Islamic State Cranking Out Car Bombs for the Battle of Mosul

(Los Angeles Times) Nabih Bulos - Lt. Muntathar Ghani, 22, of Iraq's Counter-Terrorism Service, had been awake for two days straight, engaged in relentless street fighting against Islamic State jihadists, when he saw the car bomb, a white Chevy pickup sheathed in plates of armor, barreling forward. "I fired two rounds at it, but it kept moving," Ghani said. "I shouted, 'Car bomb!' and ran to the house for cover." These civilian vehicles, outfitted like primitive tanks, assembled in primitive factories, have become Islamic State's weapon of choice. Of 1,112 suicide bombings carried out by Islamic State in Syria and Iraq in 2016, 815 of them used vehicles laden with explosives, according to Amaq, a news agency affiliated with Islamic State. For security forces, the crucial factor that determines if they can stop a car bomb is distance. Security forces routinely deploy bulldozers to build earthen berms to slow, if not stop, a car bomber. "If they come at you from 1,000 feet, you can get them. But at 300 feet, they're too close for the missile," said Hassan Attiyah, 30, referring to his anti-tank Kornet missile launcher. In close-quarters combat, the troops often rely on the U.S.-led coalition's drones to destroy car bombs. Lt. Col. Muntadhar Salam said the first thing his men do when they see a car bomb is use one of their vehicles as a barrier. "We sacrifice one of our Hummers so it won't go into our convoy, then we start firing RPGs and 50-caliber machine guns," he said. "But sometimes, you just have to run."

2017-02-27 00:00:00

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