Akashat ambush

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Akashat ambush
Part of the Syrian civil war and Iraqi insurgency
Date 4 March 2013
Location near Akashat, Anbar province, Iraq
Result IS victory
Belligerents
Islamic State of Iraq[1]
Jabhat al-Nusra[2]
(suspected)
Syrian Arab Army Flag.svg Syrian Arab Army
Iraqi Ground Forces Flag.svg Iraqi Army
Strength
Unknown 64 Syrian soldiers[3]
Casualties and losses
Unknown Syria 51 Syrian soldiers killed[4]
Iraq 9 Iraqi soldiers killed
13 survivors[4][5]

The Akashat ambush was a well planned assault against a unarmed Syrian Army convoy defended by Iraqi soldiers that took place on 4 March 2013, as the group was travelling in the province of Anbar, next to the border with Syria. The Islamic State of Iraq claimed responsibility for the ambush on March 11.[6]

Prelude[edit]

On 1 March, according to the Syrian officer who was in charge of the Yaarubiyeh border crossing, north of the Iraqi border, reported a man identifying himself as the leader of one faction in the Islamist rebel coalition called him that day demanding that he and his men surrender. He refused and the poorly defended border outpost, which only had 70 soldiers despite being one of the three main ones along the Syrian-Iraqi border, came under intense attack resulting in the deaths of six of his men. He said this forced him and the remaining men to the Iraqi side.[7]

The group of 64 were detained by Iraqi authorities and transported to Baghdad, where from there they were transported back to Syrian authorities in the al-Waleed border crossing, located in the Anbar province of Iraq.[8]

Assault[edit]

The incident took place on 4 March, while the convoy was on its way to the al-Waleed border crossing in the Nineveh province of western Iraq, located in the predominately Sunni, Anbar province. The convoy was bringing unarmed Syrian soldiers wounded while fighting rebels in the Yaarubiyeh border crossing, on the northern Iraq border. While the convoy was on its way, an unidentified group of gunmen set up a well coordinated assault on the convoy with roadside bombs, automatic weapons, and rocket-propelled grenades. The suspected gunmen attacked the convoy from two sides. A Syrian officer along with three others who survived the attack claimed they were ambushed by multiple roadside bombs. They say the gunmen sprang from behind hills along the road and attacked the trucks carrying the Syrians with a barrage of gunfire. A total of 51 Syrian soldiers died while ten others were wounded.[9] 13 Iraqi soldiers were also killed in the attack.[5]

Perpetrators[edit]

The identity of the attackers was immediately unknown, but Iraqi officials initially blamed the Free Iraqi Army, who are predominately Sunni and have connections to the rebel group of the Free Syrian Army. This incident also raised fears that Iraq could be drawn into the Syrian civil war.[10]

On 11 March the Islamic State of Iraq claimed responsibility for the attack in an online statement, stating that they had set ambushes on roads to the Syrian border and had "annihilated" the convoy. The statement referred to the convoy as a "column of the Safavid army," a reference to the Shia Persian dynasty that ruled Iran from 1501 to 1736. The group also claimed that the presence of Syrian soldiers in Iraq showed "firm co-operation" between the Syrian and Iraqi governments.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Al Qaeda claims killing of Syrian soldiers in Iraq". Reuters. 11 March 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "SYRIA UPDATE 13-01: IRAQ-SYRIA OVERLAND SUPPLY ROUTES". Institute for the Study of War. 8 March 2013. 
  3. ^ "Dozens of Syrian troops killed in Iraq ambush - Middle East". Al Jazeera English. Retrieved 2014-08-21. 
  4. ^ a b "Islamists Try to Tighten Grip on Syria Regions". Wall Street Journal. 10 March 2013. 
  5. ^ a b Zeina Karam (2012-09-17). "Syrian jets bomb northern city overrun by rebels". Washington Examiner. Associated Press. Retrieved 2013-03-08. 
  6. ^ "Al-Qaeda claims killing Syrian troops in Iraq". Antiwar.com. 2013-03-11. Retrieved 2013-03-11. 
  7. ^ "WSJ article". Retrieved 21 August 2014. 
  8. ^ "BBC News - Attackers 'kill Syrian soldiers' in Iraq". Bbc.co.uk. 2013-03-04. Retrieved 2014-08-21. 
  9. ^ "Reuters article". Retrieved 21 August 2014. 
  10. ^ Qassim Abdul-Zahra. "Syria Troops Killed In Ambush In Iraq". Huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2014-08-21. 
  11. ^ "BBC News - Al-Qaeda in Iraq claims deadly attack on Syrian troops". Bbc.co.uk. 2013-03-11. Retrieved 2014-08-21. 

Coordinates: 33°15′00″N 40°35′00″E / 33.2500°N 40.5833°E / 33.2500; 40.5833