Further information reveals that ISIS has overrun Hawija and Riyadh near Kirkuk. They also took a couple of towns in Diyala Province. Tuz Khurmatu, a mostly Kurdish city northeast of Baghdad about halfway between Baghdad and the Iranian border, fell the other day. It remains to be seen how well these Sunni Islamists will be welcomed in this Sunni city. Nearby Sulaiman Bek also fell. Way over near the Iranian border, Saadiyah and Jalula fell. Although these areas are close to Iran, Sunni rebels have long had a presence here.
Ramadi has not yet fallen to the rebels.
Large numbers of Shia volunteers rushed to Samarra to protect the two famous Shia shrines there. The Iraqi Army has stopped the rebels at the northern edge of the city.
The Kurds took control over Kirkuk, but a rebel force called Ansar Al Islam has also been there for a long time, periodically setting up checkpoints.
Iran has sent 500 Revolutionary Guards to the battlefield to help the Iraqi government.
Earlier this year, the ISIS took numerous towns in the West along the Euphrates such as Abu Kamal, Qaim, Rawa, Anah, Hit, Haditha, Saqlawiyah, Habbaniyah, Falluja, Karma, and Abu Gharaib on the outskirts of Baghdad. Sunni rebels have had a long presence in these towns on the Syrian border and along the river. Speaking of the border, the ISIS has now erased the Syria-Iraq border, long parts of which they now control. They also took control of Jufr As Shakr in the Triangle of Death, a heavily Sunni area southwest of Baghdad.
In addition, Sharqat and Siniyah near Baiji were also taken just the other day. These areas have been a safe haven for the rebels since the early days of the insurgency a decade ago.
A stunning video of the ISIS overrunning Tikrit from yesterday. This video is little seen.
This Iraqi offensive was helped very much by the Syrian Civil War. The ISIS grew much larger during this war, and the US either deliberately or accidentally ended up supplying them with a great deals of weapons and supplies which are now being used against the Iraqi Army. So this is yet another case of US Blowback. Our support for Al Qaeda Islamists in Syria has backfired as it grew Al Qaeda and allowed them to conquer large areas of Iraq.
ISIS is indeed Al Qaeda, although they have been thrown out of the main grouping which is run by Ayman Al-Zawahiri in Afghanistan and Pakistan due to their leaders’ refusal to follow orders from the parent organization and ISIS’ constant warring with rival Islamist groups. Nevertheless, ISIS is the same as Al Qaeda theologically – ultra-extremist Sunni fundamentalists intent on reviving the Caliphate and putting in Sharia Law.
500,000 people have fled Mosul. Many of them are Sunnis who are worried that if the Iraqi Army retakes the city, they will be targeted by the army as ISIS sympathizers.
Photo posted on jihadi forum shows civilians coming out to greet the ISIS.
ISIS has issued a call over the area it controls telling everyone who fought for or cooperated with the Iraqi government to repent or die. They will soon be setting up Repentance Centers. It does not look like they want to engage in mass retaliatory killings.
ISIS forced hand out sweets to welcoming civilians in a photo found on a jihadi forum.
The ISIS also laid down the basis of Sharia Law, ordering women to be covered and to only go outside if necessary, banning cigarettes and alcohol and ordering residents to pray five times a day. Those who do not follow these dictates risk execution or having a hand chopped off.
Found on a jihadi forum, this photo shows civilians coming out to greet the ISIS forces.
Some of the Iran-backed Shia groups who were fighting in Syria, including Hezbollah, have moved into Iraq recently to help the central government.
I believe that the mostly-Shia Iraqi Army simply was not willing to lay down their lives to protect these Sunni cities in the north. However, it will probably be a much different story in the south in the Shia cities and in Baghdad.
The ISIS leader issued a number of chilling communiques about the Shia of Iraq, calling them polytheists and vowing revenge on them. This and other radical Sunni groups have been slaughtering huge numbers of Iraqi Shia for a long time now.
An aide to the religious leader of the Iraqi Shia, Sistani, ordered all Iraqis to take up arms to fight the “terrorists” and defend the country.
The ISIS has now acquired a large amount of supplies, cash, vehicles including armored vehicles and tanks (many from the US Army), helicopters and even aircraft. They control a number of military bases, an airport and an air base. They also confiscated a lot of foodstuffs, uniforms and other auxiliary supplies.
Here is a video of ISIS forces looking at supplies they have seized, which includes a lot of chicken and other food.
When they attacked Tikrit, they fooled the defenders by arriving in Iraqi Army vehicles wearing the uniforms of the Iraqi Army and Police. The surprise attack shattered the defenders, who then quickly melted away.
Photo from a jihadi forum shows ISIS forces parading through a city.
The ISIS has taken Baiji and has surrounded the large oil refinery in the city. It is from this city that Baghdad gets its electricity.
In Raqaa, a large Syrian city controlled by ISIS, the city’s Christians were turned into dhimmis and ordered to pay the jizya. There are prevented from building new churches and renovating old ones, they may not ring church bells or pray too loudy, and they must not wear crosses in public. They have a choice of either converting to Islam, becoming dhimmis or refusing to follow the dhimmi rules.
If they refuse to follow the dhimmi rules, they will be declared enemies of the Muslims and they can and will be targeted for death. It’s more or less the usual Muslim “convert or die” strategy that has been used by Muslims since the early days of Islam. The convert or die strategy was actually used a number of times during the Muslim conquests, and many non-Muslims were killed for refusing to convert. Islam indeed was spread by the sword. It’s not a myth. More typically, they were placed under dhimmitude. Dhimmitude was so unpleasant that many non-Muslims, particularly Christians, converted over the next few hundred years, to get out from under the taxes and restrictions of dhimmitude.
The Iraqi Army is certainly not lacking for armored vehicles or ammunition and they have a lot of men under arms. Despite years of training by US trainers, they are still not a very good army for some reason, and ISIS probably has better fighters. The Iraqi Army does have a number of helicopters and they also have 36 F-16′s.
They regularly use these aircraft to bomb rebel-held areas, so it seems dubious why they would need US airstrikes to help them out. The Iraqi Army also uses the same barrel bombs that Assad has been using against the Syrian rebels next door. The US has stated that using these barrel bombs is a war crime and has threatened to take Assad to the Hague over these bombings. Of course our allies are using the very same weapons.