Islamic State patrols town north of Baghdad

View Iraqi and Syrian Towns and Cities seized by the Islamic State and its allies in a larger map

On Oct. 17, the Islamic State released a series of photographs of its fighters patrolling in the central Iraqi town of Dhuluiyah.

The photographs (below) show heavily armed fighters marching in the center of the town, with destroyed Iraqi military vehicles littering the streets. The Islamic State fighters are also seen taking up positions in homes in the town.

The jihadist group had previously taken control of Dhululiyah in mid-June and captured hundreds of Iraqi soldiers after overrunning a nearby airbase. But Iraqi government forces backed by Shia militias were reported to have regained control of the town weeks later. The town has changed hands several times since.

Over the summer, the Iraqi military claimed to have killed scores of Islamic State fighters in the town (50 fighters on Aug. 5, 35 on July 25, and 28 on July 24).

Dhululiyah and the nearby cities and towns of Balad, Ishaqi, Dujail, Dojama, Khalis, Tarmiyah, and Taji are key terrain for the Islamic State. The cities and towns are in the northern Baghdad “belt” and sit along two highways that run between Samarra and the capital city Baghdad, both of which are under the Iraqi government’s control. The Islamic State seeks to control the northern belt in an effort to strangle the capital. [For more details on the jihadist group’s strategy in Iraq, see LWJ report, ISIS, allies reviving ‘Baghdad belts’ battle plan .]

The Islamic State has been able to launch attacks on Dhululiyah, Balad, Ishaqi, Dujail, Dojama, Khalis,Tarmiyah, and Taji from the Thar Thar region to the west and Miqdadiyah to the east.

The Iraqi military has scrambled units from across the country as well as deployed Iranian-backed Shia militias in an effort to hold Samarra and defend the road to Baghdad. Four months after the Islamic State launched its offensive to take control of northern and central Iraq, the military and militias are barely holding the northern Baghdad belt.

Islamic State photographs from Dhululiyah:








Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • irebukeu says:

    I notice Most of the IS guys still wear masks. It suggests to me that even though they declared an Islamic state with territory to control and govern, that they still live knowing that they may need to go underground like rats yet again.
    The actual battle in Iraq, the Re-pacification of the Anbar tribes awaits any who are willing to attempt it.
    Keep the western ground troops out.

  • Evan says:

    Agreed, no American or western ground troops.
    I do believe that targeted raids executed by tier 1 da groups would and could be a really good idea. Nothing traceable back to any western gov. Just pure carnage.
    Some of the Kurds, especially the ones being armed by Britain, France, etc. could be good troops to train and augment with vetted Syrian units, if they do infact now or ever will exist.
    Squeeze the IS from multiple directions, continue to arm the Iraqi Kurds and provide training for them as well. The back lash from IS brutality is starting to build, they’re foreigners with an alien ideology imposed at the barrel of a gun.
    The most important step that Sunni Iraqis and Syrians could take would be to unequivocally denounce and condemn Al Qeada, IS, and others, and to realize that those groups haven’t brought them peace or freedom, or justice. Just the opposite. Until common people choose to reject the IS, and their twisted pseudo islamic ideology, stop providing them with a base of support, funds, recruits, etc… Until regular Sunni Muslims reject al Qeada, we’ll all continue to have this profound problem, challenge and conflict called radical Islam.


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