The Islamic State is growing bolder in the regions surrounding Iraq's borders, conducting a growing number of attacks with what experts claim to be Iranian weapons.
According to Al-Monitor, Iraqi officials and analysts have begun to voice their concern about an increase in Islamic State attacks in Iraq's Diyala province, which borders Iran, but also contains regions just on the outskirts of the nation's capital.
The growth has slowly increased over the past several weeks as Iraq has launched an offensive against the terrorist group. In March alone, Diyala recorded 26 Islamic State-related incidents, meaning that there was nearly one attack each day.
Washington Institute for Near East Policy fellow Michael Knights noted the uptick in attacks.
"Diyala is the top-ranked attack locale for [Islamic State]. Assuming that these nine IED attacks are enemy-initiated and not legacy IEDs or criminal, that would be about twice the rate seen in H2 2019 and Q1 2020," he wrote in a tweet.
The situation has become so fraught that Iraqi Army Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Othman al-Ghanmi visited the 5th Division in Diyala on April 27 to handle the increased threats.
A Diyala security officer claimed that the Islamic State fighters were also getting bolder in their attacks. One example given was a screenshot from a propaganda video that showed a fighter launching a mortar under the bright sun.
"[The video] shows they are confident enough now to conduct attacks in the daytime," the security officer explained. "The attacks always used to happen only after it got dark."
Worse still for Iraqi forces, many of the videos appeared to show the Islamic State fighters with Iranian weapons. One specific weapon seen in a clip was an Iranian M91, with 81mm high-explosive mortar projectiles.
The security expert claimed that the prevailing belief was that terrorist group had managed to seize the weapons after a number of Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) had left their positions in the province in March. The PMUs were reportedly concerned about being targeted by U.S. drone strikes.
The fear was not unjustified, as the U.S. carried out a drone strike in January that claimed the life of Quds Commander Qassem Soleimani. Moreover, tensions between the two nations were revitalized in late April after Trump threatened to "shoot down and destroy" Iranian gunboats that harassed U.S. ships, as was previously covered by The Inquisitr.
Nevertheless, the fact that Islamic State now has more advanced weapons remains a concern for Iraqi forces, especially amidst the new attacks as Iraq continues its offensive against Islamic State controlled hideaways.