ISIS in Iraq
- ISIS was originally the Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) which later became the Islamic State in Iraq (ISI), which finally became the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
- In January 2014, ISIS pushed back Iraqi troops and took control of parts of Fallujah and Ramadi two major cities close to the capital Baghdad.
- By June 2014, Mosul, Iraq's second largest city fell to ISIS.
A Caliphate and mass desertions weaken Iraqi army
- By mid-2014, almost a third of Iraq, including Fallujah, Mosul, parts of Ramadi and Tikrit were under ISIS control.
- In June 2014, ISIS declared itself as a Caliphate.
- It also took over the Baiji Oil fields, a significant source of revenue.
- This escalation prompted mass desertions by Iraqi army officers, who either wanted to join ISIS or escape the fighting in the country.
US orders air-strikes, Kurds rally against ISIS
- By August 2014, the US ordered airstrikes on ISIS positions in Iraq, to help the Iraqi army regain territory.
- The mass executions of the Yazidi people prompted Kurdish Peshmerga forces to rally against ISIS.
- By September 2014, the US announced a ten nation coalition to fight against ISIS.
- However, ISIS continued to make gains and consolidated its control over the Anbar province by November.
Coalition forces, Iraqi troops make gains
- In January 2015, Kurdish forces took control of the city of Kobani after fighting ISIS for months.
- Egypt and Jordan began conducting airstrikes on ISIS targets.
- By April 2015, Iraqi troops, bolstered by air support provided by the coalition forces began an offensive to recapture lost territory and won back Tikrit.
- Coalition countries including the US claimed that ISIS was now on the defensive.
The fall of Ramadi
- In May 2015, amidst heavy fighting, ISIS seized control of Ramadi.
- Reports suggested that ISIS used seasonal sandstorms to their advantage as coalition forces could not conduct air-strikes during a sandstorm.
- The lack of air support compelled Iraqi forces to flee Ramadi leaving large swathes of the city unguarded allowing ISIS to take over with relative ease.
A strategically located Sunni town
Ramadi is the capital of Iraq's Sunni majority Anbar province and occupies a highly strategic location next to the Euphrates river, on the road west that connects Iraq to Syria and Jordan.
US criticises Iraq army for fall of Ramadi
24 May 2015
- The US Defence Secretary criticized the Iraqi army for their defeat in Ramadi.
- The US stated that the Iraqi forces displayed a lack of will to fight ISIS and regain control of their country.
- Iraqi officials condemned the US statements and blamed the defeat on the lack of coalition support.
- However, they conceded that poor battlefield leadership by Iraqi commanders contributed to the defeat.
Iraq launches Anbar offensive
26 May 2015
- On 26 May, the Iraqi government launched an offensive with the intent to clear the Anbar province of ISIS fighters.
- By September 2015, no significant headway was made against the ISIS and the US announced a $24 million support package to further arm and train Iraqi forces and tribals against ISIS.
- By November, Iraqi forces regained control of several key positions surrounding Ramadi.
Iraqi Troops close in on Ramadi
28 Dec 2015
- Iraqi troops have closed in on one of the last remaining districts in the city of Ramadi that is under ISIS control.
- Recapturing Ramadi, which fell to the militants in May, would be one of the most important military operations by Iraq's armed forces since ISIS swept across a third of the country in 2014.
- Military officials said the operation would last several days.
Leaders killed, Ramadi falls, ISIS losing Iraq
30 Dec 2015
- U.S. coalition forces killed 10 Islamic State leaders in air strikes, dealing a double blow to the militant group after Iraqi forces ousted it from the city of Ramadi.
- The victory in Ramadi was officially declared after Iraqi Prime Minister Haider-al-Abadi planted the Iraqi flag after the army won back the city from ISIS's occupation.
- The victory symbolizes ISIS's waning territorial influence in Iraq.
PC: 'Defense Secretary Ash Carter' by Glenn Fawcett - Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commonsg
PC: 'Ramadi Aerial Picture - April 2008' by Cpl. Jeremy M. Giacomino - Licensed under Public Domain via Commons
PC: '080216 3-14 graduation' by US Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Erica R. Gardner - Licensed under Public Domain via Commons