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.