News / Middle East

ISIL’s Rapid Advance Shocks Iraq, US

Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby speaks about the situation in Iraq, during a news briefing at the Pentagon, June 13, 2014.
Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby speaks about the situation in Iraq, during a news briefing at the Pentagon, June 13, 2014.
U.S. military planners are drawing up options to present to President Barack Obama to “break the momentum” of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, also known as ISIL, as its fighters push toward Baghdad.  
 
Pentagon officials say they have been concerned about growing unrest in Iraq for months, and have been rushing more arms and ammunition to the Iraqi military.
 
Still, the way ISIL was able to march into cities like Mosul with little or no resistance from Iraqi government forces took them by surprise. At a briefing Friday, Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby expressed frustration with Iraq's performance.

Watch related video by VOA's Meredith Buel:
 
Islamic Militants Advance in Iraq - Civil War Possiblei
X
Meredith Buel
June 14, 2014 2:45 AM
Islamic militants in Iraq are threatening to march on Baghdad after capturing large parts of the country. Units of the Iraqi military are disintegrating and analysts say it appears the nation is heading toward a civil war. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

“We’re certainly, you know, certainly disappointed in the performance of some of these [Iraqi] units and I think it’s fair to say that we didn’t expect for them, for those units, to not to have stood up to the threat,” he said.
 
Kirby refused to endorse the Iraqi military’s ability to withstand a further assault that could target the Iraqi capital.

“I’ll let Prime Minister Maliki speak for his forces and their capability in and around Baghdad.”
 
For now, the Pentagon says it has increased surveillance and reconnaissance missions over Iraq, using possibly both drones and manned flights.
 
Even though President Obama has ruled out putting any troops on the ground, defense officials say other assets are nearby, including the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush and a cruiser, which had been in the North Arabian Sea and two naval destroyers operating in the Persian Gulf.
 
Some analysts warn that it could be a mistake if the U.S. acts only in coordination with the Iraqi government.
 
The Washington Institute’s Michael Eisenstadt says what's going on in Iraq is a regional problem.

“We have to start thinking of Iraq and Syria as a single theater of operations and we can’t have an approach, a policy approach, that focuses only on Iraq.”
 
Eisenstadt says many of ISIL’s fighters come from Syria and elsewhere, and serve as force multipliers when paired with local militants.
 
While the Pentagon says it is hard to put a number on just how large the ISIL force is, other analysts say between Iraq and Syria, there could be as many as 12,000 to 13,000 fighters moving across an area largely under their control.
 
  • Iraqi Shiite tribal leaders chant slogans against the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), in Baghdad, June. 13, 2014. 
  • People clean a street now under militant control, in the northern city of Mosul, June 13, 2014. 
     
  • Members of Iraqi security forces stand guard during an intensive security deployment in Kerbala, southwest of Baghdad, June 13, 2014. 
  • Volunteers who have joined the Iraqi Army to fight against the predominantly Sunni militants gesture from an army truck, Baghdad, June 13, 2014. 
  • A volunteer waits to register to join the Iraqi army. The volunteers want to fight against the predominantly Sunni militants who have taken over Mosul and other northern provinces, Diwaniya province, June 12, 2014. 
  • Sunni Islamist militants gained more ground in Iraq overnight, moving into two towns in the eastern province of Diyala, while U.S. President Barack Obama considered military strikes to halt their advance towards Baghdad. Seen here are members of Iraqi security forces chanting slogans, Baghdad, June 13, 2014.
  • Volunteers who have joined the Iraqi Army to fight against the predominantly Sunni militants chant slogans, Baghdad, June 13, 2014.

     
  • Members of the Kurdish security forces take part in an intensive security deployment on the outskirts of Kirkuk, June 12, 2014.

     

Jeff Seldin

Jeff works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters and is national security correspondent. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

You May Like

US Gives Malaysia Questionable Upgrade in Human Trafficking Ranks

Malaysia’s upgrade seen as removing barrier to country’s participation in the US-led 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership More

Turkey, US Try to Establish Buffer Despite Differences

Coalition airstrikes in proposed zone would aim to drive out Islamic extremists, allowing targeted area to come under sway of anti-Assad rebels More

Video US: Millions Exploited by Vast Fortunes of Human Trafficking

State Department's annual report calls exploitation 'modern slavery,' brutalizing girls, women into prostitution and forcing men, women and children into low-wage jobs across the globe More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Wini
X
July 28, 2015 12:21 AM
The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Obama Encourages Kenya to Fix Cultures of Corruption, Discrimination

President Barack Obama bid farewell to Kenya Sunday with a major speech at as stadium outside the capital Nairobi where he called on Kenyans to change the cultures of corruption and discrimination that can hold society back. VOA East Africa Correspondent Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video California Towns Welcome Special Olympics Athletes

Cities and towns in Southern California are greeting thousands of athletes who are arriving for Special Olympics, a competition for people with intellectual disabilities. The games will run from July 25th through August 2nd. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, where athletes from Namibia, Singapore and Tanzania got a rousing welcome from local residents.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.
Video

Video Hoverbike Flying Toward Reality

Another long-standing dream of many technological inventors is quickly approaching reality: U.S.- and British-based firms are cooperating in the development of an individual flying platform they call a hoverbike. They say it may revolutionize the concept of flying, including in the U.S. military. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video As Japan Expands Defense Role, Protests Follow

The Japanese government is moving forward with a controversial security bill that would authorize the military to fight abroad for the first time since World War II. Leaders say it is critical to defend against rising threats from China and North Korea. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Japan on the big changes ahead, and the opposition they are drawing.
Video

Video Replacing Poppies with Coffee in Myanmar

The remote mountains of Myanmar’s Shan state are home to the second-largest opium-producing region in the world. After a drop during the 2000s, production surged in the past eight years to feed an increasing demand for heroin in China. But farmers are now making less on the crop, and the U.N. is hoping many will make the switch to growing coffee. Daniel de Carteret reports for VOA from Taunggyi.

VOA Blogs