Since June the Islamic State (ISIS) has been systematically capturing and ravaging villages and cities in Iraq. The group already controlled portions of Syria and in the early summer they broke over the border and expanded their territory rapidly and brutally. Reports and images of mass executions, torture and rape among other atrocities have flowed ceaselessly from the region. In the early stages of the terrorist group’s expansion through northern Iraq they often went unopposed with official Iraqi military personnel fleeing and leaving their U.S. provided weapons and equipment to the enemy. With little help from their own government and slow response from the global community many Iraqi citizens of all faiths and regions have been helplessly subject to the brutality of the ISIS forces.
More recently, however, it seems that some Iraqi divisions are up to the job with allied assistance. After an American air strike as well as aid drops from the U.K., France, and Australia a siege on the town of Amerli by ISIS was broken. The town had been surrounded for almost two months and was running low on food and water as well as being without power. It seems that the aid drop as well as the firepower assistance was enough to allow Iraqi forces to repel the lengthy attack on the town.
Most of the residents of Amerli are Shia Turkmen, a group with cultural and ethnic ties to Turkey, and a group that has been facing persecution since even before the IS began its reign of terror. Aside from the sectarian violence between Muslims, Christians in Iraq have also faced the hatred of ISIS. Videos have emerged from the region of Christians being forced to “convert” to Islam and then still being executed. No group seems to be safe from these sort of tactics, causing people across the world with ties to the various victims of ISIS to call for action. So far the best that has been offered is the air support and supplies like the ones dropped in Amerli by France, Australia, the U.K. and the U.S.
What remains to be seen is how effective air support only will be in helping the people of Iraq. Along with some of the military rallying, average citizens are beginning to take up arms against ISIS, knowing there is no way to appease the terrorists or escape their wrath. The people of the United States are hesitant to get involved in an Iraqi ground war a third time. The Iraqi government was unable to follow through with steps set before it to secure the nation even with the support of a full-scale American force, so President Obama and the American military will not commit any sort of large-scale force until the Iraqi military takes decisive action on its own. However the victory in Amerli is the first good news to come out of Iraq in a while, potentially signaling the beginning of the Iraqi people reclaiming their home and fighting for peace.
Opinion By Matt Isaacs