A US airstrike in Kobane.
A US airstrike in Kobane. Reuters

ISIS on Monday achieved yet another major victory – taking over the beleaguered city of Heet on the edge of Anbar province in Iraq. ISIS was able to enter the city, on the western side of the Euphrates river, after Iraqi troops withdrew.

ISIS forces are said to control about 80% of Anbar Province, US officials said.

The evacuation came Sunday night, a spokesperson for the Iraqi government said. “Our military leaders argued that instead of leaving those forces exposed to attacks by ISIS, they would be best used to shore up the defense of Asad air base,” the official told news agencies. The base is considered one of the last bastions in the defense of Anbar, and officials fear that if it falls, the road to the provincial capital of Ramadi will be wide open.

Asad, northwest of Heet, is one of the last military bases in the region under government control. Officials said that it would be easier to defend, as it is surrounded by open desert.

Meanwhile, Turkey on Monday denied reports that it had agreed to allow the US to use its territory as a corridor to transfer weapons and assistance to Kurdish fighters trying to defend the border city of Kobane from ISIS. 

Speaking Sunday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that allowing the US to use its territory to defend the city, which is populated by Kurds, was “unrealistic. Turkey cannot actually give weapons and the civilians and ask to go back to fight with terrorist groups," Cavusoglu said in the interview, adding that “Killing the mosquitoes one by one is not the right strategy. We have to eradicate the root causes of this situation,” he added. “Obviously it is the Assad regime in Syria," he said.

Currently, Kobani is under siege from nearly all sides by ISIS fighters, who have begun trying to take over neighborhoods on the edge of town. All entrances to the city are controlled by ISIS, except for the northern entrance, which is a very short distance from the Turkish border. It was for this reason, Western officials said, that the idea to equip anti-ISIS groups seeking to defend Kobani via Turkey was proposed.

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