Circumstances of battle have changed in favour of Iraqi troops since June, local security officials say.
Baghdad – Iraqi security forces backed by Shia militias, Kurdish forces and Sunni Muslim tribesmen will drive the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) from all Iraqi lands before the end of 2015, Iraqi security officials and analysts say.
Iraq has been witnessing its worst security crisis since the 2003 US-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein. In June, ISIL fighters overran Iraq’s second largest city of Mosul without any real resistance from Iraqi troops. A few days later, ISIL seized the neighbouring province of Salahaddin and swaths of Kirkuk and Anbar provinces.
Thousands of civilians and troops have been killed since then in direct clashes or mass executions carried out by ISIL. About two million people have been displaced from the conflict zones.
The dramatic collapse of Iraqi troops in the northern and western provinces and the rapid advance of ISIL fighters towards the capital prompted Aytollah Ali al-Sistani, the most revered Shia cleric in the country, to call on Iraqis to volunteer to back up the Iraqi security forces in their battle against ISIL.
Iraqi security officials and analysts said the local and regional circumstances of the battle between Iraqi troops and ISIL fighters have changed in favour of Iraqi troops since June. Among the key players battling ISIL are Iran, the US-led international military coalition, anti-ISIL tribesmen and a regional intelligence coalition.
Iran, which has strong ties with the Shia-led government in Baghdad, was the first country in the region to respond to the Iraqi government’s calls for help – primarily ammunition and weapons, as the Iraqis lost thousands of weapons and equipment after withdrawing in Mosul, Salahaddin and Anbar.
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