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-Russia Tensions Complicate Syria War

    With a shared enemy and opposing allies, Russia and the US are working to avoid confrontation

    Video Re-opening Old Wounds in Beirut's Bullet-riddled Yellow House

    Built in neo-Ottoman style in 1920s, it is set to be re-opened in Sept. as ‘memory museum’ - bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity

    Cambodian-Americans Lobby for Human Rights Resolution

    Resolution condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia, urges Cambodian government to end human rights violations, calls for respect of press freedom

    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.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora