Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sunni Insurgents Capture More Territory in Western Iraq

Extremists Seize Town of Al Rutba, Military Installation in Rasa

By Ali A. Nabhan And Matt Bradley, WSJ
June 22, 2014 5:17 a.m. ET

BAGHDAD—Sunni extremist militants expanded and reinforced their territories in Iraq's west on Saturday night, advancing their goal of slicing out an Islamist emirate that would straddle Iraq and Syria even as their drive toward the country's capital continued to stall.

The fighting on Saturday night and Sunday morning came a day after militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, overran a crucial border post with Syria near the town of al Qaim and seized the cities of Rawa and Ana in western Anbar.

The militant group also seized the town of al Rutba on Saturday night, according to security officials in Anbar province. The group captured the Al Jazeera Command Center, a crucial military installation, in the town of Rasa in Anbar province on Sunday morning.

The recent fighting in Iraq's Sunni-majority Anbar province was consistent with ISIS's recent focus on the country's vast, largely deserted western regions, where the group has long exercised considerable influence over its fellow Sunni Muslims, many of whom feel excluded from the Shiite-majority government in Baghdad.

(More here.)

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