This past May 31, 2014, the Iraqi Army carried out a military operation in attempts to take back the town Saqlawiyah, located in Anbar province. The Iraqi military sent in an elite unit supported by a brigade of armored vehicles and helicopter gunships. The elite unit initiated the operation and was then met with fierce resistance by the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) (an al-Qaida break away group). The Iraq military stormed the town in four directions after they seized a main road leading to Fallujah. After several hours of battle, the Iraqi army regained control of some of the areas of the town.
In a separate incident, there were mortar impacts in neighborhoods that damaged houses and properties along with wounding several people.
The problems started when the Iraqi government dismantled an anti-government protest site outside of Ramadi which led to the ISIL taking advantage of the situation.
The ISIL have taken over towns in the Nineveh province and now have set their sights on the city of Mosul.
In Mosul, the provincial governor told al-Arabiyah news that “gunmen took control of the left and right sides of Mosul except for the small pockets.” Its been reported that the Nineveh Governor, Atheel al-Nijaifi has departed the province. Governor al-Nujaifi has survived several attempts on his life. The most recent was while he was riding in a convoy last February and two roadside bombs exploded near his convoy wounding two provincial councilors. By the way, Governor al-Nujaifi is the brother of the Iraqi Parliament House Speaker.
Residents in Mosul have reported that black flags are flying on government and military buildings in their town.
An unnamed Iraq army colonel said “it’s a total collapse of the security forces. We have lost Mosul this morning. Army and police forces left their positions and ISIL terrorists are in full control.”
Two army officers have stated that security forces had received orders to leave Mosul after militants captured the Ghizlani army base and released more than 200 inmates from a high security prison. And, in a separate incident, a police source and a local government official have stated that ISIL militants had broken into a local jail named Badush and freed 1,000 prisoners. Most of the prisoners were ISIL and al-Qaeda members. Comforting to know that all these criminals are now roaming free.
One officer told Reuters “We can’t beat them. We just can’t. They are well trained in street fighting and we’re not. We need a whole army to drive them out of Mosul. They’re like ghosts: they appear, strike and disappear in seconds.”
In the Mosul attack, it has been reported that the ISIL were armed with RPG and anti-aircraft weapons. The ISIL has taken over almost all police and army checkpoints.
UAE Foreign Minister, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed al Nahyan called the Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari and demanded that a firm stand be taken against terrorism in all its forms. He also renewed support to the stability, security and national unity of Iraq. Sheikh Abdullah said “We have been following the developments in Mosul with great concern and we too condemn the acts committed by the terrorist elements, including terrorizing innocent civilians and the destruction of property.”
After the militants took over the city of Mosul in northern Iraq they moved to taking over other smaller cities in the province of Kirkuk. Gunmen have entered the towns of Hawijah, Zab, Riyadh, Abbasi and Rashad in south and west of the city of Kirkuk. The gunmen were able to enter the towns with no resistance.
After clashing with the Iraqi security forces in the city of Mosul, the militants went to all the local banks and confiscated their cash.
On this coming June the 12, the Iraqi Parliament will have an emergency session to discuss the security developments following the control of the ISIL and militants of the city of Mosul. The Iraqi Parliament is scheduled to discuss the consideration of giving broader powers to Prime Minister Nuri Maliki in declaring a State of Emergency. The Parliament meeting this Thursday is expected to be contested as PM Maliki opposition groups will put up an opposing fight in regards to him being given broader powers.
In Kirkuk, the supreme security committee has announced that a curfew will be issued starting on Tuesday 11 PM, till Wednesday at Dawn.
In other news, militant Sunni Muslim groups have taken 28 Turkish drivers hostage in Mosul. The Turkish drivers were delivering fuel to their destination when they encountered the militants. The drivers worked for Ikra Logistics, a trucking company based in Turkey. There currently has been no communication from the militants in regards to the fate of the Turkish drivers. For now it remains a mystery.
The ISIL militants have been able to keep a strong presence in three of the Iraqi provinces bordering Syria. This allows the ISIL to move freely and keep their logistics supply lines open without interference from the Iraqi government.
The latest attack by the ISIL has shown that they are better trained in urban warfare than the Iraqi security forces. The militants move swiftly at capturing government buildings as well as military and police checkpoints. These actions have forced the Iraqi security forces to flee and leave behind their weapons, vehicles and ammunition.
Iraq Prime Minister Nuri Maliki has offered weapons and equipment to citizens who volunteer to help fight against the islamist militants. I’m not sure what his thoughts are on this but if his trained Iraq forces have been ditching their weapons and running he shouldn’t expect much from the public. The militants are well armed with small arms, sniper rifles, anti-aircraft weapons and are well trained in use of these weapons.
The Ministry of Defense has also reported that the Iraqi Air Force had killed seven ISIL gunmen in an air strike on a camp north of Fallujah.
“An Iraqi helicopter launched an airstrike targeting an ISIL camp in al-Azrakia, five kilometres north of Fallujah, killing seven gunmen, destroying a building where they were staying, and burning a large quantity of explosives, ammunition and three four-wheel drive vehicles,” ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Mohammed al-Askari told Al-Shorfa.