At around 13:00 on 10 April, what was likely a suicide vehicle borne IED targeted a Badr Organization PMF vehicle travelling on Highway 1 in Asmida area, located north of Baiji in Salah ad Din Province. The apparent primary target was Kadhum al-Zamili, Badr Organization’s public relations officer for Nineveh. The armored PMF vehicle sustained minor damage, but no PMF casualties were reported. Three civilian bystanders were reportedly wounded. This incident is the first vehicle borne IED attack in the Northern Region since a spike in activity Nineveh Province between mid-February and early March.
Named official security sources initially refrained from commenting on this incident. A short statement attributed to the Salah ad Din Operations Command claimed that PMF fighters engaged a suicide vehicle borne IED following their movement, destroying the vehicle without incident. It is not impossible that a suspicious vehicle following a PMF convoy was engaged before detonating prematurely. However, more likely conditions involve inherent challenges conducting effective vehicle borne IED attacks against mobile targets, particularly armored vehicles.
In conjunction with a spike in IED activity elsewhere in the Northern Region, and coordinated IED attacks in Al Qaim, this vehicle borne attack very possibly correlated with IS statements announcing an “Operation Revenge for the loss of Syria.” A common pattern for activity in the province remains transit along Highway 1, particularly in suburbs of Tikrit. This includes an attack against civilians at a restaurant on 18 November 2018, which killed five individuals and wounded 20 others. The next most recent attack involved a detonation under duress at a checkpoint north of Tikrit on 8 January, which killed at least three individuals and wounded eight others. Vehicle borne IED activity further north in Baiji and Shirqat Districts is less frequent, but not unprecedented in the recent past.