ISIS jihadists gain ground in Iraq’s Anbar
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group gained ground west of Baghdad Thursday, further reducing the government’s already-shaky hold on Anbar province, officials said.
“The Albu Nimr area fell completely into the hand of (IS) members,” Ghazi Najras, an Anbar MP, said in reference to the tract on the Euphrates River and east of the town of Heet, which fell last week.
Clashes began early Thursday and lasted until about 10:00 am (0700 GMT), police Colonel Shaban al-Obaidi said.
The militants then detained more than 60 people, including security forces members, the officer said.
ISIS, which spearheaded a sweeping offensive in June that overran much of Iraq’s Sunni Arab heartland, has executed hundreds of captured security forces members.
Albu Nimr is the latest in a string of places in Anbar to fall in recent weeks. The series of setbacks has prompted warnings from some officials that the entire province, which borders Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Baghdad province, could fall completely.
Some officials and Sunni tribal leaders in areas most affected by the unrest have argued the world should step up its involvement from air strikes against ISIS to a ground intervention in Iraq.
But Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi has repeatedly said he opposes foreign ground troops fighting in Iraq.