June 13, 2014 By

Militants Close in on Baghdad; Strategic Samarra Now in Focus

Fighters of  al-Qaeda linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant parade at Syrian town of Tel Abyad

According to the latest reports, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) militants, after seizing Mosul, the second biggest city of Iraq and Tikrit, hometown of Saddam Hussein and other towns and cities of Baghdad, had advanced to Baghdad. According to live report of Guardian, the apparent battle plan of ISIS has been outlined as focusing the capture of Baghdad.

“If Isis means to continue a blitzkrieg offensive toward Baghdad it will likely need to bypass Samarra to maintain momentum and conserve forces. But Samarra is extremely significant in itself. Al-Qaida in Iraq’s destruction of the al-Askari Shrine in 2006 ignited the sectarian civil war that had been simmering before then. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki will surely feel a great deal of pressure to prevent a repetition of such an event and may well attempt to concentrate forces to prevent it. Iraqi forces, militias, and Iranian proxies have long been in Samarra precisely to protect the shrine. Isis could therefore attack the shrine for any of several reasons. It could seek to draw the ISF [Iraqi security forces] into a meeting engagement in hopes of defeating arriving ISF troops piecemeal. It could intend to destroy the rebuilt shrine to inflame the sectarian war even further.”

Iran Concerned

The neighbouring Iran, alarmed by the developments, has offered to cooperate with Washington to help fight back, a senior Iranian official told Reuters. On Thursday Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani said Tehran would not tolerate the terror and violence in the region. Iran, being a Shia country, closely observes the movement of the Sunni insurgents.

Military Parade

Showing their muzzle and strength, the insurgents earlier in the day held a parade in Mosul. AP points out that many of the gunmen in the video widely circulated sporting armoured vehicles and American-made Humvees seized from Iraqi army and police.

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