ISIS parades on outskirts of Baghdad
Video of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham's military parade in Abu Ghraib on March 20.
Less than two weeks ago, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham, or ISIS, held a military parade in Fallujah and another parade in Abu Ghraib, a city in Anbar province that is just two miles from the capital of Baghdad.
Video of the two ISIS parades, which are thought to have taken place on March 20, was published on YouTube today. In the video of the Abu Ghraib parade [above], scores of assorted vehicles filled with ISIS fighters, waving al Qaeda's black banner and brandishing assault rifles, pass by a man as he records the event. No Iraqi Army or police presence is seen during the eight-minute video.
The vehicles parading down the busy street in Abu Ghraib include several up-armored HMMWVs, which were issued by the US to Iraqi security forces, as well as what appear to be double-cab pickup trucks issued to Iraqi security forces. Several pickup trucks are mounted with heavy machine and antiaircraft guns. And one large truck with what appears to be an artillery piece mounted on the back also passes the camera (beginning at 5:56 into the video).
The video of the ISIS march in the city of Fallujah [below] is nearly identical to that of the video taken in Abu Ghraib. Much of the same military hardware paraded in Fallujah on March 20 appears in the Abu Ghraib parade. The ISIS is thought to have driven the vehicles first in Fallujah, then traveled down the highway to Abu Ghraib.
The city of Abu Ghraib serves as the western gateway to Baghdad and is abutted by Baghdad International Airport. The prison at Abu Ghraib holds hundreds of jihadists who are loyal to the ISIS. Just 10 miles west of Abu Ghraib lies Karmah, which remains under ISIS control after falling to the terror group in early January.
The ISIS has retained control of the city of Fallujah and parts of Ramadi, the provincial capital of Anbar, after storming both cities at the beginning of January. Several other cities and towns in Anbar, including Saqlawiyah, and Khaladiyah are also controlled by the ISIS.
The ISIS moved to take over large swaths of Anbar in early January after executing a complex suicide operation that decapitated the leadership of the 7th Iraqi Army Division in the town of Rutbah in December 2013. The 7th Iraqi Army Division is primarily responsible for security in Anbar. In the Rutbah attack, the ISIS laid a trap that killed the commanding general and 17 members of his staff and security detail.
After the attack, the ISIS took advantage of the political dispute between Sunnis and the Shia-dominated government of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki. As soon as Maliki ordered the Army to withdraw from the population centers in Anbar, the ISIS moved forces into Fallujah, Ramadi, and other cities and towns. The Iraqi government has been hesitant to launch a military operation against the ISIS in Anbar since its takeover of most of the province, and is instead encouraging the Sunni tribes to battle the al Qaeda group.
Across the border, in Syria, the ISIS controls territory along the Euphrates River Valley all the way to the provincial capital of Raqqah. Despite an ongoing dispute that has often broken out into open warfare with the Al Nusrah Front and allied Islamist groups such as the Islamic Front, the ISIS remains a formidable forces on both sides of the border.
Video of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham's military parade in Fallujah on March 20.