This article was last updated on July 31, 2017, when a public map of all geolocated SVBIED attacks in and around Mosul was published by Twitter user @obretix.
Mosul was captured by so-called Islamic State (IS) militants in June 2014. More than two years later, on October 16, 2016, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared the start of the operation to recapture the Iraqi city, dubbed Operation We Are Coming, Nineveh.
The offensive progresses slowly despite he massive advantage in manpower, equipment, and the backing of several air forces. The use of human shields has been mentioned as a cause for the slow-moving offensive, and bomb-ridden suicide cars have been another. Hundreds of these so-called suicide vehicle borne improvised explosive devices (SVBIEDs) have been sent towards anti-IS troops and vehicles in the first seven weeks of the offensive, according to a senior Iraqi official.
This overview aims to archive, geolocate, and map all the footage of these attacks and will be updated when new information is available. The list is chronologically structured, and only lists incidents taking place in or in the immediate vicinity of Mosul. Many of the VBIED attacks have been filmed by an IS drone, with a pulsating green circle under the VBIED and red squares under indicating their military targets.
Mapping Mosul’s VBIED Attacks
The colours represent the week in which the attack took place (see colour scheme below; black means no date could be established for the day of the attack). Note: Google’s satellite imagery for Iraq dates back to 2004. Microsoft Bing’s more recent satellite imagery has been used for geolocation. All incidents mapped are presented and, in some cases, discussed below. Most of the geolocations were tweeted by Twitter user @miminas999.
Monitoring Mosul’s VBIED Attacks
The incidents are listed chronologically and per week of Operation We Are Coming, Nineveh:
- First week: October 16—22, 2016 [purple]
- Second week: October 23—29, 2016 [red]
- Third week: October 30—November 5, 2016 [orange]
- Fourth week: November 6—12, 2016 [dark yellow]
- Fifth week: November 13—19, 2016 [light yellow]
- Sixth week: November 20—26, 2016 [greenish/grayish]
- Seventh week: November 27—December 3, 2016 [light green]
- Eight week: December 4—10, 2016 [dark green]
- Ninth week: December 11—17, 2016 [greenish/blueish]
- Tenth week: December 18—24, 2016 [dark blue]
- Eleventh week: December 25—31, 2016 
- Twelfth week: January 1—7, 2017 
- Thirteenth week: January 8—14, 2017 
First week: October 16—22, 2016
October 17, 2016
Suicide bombers: 12
A’maq News Agency, IS’ most important auxiliary media wing, claimed in two separate reports that nine suicide attacks were conducted against Peshmerga troops near Mosul. Charlie Winter, a senior research fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation, is following IS’s strategic communication response to Mosul (see his thread on Twitter) and said he expected an “acceleration in defensive suicide (not just terrorist)” in the upcoming weeks – and extensively used for this overview. On the same day, IS claimed three more suicide attacks. In words of Mr. Winter, “suiciders are the equivalent of guided munitions – they will feature heavily in this battle.” And they do indeed.
October 18, 2016
IS reported five suicide operations, including one against the Popular Mobilisation Units (PMU), an Iraqi state-sponsored umbrella group of around 40 (pre-dominantly) Shia militias.
October 19, 2016
IS reported three suicide operations, respectively against the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) south of Mosul, and southeast of Mosul against the PMU. A photo of a suicide bomber was published by IS’s Nineveh Province media wing.
October 20, 2016
Eighteen suicide operations were reported by IS media, including four against the PMU east of Mosul, four against the ISF southeast of Mosul, and three against the Peshmerga northwest and east of the city.
October 21, 2016
Five suicide operations were reported by IS.
October 22, 2016
Five suicide operations were reported by IS; seven by A’maq. All named bombers were Iraqi, Mr Winter tweets, noting that IS is releasing pictures and names of the suicide bombers “on an unusually irregular basis”, making him wonder whether there are too many to keep track of.
Second week: October 23—29, 2016
October 23, 2016
The first suicide operation was reported southeast of the city, and another one later north of Mosul. Mr Winter notes that IS is not “reporting names of its suicides in the usual manner, even when it has photos of them.”
— Charlie Winter (@charliewinter) October 23, 2016
October 24, 2016
IS reported three suicide operations, two of which southeast of Mosul. Besides, IS reported its first inghimasi operation during its Mosul defence, and later the day another two. “The concept of inghimasi refers to a special-forces style suicide fighter who carries both small arms and explosives. He initially uses his light weapons while wearing an explosive belt that is activated only when he runs out of ammunition or when he feels threatened or trapped. The Inghimasiun essentially act as ‘shock troops’, aiming to soften the defences of their military or civilian targets”, Cameron Colquhoun wrote in an Bellingcat post. A photo of an unnamed suicider driving away in the SVBIED was also posted by IS’s provincial media (tweet). A day later, on October 25, IS published two photos of this day’s inghimas suicide bombers: both Iraqi, and one appearing to be a child.
A’maq also published an infographic saying 58 suicide operations took place in Mosul in the past week. Only one name was mentioned, and five portrait photos were included. Mr Winter tweeted he does not think this is just structural, as “IS usually names & photographs 70-80% of suiciders.”
October 28, 2016
Three suicide operations were reported by IS media.
October 29, 2016
An IS video release features footage from six suicide bombers, who were according to Mr Winter previously anonymous. The video includes two child suicide bombers. All individuals were said to be Iraqi.
— Charlie Winter (@charliewinter) October 29, 2016
Third week: October 30—November 5, 2016
October 30, 2016
Two suicide operations reported by IS.
October 31, 2016
Ten suicide operations were reported by IS, including five against ISF and PMU positions south of the city, one north (but on October 30, 2016). A’maq also reported ten suicide operations (the same as mentioned by IS, most probably).
November 1, 2016
IS reported four suicide operations south of Mosul, two of which were with explosive-ridden Humvees. Another suicide operation was reported later, targeting the PMU. Two other suicide operations were reported later that day, one against “SWAT forces on the outskirts of Gogjali, east of Mosul” and another one targeting Peshmerga west of Bashiqa. A photo of one of the Humvee SVBIED was also published, cleary showing the one suicider operating the turret on top, and the other driving, as Mr Winter points out.
November 3, 2016
IS reported eight suicide operations, including one targeting anti-IS forces in Gogjali, two southwest, and one southeast of Mosul.
November 4, 2016
IS reported three suicide operations in Gogjali, east of Mosul. A’maq reported the 100th suicide operation during IS’s defence of Mosul.
November 5, 2016
IS reported two suicide operations.
Fourth week: November 6—12, 2016
November 6, 2016
IS reported two suicide operations, including a photo from a suicide bomber allegedly from the United Arab Emirates. A photo report of a SVBIED attack was also published, and geolocated by @miminas999. The annotated photos and Microsoft Bing satellite imagery were tweeted by @miminas999.
November 7, 2016
IS reported suicide operations, two in the Intisar and al-Samah districts respectively. A’maq also reproted a suicide operation in Intisar. A’maq also published an infographic on suicide operation figures: 105 operations (three of which were with two suiciders) in the first three weeks of IS’s defence of Mosul.
November 8, 2016
A’maq reported a suicide operation north of Mosul. IS reported a thanā’ī suicide operation, meaning two suiciders were involved. Their nationalities were allegedly Uzbek and Tajik.
November 9, 2016
IS reported a suicide operation of the night before, southwest of Mosul. A Tajik suicide bomber also targeted anti-IS forces in the as-Samah district of Mosul, according to IS.
November 10, 2016
IS reported two suicide operations in as-Samah, by a Saudi and an Iraqi from Mosul respectively, and one in Intisar.
November 11, 2016
IS reported one suicide operation.
November 12, 2016
Three suicide operations reported by IS.
— Charlie Winter (@charliewinter) November 12, 2016
Fifth week: November 13—19, 2016
November 13, 2016
IS reported a suicide operation, A’maq did too.
November 14, 2016
A 26-minute video, named “The Promise of Allah”, shows eleven suicide operations, some of which have been geolocated.
November 15, 2016
IS reported a suicide operation by an Egyptian.
November 16, 2016
Two suicide operations reported, one in the Zahra district.
November 17, 2016
IS and A’maq reported three suicide operations. The emir of IS’s War Committe, interviewed by IS’s An-Naba newspaper, says that “We are pleased to say there is a very large number of suiciders, and the number of new volunteers is only increasing” (via Mr Winter).
November 18, 2016
IS reported an inghimasi attack (though not close to Mosul but south of Tal Afar), as well as three suicide operations, including one in eastern Mosul and one southwest.
November 19, 2016
IS reported two suicide operations.
Sixth week: November 20—26, 2016
November 20, 2016
One suicide operation reported by IS.
November 21, 2016
Two suicide operations reported, one by IS and one by A’maq.
November 22, 2016
Two suicide operations claimed by IS, one in the Intisar district.
November 23-24, 2016
Seven suicide operations reported by IS respectively by four from Iraq, two from Syria, and one from Morocco. A’maq published another infographic on suicide operations, 20 in total for the fifth week of the operation, making it 151 in total in 38, as Mr Winter notes.
November 25, 2016
Four suicide operations reported by IS, and also an inghimas operation reported in the Tahrir district.
November 26, 2016
IS reported a twin suicide attack on the outskirts of Muharibin (Wikimapia), conducted by two individuals from Dagestan.
Seventh week: November 27—December 3, 2016
November 27-28, 2016
Four suicide operations reported by IS.
November 29, 2016
Four suicide operations reported by IS, three of which took place on November 27, as well as one inghimas operation. The operations were conducted by two Iraqis and one Saudi.
A’maq also published a new infographic regarding suicide operations: 171 in 42 days.
November 30, 2016
Ten suicide operations reported by IS, including ones conducted by two Chechens, four Syrians, and one Moroccan respectively.
December 1, 2016
Three suicide operations reported by IS, two bombers from Iraq and a third from Syria.
December 2, 2016
One suicide operation reported by IS.
Eight week: December 4—10, 2016
December 3-4, 2016
Five suicide operations reported by IS, two Iraqis, one Kurd, one Russian, and one Kyrgyz.
December 5, 2016
Three suicide operations reported by IS, including a child from Morocco, Abu Mujahid al-Maghrebi (Arabic: أبو مجاهد المغربي). His suicide operation was filmed by a drone, and published by IS’s provincial media wing on January 3, 2017. His suicide operation can be geolocated to the Tamim neighbourhood (Wikimapia).
In the same video, a second VBIED targets an ISF convoy just a hundred meters away of convoy targeted by the Moroccan teen (Wikimapia). The VBIED operation was carried out by Abu Hamza al-Iraqi. As smoke is still rising from the location where the first VBIED exploded, it is very likely to assume this second VBIED attack took place on the same date.
Photos showing the devastation as a result of the VBIED were also published by IS media.
December 6-7, 2016
A’maq infographic claims there were 196 suicide operations in and around Mosul in the first 49 days. IS claimed twelve suicide operations, conducted by individuals (including children) from Russia, Iraq, Morocco, and Syria.
Furthermore, IS attacked the ISF, based in the al-Salam hospital. The seventh VBIED shown in the January 3 video, was geolocated to the Al-Salam Hospital (Wikimapia). The attack was conducted by Hamza al-Moslawi. An earlier video called ‘Armor Hunters’ also showed a VBIED attack meters away, at daytime. The hospital was set up as an ISF base, but were forced to pull back after a fierce battle with IS on December 7, 2016. The VBIED attacks thus likely took place on or around that date.
December 8-9, 2016
Six suicide operations reported by A’maq. IS media published photos from suiciders, including two from Iraq, two from Syria, one from France, and one from Egypt.
Ninth week: December 11—17, 2016
December 10-12, 2016
Six suicide operations reported by IS, one from Dagestan, one from Tajikistan, and one from Tunisia. (plus 3?)
December 13, 2016
Six suicide operations reported by IS, three conducted by Iraqis, one by a Syrian, and one by a Tajik.
December 14, 2016
— Charlie Winter (@charliewinter) December 14, 2016
December 15, 2016
A video of a suicide operation in the Tamim neighbourhood was published, and three other suicide operations were reported.
December 17, 2016
One suicide operation, by an Moroccan, reported by IS.
Tenth week: December 18—24, 2016
December 18, 2016
Two suicide operations, one by a Tunisian, reported by IS.
December 22, 2016
Four suicide operations reported by IS, three by Iraqis and one by a Syrian child.
December 23, 2016
One suicide operation reported.
Eleventh week: December 25—31, 2016
December 26, 2016
One suicide operation reported by IS, perpetrated by an Iraqi.
December 27, 2016
Four suicide operations reported by IS (including one thana’i): two Iraqi, one Tunisian, one child.
December 28, 2016
One suicide operation reported by IS, perpetrated by an Iraqi.
December 29, 2016
Four suicide operations reported by IS, perpetrated by a Syrian and a Russian (“Abu Ibrahim al-Daghistani”).
December 30, 2016
One suicide operation reported, perpetrator from Chechnya.
December 31, 2016
Four suicide operations reported, including one perpetrator from Tajikistan.
Twelfth week: January 1—7, 2017
January 1, 2017
Eulogies of two suicide bombers: one from Pakistan and one from South East Asia.
January 2, 2017
One suicide operation reported, by an Iraq in Intisar.
January 3, 2017
One suicide operation reported, attacked was a Syrian child.
IS’s media-wing for its Nineveh province published a new 41-minute long video “The Procession of Light”, including no less than eighteen VBIED attacks – slickly visualised as if it is a video game – in eastern Mosul which are all individually commemorated. All these targeted locations have been geolocated, the largest share by Twitter user @miminas999.
— Middle East Eye (@MiddleEastEye) January 5, 2017
The first two VBIED attacks took place in the Tamim neighbourhood on December 5, 2016, and have been discussed above.
The third VBIED attack filmed by a drone took place in the Intisar neighbourhood (geolocation on Wikimapia), targeting three military vehicles and a tank. No name of the perpetrator is given.
The fourth VBIED filmed by a drone, geolocated to al-Masarif district (Wikimapia). The operation was carried out by Abu Khatab al-Rawi (Arabic: أبو خطاب الراوي).
The fifth VBIED was geolocated to the Zuhour district (Wikimapia), and was carried out by Abu Haroun al-Shami (Arabic: أبو هارون الشامي).
The sixth VBIED was geolocated to the Bakr neighbourhood (Wikimapia). No name from the perpetrator was given.
The seventh VBIED was geolocated to the al-Salam hospital, and was likely conducted on December 7, 2016, and is discussed under that date.
The ninth VBIED attack has been geolocated to the Akha neighbourhood (Wikimapia). The attack was conducted by a physically disabled IS militant, Abu Laith al-Iraqi.
The tenth VBIED attack has been geolocated to the Shima neighbourhood (Wikimapia).
The eleventh VBIED attack has been geolocated to the al-Tamim neighbourhood (Wikimapia). The perpetrator appears to have been a young (teenage) man.
The twelfth VBIED attack has been geolocated to the Domiz neighbourhood (Wikimapia).
The thirteen VBIED attack has been geolocated to the Gogjali neighbourhood (Wikimapia). Interestingly, the attack initially involved two VBIEDs, but the two vehicles separated their ways and only one explosion is shown, targeting twelve military vehicles.
[image-comparator left=”https://www.bellingcat.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/C1SM0GoWgAAjj6Y.jpg” right=”https://www.bellingcat.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/C1SM6NOW8AA2sE-.jpg” width=”100%” classes=”hover”][/image-comparator]
The fourteenth VBIED attack, perpetrated by “Abu Asmaa’ al-Masladoui”, was also geolocated to Gogjali (Wikimapia) and may have been the vehicle already shown in the previous attack.
It appears that holes in the road due to airstrikes and roads blocked by cars make it harder for the VBIEDs to reach their target.
[image-comparator left=”https://www.bellingcat.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/C1SQNIbXUAECkNf.jpg” right=”https://www.bellingcat.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/C1SQkLxXUAcm-cA.jpg” width=”100%” classes=”hover”][/image-comparator]
January 4, 2016
Three suicide operations reported.
January 5, 2016
Two suicide operations reported.
January 6-7, 2016
Six suicide operations reported, and three (appearing to be) teenagers were euologised by IS, two of which were suicide bombers.
January 9, 2016
A map showing all geolocated SVBIED attacks in and around Mosul as of July 2017 has been published by Twitter-user @obretix.
dataset of 130+ SVBIEDs in and around Mosul geolocated from IS videos since Nov 2016 https://t.co/95r9Ug2XDd
— Samir (@obretix) July 30, 2017