Flag of Iraq
  1. Iraq Main Page
  2. Iraq Gains Independence
  3. Rise of the Baath Party
  4. Saddam Hussein's Ascendancy Brings Series of Wars
  5. After 9/11, the U.S. Launches War in Iraq
  6. No Evidence of Weapons in Iraq
  7. Insurgency Gathers Steam
  8. Iraqi Leadership Struggles in Effort to Form a Government
  9. U.S. Strategy Under Fire
  10. Bush Orders a Surge of U.S. Troops to Iraq
  11. Iraqi Parliament Gets Down to Business
  12. Political Veterans Fare Well in 2010 Parliamentary Elections
  13. War in Iraq Is Officially Over but Political Unrest and Violence Continue as ISIS Emerges
  14. 2014 Parliamentary Elections Unexpectedly Peaceful Despite Rise of ISIS
  15. New Prime Minister Forms a Power-Sharing Government
  16. Mixed Bag in the Fight Against ISIS
  17. Blackwater Guards Convicted
  18. Prime Minister Calls for Overhaul of Government
Mixed Bag in the Fight Against ISIS

France and the UK approved airstrikes in late September 2014 and immediately began attacking ISIS strongholds in the north. About 60 countries in total joined the fight against ISIS. Pesh merga troops, backed up by U.S. and British airstrikes, took control of a northern Syrian border crossing in the Rabia district from ISIS fighters in September. The pesh merga forces made gains in other areas, including Daquq, south of Kirkuk, and several other towns. However, by the end of October, ISIS maintained its hold on many cities in the largely Sunni Anbar Province, as U.S.-led airstrikes proved largely ineffectual without the support of Iraqi troops on the ground. Many civilians fled, desperate to escape the horrific executions committed by the militants. ISIS began to spread out across the country, making it more difficult for the government to organize an offensive.

Despite making conciliatory gestures toward Sunnis, Prime Minister Abadi failed to encourage them to join the fight against ISIS, and the military remained weakened by desertions, diminished morale, and mistrust of the new government. The U.S. and its allies led the fight against ISIS, launching some 900 airstrikes on ISIS targets by January 2015.

The Iraqi military, aided by Iranian-backed Shiite militias and Iranian troops and advisers, began a major campaign in March 2015 against ISIS in Tikrit, Saddam Hussein's hometown, which ISIS captured in June 2014. Fighters from Shiite militias comprised the bulk of the force, some 20,000 men, while Iraqi troops numbered only about 3,000. A small number of Sunni fighters joined the battle. Despite having only about 3,000 fighters in Tikrit, ISIS put up a stubborn fight, and the offensive stalled. Prime Minister Abadi asked the U.S. for help at the end of March. The Obama administration approved airstrikes after Iran agreed to step aside. A week later, Iraqi forces resumed control of the city.

ISIS fighters launched a lightning-fast advance on Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province, in mid-May 2015. Overnight, the militants took control of the government compound and then set it on fire. Iraqi troops fled the city, a major setback for the government. Following the loss of Anbar, the U.S. government announced in June that an additional 450 troops would be sent to Anbar Province to establish a new base to train Iraqi troops and then retake Ramadi.

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