So, when exactly are we supposed to start worrying about ISIS’s progress in Iraq and Syria? Do we wait until they have complete control of those nations and are moving on to “bigger and better” things – like Yemen, Libya, and parts unknown?
News broke on Friday that ISIS fighters had taken over the main government compound in the western Iraqi city of Ramadi, which means that they’ve now taken almost complete control of the largest city in Iraq’s Anbar province. With the fall of Ramadi, ISIS now controls several of Iraq’s most important cities – Fallujah, Tikrit, Ramadi and Mosul.
— Sohaib Alrawi (@Sohaib_Alrawi) May 15, 2015
Islamic State militants have seized the main government building in Ramadi, the capital of Iraq’s largest province.
IS militants launched their raid on Ramadi overnight, driving suicide car bombs into the compound housing a number of government buildings.
Fighting continued into Friday and by 14:00 (11:00 GMT) the black flag of IS was seen flying over the complex.
IS “now occupies the government centre in Ramadi and has also raised its flag over the police HQ for Anbar”, a police major told the AFP news agency.
The militant group itself issued a statement confirming it had taken control of the complex and said it had killed an unspecified number of pro-government fighters.
Islamic State wants to send a clear message to the central government in Baghdad that, having seized control of Ramadi, they are now the de facto rulers of Anbar province.
And, after several false starts, they have succeeded in taking control of the city centre and the main government complex. This is an extraordinary victory that will give IS the momentum to control the whole of Anbar.
With the fall of Ramadi, ISIS has stretched their control to its largest extent to date. To make matters worse, all of the gains once made by the Allied invasion of Iraq have now been lost.
I wonder if this is what President Obama meant when he told us that he was going to “change” everything?