Iraq has been plunged into chaos once again with the rapid advance of the brutal and all too ruthless terrorist organization ISIS. The acronym stands for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, so named for the group’s goal of carving out a new country in Syria and Iraq. The group broke through the border of Syria quickly captured large swathes of territory in northern Iraq, including the city of Tikrit. More recently, ISIS has gained a large stockpile of weapons taken from their victories in Fallujah. Many Iraqi army soldiers fled battle immediately leaving behind their American provided weapons and vehicles. The odds seem stacked against the Iraqi military, but they may yet turn the tide against ISIS.
On Saturday, the 28th, the Iraqi military supported by Shiite militias retook the city of Tikrit. Not only did this battle take a large number of ISIS militants out of the fight, but also it secured the highway between Tikrit and Baghdad for the Iraqi government. Despite ISIS’ new found arsenal, the Iraqi military still possesses tanks, armored vehicles and some measure of air support, which all came in handy retaking Tikrit and clearing the highway. After Tikrit, two battles now rage to the west and to the south of Baghdad as the Iraqi government attempts to halt the advance of ISIS fighters to the capitol. Iraqi military leaders remain hopeful that they may turn the tide against ISIS especially with the recent procurement of a number of Russian military planes and the upcoming delivery of three dozen F-16’s from the US.
Meanwhile, ISIS’ hopes of strengthening their current military might comes in the form of large-scale recruitment. The terrorist organization has taken to mainstream social media like no other before them. Threatening messages with gruesome twists on internet trends have appeared all over Twitter and Facebook. YouTube has been used to upload more threats, and even lesser known sites and apps like JustPaste and Soundcloud have been invaded by ISIS. The militants use popular hashtags like #worldcup to spread their message to as many users as possible. The strategy is working in at least some capacity because fighting groups in Iraq and Syria are composed of Jihadists from all around the world.
President Obama has stated that the US will send up to 300 military advisers to assist in the defense of Baghdad and the rest of Iraq. The 300 will most likely be made up of Green Berets and other special operations forces. It will be up to the Iraqi government and military to fully utilize the skills of these soldiers as well as any other aid they receive from neighboring nations or allies. The Iraqis should have ISIS out manned and outgunned, but so far the terrorist group has utilized its resources and resources beyond typical military equipment to out think and out fight the military. The violence of the advancing dissidents is so heinous and uncontrolled that many Iraqi soldiers gave up the fight before it began. However, in recent days, volunteers have arrived to fight and support for the fight against ISIS has bolstered. Iraqi citizens seem ready to stand up against ISIS and they may soon have the means to do it. With most of the world in agreement that ISIS must be stopped and two major battles currently under way it may not be long until Iraq turns the tide against ISIS and their new level of extremism.
By Matt Isaacs