The war against IS continues on several fronts. Iraq is pleading for US boots on the ground, fearing Anbar will far within days; in Syria, the Kurds are holding on in Kobani amid warnings of a looming massacre, while Twitter’s CEO says IS are issuing death threats over deleted accounts.
Iraq, Syria and Lebanon the Middle East war against the Islamic State is being waged on several fronts. Iraqi officials have filed an urgent request for assistance from US ground troops in the western Anbar Province, for fear it would fall “within days” to IS. According to the BBC, IS fighters have attacked the provincial capital of Ramadi, and seized control of several military bases in the area.
Meawhile, Syrian Kurds are holding on in the border town of Kobani, by fighting a war of containment, and in Beirut officials are concerned that the terrorist organization will carve itself an access route to the sea. In the international arena, Dick Costolo, the CEO of social media giant Twitter, has also found himself on the terror group’s list of enemies.
Anbar is the largest province in Iraq, and covers most of the western area of the country. The province connects Syria to Baghdad, making it of great strategic importance to IS. Among other things, it includes the Haditha Dam, Iraq’s second largest dam, the Mosul Dam. An American source told the AFP news agency that the situation in Anbar “fragile”.
A destroyed home in Anbar Province after an IS attack (Photo: AP)
The BBC quoted Iraq’s al-Sharqiyah TV as saying that the Anbar regional council has appealed to the Iraqi government to ask for assistance from the United States ground troops. Meanwhile, the jihadist organization continues to move forward. According to CBS, fighters have even infiltrated Abu Ghraib, an outer suburb of Baghdad located just 12 kilometers from the edge of Baghdad international airport.
IS fighters in an Iraqi army jeep (Photo: AP)
The fears are growing in Lebanon too. Lebanese newspaper As-Safir reported that at recent meetings of senior Western and Arab defense officials, fears were raised that the Islamic State would seek to expand towards the northern Lebanon coast.
The chief of staff of the Lebanese army, Jean Kahwaji, told the French newspaper Le Figaro on Friday that IS relies on “sleeper cells” in the Tripoli area and in Akkar in northern Lebanon, and want to carve out a clear path for itself to the sea. The newspaper claimed that a senior Western official had told Lebanese officials that this possibility was a red line that “must not happen in any way.”
In neighboring Syria, Kurdish forces are fighting the battle against IS in Kobani, the Kurdish town close to the border with Turkey that has become something of a bellwether in the overall fight against the terrorist organization. On Saturday, the Kurds managed to repel an Islamic State push for the center of the city, after the jihadists invaded the Kobani headquarters of the Kurdish fighters.
The ensuing battle lasted 90 minutes, and ended in the withdrawal of the jihadist fighters. Furthermore, the international coalition resumed its attacks on IS on Saturday morning, targeting two of the organization’s positions in Kobani.
|The fight for Kobani
Kobani has now been under attack for three weeks. Coalition warplanes have repeatedly struck the IS forces besieging Kobani, but a source in the Pentagon has warned that there is a limit to what can be achieved without the ground engagement. Kurds in neighboring Turkey has angrily accused the Ankara government of standing on the sidelines and delivering their brothers into the arms the jihadists.
On Friday, the UN peace envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, warned that thousands of people would most likely be massacred if Kobani fell to the Islamic State.
Staffan de Mistura: Remember Srebrenica? (Photo: Reuters)
De Mistura said Kobani could suffer the same fate as the Bosnian town of Srebrenica, where 8,000 Muslims were murdered by Serbs in 1995, making it Europe’s worst atrocity since World War II, while UN peacekeepers failed to protect them.
“If this falls, the 700, plus perhaps the 12,000 people, apart from the fighters, will be most likely massacred,” said de Mistura. The United Nations believes 700 mainly elderly civilians are trapped in the town itself and 12,000 have left the center but not made it across the border into Turkey.
“Do you remember Srebrenica? We do. We never forgot and probably we never forgave ourselves,” he said. “When there is an imminent threat to civilians, we cannot, we should not, be silent.”
The latest IS front, however, has been opened against the CEO is one of the world’s largest social networks. Twitter CEO Dick Costolo told CNET this week that Islamic State terrorists had threatened to kill the platform’s employees after their accounts were closed down.
“After regularly suspending their accounts, which we’ve been doing, some folks affiliated with the organization used Twitter to declare that the employees of Twitter and the management of Twitter should be assassinated,” Costolo said.
“That’s a jarring thing for anyone to have to deal with. And I’ve spent a lot of time talking to the company about it.”