The al-Qaeda-inspired militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) ordered its fighters on Thursday to start advancing towards the Iraqi capital Baghdad after winning major territories and defeating armed forces in the country’s northern regions.
Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, the official spokesman of the Islamic State in Iraq and Sham (ISIS), issued an audio statement posted on YouTube urging ISIS fighters to march for Baghdad.
Black-clad ISIS militants and local armed men have seized Iraq’s second biggest city Mosul and Tikrit, hometown of former dictator Saddam Hussein, as well as other towns and cities north of Baghdad.
In Tikrit, the militants have set up military councils to run the towns they captured, residents said on Thursday.
“They came in hundreds to my town and said they are not here for blood or revenge but they seek reforms and to impose justice. They picked a retired general to run the town,” a a tribal figure from the town of Alam, north of Tikrit, told Reuters.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has an ambitious project to establish a Islamist state that combines Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel and Palestine.
“Our final destination will be Baghdad, the decisive battle will be there,’ that’s what their leader of the militants group kept repeating,” the tribal figure said.
ISIS spokesman al-Adnani said in his audio statement that the battle would “rage” in Baghdad and Karbala, a city southwest of the capital that is considered one of the holiest sites for Shiite Muslims.
“Do not relent against your enemy… The battle is not yet raging, but it will rage in Baghdad and Karbala,” Adnani said. “Put on your belts and get ready,” he added.
“March toward Baghdad because there is an account to settle,” he added. Adnani did not forget to remind ISIS militants about their self-proclaimed “ethics of war.”
“When you enter a village, bow your heads and do not brag or boast. Accept repentance from whoever wants repentance and leave alone who leaves alone and show mercy to your fellow Sunnis and your tribes,” Adnani said.
The statement could not be independently verified.
The Vicar of Baghdad sent an SOS from the besieged Iraqi capital Monday and warned that the murderous Islamic State militants were breathing down their necks.
“People are very fearful the nation looks as if it has collapsed,” Canon Andrew White, who runs the last Anglican church in Iraq, wrote on his Facebook page. “The usual hectic and crazy streets were this morning almost empty.”
White, who also heads British-based charity Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East, made the social media post before Iraqi forces — backed by airstrikes from the U.S.-led coalition — appeared to stymie the ISIS advance.
But according to White, the Islamic fanatics were less than two miles from the city’s borders and he warned that the Iraqi Army was no match for them.
“This morning I was with one of my soldiers who is assigned by the government to protect me,” White wrote. “I asked him what he would do if he saw ISIS coming. He told me he would take off his uniform and run.”
There was more fierce fighting in the area Monday, but the Iraqi Army apparently were able to stop the ISIS forces bearing down on the key city of Amariya al-Fallujah, which is about 25 miles west of Baghdad, the BBC reported.
Meanwhile, ISIS continued to attack the Kurdish town of Kobani in northern Syria, sending thousands of terrified residents fleeing for the Turkish border.
The Kurds have been resisting but they are outgunned by ISIS. And while the Turks have sent tanks to the border, so far they haven’t lifted a finger to help the Kurds, who face being massacred if ISIS keeps advancing.
Overnight, U.S. warplanes bombed ISIS positions in Iraq’s Anbar province and blasted militant-controlled oil facilities near Syrian cities Aleppo, Raqqa, Hassakeh and Deir el-Zour.
Iraq‘s political class has watched with fear and envy in the last fortnight as American jets have slowed the Islamic State extremist group’s advance towards the Kurdish stronghold of Irbil.
At the same time the group, formerly known as Isis, has been trying to encircle Baghdad – untroubled by air strikes. Its manoeuvres near the national capital in recent days have consolidated gains it has made in the last two months and made the very existence of Iraq in its current borders ever more precarious.
With a new central government only three weeks from being sworn in, Iraqi leaders are imploring the US to honour what they perceived to be an implicit deal to protect Baghdad once an inclusive leadership was installed. They say support for only one side will guarantee the end of Iraq, allowing the insurgents menacing the capital to whittle away what is left of state control and terrorise large numbers of people into fleeing.
The officials, led at first by ousted leader Nouri al-Maliki, had said that only US air power could put a halt to Isis’s momentum. Iraq’s military had refused to fight the jihadists, surrendering large parts of the country as they advanced into Mosul and Tikrit and towards Kirkuk. They have been unable to reclaim lost ground and are struggling to defend oil and energy sites that are essential to Iraq’s viability. What remains of the Iraqi military is operating without US air cover. Kurdish forces, on the other hand, have taken comfort from air strikes that beat back Isis some 30 miles to the south-west of Irbil.
On Thursday, the jihadists staged attacks in an area 40 miles south of Baghdad labelled nine years ago by the US military as the “triangle of death”. Iraqi military officials say that area is next to impossible to defend without strategic weapons or US air support.
are they coming or is this more propaganda?..if they are coming why wouldn’t they be bombed?..no oilfields near baghdad?
“U.S. warplanes bombed ISIS positions in Iraq’s Anbar province and blasted militant-controlled oil facilities near Syrian cities Aleppo, Raqqa, Hassakeh and Deir el-Zour.”
i dont want to be cynical but..you know..
keep in mind these articles are 4- 5 days old now..