ISIL on offensive to take Baghdad
Islamist militants known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL) have created panic across Iraq and the international community this week after a series of staggeringly simple successes against the Iraqi military.
The Sunni group, with ambitions to set up a new Islamic caliphate in Iraq and northern Syria, has seen off vastly superior government forces in a number of northern towns and is reported to have captured large quantities of ammunition and weapons as well as seized money from banks left deserted in townships as residents fled.
The group is known to have control of much of three provinces in the north and west of the country bordering with Syria and Turkey; Dohuk, Nineveh and Al-Anbar. They are also known to have seized Mosul in the north and Tikrit, 180 kilometres from Baghdad. They are reported to have attacked Samarra which is just 132 kilometres to the north of Baghdad. The group is also in control of parts of Fallujah, about 75 kilometres to the west of Baghdad.
In Dohuk, 55 kilometres south of the Turkish border the group has clashed with Kurdish forces and Turkish fighter bombers are reported to have attacked ISIL compounds apparently in retaliation for the seizure of 25 Turkish diplomats in the northern city of Mosul.
Iraqi News is reporting this morning that the situation is so severe that a U.S Embassy official has stated that the embassy, along with embassies from other countries is putting in place contingency plans to evacuate its staff. The same report says that mortar rounds and rockets have hit Baghdad International Airport.
Two days ago Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki called for the declaration of a state of emergency but nothing has happened, although the parliament is due to vote today on the request.
One of Trade Bridge Consultants’ Directors, Graham Cushway, is currently in Baghdad and he has described the situation as ‘extremely grave’.