Iraq News & Discussions

Scorpion

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ISIS’ oil wealth: U.S., allies work to stem its growth



The self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is thought to be the wealthiest terror group in history. While exacting this claim is difficult, ISIS’ overtake of key oil fields and refineries in Iraq and Syria among their other criminal exploits have left them with substantial wealth. Stopping the terror network by suffocating its financial strength has been the latest focus of the United States and its allies. While the effort to target ISIS territory (including oil fields) via airstrikes has proven to be successful, it does not address the sophisticated and long-standing oil smuggling routes and networks that ISIS has discovered and taken advantage of.

In a testimony before the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services this month, U.S. Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen said that the United States is paying particular attention to bringing down ISIS financial security, with regard to its sales of oil, which he and others estimate can amount to about $1 million a day from oil and refined product sales alone. What’s problematic is that ISIS has taken advantage of long-maintained smuggling routes, largely positioned in the south of Turkey. Reports show that the oil is mostly going to buyers in Turkey, Iran and Jordan, aside from local buyers within ISIS-controlled areas.

“Our best understanding is that ISIL has tapped into a long-standing and deeply rooted black market connecting traders in and around the area. After extracting the oil, ISIL refines some of it in makeshift facilities and then sells some of the refined product, as well as unrefined oil, to smugglers and a variety of middlemen who, in turn, transport it outside of ISIL’s strongholds,” Cohen said in his testimony.

Not only has ISIS linked up to pre-existing black market oil routes, but they have also capitalized on skilled people who have been marginalized by political changes, economic instability and otherwise preoccupied governments. ISIS has been able to run and continue to extract and sell oil from the overtaken fields and refineries, especially in Iraq, without much effort because they are not re-staffing these productions. The engineers, employees and staff in these refineries are mostly people who already worked there, or were brought in by ISIS, but were technicians under Saddam Hussein’s ousted Baath Party, said Dr. Matthew Levitt, a counterterror expert and director at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy in Washington, DC.

ISIS is “impressing upon people who have been working at these facilities and it’s in their best interest to continue working at these facilities, so people do… even without having to be threatened, people want to work in the facilities because they” still need a job and a way to get food on the table for their families, Levitt said in an interview with Al Arabiya. The instability that has roiled both Iraq and Syria respectively, have both allowed ISIS to occupy key territories, as well as continue to have market sales of their stolen oil. Often, ISIS is governing in areas where the Iraqi government is not equipped to combat them, whether it’s because of political in-fighting or because of a deteriorated intelligence sector and army.

ISIS now controls smuggling routes to Jordan through Anbar province, to Iran through Kurdistan, and to Turkey through Mosul and the porous southern Turkish border, reports show.

In Iraq alone, ISIS has taken oil from Qayyarah oil field by Mosul, Ajil and Hamrin fields by Tikrit and Qoshtapa by Erbil.Reports estimate that by the end of June of 2014, 20,000 barrels of oil had been smuggled from Ajil and was traded at $25 to $60 per barrel, where it would typically sell for around $100 a barrel. The trading and selling price of ISIS oil is well below market price, making it extremely tempting for buyers, while still bringing in enough money to comfortably finance the terror group.

It is precarious that the largest hub for transporting ISIS oil is found in southern Turkey, the New York Times reported. while lawmakers in Istanbul are one of the greatest allies to the United States in the fight against ISIS.

However, the reality of cutting off the smuggling routes in Turkey’s south is not simple. The illicit sales of oil by ISIS are not all “above board” or official, Levitt said. The terror group has taken advantage of corruption and also provides a temporary answer to high oil prices to the people in the regions.

Since the smuggled oil is providing a cheaper option for oil for the people in the area, the burden of alleviating high oil prices is then shifted from the already encumbered Turkish government, which is cracking under the crush of refugees from the conflicts in Iraq and Syria along with their own financial issues. For the Turkish government to crack down on the oil routes in a significant manner cannot be accomplished “overnight,” Levitt said. “If they completely shut down the smuggling routes before they put in place alternative sources of gasoline or lower the prices, they’re going to have riots on their hands,” he added. So, ISIS is able to have a continued buyer stream for their stolen oil mainly because “most of these people either don’t know or they just don’t care” where their discounted oil comes from, Levitt said.

The United States’ decision to target ISIS controlled areas with sustained airstrikes has made significant impact on the groups’ oil sales and wealth. Not only do strikes hurt ISIS’ ability to move from location to location, but they also hurt the actual amount of oil they are able to sell. Some estimates say that airstrikes have curbed ISIS’ oil profit by two-thirds—leaving them still with more than enough to function, but slowing its growth nonetheless. Most notably however, is the move to sanction those that are supporting or facilitating the sales of this illicit oil. The United States is doing this both publically and privately, with their partners in the region.

“It is true, of course, that ISIL’s oil moves in illicit networks that are largely outside the formal economy, where individuals are less vulnerable to financial pressure,” Cohen said in his testimony. “The middlemen, traders, refiners, transport companies, and anyone else that handles ISIL’s oil or refined product should know that we are hard at work identifying them, and that we have tools at hand to stop them. We not only can cut them off from the U.S. financial system and freeze their assets, but we can also make it very difficult for them to find a bank anywhere that will touch their money or process their transactions. In combating ISIL’s fundraising through oil sales, we will leverage the well-established reluctance of banks around the world to facilitate the financing of terrorism,” he added.

Along with their official efforts to sanction those involved with the oil trade, the United States is also quietly pressuring their allies to make their own efforts to stop the flow and sales of ISIS controlled oil to buyers in their respective countries. There are no hard figures that show the success rate of any of these efforts; however, the shift in focus on ISIS’ financing is heartening for many counterterrorism experts. There are many moving parts that are feeding the terror group’s seeming success, but the United States and their allies seem committed to the idea that their efforts will slow the group and eventually bring them to their knees.
 
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The international community should take collective measures to put an end to this monster.
 
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U.S. leads 25 more air strikes against Islamic State militants, says U.S. Central command

The United States military launched 14 more strikes against Islamic State militants in Syria and led 11 strikes in Iraq since Monday, according to U.S. Central command. The strikes in Syria, centered near the border town of Kobani, hit a large group of militant fighters as well as various fighting positions, Central Command said in a statement on Wednesday.

In Iraq, the U.S-led strikes in six cities - Mosul, Ramadi, Tal Afar, Sinjar, Qaim and Falluja - destroyed bunkers, buildings, vehicles and two weapon facilities for the militant group. They also struck several Islamic State fighting units, according to the statement. (Reuters)
 

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Iranian air force bombing ISIS targets in Iraq without officially joining U.S.-led mission

Republish Reprint
The Telegraph | December 3, 2014 12:30 PM ET
More from The Telegraph


ScreenshotFootage aired by Al Jazeera shows at least one F-4 Phantom II jet striking the Islamic State in Iraq.

The RAF, American and other allied forces are now fighting directly alongside their former rivals Iran, according to new footage of the war in Iraq.

An Iranian jet has been filmed for the first time bombing positions of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), during a battle for the town of Saadiya, north-east of Baghdad.

U.S. air force jets have been flying missions over Iraq since August and the RAF since September.

Iranian advisers are known to have been embedded with the Iraqi army and militia forces fighting ISIS. But this is the first proof that the Islamic Republic and the countries it famously termed the “Great and Little Satan” – America and Britain – are taking part in missions on the same side.


The footage was filmed on Sunday by an Al-Jazeera crew reporting on the key battle for Saadiya and Jalula, two towns northeast of Baghdad, not far from the Iranian border.

Saadiya was captured in the great surge ISIS staged across much of Iraq in June and became a major jihadist base, while Jalula, a mostly Kurdish town with some Sunni Arab presence, has changed hands on a number of occasions.

Al-Jazeera claimed the jet belonged to the Iraqi air force, which was given half a dozen Russian-built Sukhoi Su-25 ground attack jets by Iran at the outset of the war in June. However, analysts from IHS Jane’s Defence identified the jet as a McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II, a relic of America’s pre-1979 alliance with the Shah’s Iran.

The only other country still using Phantoms in the Middle East, Jane’s said, was Turkey, which has pledged not to take a direct part in the fight against ISIS. “This footage is the first visual evidence of direct IRIAF [Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force] involvement in the conflict,” Jane’s noted.

After Jane’s claims were drawn to their attention, Pentagon and British defence sources both confirmed that U.S. and RAF personnel operating in Iraq were already aware of the Iranian air force presence.

Iran is not part of the formal coalition drawn up to take on ISIS in Iraq and Syria, in which France and several Gulf nations are flying sorties as well as Britain and the US. Britain and America have always been keen to stress that there is no direct co-ordination with Iran.

Despite the lack of formal collaboration, the Iranians, British and Americans seem to have an informal arrangement over zones of influence. According to regular Ministry of Defence and Pentagon releases, most coalition air attacks in Iraq are either in the north, in support of Kurdish forces fighting on a front line on the southern edge of the Kurdish autonomous region, or in western Iraq.

It is unlikely that Iran would become a fully fledged member of the coalition

The Saadiya operation was near the Iranian border to the east.

“It is unlikely that Iran would become a fully fledged member of the coalition,” one defence source said. “But we hope that they would align themselves with the direction that the coalition are taking.”

A Pentagon official was quoted by the Huffington Post website as saying that because the U.S. was operating in Iraq with the permission of the Baghdad government, it could not put pressure on the Iraqis over the Iranian involvement. “We’re there at the invitation of the Iraqi government, so it’s not for us to say what they should allow, what they shouldn’t allow,” the official said.

Nevertheless, the presence of Iranian, British and American forces fighting alongside each other is a sign of shifting alliances in the Middle East and a thawing of relations, particularly as talks over the Iranian nuclear programme continue.

This closeness is causing unease in majority Sunni countries, particularly in the Gulf, which regards Iran as a major destabilizing influence in the region – as do, officially, Britain and America.

Until recently, both countries were insisting that the use of military force against Iran over its nuclear programme remained “on the table”.

Iranian air force bombing ISIS targets in Iraq without officially joining U.S.-led mission | National Post


I don't how credible this news is but I find it hard to believe unless there is a coordination b/w the US, UK and Iran.
 
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Iranian official confirms Iran struck ISIS in Iraq

Iran's deputy foreign minister confirmed that his country carried out air strikes against Islamic State in eastern Iraq. In an interview for the British Guardian, Ebrahim Rahimpour said the air strikes were coordinated with the Iraqi government, but not with the U.S.

Rahimpour also said the attacks, conducted last month near the Iranian border, were intended to protect the interests of "our friends" in Iraq, meaning the Iraqi government and the autonomous Kurdish zone to the north, which fights against ISIS.

This week the Pentagon confirmed that Iran struck ISIS targets in Iraq. The Pentagon said that the U.S. believes this is the first time Tehran has struck targets in Iraq with manned aircraft. The Pentagon denied that the air strikes were coordinated with the U.S. (Haaretz)
 
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US military monitoring Islamic State training in Libya — general
WASHINGTON — The US military is closely monitoring a nascent effort by Islamic State(IS), the militant group that has overrun parts of Syria and Iraq, to train a couple of hundred fighters in eastern Libya, the commander of US forces in Africa said on Wednesday.

Army General David Rodriguez, head of the US Africa Command, said it was not yet clear how closely aligned the trainees were with IS or whether the effort should be targeted by US forces.

He said he had not recommended US troops or air power to go after the training camps in the chaotic North African country at this point.

"We're watching it very carefully to see how it develops," Rodriguez told reporters at the Pentagon. "Right now it's just small and very nascent and we just have to see how it goes."

Rodriguez said the trainees appeared to be members of Libyan militias who were "trying to make a name or trying to make a connection”. It was unclear whether they might join IS fighters elsewhere once their training was complete, he said.

"It's mainly about people coming for training and logistics support right now, for training sites, and that's what we see right now. As far as a huge command and control network, have not seen that yet," Rodriguez said.

"The numbers are somewhere around a couple hundred... but again we don't have a specific precise assessment of that right now," he said.

Libya itself is caught in a conflict between two rival governments, one which is self-declared and was set up in Tripoli after forces from group known as Libya Dawn took over the capital in the summer, and another, internationally recognised government which operates from the eastern city of Tobruk.
 

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So the US is coordinating with Iran? or wast it one sided decision? Why is the US led coalition taking such a long time finishing out those baboons? Why don't they just impose a NFZ and then hit from everywhere before setting foot in the ground?
 

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US-Led Coalition Against ISIS To Send 1,500 Troops To Aid Fight In Iraq

The United States-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group will send an additional 1,500 troops to Iraq, Lt. Gen. James L. Terry, who heads a joint task force overseeing military operations in Iraq and Syria, said on Monday. The troops, drawn from a coalition of nearly 60 nations, will be in addition to the 1,500 soldiers already promised by the U.S., according to media reports.

As of now, there are nearly 1,600 U.S. soldiers on the ground in Iraq, and this number is likely to grow to over 3,100 in the coming months after President Barack Obama authorized a plan in November to double U.S. forces on the ground, according to media reports.

“I’m comfortable with the [U.S.] boots on the ground right now,” Terry reportedly said. “What I’ve got to do now is balance the coalition contributions.”

He, however, did not mention which countries in the coalition had pledged to send troops and what role the additional forces would play. The U.S. troops currently posted in Iraq have so far limited their involvement to training and advising Iraqi and Kurdish forces.

The U.S. intervened in Iraq in August with airstrikes targeting ISIS strongholds in the country’s northeast. However, questions have been raised over the preparedness and training of the Iraqi army, which has been unable to reclaim key cities, including Mosul in northern Iraq, from ISIS militants.

“While [the Iraqi security forces] have a long way to go I think they're becoming more capable every day,” Terry reportedly said. “When you start now to balance the different capabilities out across the coalition, I think we're doing pretty well in terms of boots on the ground."



US-Led Coalition Against ISIS To Send 1,500 Troops To Aid Fight In Iraq
 

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U.S. Senate backs $5 bln anti-ISIS spending



The U.S. Congress authorized a massive U.S. annual defense policy bill on Friday which includes $5 billion in emergency funding for military operations and training for Iraqi and Syrian forces fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), as President Barack Obama requested.

Obama’s $5 billion request for fighting ISIS includes $3.4 billion for deployment of U.S. forces as part of operation “Inherent Resolve,” and $1.6 billion for a program to equip and train Iraqi Kurdish forces for two years.

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), formally authorizes the extension of training and equipping for moderate Syrian rebels, a program that had been authorized to last only until December 11, using existing Pentagon money.

Overall, the legislation approves a Pentagon base budget of $496 billion, in addition to around $63.7 billion for wars abroad including the war in Afghanistan. The bill also authorizes $17.9 billion for nuclear weapons work.

The bill passed 89 votes to 11 in the Senate and sent it to President Obama to sign into law one week after it sailed through the House of Representatives. It outlines $584.2 billion in federal military spending for fiscal year 2015, which began on October 1.

“This bill includes a pay raise for members of the Armed Services, it enhances our efforts to keep our warfighters safe on the battlefield, and it authorizes the resources needed to responsibly conclude our combat mission in Afghanistan,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in a statement.

Obama’s request for $520 million for the State Department’s humanitarian and diplomatic efforts was also included.

But despite opposition from Obama, the bill extends restrictions on closing the US military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. A ban on transferring detainees to the United States, in force since 2011, was renewed.

Republicans fear the detainees might be freed by a judge and thus constitute a threat to national security.

Thirteen prisoners have been sent to other countries this year, and 142 men remain in the prison.

Among the bill’s hundreds of provisions, the measure provides for a one percent pay raise for uniformed personnel, expands sexual assault prevention and response provisions, and requires the military to provide annual mental health screenings for servicemembers.

It also protects the fleet of A-10 close-air support aircraft, a measure for which Senator John McCain lobbied hard.

The US Air Force had proposed retiring more than 100 A-10s, but the NDAA would prevent any such retirements in 2015.

Defense spending accounts for just over half of the US government’s budget for so-called discretionary spending, which excludes social welfare.

[With AFP]

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/New...S-Senate-backs-5-bln-anti-ISIS-spending-.html
 

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Funny how bunch of illiterate are unable to be defeated and that they are advancing day by day. What is the US-led coalition doing exactly to eradicate ISIS? I don't see any slight improvement. Kill Assad First then deal with ISIS. Assad has killed 10x times more than ISIS of innocent people.
 
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ISIS ‘shoots down’ Iraqi helicopter, killing pilots


The militants have shot down at least two other Iraqi military helicopters near the city of Beiji in recent months. (File Photo: AFP)

Iraqi officials on Saturday said Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants shot down Iraqi helicopter near Samarra, killing two pilots onboard and raising fresh concerns about the extremists' ability to attack aircraft amid ongoing U.S.-led coalition airstrikes.

The attack happened in the Shiite holy city of Samarra, about 95 kilometers (60 miles) north of Baghdad. A senior Defense Ministry official told The Associated Press the Sunni militants used a shoulder-fired rocket launcher to shoot down the EC635 helicopter on the outskirts of the city. An army official corroborated the information. Both spoke on condition of anonymity as they weren't authorized to speak to journalists.

The EC635, built by Airbus Helicopters, is used for transport, surveillance and combat.

The militants shot down at least two other Iraqi military helicopters near the city of Beiji in October. Some fear the militants may have captured ground-to-air missiles capable of shooting down airplanes when they overran Iraqi and Syrian army bases this summer.

European airlines including Virgin Atlantic, KLM and Air France, U.S. carrier Delta Air Lines and Dubai-based Emirates changed their commercial flight plans over the summer to avoid Iraqi airspace. The U.S.-trained Iraqi military virtually collapsed in the face of the militants' blitz, shedding their uniforms and abandoning sophisticated weapons near the northern city of Mosul.

ISIS holds about a third of Iraq and neighboring Syria in its self-styled caliphate.

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/New...ots-down-Iraqi-helicopter-killing-pilots.html
 

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ISIS storms town in western Iraq, kills 19 police




Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters stormed a town in Iraq’s western Anbar province on Saturday, killing at least 19 policemen and trapping others inside their headquarters, in the latest attack in the desert region where it controls large amounts of territory, officials said.

ISIS seized the town of al-Wafa, 45 km west of Anbar’s capital Ramadi on Saturday after starting its assault early on Friday.

With the capture of al-Wafa, ISIS now controls three major towns to the west of Ramadi, including Hit and Kubaisa. ISIS and government forces have been bogged down in a months-long battle for Ramadi.

Al-Wafa fell in a surprise attack that drew fresh attention to the Iraqi government’s struggle to arm Sunni tribes in western Iraq who are fighting ISIS.

“Police forces have been fighting ISIS fighters since Friday, but lack of ammunition forced it to retreat and losing the town. I’m frustrated because we were left alone without support,” said Hussain Kassar, the town’s mayor.

Police forces backed by few members of government-paid Sunni tribal fighters tried to prevent the militants from crossing the sand barrier surrounding the town, but were overwhelmed when sleeper cells from inside open fired on them, the mayor and a police officer said.

Police forces and the pro-government Sunni fighters were forced to retreat to a nearby police-brigade headquarters bordering their town.

“We are trapped inside the police 18th brigade. Islamic State managed to surround us today. If no government forces were
sent to help us then we will be exterminated,” the mayor, who was with the police forces that withdrew from al-Wafa, said by telephone.

Elsewhere in western Anbar, ISIS militants executed at least 21 Sunni tribal fighters on Friday after capturing them near al-Baghdadi town on Wednesday, local officials and tribesmen said on Saturday. ISIS has besieged al-Baghdadi, also to the west of Ramadi, since October.

All the bodies had bullet wounds to the head and chest and were dumped inside an orchard near the Islamic-State controlled town of Kubaisa.

The radical Sunni Muslim militants have captured swathes of western and northern Iraq, including the north’s biggest city, Mosul, in June. They now hold large territory from western Anbar and Nineveh provinces that extends across the border into Syria.

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/New...rms-town-in-western-Iraq-kills-19-police.html
 

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Inside Iraqi air base as Islamic State closes in




Ain al-Asad air base, the largest in Iraq's western province of Anbar, has been encircled by militants from Islamic State (IS). The BBC's Quentin Sommerville, the first Western journalist to make it to the facility since IS launched a nationwide offensive in June, found soldiers on the defensive as the militants close in.

At Ain al-Asad, soldiers and their armoured vehicles had departed. The camp was quiet, almost peaceful. But we were in fact in the eye of a storm.

On multiple fronts, troops were out fighting - and losing - battles with Islamic State (IS) militants.

We had come to see an offensive. Instead, we found a retreat.

The army's planned assault on the IS stronghold of Hit was forgotten. IS had launched a surprise attack.

The only safe way into Ain al-Asad is by air force plane - like this C130 bringing food and supplies
The Forever Cafe, now long closed. US Marines, though, are back at the base to provide training
US troops left behind a mess, with empty shells littering the ground
"From 07:00 until 11:00, we lost territory that had taken us two weeks to gain. In a few hours, it was gone," said a senior officer from the Iraqi Army's 7th Division, who did not want to be named.

As many as 15 villages surrounding the base fell to the militants: Mahboubiya, Juba, Jabha, Dulab... the list went on, the militants moving ever closer.

Qais, a pro-government fighter from the Al Bu Nimr tribe, made it to the relative safety of the camp. "I'd had early prayers in Juba, but by the afternoon, it had fallen. IS took trailers full of weapons," he said.

He was trying to get to Baghdad to meet his commanders. His family were still in Juba, which was now held by IS.

Air strikes plea
Ain al-Asad stretches for miles. It was the biggest US army base during the Iraq War.

Reminders of American occupation are everywhere - spent artillery shells and dusty accommodation quarters, with uneaten ration packs strewn across the floor.


By the camp's barber shop stands a duty-free store and the long-closed "Forever Cafe".

Even though the base is much diminished, it remains a linchpin in the country's biggest province.

If Anbar falls, Islamic State will stretch from Syria all the way to the edge of Baghdad.

From near the edges of the camp, outgoing mortars could be heard, launching and landing. The soft booms of distant artillery occasionally made those on the base stop and look to the horizon for a moment.

In the past week the base has suffered many casualties
It is under increasing threat as Islamic State fighters advance in surrounding villages
Outside the base, soldiers are on their guard. Roadside bombs and snipers are the biggest danger
At night, two days into the IS offensive, soldiers from the 7th Division returned to the base, exhausted, and angry. They blamed the lack of aerial cover for the losses.

"We stood our ground. But IS advanced with tanks - we only have Humvees," Pt Karar Hadi said.

"What we need are helicopters and combat aircraft. I don't know why the planes didn't come. They're saying the conditions are wrong, but the weather is fine now. In two days, there wasn't a single air strike."

Eventually, there were air raids, but by then much territory had already been lost. It could take weeks, if not months to regain, if it is ever retaken.

Back in January, IS seized Falluja, one of Anbar's biggest cities. Since then, the militants have tightened their grip. With their supporters, they now control almost 80% of the province.

With the world's attention on Syria, it has been a largely unseen humanitarian crisis, with more than 500,000 people displaced.

Booby-traps
We are the first Western journalists to visit Ain al-Asad since IS established its self-declared caliphate in June.

In a convoy of armoured Humvees, we drove with the troops to their field command. In some of the villages we passed through, shops were open and children waved to the soldiers. But outside it was a different story.

In the driving seat was Sgt Abu Mahdi. "When you're in a convoy, the biggest risks are the roadside bombs, from IS or their supporters - and they booby-trap houses, as well as having snipers. These are the most deadly of their tactics, but, God willing, we can deal with them."


Anbar is mostly Sunni, and in many of its villages IS has been welcomed. Iraq's army is the enemy, and the soldiers remain on their guard.

In only three days, the frontline had crept forward, closer to Ain al-Asad. When we arrived, it was 30km (18 miles) away. When we left, it was less than 10km.

Sunni tribes who have taken up arms against the militants have suffered. They formed the backbone of the Awakening Councils, which helped the US defeat al-Qaeda militants during the Iraq War.

Sheikh Naim al-Gaood of the Al Bu Nimr tribe, explained: "From my tribe there are 762 martyrs, [including] 31 women and 26 children.

"Some of them were slaughtered with swords; some of them were executed by bullets to the head. Children as young as six months old were killed while sitting on their mothers' laps. Some of the children were thrown in the river, and others down wells."

It is thought that dozens of Iraqi soldiers have been killed or kidnapped in the current offensive.

Strong resolve
On the chain-link fences around Ain al-Asad, ragged black death notices flap in the soft breeze. Among those killed was a Brig Abbas Radad, the head of the division's special forces.

We will not allow these people to take Iraq”

Col Abu MahmoudIraqi Army
"It wasn't a tragedy - he is a martyr who sacrificed his life to defend his country," Col Abu Mahmoud told me.

"All of us here would do the same. We will not allow these people to take Iraq. He was killed by a sniper - a coward who shot from a far - they don't show their faces," he added.

The Americans are back in Ain al-Asad, and three of their army medics tried to save Brig Radad.

Their primary role is training tribal fighters. They are in a private corner of the camp - largely unseen. But their presence is viewed as essential.

Qais, the Al Bu Nimr fighter, said: "We know that Ain al-Asad will never fall while the Americans are here. They won't let it happen."

BBC News - Inside Iraqi air base as Islamic State closes in
 
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