Iraq: ISIL surrounds 300 Sunni families, Closes in on Ramadi

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) –

Al-Khaleej (The Gulf) reports that Daesh (ISIS, ISIL) has taken new territory in the western Al-Anbar Province of Iraq and may be on the verge of taking the provincial capital, Ramadi, a week after they were decisively defeated in Tikrit in the south of Salahuddin Province. They were also pushed back from the refinery city of Beiji near Tikrit, though Iraqi authorities revealed that Daesh had slaughtered 300 members of tribes there in the past few days. Daesh killed embers of the Albu Mahall, al-Karabilah, al-Salman, Albu `Ubayd, and al-Rawiyyin tribes. Government forces received close air support from the US Air Force. But despite the success of Iraqi troops and their Shiite militia auxiliaries in Salahuddin north of Baghdad, government forces are facing setbacks to the west of the capital.

Daesh has taken al-Sufiya entirely, chasing the Iraqi army from the district. It continued to hold most of Albu Ghanim and has surrounded hundreds of families there. It has long had a toehold in western neighborhoods of Ramadi, the provincial capital of al-Anbar, and seems to be making a successful push toward the center of the town.

A member of parliament from the province, Adil Khamis al-Mahallawi, called Daesh the “Kharijites of this age,” referring to an early Islamic heretical group, more extreme members of which insisted on undeviating adherence to their understanding of Islam and excommunicated and killed those who differed with them.

He said Daesh had also killed dozens of non-combatants in the district of Albu Ghanim northeast of Ramadi.

The deputy speaker of the al-Anbar provincial legislature, Falih al-Isawi, said, “The situation in the city of Ramadi is turbulent and completely bad. The entire province of al-Anbar is a inch away from being dominated by Daesh.” He also warned that Ramadi is headed for collapse.

Another member of al-Anbar’s provincial legislature, Arkan Khalaf al-Tarmuz, said that Daesh had succeeded in dominating the district of Albu Ghanim east of Ramadi, and had surrounded hundreds of families in the district. He explained that it had happened because the Sunni tribal levies of the area lack weaponry and had seen their stockpiles dwindle. They only have one security station. Likewise, the Popular Mobilization Forces, i.e. Shiite militias, had withdrawn from the area (perhaps to go fight in Tikrit and Beiji?) Al-Anbar is mostly Sunni Arab.

An official in Iraq’s security agency said that there was fierce fighting between Daesh and Iraq security forces, who are supported by tribal levies, in eastern Ramadi

Related video:

Euronews: “ISIL gains ground in western Iraq, raising fears for Baghdad ”

11 Responses

  1. This is a direct outcome of interference by Riyadh, with the complicity of Washington. Why should the Shi’is and Kurds sacrifice their blood and treasure defending the Sunnis whose allegiance is, at best, questionable? Unfortunately, Washington has succumbed, once again, to the mendacious Saudis by pressuring the Iraqis not to advance too quickly against ISIS–viz. the so-called ‘stalling’ of Tikrit operations a few weeks ago. The truly ‘devilish’ natures of the policy makers in D.C. And Riyadh must be countered, as done by Shi’is, by allowing the reduction of the number of those perceived as disloyal to the majority of the population of Iraq.

  2. Viceroy Paul Bremmer’s unfathomable decision to dismiss the entire Iraqi army and leave 400,000 armed and angry men out of a job could turn out to be the single worst strategic decision in the last 500 years of worldwide military history. What an absolute total debacle!

  3. how much money, life, and destruction before iraq eventually divides? isis may be ugly, but it is a reality. borders have changed. the sooner it is recognized, the sooner people can get on with life in peace. maybe next time, we will remember this misery when the chicken hawks start beating the drum….probably not.

    • I respectfully disagree with your point, Andy.

      I don’t think that partition into rump states along sectarian lines will help ensure peace. Such a partition wouldn’t address *fomented* hatred between sects. A state that is explicitly or even de facto given over to one version of one faith is profoundly illiberal: The USA has the right idea with their First Amendment.

    • The way things are progressing on the ground, the demographics will be changing soon and the Sunni population will be, mainly, settled in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Gulf countries, and Jordan as they share so much with them, viz. culturally, religiously, and politically. In the long-run there will be a more or less autonomous Kurdistan, a much deserved outcome.

  4. The US and Iraq specifically ordered the Shiite militias to stand down in the Ramadi fighting. In return the US increased airstrikes.

    Can’t win with airstrikes

  5. Daesh has to be degraded and driven out of Iraq. Until that happens they will keep attacking and trying to expand their base. If Obama backed off, Bibi Netanyahu and the Republicans would use that against him and the nuclear agreement with Iran.

    Here’s Bibi now….”Can you imagine if ISIS had nukes? Obama is letting them run wild in Iraq. Israel is facing a nuclear threat from Iran right now. Even as we speak here today, Iran is using their free time to build a numerous multitude of many ATOMIC BOMBS they plan on using to destroy Israel. Do you remember my atomic bomb drawing with the red line? My true Republican friends, multiply that one ATOMIC BOMB by a THOUSAND.”

  6. I experience continuous confusion with this ISIS bunch. How do they manage to sweep into Ramadi? Are they ghosts? We have all seen the videos/photographs of ISIS in a convoy of Toyota pickup trucks. (Toyota the official vehicle of the 2015 ISIS military!) If they are still motoring about in fleets of Toyotas, one would expect them to be an easy target. Do they sneak into these villages?
    I really, really don’t get how ISIS is so good.
    One more thing, ISIS is some kind of band of Sunni marauders. It seems less than strategically sound for ISIS to terrorize other Sunnis. What’s with that?

    • I experience the same confusion. Now they’re in Ramadi? How did they get from Tikrit to Ramadi? Is Basra next? It’s only a few hundred miles away.

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