"They said it could never happen and now it almost has." said a spokesman for a Baghdad aid group, who says the Iraqi army is unprepared to battle ISIS.
Islamic State (ISIS) fighters are only one mile away
from Baghdad, Iraq's capital, according a spokesman for the Foundation
for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East, a Christian aid group.
"They said it could never happen and now it almost has. Obama says he
overestimated what the Iraqi Army could do. Well, you only need to be
here a very short while to know they can do very, very little," said the spokesman.
In an interview (see video below), Canon Andrew White, a veteran of
Baghdad and leader of the foundation, said that the U.S. airstrikes had
proven to be ineffective against the Islamic State and that,
unfortunately, they had merely killed civilians. Ground troops are
needed, he said to defeat the Islamic State.
Canon himself has been provided with over 30 security guards –some of
them soldiers from the Iraqi Army -- due to the danger that he faces.
When asked if he had faith in the Iraqi army, Canon laughed.
He explained, “I’m laughing because I said to one of my soldier
guards today, ‘If ISIS were coming towards you, what would you do?’ He
said, ‘I would take off my uniform.’ [I asked,] ‘Why are you in the army
then? Why are you a soldier? What are you doing? Aren’t you protecting
us?’ He said, ‘No, I’m in it because I need the money.’”
When asked if people are planning to flee the city, Canon said, “The
problem is there isn’t much opportunity. If you go by car, you go by the
central part of the [country], which is now under ISIS control. If you
try to fly out, that isn’t easy because, for example, the first flight
that I can get is on Monday.”
Meanwhile, 50 miles northwest of the capital, Islamic State militants besieged an Iraqi army base,
trapping between 240 and 600 army personnel inside. A number of
soldiers from the Albu Aytha base escaped before the militants arrived.
Fifty miles due north of Baghdad, an Iraqi tribe in the Jubar neighborhood
of the Sunni Arab town of Dhuluiyah has held out under a two-week
attack by Islamic State fighters. Jubar was highly involved fighting the
precursor to the Islamic State in 2005-07 (when the Islamic State was
affiliated with Al Qaeda). Those Sunni tribal forces were backed the
Tribal leaders have asked for more help from the U.S.-led coalition,
specifically airstrikes, which they say will help disperse the
Earlier this week in Mosul, an Islamic State stronghold in Iraq, the jihadi group tortured and executed a prominent human rights activist and
lawyer for critical remarks she made against the group on Facebook.
Samira Salih al-Nuaimi took issue with the group for destroying
monotheistic religious sites, including mosques and the tombs of Daniel
Islamic State militants abducted al-Nuaimi from her house and
tortured her for five days before having a firing squad execute her in
the middle of the city.
“By torturing and executing a female human rights lawyer and
activist, defending in particular the civil and human rights of her
fellow citizens in Mosul, ISIS continues to attest to its infamous
nature, combining hatred, nihilism and savagery, as well as its total
disregard of human decency,” said Nickolay Mladenov, the UN envoy to Iraq, in a statement.
In what is thought to be a targeted campaign against female
activists, two more women lawyers in the Mosul area are also feared to
have been abducted by the Islamic State, as they have been reported
missing for over a week.
In Syria, Islamic State fighters beheaded
seven men and three women in the northern Kurdish area of Ayn Arab, a
town close to the border with Turkey. Five of those beheaded were
reported to be Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, including three women.
Pictures on social media showed the women’s heads on display in the
Islamic State stronghold city Jarablous in northern Syria.
Kurdish fighters have been battling the Islamic State in the area of
Kobani for the last two weeks. High casualties have been reported in
Also in Syria, the Al Qaeda-affiliated jihadi group, Jabhat al-Nusra, is reportedly entering into an alliance with the Islamic State. Despite previous fighting between the two groups, they may be joining forces to combat the American-led coalition.
Threatening retaliatory action against the U.S. and it allies, Al-Nusra’s spokesman, Abu Firas al-Suri, said, “These states have committed a horrible act that is going to put them on the list of jihadist targets throughout the world.”