An SVBIED (Suicide Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Device) is usually a very high-value asset for the group using it, meaning that they’re typically deployed in quite a reserved fashion. Even for IS, it’s not often that you see them use more than two SVBIEDs at the same time. Large collections of SVBIEDs in a single place just don’t happen at the insurgents’ behest, due to the risk of them being targeted by air strikes. On the contrary, IS go to great lengths in order to hide their SVBIEDs after they’re constructed and up until they’re employed in battle. Civilian houses, garages and other nondescript buildings are the go-to choices.
The one time you might see more than a few SVBIEDs in the same place is when anti-IS forces display them as war bounty, post-battle. Even then you typically don’t see that many in the same place. However, IS use of SVBIEDs in the battle of Mosul was unprecedented, something which resulted in many examples being captured by the Iraqi forces. In the final months of the battle to retake W. Mosul, a large amount of SVBIEDs were also captured intact by Iraqi forces as the remaining IS pocket collapsed. Thus, the single largest collection of SVBIEDs in the world went on display at the headquarters of the Iraqi Federal Police near Mosul in July, 2017.
The collection consisted of a variety of SVBIEDs, all captured by Iraqi forces from the IS contingent in Mosul city. Looking at different articles on this collection there are a variety of different claims as to how many SVBIEDs there are, so I thought that I’d take a look at all the available footage in order to determine what the actual figure is.
In order to get a better grip on how many SVBIEDs were present, here are some photographs of the collection in which I’ve numbered the SVBIEDs:
- 11 x Camouflaged SUV (4 x rocket-upgraded, 1 x 2-man)
- 2 x Camouflaged 4×4 vehicles
- 6 x Camouflaged tractors (2 x stage 2, 1 x 2-man)
(1) White camouflaged SUV (frontal armor kit removed)
(2) Red camouflaged SUV
(3) Blue camouflaged SUV
(4) Green camouflaged SUV
(5) Blue camouflaged SUV
(6) Blue camouflaged SUV
(7) Blue camouflaged SUV (2-man)
(8) Blue camouflaged SUV (rocket-upgraded)
(9) Green camouflaged SUV (rocket-upgraded)
(10) Grey camouflaged SUV (rocket-upgraded)
(11) Grey camouflaged 4×4
(12) White camouflaged 4×4
(13) Red camouflaged (stage 2) tractor
(14) Red camouflaged (stage 2) tractor
(15) Orange camouflaged tractor
(16) Blue camouflaged tractor
(17) Tan camouflaged tractor (2-man)
(18) Tan camouflaged tractor
(19) Black camouflaged SUV (rocket-upgraded)
The first SVBIED might look off to some people as it doesn’t have any armor on, but the armor kit was likely removed by Iraqi forces after the vehicle was captured – Or Iraqi forces captured the vehicle before IS had time to mount the armor kit. Either way, the below (unrelated) pictures show how a removed SVBIED armor kit looks like:
For those who are unaware of rocket-upgraded SVBIEDs, those are SVBIEDs with rocket pods mounted on the roof of the vehicle, which the driver can fire at (and suppress) his target before detonating the main payload. The driver controls the firing of the rockets via a mechanism similar to the one used to detonate the main payload, with a safety and a button for each rocket.
This design variant was introduced on April 20th, 2017, but out of a dozen or so documented examples, most were captured by Iraqi forces in IS hide sites as the remaining IS pocket in W. Mosul disintegrated.
The red tractors are especially interesting. One such example was one of the first (if not the first) SVBIEDs captured by Iraqi forces when the offensive to retake W. Mosul began. A camouflaged stage 2 red tractor was found by the Iraqis in a building in al-Buseif, south of W. Mosul on February 21st, 2017.
What’s remarkable about this example is that IS had mounted a 1000 litre chlorine canister to the back of the tractor. It’s unclear whether it actually contained any chemicals or just explosives, but it was transported away and analysed by Iraqi EOD techs wearing hazmat suits. IS have used similar tactics before, so it’s definitely a possibility.
In total, I was able to document 19 SVBIEDs, which makes it the world’s largest collection of SVBIEDs in a single place. A similar collection was gathered after the recapture of Tal Afar, albeit with (only) 8 SVBIEDs.
Gathering all these SVBIEDs in one place and inviting the media to come and film is a very good propaganda stunt, as it shows a large number of IS most deadly and fearsome weapon, made not-so-deadly by the Iraqis after their capture. All SVBIED types featured in the collection are designs that were used in the battle for Mosul. It is highly unlikely that there will ever be a collection of SVBIEDs in one place larger than this one, ever again.
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