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ISIS takes control of border crossings in southwestern Iraq




Iraqi and Syrian towns and cities seized by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham and its allies. Map created by The Long War Journal. Click to view larger map.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham continues to consolidate its grip on western Anbar province. Today, ISIS took control of the Tarbil border crossing to Jordan, as well as the Al Walid border crossing to Syria, according to The Associated Press. Iraqi forces abandoned the border crossings as ISIS advanced, Iraqi officials told AP.

Additionally ISIS took control of Rutbah, a smuggler's town and a transit point in the Syrian desert in the southwestern corner of Iraq, which is nearly equidistant from Syria, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. Holding Rutbah and the Al Walid crossing point will give ISIS an additional route to facilitate the transit of weapons, cash, and foreign terrorists from Syria into Iraq's central regions.

ISIS now controls two major border crossings to Syria. The crossing at Al Qaim further north in Anbar fell to the ISIS over the weekend. And ISIS has opened several unofficial crossing points by plowing through berms and other obstacles put in place by Iraqi forces over the years.

Much of Anbar is now solidly in the grip of ISIS and allied groups. The provincial capital of Ramadi is one of the few areas to stave off ISIS' assault.

But with ISIS controlling the crossings to Jordan and Syria to the west, and Fallujah, Karma, and much of Abu Ghraib in the east, resupplying forces in Ramadi as well as a unit at the Haditha Dam will become more difficult over time. In the short term, Iraqi forces are going to be preoccupied with securing Baghdad and areas north as ISIS presses southward from Tikrit.



READER COMMENTS: "ISIS takes control of border crossings in southwestern Iraq"

Posted by Charles Rice at June 23, 2014 10:24 AM ET:

FYSA - When I left Iraq in the Spring of 2005, the Iraqi Special Border Force was in the process of establishing a line of forts along the Syrian and Jordanian borders. These forts were to be approx 20 miles apart, is my recollection. At that time, only about 3 of the planned 20 or so were complete. These forts are at the very far end of the supply chain (such as it is) from Baghdad. So, I can't say I'm too surprised that they could not hold.

Posted by T Francis at June 24, 2014 12:00 PM ET:

In 2010 I worked with 9th ISOF at Al Asad airbase (near Hit). Does anyone know if they escaped or if the airbase is still under ISF control? And any word on the Haditha dam? Reports suggest it remains under Iraqi control, but is isolated. Curious if anyone has any insight on logistics status of either base.