Islamic State Militants Advance Despite Airstrikes: ‘Most of the eastern and southern parts of the city have fallen under the ISIS control…the situation is getting worse’

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ISIS Gains Territory Despite Weeks of Bombing by U.S., Allies, Raising Questions About Strategy

For WSJ, Margaret Coker in Erbil, Iraq, Jay Solomon in Cairo and Tamer El-Ghobashy in Baghdad report: Islamic State militants have gained territory in Iraq and Syria despite weeks of bombing by the U.S. and its allies, raising questions about the coalition’s strategy of trying to blunt the jihadists’ advance while local forces are being trained to meet the threat on the ground.

“The strategy’s biggest weakness in Iraq, officials there say, is the glacial pace of cobbling together an Iraqi political alliance between Sunnis willing to join with the Shiite-controlled central government to rebuild a national military force to fight Islamic State more effectively.”

In Syria, fighters from Islamic State, also known as ISIS, have taken large sections of the city of Kobani in recent days, said Ismet Sheikh Hasan, the defense minister of the city’s Kurdish administration. “Most of the eastern and southern parts of the city have fallen under the ISIS control,” he said. “The situation is getting worse.”

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[Also see Matthew Continetti‘s Accept No Substitutes: As the Islamic State continues to gain territory, U.S. ground troops are needed more than ever]

This comes despite a week of heavy airstrikes around the city to help local Syrian Kurdish fighters keep Islamic State forces from the city center.

“The call for American ground troops, however unlikely to be met, caused fresh rifts in Anbar which threatened to weaken the already shaky coalition of government forces working with tribal fighters to fend off the Islamic State assault.”

In Iraq, militant forces operating in a swath of territory the size of California have extended their control of the roads and commercial routes in strategically vital Anbar Province, which connects the capital Baghdad to Jordan and Syria.

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Anbar, which has critical infrastructure and whose eastern edge lies only about 25 miles from Baghdad’s center, is also in danger of falling wholly under Islamic State control despite weeks of U.S. strikes aimed at weakening the group, local officials say.

“While the militant group is yet to take the provincial capital of Ramadi, officials in Anbar warn that they are losing their grip on the city to a highly organized and disciplined insurgency that has surrounded military bases and put a choke hold on trade from Jordan, effectively controlling movements of goods and people in the region.”

The province’s chief of police was killed in a bombing Sunday, officials said, heightening unease over the government’s ability to fend off Islamic State forces.

Meanwhile, Anbar’s provincial council, led by Sunni Muslims opposed to the Shiite-Muslim dominated central government, formally asked for U.S. ground troops to be sent to defend it. The request, which was unlikely to be granted, was seen by politicians as calculated to embarrass Shiite Prime Minister Haider al Abadi. But it also highlighted the disarray among the loose alignment of groups fighting Islamic State.

The outskirts of Baghdad, meanwhile, have been rocked by sporadic car and suicide bombings, most recently on Saturday when four separate attacks killed more than 50 people.

Neither of the allied forces the U.S. had been counting on for help in the near term—the Iraqi army in the south or Turkish forces in the north—have been of much help, officials say. Iraq’s army has often proven unable to stop Islamic State forces, and Turkey hasn’t engaged in the fight despite its professed desire to halt the jihadists….(read more)

WSJ

—Asa Fitch and Ayla Albayrak contributed to this article.

Write to Margaret Coker at margaret.coker@wsj.com, Jay Solomon at jay.solomon@wsj.com and Tamer El-Ghobashy at tamer.el-ghobashy@wsj.com


2 Comments on “Islamic State Militants Advance Despite Airstrikes: ‘Most of the eastern and southern parts of the city have fallen under the ISIS control…the situation is getting worse’”

  1. Mike says:

    Reblogged this on makeaneffort and commented:
    Schlock and Blah revisited… you can’t kill an idea from the air.


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