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How has Iraq lost a third of its territory to ISIS in three days?

June 13, 2014

By Ali Mamouri, Australian Catholic University The extremist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as ISIS, has captured a third of Iraq’s territory within a few days. Iraq’s third-biggest city, Mosul, fell within hours of being attacked despite having a government force of around 27,000 troops to defend it. ISIL is an amalgam of Sunni paramilitary forces that operate in Iraq and Syria. It is the latest and most successful extremist group to emerge in the region and combines former Ba’th era military officers, former Al-Qaeda members and fundamentalists from countries energised by the Arab Spring. Alienated Muslims from the West have also been attracted by the achievements of ISIL in Syria’s civil war. Recent territorial gains by ISIL mean the group controls practically the entire Sunni majority regions of Iraq along the Syrian frontier. How could a rebel force of fewer than 10,000 fighters defeat Iraq’s security apparatus of over a million personnel? Can Iraq’s elected government overcome this threat to its authority and very existence? Why has Iraq’s military failed? A new Iraqi army was re-established from militia members and low-ranking members of the…

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