Only two weeks into their offensive to establish a new caliphate out of parts of Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has captured even more territory. The gains of four towns and three border crossings across the north and west of Iraq puts greater pressure on Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to step down.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the conflict in Iraq is the ease at which ISIS has been able to move around the region to achieve its goals.
The militants’ stunning battlefield successes in the north and the west of Iraq have laid bare the inadequacies of the country’s U.S.-trained forces and their inability to defend the rapidly shrinking territory they hold. In the north, troops fled in the face of the advancing militants, abandoning their weapons, vehicles and other equipment. In some cases in the west, they pulled out either when the militants approached or when they heard of other towns falling.
If Baghdad is the ultimate goal of ISIS, many feel that it’s only a matter of time.
A top Iraqi military intelligence official was equally blunt, saying the battlefield setbacks in Iraq’s restive western Anbar province and the north have given the militants much more freedom of movement and their firepower has dramatically increased.
“Their objective is Baghdad, where we are working frantically to bolster our defences,” said the official. “I will be honest with you, even that is not up to the level of what is needed. Morale is low.”
Read more: CBC News