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Multiple casualties following vehicle borne IED detonation in Al Qaim City

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At approximately 10:15 on 11 January, a vehicle borne IED detonation was reported near the Husaybah Market in Al Qaim City. According to the majority of sources, as many as three civilians were killed and between 15-16 were wounded, including civilians and ISF members. Higher end counts cite as many as 25 wounded. ISF immediately imposed heightened security measures including a lockdown in the affected area. These measures were lifted approximately three hours after the incident.

The 11 January attack forms the first effective vehicle borne IED detonation in Anbar thus far in 2019, and the second incident in Iraq. Throughout 2018 six vehicle borne IED incidents were recorded in Anbar Province, with the most lethal attack involving the detonation of a suicide vehicle borne IED at a checkpoint located at the Al Qaim-Akashat intersection east of Al Qaim City on 29 August. As many as eight individuals were killed and 13 others were wounded. Similar to the 29 August 2018 detonation in Al Qaim, it is somewhat possible that this recent device was manufactured in eastern Syria or adjacent border areas and later facilitated into Al Qaim via established infiltration routes which cross the Syrian border. If verified, the 11 January detonation undermines the increased priority placed on border security and further highlights the porous nature of border areas.

Suicide initiation was not attributed to this attack, suggesting the device was deliberately parked near a vibrant commercial area and remotely operated. The ability of the 11 January attack in circumventing established security checkpoints and detonating in a vibrant commercial area undermines the current security apparatus in Al Qaim. This incident also underscores continuous IS ambitions to promote this mass-casualty attack in once prominent hubs, with marketplaces and security locations remaining the primary target set. It is likely that this attack was an attempt by IS to offset recent setbacks in eastern Syria and divert operational focus, while also demonstrating its enduring viability as terrorist-centric organization following the announced US withdrawal from Syria.

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