March, what was reportedly an under vehicle IED detonated against a vehicle belonging to an unnamed CF-contracted logistics company near the Mushahada Grand Mosque, located along Highway 1 in the Tarmiyah district of northern Baghdad province. No casualties were reported. All associated reporting was limited in a typical example of intent to obscure such incidents. Although described as an under vehicle IED, a roadside IED is arguably more plausible given established employment considerations.
To recall on 29 February, Kata’ib Hezbollah issued a “final warning” addressed to a broad range of organizations accused of dealing with US forces including contracted logistics companies. As part of the warning, contracted companies were given until 15 March to terminate their contracts or face unclear actions. Well ahead of the expiration of this deadline, a growing facet of militant activity tied to US-Iran tensions involves roadside IED attacks against PSC logistics convoys contracted to support US military and diplomatic missions in Iraq. Such attacks are assessed to comprise strategic messaging intended to highlight the vulnerability of the US military’s sustainability in Iraq.
During one prominent recent example on 10 February, an IED detonated against a logistics convoy traveling on Highway 1 in an area south of Baghdad. One vehicle was damaged, but no casualties were sustained. Three additional IEDs were found and cleared along segments of Highway 1 in Babel, Diwaniyah, and Muthanna provinces between 15 February and 4 March. The 5 March attack stands out as the second detonation in Baghdad province, affecting a segment of Highway 1 north of the capital in a noteworthy alternation.The recording of at least five IED incidents along Highway 1 in less than one month represents the most frequent IED activity connected to US-Iran tensions in the recent past. These characteristics provide additional insight into the potential implications of the threat deadline set to expire on 15 March, promoting the potential for further escalations in IED activity along major routes in central and southern Iraq. Broader shifts to northern and western Iraq remain possible. The most likely targets remain organizations with contractual ties to the US government and military. Attacks directed against companies affiliated with US and allied economic interests are rare, but not unprecedented. Casualties remain moderate for the time being, but escalations in attack effectiveness remains possible.