Vehicles used for suicide car bombings, made by Islamic State militants, are seen at Federal Police Headquarters after being confiscated in Mosul, Iraq, July 13, 2017. (Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters)

To carry out some of its bloodiest attacks, the Islamic State has weaponized everyday vehicles — from sedans to tractors — for use as precision-guided munitions.

The militants deployed a steady stream of these suicide car bombs as the U.S.-led coalition began its campaign to push the militants out of Iraq and Syria. Earlier this month, soon after Iraqi forces declared that they had retaken the city of Mosul, police put some of the confiscated vehicles on display.

The vehicles were primarily used in two ways in Mosul. First, as a defensive tool: If advancing Iraqi forces broke through a certain barrier, they often were met with a barrage of the vehicles. The second use of the car bombs was more offensive in nature. They usually led the militants' attacks and, more often than not, were parked in alleys and garages to be used to ambush unsuspecting forces.

The homemade armor schemes protected the driver and the explosives arranged in the rear from small arms and rocket fire, forcing Iraqi troops to use heavier and subsequently slower weapons to target them. U.S. airstrikes were often unable to target the vehicles as they sped through the narrow streets of Mosul. Instead, aircraft would drop bombs to destroy parts of the road, making the vehicles swerve and slow down as they approached Iraqi lines.

The vehicles were anything but inconspicuous, so the terrorist group has since started painting the armor to make them blend in. In Syria, some have been seen with the shell of a vehicle bolted over the armor to make car bombs harder to spot.


Vehicles used for suicide car bombings, made by Islamic State militants, are seen at Federal Police Headquarters after being confiscated in Mosul, Iraq, July 13, 2017. (Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters)

Vehicles used for suicide car bombings, made by Islamic State militants, are seen at Federal Police Headquarters after being confiscated in Mosul, Iraq, July 13, 2017. (Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters)

A vehicle used for suicide car bombings, made by Islamic State militants, is seen at Federal Police Headquarters after being confiscated in Mosul, Iraq, July 13, 2017. (Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters)

Vehicles used for suicide car bombings, made by Islamic State militants, are seen at Federal Police Headquarters after being confiscated in Mosul, Iraq, July 13, 2017. (Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters)

Vehicles used for suicide car bombings, made by Islamic State militants, are seen at Federal Police Headquarters after being confiscated in Mosul, Iraq, July 13, 2017. (Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters)

A tank gun hidden inside a truck, made by Islamic State militants, to avoid attack from planes are seen at Federal Police Headquarters after being confiscated in Mosul, Iraq, July 13, 2017. (Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters)

Vehicles used for suicide car bombings, made by Islamic State militants, are seen at Federal Police Headquarters after being confiscated in Mosul, Iraq, July 13, 2017. (Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters)

A member of Federal Police walks near vehicles used for suicide car bombings, made by Islamic State militants, at Federal Police Headquarters after being confiscated in Mosul, Iraq, July 13, 2017. (Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters)

Read more:

After Islamic State defeat, a daunting search for bodies in Mosul’s rubble

It could take more than a decade to clear Mosul of explosives, U.S. officials say