ISIS Making Gains In Iraq As U.S. Severs Ties With Free Syrian Army
ISIS forces are said to be advancing on the Iraqi town of Amariya al-Falluja, one of the last still controlled by government forces in Anbar province and only 40km from the capital, Baghdad, reports The New York Times.
While capturing the town would not place ISIS closer to Baghdad, the paper notes that “controlling the area would give the fighters a strategic advantage over an important transportation corridor that follows the Euphrates River and connects two Islamic State strongholds” of Falluja, and a region in northern Babil Province, south of the capital.[According to Al-Arabiya, ISIS has made “substantial gains” in Iraq despite the airstrikes. While Newsweek has an account of four days in the fight for Kobani.]
With airstrikes limiting, but not preventing, the advancement of ISIS, Bloomberg says the “no boots on the ground” policy being advocated by the Obama administration is being tested.
Analyst Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies said in a new report that the two-month-old air campaign “seems to be doing too little, too slowly” and is so small by the standards of recent conflicts that “it amounts to little more than military tokenism.”
“This has been disguised in part by official reporting that touts the effect of daily sorties in hitting given target areas, makes claims to strategic effects that are never justified or fully explained, and includes occasional figures for minor damage to given weapons systems,” he said in the report.
Meanwhile, McClatchy’s Hannah Allam reports that the U.S. has essentially cut ties with the Free Syrian Army.
“At this point, there is not formal coordination with the FSA,” said retired general John Allen told reporters at the State Department. Allen is charged with coordinating the coalition’s ISIS response.