Gunmen attacked and torched three large trucks carrying equipment and logistical materials for US forces in Iraq, south of Baghdad, on Saturday, according to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.
The trucks were traveling from Basra when they were targeted between Diwaniya and Samawah. Gunmen forced the drivers to exit the vehicles and then set them on fire, according to the report.
The Iraqi Al-Sumaria news quoted Iraqi security sources as saying that trucks carrying vehicles on the Diwaniyah highway in southern Iraq were intercepted by an armed group and set on fire. The trucks were heading to "one of the American bases," according to Al-Araby.
Photos shared on social media reportedly from the scene, showed the trucks engulfed in flames.
Unconfirmed reports are circulating that an American logistics convoy was targeted on the road between Samawah and Diwaniyah, south of #Baghdad, #Iraq. These convoys are usually manned and run by local contractors and not US Forces. pic.twitter.com/RTLZ56DbIT— Aurora Intel - #StayHome (@AuroraIntel) July 11, 2020
Sources in the Iraqi Interior Ministry told Al-Araby that, while it's still to early to discuss who may have been behind the attack, it seems to have been one of the militias and not a terrorist attack.
Ahmad al-Hamdani, an expert in Iraqi security affairs, told Al-Araby that the attack indicates "a new stage of escalation" by the militias in Iraq and "may be a warning that American military convoys will be targeted in the future." Hamdani added that this "confirms that the armed factions have multiple options, as well as the ability to obtain information about movements related to American forces, such as today's attack."
Tensions have continued to rise between pro-Iranian militias and US forces in Iraq in recent months since the assassination of former IRGC Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani.
In recent weeks, the US deployed an air defense system in the Green Zone in Baghdad to defend the area where the US Embassy is located against rocket fire and other forms of projectile attacks. The C-RAM system is meant to confront rockets, mortars and artillery.
A number of rocket attacks have been launched near the US Embassy in Baghdad and other US military sites in recent weeks. In June, there were six rocket attacks on the US Embassy, the airport and a base housing US forces.
Earlier this month, explosions and gunfire were heard in Baghdad during a live-fire training exercise by US special forces in charge of protecting the US Embassy, according to Al-Araby.
In June, the Iraqi military said that its forces had raided a base in southern Baghdad used by militiamen suspected of firing rockets at foreign embassies in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone and its international airport.
Iraqi authorities were questioning the 14 men detained during the raid, the military added. A number of those arrested were later released.
The raid was the most brazen action taken by Iraqi forces against a major Iran-backed militia in years and targeted the Kataib Hezbollah group, which US officials accuse of firing rockets at bases hosting US troops and other facilities in Iraq.
Seth J. Frantzman and Reuters contributed to this report.