Monday, 29 September 2014

ISIS fighters 'at the gates of Baghdad': Islamic militants fighting government forces 'just one mile from Iraqi capital' despite days Western airstrikes against the terror group

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  • Fierce clashes between jihadists and government forces near Iraqi capital
  • Militants understood to be attempting to enter and seize control of Baghdad 
  • Reports of militants' proximity to Baghdad came from Canon Andrew White
  • He is vicar of the city's St George's Church - Iraq's only Anglican church
  • News comes despite ongoing Western airstrikes against ISIS targets in Iraq
Fierce fighting has been reported on the outskirts of Baghdad where ISIS militants are attempting to seize control of the Iraqi capital - despite ongoing Western airstrikes against the terror group.
The fighting is taking place just one mile to the west of the city, with government forces desperately trying to hold off the militants, who allegedly killed up to 1,000 soldiers during clashes yesterday.
ISIS have held a number of towns and villages close to the Iraqi capital since earlier in the year, when government troops melted away following a lightning advance in the west of the country - enabling the terrorist group to seize further swaths of territory for their so-called caliphate.
Under attack: An Iraqi army soldier aims his weapon during clashes with ISIS militants in Jurf al-Sakhar - 43 miles south of Baghdad - at the weekend. ISIS militants reportedly killed 1,000 such soldiers yesterday
Under attack: An Iraqi army soldier aims his weapon during clashes with ISIS militants in Jurf al-Sakhar - 43 miles south of Baghdad - at the weekend. ISIS militants reportedly killed 1,000 such soldiers yesterday
Defence: Fierce fighting has been reported on the outskirts of Baghdad where ISIS militants are attempting to seize control of the Iraqi capital. In this image taken at the weekend, peshmerga forces are seen holding a post in the strategic Jalawla area, considered a gateway to the city
Defence: Fierce fighting has been reported on the outskirts of Baghdad where ISIS militants are attempting to seize control of the Iraqi capital. In this image taken at the weekend, peshmerga forces are seen holding a post in the strategic Jalawla area, considered a gateway to the city
Peshmerga fighters hold a position at a post in the strategic Jalawla area near Baghdad during a battle with Islamic State militants at the weekend. The location is considered a gateway to the Iraqi capital
Peshmerga fighters hold a position at a post in the strategic Jalawla area near Baghdad during a battle with Islamic State militants at the weekend. The location is considered a gateway to the Iraqi capital
Location: The militants are understood to have had their advance halted by airstrikes yesterday at Ameriyat Al-Falluja yesterday - a small city about 18 miles south of Fallujah and 40 miles west of Baghdad. But the clashes did not force the bulk of the fighters - with many of them now having made their way to the Baghdad suburbs
Location: The militants are understood to have had their advance halted by airstrikes yesterday at Ameriyat Al-Falluja yesterday - a small city about 18 miles south of Fallujah and 40 miles west of Baghdad. But the clashes did not force the bulk of the fighters - with many of them now having made their way to the Baghdad suburbs
Reports that ISIS militants are now just one mile from Baghdad came from the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East - an organisation supporting the work of Canon Andrew White, vicar of the city's St George's Church, the only Anglican church in Iraq.
In a message posted on Facebook, the group said: 'The Islamic State are now less than 2km away from entering Baghdad. They said it could never happen and now it almost has. 
'Obama says he overestimated what the Iraqi Army could do. Well you only need to be hear a very short while to know they can do very very little,' they added.
The claims were backed up by Canon White himself, who shared the message just hours after he had earlier suggested the group were approximately six miles from the centre of Baghdad.
In a message he also posted on Facebook, Canon White had said: 'The Islamic State are now within 10km of entering Baghdad. Over a 1000 Iraqi troops were killed by them yesterday, things are so bad. As I said all the military air strikes are doing nothing. If ever we needed your prayer it is now.'
The militants are understood to have had their advance halted by airstrikes yesterday at Ameriyat Al-Falluja yesterday - a small city about 18 miles south of Fallujah and 40 miles west of Baghdad.
But the clashes did not force the bulk of the fighters - with many of them now having made their way to the Baghdad suburbs for this morning's fighting.
Approaching: Reports that ISIS militants are now just one mile from Baghdad came from the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East - an organisation supporting the work of Canon Andrew White 
Approaching: Reports that ISIS militants are now just one mile from Baghdad came from the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East - an organisation supporting the work of Canon Andrew White 
Fear: Canon Andrew White, is the vicar of Baghdad's St George's Church - the only Anglican church in Iraq. Earlier Canon White had claimed the terrorist group were six miles from the city
Fear: Canon Andrew White, is the vicar of Baghdad's St George's Church - the only Anglican church in Iraq. Earlier Canon White had claimed the terrorist group were six miles from the city

FEMALE PILOT LEADS FIRST SORTIE

A female fighter pilot led Britain's first combat mission against Islamic State.
The woman, who has not been named, flew one of the RAF Tornados on the perilous sortie over jihadist-held territory in northern Iraq on Saturday.
Stationed at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus, she is believed to be a weapons systems operator.
She sits in the jet's rear seat and fires the aircraft's Brimstone and Storm Shadow missiles and Paveway IV bombs.
The airwoman, who serves with II (AC) Squadron, flies at exactly the same combat level as her male colleagues.
A Ministry of Defence source said: 'No one makes a big fuss of having a female pilot. We have females in aircrews and ground crews and they are here because of their abilities. Everyone is just doing their jobs.'
The involvement of a woman RAF pilot comes amid reports that the family of Major Mariam Al Mansouri of the United Arab Emirates, who flew an F-16 jet in bombing raids against positions in Syria last week, has disowned her.
The news comes as RAF jets flew armed sorties for a second day over Iraq yesterday – but again failed to locate any suitable targets for their weapons. 
Defence chiefs insisted that the flights by Tornado GR4 fighter-bombers were invaluable for gathering intelligence on the Islamist jihadists who have swept across large swathes of Iraq and Syria, carrying out massacres.
But the failure to unleash any firepower has fuelled concern that Britain is failing to pull its weight in the international coalition against Islamic State
It came as military commanders warned that Britain should brace itself to be dragged into a ground war in Iraq to crush IS, which is also known as Isis and Isil. 
Former top brass also warned that the air campaign would be futile unless the UK could target the terrorists in Syria.
While the Ministry of Defence confirmed that the RAF's third mission had – like on Saturday – failed to locate any targets, US-led coalition aircraft targeted four makeshift oil refineries under IS control in Syria, as well as a command centre.
The mobile refineries generate up to £1.2million a day for the militants.
On a mission: The RAF jets seek out their terror targets in Iraq - which they failed to find and bomb, again
On a mission: The RAF jets seek out their terror targets in Iraq - which they failed to find and bomb, again
Strong presence: Military leaders have said about two-thirds of the estimated 31,000 Islamic State militants were in Syria. But ISIS have held a number of towns and villages close to the Iraqi capital since earlier in the year, when government troops melted away following a lightning advance in the west of the country
Strong presence: Military leaders have said about two-thirds of the estimated 31,000 Islamic State militants were in Syria. But ISIS have held a number of towns and villages close to the Iraqi capital since earlier in the year, when government troops melted away following a lightning advance in the west of the country
Meanwhile, U.S. President Barack Obama has acknowledged that US intelligence agencies underestimated the threat posed by ISIS extremists in Syria, and overestimated the capabilities of the Iraqi army.
Obama added that breaking up the terrorist cell will be a complicated battle involving both military and political action. 
The president spoke about the multi-national effort against ISIS in a televised interview with 60 Minutes, which aired Sunday night.
Citing earlier comments by James Clapper, director of national intelligence, Mr Obama acknowledged that U.S. intelligence didn't take seriously enough what had been taking place in Syria.
'Well I think, our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria,' Mr Obama said.
Conversely, the United States overestimated the ability of the Iraqi army to fight the militant groups, Obama said in the interview taped on Friday, days after the president made his case at the United Nations for action.
President Obama says the US intelligence agencies underestimated Islamic State activity in Syria and overestimated the Iraqi army's role to fight back against militants 
President Obama says the US intelligence agencies underestimated Islamic State activity in Syria and overestimated the Iraqi army's role to fight back against militants 
Speaking to CBS's 60 Minutes, he said the militants had used the chaos of the Syrian civil war, when large swathes of the country were ungoverned, to 'reconstitute themselves'
Speaking to CBS's 60 Minutes, he said the militants had used the chaos of the Syrian civil war, when large swathes of the country were ungoverned, to 'reconstitute themselves'
Militants: The terrorist-group ISIS has been taking large swaths of Syria and Iraq in the recent absence of a permanent U.S. military presence in Iraq 
Militants: The terrorist-group ISIS has been taking large swaths of Syria and Iraq in the recent absence of a permanent U.S. military presence in Iraq 



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