ISIS Owns Iraq, Obama Retreats
ISIS Owns Iraq, Obama Retreats
The Islamic State (IS) Sunni insurgent group took control of Iraq’s largest dam near the city of Mosul and a small town on Sunday afternoon after they captured two towns earlier in the country’s northern province of Nineveh, a provincial police source said.
The group, in its original form, was composed of and supported by a variety of Sunni insurgent groups, including its predecessor organizations, the Mujahideen Shura Council, the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) and Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), the insurgent groups Jaysh al-Fatiheen, Jund al-Sahaba, Katbiyan Ansar Al-Tawhid wal Sunnah and Jeish al-Taiifa al-Mansoura, and a number of Iraqi tribes that profess Sunni Islam.
ISIS grew significantly as an organization owing to its participation in the Syrian Civil War and the strength of its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Economic and political discrimination against Iraqi Sunnis since the fall of Saddam Hussein also helped it to gain support. At the height of the Iraq War, its forerunners enjoyed a significant presence in the Iraqi governorates of Al Anbar, Ninawa, Kirkuk, most of Salah ad Din, parts of Babil, Diyala and Baghdad, and claimed Baqubah as a capital city. In the ongoing Syrian Civil War, ISIS has a large presence in the Syrian governorates of Ar-Raqqa, Idlib and Aleppo.
ISIS is known for its harsh interpretation of Wahhabi Islam and its brutal violence, which is directed at Shia Muslims and Christians in particular. It has at least 4,000 fighters in its ranks in Iraq who, in addition to attacks on government and military targets, have claimed responsibility for attacks that have killed thousands of civilians. ISIS had close links with al-Qaeda until 2014, but in February of that year, after an eight-month power struggle, al-Qaeda cut all ties with the group, reportedly for its brutality and “notorious intractability”.
ISIS’s original aim was to establish a caliphate in the Sunni-majority regions of Iraq. Following its involvement in the Syrian Civil War, this expanded to include controlling Sunni-majority areas of Syria. A caliphate was proclaimed on 29 June 2014, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi—now known as Amir al-Mu’minin Caliph Ibrahim—was named as its caliph, and the group was renamed the Islamic State.
Dozens of militants affiliated to the IS, an al-Qaida offshoot, seized Mosul Dam on the Tigris River, about 70 km north of Nineveh ‘s provincial capital of Mosul, without fighting with the Kurdish security forces, known as Peshmerga, who were controlling the area, the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
The IS militants first seized the town of Wanna, near Mosul Dam, after fierce clashes with the Peshmerga fighters since the early hours of the day, and gave the Kurdish fighters two hours in the afternoon to withdraw from the dam, the source said.
Later on, the IS militants seized the dam after the Peshmerga withdrawal, the source added.
In addition, the IS militants gave the Peshmerga several hours until Sunday evening to withdraw from the cities of Shikhan and Telkif in east of Mosul, which located some 400 km north of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, the source said.
Earlier in the day, a provincial security source said that the IS militants entered Sinjar, some 100 km west of Mosul, in the morning after clashes with the Peshmerga.
“The militants raised the black flag of the IS on the buildings of the local government and the town’s municipality,” the source said.
Thousands of families in the town have left their homes to the nearby Sinjar mountain and the city of Zakho in the semi- autonomous region of Kurdistan, the source said.
Separately, Mohammed Ibrahim al-Baiyati, head of security committee of Nineveh province, told Xinhua that the IS militants are in full control of the town of Zumar, some 70 km northwest of Mosul, since early Saturday after fierce battles with the Peshmerga who controlled the area.
The IS militants also seized many villages around Zumar and nearby small oilfields of Ayn Zala, Butma and others, in addition of taking control of the strategic oil pipelines which Iraq used to pump crude exported via Turkey.
Al-Baiyati said that fierce clashes are underway on Sunday around the town of Rabia, near the border with Syria, while thousands of families are leaving their homes toward Peshkhabour and Zakho in Kurdistan region.
Mosul Dam, Wanna, Zumar and Sinjar are part of the disputed areas which are ethnically mixed areas of Kurds, Arabs, Turkmans and others. The Kurds demanded to expand their autonomous region in northern Iraq to include the oil-rich province of Kirkuk and other areas in the Iraqi provinces of Nineveh, Salahudin and Diyala, but their move is fiercely opposed by Baghdad government.
Early in June, the Peshmerga took control of the disputed areas, including the northern city of Kirkuk after the Iraqi security forces withdrew from their bases following the June 10 blitzkrieg of the Sunni militant groups, including IS group, in which they seized swathes of territories in the predominantly Sunni provinces.
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