Report: ISIS Islamists at the Gates of Baghdad

Reports Monday said that Islamist fighters for ISIS, the Islamic State, was barely a mile outside Baghdad, Iraq's capital.

Yaakov Levi,

Islamic State terrorist (file)
Islamic State terrorist (file)

Reports Monday said that Islamist fighters for ISIS, the Islamic State, which has already conquered large areas of Lebanon and Iraq, are at the gates of Baghdad. Despite the aerial attacks being carried out by the US and its allies, the group's fighters have been steadily progressing, and are said to be barely a mile from the city. The report in the Independent newspaper, published in London, quoted officials of the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East.

According to the officials, Islamic State terrorists could basically enter the city at will, as there is little substantial defense to prevent them from doing so. "The Islamic State are now less than 2km away from entering Baghdad," the spokesperson said. “They said it could never happen and now it almost has. [US President Barack] Obama says he overestimated what the Iraqi Army could do," the report quoted the spokesperson as saying.

Obama indeed made that admission Sunday night, in an interview broadcast on CBS news program 60 Minutes. “Over the past couple of years, during the chaos of the Syrian civil war, where essentially you have huge swathes of the country that are completely ungoverned," the president said, Islamic State was "able to reconstitute themselves and take advantage of that chaos.

"This became ground zero for jihadists around the world," Obama said of Syria, where Islamic State now controls territory in the east around on the city of Raqqa. “Where you've got states that are failing or in the midst of civil war, these kinds of organizations thrive," he said.

In a separate development over the weekend, the head of the Syrian Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front said that it would work with Islamic State to defeat the “Western infidels,” reports said. "Muslims will not watch while their sons are bombed. Your leaders will not be the only ones who would pay the price of the war. You will pay the heaviest price," he said, warning that the battle would be brought "to the hearts of your homes,” said Al-Nusra head Abu Mohamad al-Golani. "You should protect yourselves from this war by standing against the decisions of your rulers and stop them from bringing you the woes (of war)," he added, according to Reuters.

"We are in a long war. This war will not end in months nor years. This war could last for decades," group spokesman Abu Firas al-Suri said.

"It's not a war against Nusra Front, it's a war against Islam,” he added.

IS and the Al-Nusra Front share the same ideology and rigid Islamic beliefs, but they fell out during a power struggle and have been battling each other this past year.

Nusra Front is now coming under pressure from its own members to reconcile with Islamic State and join forces to fight what they describe as a "crusader" campaign against Islam.

Al-Nusra Front, whose leader pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri, has been heavily involved in the fighting in Syria as well as in neighboring Lebanon, where it has claimed responsibility for several bombings and has also threatened local Sunnis.

Most recently, members of the group kidnapped 45 Fijian UN peacekeepers and threatened to try them under Islamic law before ultimately releasing them.