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Islamic State fears hang over Baghdad

The Islamic State’s advance toward Baghdad is causing stress and confusion among residents, though government forces are maintaining a tight grip on the capital.
A member of the Iraqi security forces stands guard at a checkpoint during an intensive security deployment in Baghdad, June 16, 2014. The United States is contemplating talks with its arch-enemy Iran to support the Iraqi government in its battle with Sunni Islamist insurgents who routed Baghdad's army and seized the north of the country in the past week.  REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani  (IRAQ - Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS MILITARY CONFLICT) - RTR3U2D3

NAJAF, Iraq — After it took control of Mosul on June 10, the Islamic State (IS) announced that its ultimate goal in Iraq is to control Baghdad, as the capital holds a great symbolic importance to it and its seizure would likely enhance the stability and recognition of its state by other Arab countries. IS knows how difficult this takeover will be.

IS has made previous attempts to get closer to Baghdad from the north, after seizing Tikrit, which is located nearly 160 kilometers (100 miles) away. Yet, it failed after the Shiite areas were mobilized against IS’ progress toward Baghdad. The group continued to carry out suicide bombings in Baghdad to inflame the Sunni-Shiite sectarian conflict upon which the group has always strategically depended.

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