An American logistical convoy was attacked in Iraq on Saturday night. Unidentified assailants, believed to be members of an Iranian proxy militia, burned all three of the convoy’s trucks.
The three large trucks carrying vehicles and logistical materials were ambushed between Diwaniya and Samawah while en route from Basra. Before setting the trucks on fire the assailants forced the drivers out of them.
Photos, and a video from the incident shared on social media, showed the trucks engulfed in flames. There were no reports of American casualties in the incident. There are reports of civilians wounded in the attack who are being treated locally. The United States often uses contractors to transport logistics.
Sources in the Iraqi Interior Ministry told al-Araby al-Jadeed news that while it is still too early to say who was behind the attack, it seems to have been carried out by one of the Iranian proxy militias, rather than fighters from the Islamic State.
A group called “Sayara Thora Al-Ashrin” claimed responsibility for the attack, yet this may not mean much: In the past several months, many new pro-Iranian groups have arisen and are claiming attacks on U.S. targets. This could be a thinly veiled attempt to distance these rogue elements from the official government paramilitary forces such as Kataib Hezbollah and other “official” pro-Iran militias.
Some other such militias, according to the Jerusalem Post, are Usbat al-Thaireen Ashab al-Kahaf or Saraya Shuhada Thawar Ashreen al-Thani.
Al Mayadeen television, which is run by Lebanese Hezbollah (another Iranian proxy) reported that American fighter jets could be heard in the vicinity of the reported attack location. Other media reports stated that U.S. helicopters were overflying the area.
Iraqi security analyst Ahmad al-Hamdani told al-Jadeed that the attack indicates that the militias have moved to a new escalation stage. It may be a warning that American military convoys will be targeted in the future. He added that the militias are also able to obtain information about movements related to American forces, as indicated by Saturday’s attack.
Tensions between the United States and Iranian-led militias have been building for months. Since October, Iranian proxies have conducted more than three dozen rocket and mortar attacks on U.S. targets including on bases where Americans and coalition troops are housed.
Recently the U.S. deployed a C-RAM air defense system in the Green Zone in Baghdad. The system is used to defeat rockets, artillery, and missiles. Just since June, there have been six more rocket or mortar attacks targeting U.S. bases, the U.S. Embassy, and airfields.
Recently, under pressure from Washington and after it was learned that the militias were planning another attack, the Iraqi security services raided a militia headquarters and arrested 14 militia members and confiscated rocket launchers.
In related news, Turkey’s Anadolu news reported that on Saturday an airstrike on an Iranian-led militia convoy killed 35 pro-Iranian militiamen in eastern Syria’s Deir ez-Zor province. Near the town of Abu Kamal, in Deir ez-Zor, the Iranians have built the large Imam Ali base as part of their “land bridge” between the borders of Syria and Iraq.
The targeted militias, according to the report, belonged to the Iranian proxies Kata’ib Hezbollah, or Hezbollah Brigades, which are part of the Popular Mobilization Forces, and Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba, an Iraqi Shiite paramilitary group that is especially active in Syria.
Anadolu reported that two high-ranking militia commanders were killed in the airstrike; it did not mention who was responsible for the airstrike. Both the United States and Israel have conducted airstrikes on Iranian-led proxy militias in Syria.