ISIS 8 miles from Baghdad; desperate Iraq pleads for ground troops

ISIS 8 miles from Baghdad; desperate Iraq pleads for ground troops

Iraqi officials have issued a desperate plea for America to bring US ground troops back to the embattled country, as heavily armed Islamic State militants came within striking distance of Baghdad.

Amid reports that Isil forces have advanced as far as Abu Ghraib, a town that is effectively a suburb of Baghdad, a senior governor claimed up to 10,000 fighters from the movement were now poised to assault the capital.

The warning came from Sabah al-Karhout, president of the provisional council of Anbar Province, the vast desert province to the west of Baghdad that has now largely fallen under jihadist control. …

[W]ere the province to be controlled by Isil, it would give their forces a springboard from which to mount an all-out assault on Baghdad, where a team of around 1,500 US troops is already acting as mentors to the beleaguered Iraqi army. …

Government forces in the provincial capital Ramadi were holding out against the Isil offensive on Saturday, but US officials have warned that the city was in a “tenuous” position. …

Most of the Euphrates valley – which runs south east from Turkey through Syria, into Iraq and towards the capital – is now under Isil control. Were Ramadi to fall, jihadi commanders would control a vital supply chain running from Baghdad directly back to their Syrian headquarters in Raqqa. They would also control the Haditha dam, the second largest in Iraq.

“It’s not a good situation,” admitted one US official.

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