The U.S. trained and equipped Iraqi army is much bigger and better armed than the ISIS insurgents, but in combat they have been running away in droves. So the chief Shi’ite cleric has called for volunteers and a reconstituting of the militias to fight back against the Sunni insurgents. And that seems to be working. The ISIS forces have been stopped for now on their march to Baghdad and some of the territory they won is being recaptured.
In the meantime, Iran is offering to help their Shi’ite brethren. And President Obama has said that we won’t send in troops, but leaves the door open for air strikes.
An Iraqi general said Saturday that Baghdad was secure, as hundreds of Iraqis converged on volunteer centers across the capital in response to a call by Iraq’s highest Shiite cleric to fight back against a Sunni jihadist group making rapid gains across the north.
Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, speaking on behalf of the armed forces, told reporters in Baghdad that the city was “stable” and that the military was coordinating with forces in Samarra and other areas north of the capital to retake territory claimed by the insurgents.
“Our security forces have regained the initiative to launch qualitative operations on various fronts over the past three days and have achieved remarkable victories with the help of volunteers,” Moussawi said. Iraqi security forces claimed Saturday to have regained control of the small town of Ishaqi, north of Baghdad.
Moussawi’s comments came as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered a U.S. aircraft carrier into the Persian Gulf, in a move a pentagon spokesman said was intended to give President Obama “additional flexibility should military options be required to protect American lives, citizens and interests in Iraq.”