Iran, the US and Iraqi militias are locked in a menage-a-trois that now defines the region’s geopolitics.
The Iraqi army and the Pentagon have released dramatic footage of what they say is the moment their forces destroyed a convoy of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group fighters fleeing Fallujah.
Footage uploaded to YouTube on Friday by the Iraqi Defence Ministry showed a long stream of vehicles moving down a single lane road through the desert before it is attacked with missiles and machinegun fire.
Close-ups of the scene then revealed charred shells of vehicles that appeared to be mid-sized trucks, people carriers, SUVs, and at least one tractor.
The footage also purports to show survivors of the strikes trying to take cover under shrubs or attempting to melt into the desert before being fired upon by Iraqi forces.
At least two of the men shown are seen carrying guns.
A US military official said anti-ISIL coalition forces destroyed scores of vehicles and that the Iraqi army hit an unspecified number.
“The coalition destroyed 55 ISIL trucks southwest of Fallujah; Iraq Air Force destroyed more,” Colonel Chris Garver said in a tweet on Thursday.
A further 120 vehicles were struck east of the city of Ramadi, Garver said.
Footage of the joint bombardment shows missiles hitting the first and last vehicles in the convoy before the aircraft attacked the vehicles trapped in between with machinegun fire.
July marks just over two years since ISIL, which is also known as ISIS, captured huge swaths of Iraq’s western provinces after the army retreated.
The group’s advance slowed soon after and both Iraqi and Kurdish peshmerga forces have slowly clawed back territory, recapturing Fallujah and closing in on Mosul, the biggest city ISIL holds.
Under bombardment from the US-led coaltion ISIL has lost Tikrit, Ramadi, and most recently Fallujah, to Iraqi government forces.