Feb 14 2014
By Karim Abedzair
Azzaman, February 14, 2014
Jihadists from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) are in control parts of the highway to the Jordanian borders and are reported to be grabbing more territory from the government.
The militants stop and check all vehicles on the highway and are reported to be confiscating those belonging to Shiites along with their goods and letting those belonging to the Sunnis pass freely.
ISIS is a Jihadist group active in both Syria and Iraq. Large numbers of its militants moved to western Iraq and spread their control over large swathes of territory and are still in control of the strategic towns of Falluja.
ISIS is under pressure in both Syria and Iraq. In Syria it is being targeted by opposition groups who fight the government in Damascus.
Fighting has been raging in western Iraq and specifically in the restive Province of Anbar which borders Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
ISIS has moved its activities to other Sunni-dominated provinces and its militants occupied a town in the Province of Salahudeen early this week before they were driven out by government troops on Thursday.
Sporadic fighting between government troops and ISIS has been going on in Salahudeen, which the militants want to run into yet another stronghold besides Anbar and Nineveh in the north.
The United Nations says more than 300,000 Iraqis have been displaced since the start of the fighting last month.
Deputy Prime Minster Husain Shahristani said government troops were in control of all routes leading to Falluja and that the siege “will continue until gunmen inside the city run out of ammunition.”
Privately, government officials say Iraqi army may find it extremely difficult to regain Falluja.
To lure Iraqi Sunnis to its side the government of Prime Minister Noori al-Maliki says it has drawn a plan to reward tribesmen who have been fighting ISIS alongside the Iraqi army.
Under the plan, the tribesmen, once fighting is over, will be fully integrated into police and army ranks to protect their own villages and towns.
“The tribes and their sons who took up arms to fight terrorists will make up the backbone of the police and army forces that we are going to build in these areas,” he said.
Maliki said government troops would withdraw from all areas that will be retaken from ISIS and surrender them to the tribes who have been loyal to the army and alongside it “foreign terrorists” who infiltrated the country from abroad.