Islamic State overruns town in Anbar, executes Awakening fighters

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The Islamic State took control of a town in Anbar province in western Iraq yesterday and executed 21 members of the Sunni Awakening tribal movement in another town late last week.

Islamic State fighters launched an assault on al Wafa, which is west of the provincial capital of Ramadi, on Dec. 12 and defeated Iraqi security forces and local tribal fighters. Nineteen policemen were killed in the fighting. Reuters reports:

Police forces backed by few members of government-paid Sunni tribal fighters tried to prevent the militants from crossing the sand barrier surrounding the town, but were overwhelmed when sleeper cells from inside opened fire on them, the mayor and a police officer said.

Police forces and the pro-government Sunni fighters were forced to retreat to a nearby police-brigade headquarters bordering their town.

“We are trapped inside the police 18th brigade. Islamic State managed to surround us today. If no government forces were sent to help us then we will be exterminated,” the mayor, who was with the police forces that withdrew from al-Wafa, said by telephone.

Additionally, near the town of Baghdadi, which is just outside of Al Asad Airbase, the Islamic State captured 21 Awakening fighters on Dec. 10 and executed them two days later. “All the bodies had bullet wounds to the head and chest and were dumped inside an orchard near the Islamic-State controlled town of Kubaisa,” Reuters reported.

The Islamic State’s Anbar division released photographs of the fighting in Baghdadi on Dec. 11. The photos show its fighters firing on Iraqi personnel, then displaying the bodies of dead security personnel. Additionally, the Islamic State showed photos of captured vehicles and weapons, including US-made Humvees, mortars, rockets, heavy machine guns, and assault rifles. Some of the photographs are reproduced below; the images of the dead Iraqi security personnel are too graphic to display.

The Islamic State maintains the initiative in Anbar province, most of which is under its control. The provincial capital of Ramadi and the town of Haditha remain contested terrain. The Iraqi military, the Awakening, and Iranian-backed Shiite militias have been unable to wrest control of the province from the Islamic state since Fallujah and other cities and towns fell in January 2013.

Photographs from Baghdadi:

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Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of The Long War Journal. Caleb Weiss is an intern at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a contributor to The Long War Journal.

9 Comments

  • Joseph says:

    The 4th to last image is an interesting shot. Insurgents who dress and drive like professionals. The Long War continues, as the danger of people thirty years from now saying ‘they didn’t look like terrorists, though’ exists.

  • Jackbo Godfrey says:

    This sure is the “Long War” indeed. The renewed rise of Radical Islam (since its low point in the 1920s) sure seems its spread will be slow and creeping, punctuated with substantial gains and advances.
    Just hope Western Civilization and its leaders wake the f–k up before it has crept too far and deep within our own borders and culture.
    Islamic State – the fact it is still spreading both physically and the war of words (information/popularity) illustrates an apathy and weakness in current hegemonic leadership – notably USA (where is a strong tough champion leader – say FDR or TR or top of the dream list “Andrew Jackson” of the 21st century) who is not going to take any BS from these Ilsamist Jihadi thugs and has the moral strength to do what it will take to totally annihilate Radical Islam off the face of the Earth?
    Excellent reporting – when the rest of the world does not seem to be bothered – scary information – and even scarier how little most people (including our leaders) seem to care!

  • Jake says:

    And what exactly will it take to totally annihilate radical Islam from the planet, Jackbo? I don’t know what media you’ve been watching/reading, but much of the world does seem concerned about the threat Islamic radicals pose.

  • blert says:

    It’s a puzzle that ISIS is able to capture ANYONE since they’ve gone well out of their way to prove that they execute prisoners, en masse.
    At the current tempo of operations, it would appear that ISIS is going to entirely liquidate the Awakening movement.
    Last I read, Baghdad STILL won’t permit any weapons or ammo for the Awakening clans.
    This policy is an echo of Stalin’s refusal to pass weapons and ammo to Warsaw during the 1944 uprising. He permitted the Nazis to do his dirty work.
    This time around, Tehran is holding back so that Sunni fights Sunni… and those Sunnis most allied with Saudi Arabia are cut down.
    We are witnessing a bloody proxy war, very much in the manner of the Spanish Civil War. (1930’s)
    Iran is being countered by technical means (USA, Israel) … and now by economic means. (KSA, AOPEC*)
    * AOPEC = Arab OPEC ; it’s a sub-committee.
    The 1970’s embargo was not an OPEC embargo; it was an AOPEC embargo. Iran, Nigeria and Venezuela NEVER joined in the embargo, with the Shah famously shipping oil straight to Israel right through the Yom Kippur War. KSA simply had enough swing power to trigger a crisis all by itself.

  • Bikebrains says:

    Up armored Humvees, MRAPs and all of the equipment that the Iraqi army abandoned after the United States spent billions to train the Iraqi army, a force much larger than ISIS. This was not supposed to happen according to the Bush and Obama plan to rebuild Iraq. We neglected to understand the Arab mind and the many undercurrents in Iraq.
    The Ottoman Turks were the only governing body that understood the area. Modern Iraq is comprised of the Ottoman provinces centered on Basra, Baghdad, and Mosul thus generally creating a Shia Arab area, a Sunni Arab area and a Kurdish area. These three Ottoman provinces should have become three independent countries.

  • sundoesntrise says:

    Bikebrains,
    Mosul has been a melting pot for a while now, and I think part of the reason why everyone was in awe of the Islamic State advances is because of Mosul itself, mostly. Islamic State was outnumbered and outgunned, yet they took the city in a matter of a few days.
    If you look on a map, Mosul is just barely outside the grasp of Kurdish controlled territory. I don’t believe we will ever go back to an Ottoman style rule of the region, but it would be a catastrophic mistake and overall blunder if Mosul was eventually retaken by Kurdish or Shia forces. The Ottoman empire is in the past, but at the same time, everyone needs to understand that the cookie cutter nation-state model of Sykes-Pycot hasn’t really gone so well in that region at all.

  • Piotr says:

    “Last I read, Baghdad STILL won’t permit any weapons or ammo for the Awakening clans.”
    Where did you read this? OSI?
    I agree with the Warsaw comparison.

  • Jackbo Godfrey says:

    @Jake
    Responding to your query above: Here are some top level ideas that are not too difficult to implement but should be highly effective. Will list 3:
    1. Expanding “Terrorist List” to include all Islamist groups affiliated with Muslim Brotherhood, e.g., Council on American Islamic Relations in the USA and Union des Organisations Islamiques de France, in France.
    2. Congressional task force and similar one in the EU (at the EU Level) for deep investigations into all Islamic groups within USA and EU which are espousing Sharia Law and other non-democratic principles. Just building an awareness of how serious the threat from so-called peaceful Muslim groups that are really fronts for “Civilization Jihad” and actual Jihad.
    3. In terms of foreign policy (OK this one is on the wish list and very difficult, but necessary in the long run): wild idea is a UN peace enforcement objective to invade and occupy Iraq/Syria in conjunction with Russia and China. Only a united non-Islamic nation alliance (just like the non-fascist alliance against Nazis) will have enough power to wipe this threat. Does it mean more “sharing” geopolitically – yes, but the alternative over time (like long term) will be risking Radical Islam to grow and grow. USA, Russia, and China (and the EU as a whole) all will eventually reckon with Radical Islam as a regional if not global challenge to hegemony over time (remember the end game for Radical Islam is the entire Planet Earth under Sharia law and all the rest of us in Dimmitude and submitted to them).
    But if history is any judge, Radical Islam must grow to a critical mass before there is the popular and political will to effectively fight it. Churchill advocated the “Grand Alliance” in the 1930s but noone agreed notably because USA was still isolationist and USSR thought Nazis could be controlled. The “Grand Alliance” of USSR/USA/UK appeared almost naturally by 1942 – but alas Nazis were already well on their way. When the time is right, the leader will appear (or at least I hope so).

  • David says:

    There are prophecies that tell of a war that originates in the Euphrates region that results in the death of 1/3 of the world’s population – currently over 2 billion casualties.
    And since the ISIS battle plan involves dominating the Euphrates Valley from Syria down through Iraq, it might be that we are witnessing the start of WWIII.
    Dave

Iraq

Islamic state

Syria

Aqap

Al shabaab

Boko Haram

Isis