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ISF seize vehicle transporting explosives near Highway 1 in Dhi Qar province

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At approximately 23:30 on 6 August, according to the Security Media Cell and other security sources, highway patrol police halted a vehicle at the Fadak Checkpoint on Highway 1, located west of Nasiriyah city. Conflicting reports indicate the vehicle was observed travelling suspiciously along a nearby rural road, or the vehicle was more opportunistically halted on the highway. The sedan was reportedly transporting two IEDs and a container of C4 explosives, which were subsequently cleared by EOD units. The driver was arrested and turned over to the Shaheed Nazar Police station for further investigations.

Explosives-recovered-from-vehicle-in-Dhi-Qar-6-Aug-2020

According to the Security Media Cell, the driver was a Dhi Qar resident. According to social media sources, the driver carried an ID card for Iranian-backed militia group Ansar Allah Al Awfiya. Dhi Qar Police Chief Brig. Gen. Haizm Abd al-Razaq al-Wa’ili denied PMF affiliations, questioningly claiming that the ID card found in his possession was a fake ID.

It is strongly suspected that the arrested individual was affiliated with an unknown Iranian-backed militia group. To recall, the Second 1920 Revolution Brigade and other groups have claimed responsibility for regular IED attacks against private Iraqi logistics convoys contracted to support US military forces. Such attacks are intended to demonstrate capability and intent to jeopardize the sustainability of US forces during this tense period. Just two days beforehand on 4 August, an IED detonated against a convoy near Nasiriyah, damaging one vehicle. Another IED attack was recorded near Nasiriyah on 22 July. The GoI has continuously refrained from publicly highlighting such activity and the suspected affiliations of the perpetrators in order to avoid potential blowback.

The 6 August arrest arguably forms the most significant security success conducted in response to these repeated attacks against convoys. Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s administration was forced to recognize that major operations conducted against prominent Iranian proxies was an untenable approach. As seen with other recent operations, more subtle tactical-level initiatives are more viable for the time being. For the 6 August events, the arrest of an individual caught red-handed transporting IED materials places the responsible threat actor in a precarious situation. Affirming affiliation would affirm culpability, setting conditions for underground talks between the threat actor and the GoI. While certainly positive, little optimism is in effect that this limited security success will decisively degrade associated attack intent.

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