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’Posted: October 13, 2014
ISIS Gains Territory Despite Weeks of Bombing by U.S., Allies, Raising Questions About Strategy
“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.”
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.
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)
—Asa Fitch and Ayla Albayrak contributed to this article.