Thursday, August 21, 2014

Iraq Crisis: Some Islamic State Commanders Retreat Back to Syria

U.S. Airstrikes Cause Scramble in Ground Leadership of Insurgents

By Nour Malas, WSJ
Updated Aug. 21, 2014 4:25 a.m. ET

ERBIL, Iraq—Iraqi officials say U.S. airstrikes have driven some ground commanders of the Sunni radical group Islamic State from northern Iraq across the border into Syria.

Buoyed by a victory over the insurgents at Mosul Dam this week, the Iraqi military renewed efforts to retake Tikrit, a key Sunni city. But the operation appeared to stall on its second day Wednesday.

The U.S. announced a new series of airstrikes that hit Islamic State forces near the dam, while President Barack Obama denounced the group for beheading an American journalist in retribution for the airstrikes.

"We are noting a retreat of some emirs because the strikes have been effective, and are also starting to create panic," a senior Iraqi counterterrorism official said.

Emir is the title Islamic State members and supporters use for commanders in charge of a province—local leaders of what they envision as statelets in a cross-border Islamic caliphate they hope to establish.

(More here.)

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