An Iraqi federal policeman standing on top an armored vehicle secures a checkpoint in Baghdad, Iraq, on Sunday. Karim Kadim/AP
The latest news from Iraq is almost a repeat of what’s been happening for the past couple of weeks: The militant Sunni group, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, continues its march, while the Iraqi military and Shiite militias put up a fight.
CNN reports that on Saturday, ISIS took over a strategic border crossing plus three other towns in western Iraq. (The New York Times has a helpful map.) CNN adds:
“Most importantly, the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, or ISIS, controlled the strategic town of Al-Qaim on the border with Syria, where the enemy fighters enjoy a stronghold, Iraqi security officials said Saturday.
“Together, the four towns are situated along a highway from Syria to Baghdad, heightening possibilities that the militants could now march from the west to lay siege to the Iraqi capital. One of the four towns, Husaybah, is just 100 kilometers, or 62 miles, outside Baghdad.”
Meanwhile, ABC News reports that the Iraqi government ran out of Hellfire missiles six days ago. The U.S., the network reports, is rushing more missiles into the country, but the government has also taken deep losses after ISIS damaged a couple dozen tanks and three helicopters.
“Threat of a massive drive into Baghdad has receded somewhat, but fear remains that the radical militia will try big attacks for propaganda victories, or that its forces might take small neighborhoods and publicize its victories on YouTube in an attempt to scare the Shia into overreacting with the militias.
“Until now, many moderate Sunnis have not rallied to the ISIS side, but provoking violent retaliation by Shiite militias in Baghdad against any Sunnis could draw more support to the radicals.
“The Maliki government has yet to mount a counteroffensive to roll back the ISIS blitzkrieg, although thousands of Shiite Iraqis have rallied to the government’s side to defend against ISIS, which is composed of Sunni Muslims.”
To get a good feel for what exactly is happening on the ground in Iraq, watch this video of BBC correspondents who were caught in the crossfire:
As the BBC reports, the crew was traveling with Kurdish troops in Jalula when they were fired upon by ISIS militants.