MOSCOW, September 26 (RIA Novosti), Ekaterina Blinova - Baghdad is most likely to become the next target of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS), experts stress, as the jihadi insurgents have already seized an Iraqi military base on the doorstep of the capital.
"With coalition strikes underway into Syria and the very heart of the ISIS leadership, ISIS needs to respond. It needs to demonstrate to the world that the strikes haven’t hampered its ability to govern the land it now controls or, more importantly, to carry out attacks against those it is fighting. What better place than Baghdad? What better target than the Green Zone itself – the centerpiece symbol of America’s presence in Iraq," writes Lt. Col. Bill Cowan, a retired Marine and Fox News military analyst in his article "ISIS threat: Expect terror group to attack Baghdad next."
The retired Marine notes that the ISIS fighters had demonstrated "creativity" while taking over the military base. The Islamic State's jihadists had launched an assault dressed in Iraqi army uniforms and riding in Humvees. Since the insurgents had been "disguised as a relief convoy," they entered the Iraqi military camp unscathed, Lt. Col. Bill Cowan stresses. "The Iraqi soldiers, totally taken by surprise and nearly out of ammunition after a week of fighting without resupply, fled in disarray," the retired Marine writes.
Although it is unlikely that the IS fighters will "duplicate" this strategy during their probable strike against Baghdad, the case has shown that ISIS is able "to get inside the perimeter" of the Iraqi capital and conduct a successful attack "on some weak spots," the military expert underscores.
Mushreq Abbas, a contributing writer for Al-Monitor’s Iraq Pulse, who has been managing editor of Al-Hayat’s Iraq bureau since 2005, claims that since September 21, the Islamic State "has started a new chapter in its wars west of Baghdad" amid the intensive air strikes launched by the US and its allies. ISIS took control of Saqlawiya and then it seized Fallujah – the strategic points, which are "sensitive [to the] movement of government forces." At the same time, the Islamic State tries to maintain its control over the territories south of Baghdad.
Citing security experts, Mushreq Abbas emphasizes that ISIS intends to "move the battle away" from its Mosul headquarters. The main vector of the IS military strategy will be directed at expanding of "the battlefronts" in order to "confuse" the US military forces. In addition the IS militant groups keep changing their location constantly, which makes it hard to detect and deal a fatal blow to the organization, the journalist notes.
Mushreq Abbas stresses that ISIS tries to persuade the Sunni Iraqi tribal leaders to join them. However, many Sunni clans and armed groups have not yet decided whether they would support the international alliance led by the US or the Islamic State fighters, the journalist underscores. He adds that the final position of Sunni tribes may play a crucial role in the war against ISIS.
Despite the efforts of the US-led coalition, ISIS continues to push ahead. Experts warn that the operation against the Islamic State will become a long and a costly one. The International Business Times reports that the US military campaign against ISIL is expected to last at least three years and cost approximately $10 billion.