Islamic State breaks Iraqi defensive line outside of Habbaniyah

The Islamic State continued its eastward push from Ramadi in an effort to break Iraqi military forces and Iranian-backed Shiite militias who are gathering at Habbaniyah for a counteroffensive. Iraqi forces established a defensive line outside of Habbaniyah after they were routed in Ramadi. And today, according to Iraqi police and tribal officials, that defensive line has been breached. From Reuters:

Islamic State militants overran Iraqi government defences east of the city of Ramadi on Thursday, police and pro-government tribal fighters said.

The defensive line was breached at Husaiba [Husaybah], about 10 km (six miles) from the city, on Thursday afternoon after IS fighters intensified mortar and rocket fire.

“The situation is very critical now after Daesh (IS) [Islamic State] fighters managed to overrun our defensive line in Husaiba,” Police major Khalid al-Fahdawi said.

“We have retreated to the eastern part of the area and we’re waiting for more reinforcements and air force strikes to stop the Daesh advance.”

It is unclear if the Islamic State is consolidating its gains or is continuing to push to Habbaniyah and Taqaddum Air Base.

Iraqi security forces established the defensive lines east of Ramadi near Habbaniyah with the help of the US, according to Brett McGurk, the “Deputy Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL [the Islamic State].” McGurk tweeted the following on May 19:

But the airstrikes in Anbar appear to be ineffective and sparse. According to US Central Command, the coalition launched zero airstrikes near Ramadi or Habbaniyah between 8 a.m. yesterday and 8 a.m. today, and only one strike in Anbar, near Fallujah, during that time period. US air power was unable to stop the Islamic State from taking Ramadi.

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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13 Comments

  • Oberron says:

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    So this is it then? If IS forces succeeds in clearing those bases in succession, what real obstacles prevent them from marching on Baghdad and surrounding it?

    Given the population and religious differences, I don’t think they are stupid enough to fight for it as opposed to cut its supply routes off and starve it out.

    But what then are the real options? If Baghdad, the second and greatest capital of the Abassids after Raqqah (Why IS first focused on seizing it), were to fall to IS…

    I don’t think fence sitting Jihadist Groups and the Taliban will resist Baghdadi’s message anymore and give Ba’yah, they wouldn’t be able to deny then, from their perspective that is, that Baghdadi is the new Caliph and their leader as he has the historical capital and implemented Sharia.

    The only other victory that would give such powerful message would be if IS takes Damascus the Capital of the Ummayyads. Even capturing and holding Samara another Abbasid Capital would be a psychological victory for IS.

  • Rasputin says:

    Way to go, Blue Team!

    I mean this is surreal. No airstrikes all day? And the ISIS Victory Parade in the middle of the day in beautiful weather?

    It’s almost like they knew no one would hit them when one or two BUFFs striking that parade could have turned the entire tide of battle in Anbar.

  • KW64 says:

    Odd that ISIS can breach a defensive line six miles from the cover of a city and coalition air forces can find nothing to bomb over the last 24 hours. Do they attack with invisible men and invisible equipment or are the Iraqis running from their imagination — or is the coalition so far removed, they cannot get target acquisition?

  • mike merlo says:

    what a joke. Am looking forward to ISIS/ISIL laying siege to Baghdad. Am particularly looking forward to the degenerate animals from Sadr City getting their throats handed to them. Am also looking forward to President Obama & his cohorts scrambling around the Oval Office trying to explain why the ‘Green Zone’ is being evacuated like ants on fire

  • Paulo Romero says:

    “Degrading and destroying” has failed. The Daesh tacticians have read Vo Ngyen Giap and know how to recoil in one place and strike in another at will. This is a classic case of battle weary soldiers , with poor command and control falling back against those willing to die. After a year of sustained combat even the Kurds are exhausted. It’s time for a fresh rethink of policy and strategy. Endorse the Iranian effort in both Syria and Iraq , and make them responsible for preventing sectarian violence rather than covertly engaging with them through an ambiguous regional policy. They control the Shia militias which are probably the most effective fighting force available against the Daesh. It’s either this or Western ground troops or more Daesh victories. The Gulf States are more concerned with advancing Sunni Islam and rolling back Iranian influence than fighting Daesh.

    • Oberron says:

      Actually they read and re-adopted the Rashidun and Muhammad’s playbook. Replace horses with pickups and AFVs, champions with human guided PGMs, excellent intelligence networks, local industry, taking the enemies resources and using them, misdirection, ect.

      Rad up on Muhammad the Prophet and General and the Rashiduns and update them to modern technology and you got IS strategy and tactics, plus their Governance.

      IS is doing no more than what Muhammad and the Rashiduns did.

  • Paul Ogwang says:

    I am almost certain that ISIS is more of a political organization than just religious fundamentalists whose activities are being exacerbated by the Iranian influence in the region especially control of the Shia militia which has become the “Hezbollah” of Iraq and becoming more powerful than the National Army.

    Get the Quds forces out of Iraq or else even the whole world will not be able to bomb the Sunni ISIS into extinction.

  • Dolores says:

    Good observation regarding the tactics of Giap. Recognized by both friend and foe for his brilliant and successful tactics against both the U.S. and France.

  • Arch Stanton says:

    A few years before his death, which was a few years ago, Gen. Giap openly stated that there was no way that North Vietnam could have won that war if it had not been for the actions of the U.S. Congress and the U.S. media constantly working against any victory by the U.S. and South Vietnam. He further stated that at a minimum, the North could not have withstood any further B-52 heavy bombing campaigns as their infrastructure was too far gone to rebuild under wartime conditions, leaving them no alternative but to sue for peace. Prior to Congress’ final traitorous actions in cutting off funding, the war was being brought to a practical conclusion which would have benefited everyone involved. The Democrats turned victory and sacrifice into defeat and hundreds of thousands more people lost their lives and their freedom.

    Possessing overwhelming military power on the battlefield means little without the requisite will to use it.

  • Richard Cavagnol says:

    “God helps those that help themselves
    He will help only those who help themselves
    He cannot help those who do not help themselves
    Outsiders can contribute but cannot win an unconventional war by themselves.”
    Douglas Pike
    We continue to try and substitute material abundance for lack of national élan. We took our eye off the ball in Afghanistan and jumped into Iraq, a totally unnecessary war. 5000 plus lives and a trillion dollars later, Iraq is still a quagmire of radical jihadists which has been amplified by the fight in Syria. If the Iraqis don’t want their country bad enough to fight for it, why should we expend American lives? From what I saw in 2007, nothing the Iraqis have done since gives me any hope that they will prevail. This is where a United Middle East Coalition Force of 250,000 troops could clean up the issue.

    • Fred says:

      Agree completely. This was a stupid war from start to end. People hate on the president for removing troops from Iraq, but if they won’t fight on their own, why should we fight for them?

      I’m sick of fighting other people’s wars. If ISIS attacks the US, nuke Raqqa. Until then, let the Shiites fight their own damn wars if they can find their balls, or die if they can’t.

  • codejnkie says:

    I agree with the above statement. My first response is “Help them out dammit”! My second is “Great idea, lets send in an army of targets so the enemy can rally around IS and target Americans again”. Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran, Turkey. These are the countries that should get off their collective butts and figure this out. Those are the nations that have stood by, watched and done nothing while our sons and daughters gave their lives. This whole thing is hell on earth, but lets face it. This is a game of musical chairs and whoever the poor bastard is that doesn’t get a seat… well. They are it and have fun. The people of the U.S. as a whole hasn’t the stomach for ten more years of war. Who among this group would like to see the Marines go back in and fight for Falluja…again! Screw that. Too many Marines have died for this farce. I want to see republicans actually campaign on going back in to Iraq.

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