ISIS continues to make gains in Iraq

With a structure more similar to that of a conventional military than other jihadist groups, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) has made rapid gains in the past few weeks in Iraq.

al-monitor A fighter of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) holds a weapon while another holds a flag in Mosul, Iraq, June 23, 2014. Photo by REUTERS.

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turkey, syria, pyd, kurds, iraq, border

Jun 25, 2014

Rapid advances of the radical, religious terror organization the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) are continuing in Iraq. In the days after the takeover of the Turkish Consulate in Mosul, ISIS has been moving toward Baghdad while capturing many other important locations.

ISIS took control of Iraq’s Turkmen region and Tel Afar while keeping its control of El Rai, Carablus and Tel Abyad border crossings to Turkey. Its latest success was the capture of the vital and strategic point of al-Qaim on the Iraq-Syria border. With its control of this crossing, ISIS can easily transfer its forces from Syria to Iraq and expand its operations. Reports from the region suggest that ISIS is also seeking economic targets in addition to the oil pipeline.

New information received indicates this radical organization of more than 7,000 well-trained militants is expanding its operations in a structure resembling conventional military organizations. ISIS, with its military structure and operations, had already deviated from al-Qaeda, and more so now with its focus on economic targets and kidnappings for ransom.

Sources say that ISIS, which is distinctly superior to the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and Shiite groups, has considerable mobility. ISIS can quickly redeploy its thousand-men armed groups from one location to another. ISIS first sends an armed reconnaissance unit to the targeted area. In the next phase, they arrange for evacuation of buildings in the targeted area and move in their initial force. The first task of this ISIS group is to sever all communication links in the area, while ensuring deployment of their entire force in not more than three days to start their operation. This was the pattern noted in their capture of the Turkish Consulate in Mosul.

Another important feature noted is the high level of training of ISIS militants. The organization, which gives advanced weapons training at its Syria bases, is known to have some modern light and heavy weapons not yet fielded. In this context, it is believed that ISIS has guided missiles in its arsenal.

ISIS prefers to begin combined assaults with concentrated firepower instead of setting up defensive lines. Their war techniques are different from al-Qaeda. Also unlike al-Qaeda, ISIS has been using high-quality car bombs.

ISIS immediately sets up “decision councils” and local judges in the areas they capture. They appoint neighborhood officials to handle police affairs.

With all the information obtained on ISIS, Turkey today faces the most complex and powerful religious terror organization. It wouldn't be wrong to say that in the struggle against this religious terror organization, Turkey, the Baghdad government, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the PYD all have the same concerns.

Now there is new element added to this complex picture. In Baghdad, with the call of the Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr, a group called the “Peace Brigades” was formed to carry out suicide bombings. Their declared goal is to defend the holy sites and Shiite worship sites and take action against ISIS.

The summer certainly looks to be an increasingly hot one in Iraq and Syria.

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