Monday, May 18, 2015

ISIS Advances Toward Bagdad

Surrounded: ISIS already has control of Fallujah which is on Baghdad's doorstep and has now conquered the strategically important city of Ramadi further west. It has Sunni support to the south of the Iraqi capital and is waging battles with security forces in the north to effectively 'surround' Baghdad
Source: The Daily Mail

The Daily Mail reports:

ISIS militants have held a twisted victory parade after taking the key city of Ramadi in an orgy of violence and beheadings - and the extremists could march on the Iraqi capital Baghdad within the next month.

Mutilated bodies scatter the streets of the 'Gateway of Baghdad', where Islamic State slaughtered around 500 and forced over 8,000 to flee their homes over the last few days.
 
Now ISIS has released images of militants celebrating, children wielding automatic weapons and a fleet of pick-up trucks carrying its jubilant fighters through the blood-stained streets of Ramadi. 
Shi'ite fighters have already launched a counter-offensive to recapture the city, but these kinds of tactics play straight into Islamic State's grand plan to spark all-out war in the region, according to the Middle East director of counter-terrorism think-tank RUSI.

Islamic State militants are already marching east towards the Habbaniya army base - around 20 miles east of Ramadi - where a column of 3,000 Shi'ite paramilitaries are amassing, witnesses and a military officer has said.

And if ISIS manage to reach Baghdad, it would be 'utter carnage', Professor Gareth Stansfield told MailOnline.
Some more details:
Iraqi security forces attempting to retake control of the western city of Ramadi were routed in heavy fighting Sunday, the worst defeat for Iraq’s central government since Islamic State militants stormed across the country last June.

In a replay of last year’s military debacle, elite units abandoned their U.S.-provided equipment to Islamic State fighters and fled the area, leaving several hundred soldiers surrounded in the last government-held enclave in the city.

Multiple security sources, none of whom agreed to be identified, speaking from both within the besieged Anbar Operations Center as well as with the units fleeing the city, described the fight for control of the capital of Iraq’s largest province as essentially over after reinforcements sent on Saturday to retake the city were crushed by Islamic State fighters.

“Only God can save us,” said one officer speaking by phone from inside the Anbar operations center, where officers had been coordinating the operation. The officer said that several hundred policemen and soldiers were surrounded inside the command center, which was repeatedly struck by suicide bombers and heavy artillery fire as militants cut off their last routes of escape.

Social media accounts credibly associated with the Islamic State announced hours later that the operations center had been overrun, a claim that could not be immediately confirmed. Efforts to reach sources inside the facility were unsuccessful.
A direct attack into Baghdad could well prove to be ISIS's "Stalingrad." But if ISIS were to swing south to take Mahmudiya and Latifiya (cities that, presumably, would be "friendly" to ISIS), it would cut off major escape routes from Baghdad and likely throw the civilian population into a panic. Refugees attempting to flee the city would impede any response from the Iraqi forces, including the arrival of reinforcements or, if necessary, an orderly retreat.

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