AFP reports: A year after the Islamic State group launched a brutally effective offensive, Iraq is struggling to survive as a unified nation, gripped by seemingly endless violence, sectarianism and humanitarian tragedy.
IS began the offensive on June 9, 2014, and overran a third of the country, declaring it and areas in neighbouring Syria a “caliphate” and carrying out atrocities from beheadings and mass executions to enslavement and rape.
The jihadists have been driven out of some areas, but still hold much of western Iraq and remain able to defeat Baghdad’s forces and gain new territory despite a year of heavy fighting and some 4,000 strikes carried out in a 10-month US-led air campaign. [Continue reading…]
Nancy A. Youssef reports: It sounded so authoritative, when a top Obama administration official claimed this week that the U.S. killed roughly 10,000 enemy fighters in its fight with the self-proclaimed Islamic State. Until that figure was contradicted by a second official. And then undercut by a third.
Not only could Obama administration officials not agree on the final death toll, they could not say how they determined such a figure with no ground forces in Iraq and Syria to assess airstrike damage. Nor could those officials articulate how well such a statistic measures progress against the terror army.
By the end of the week, many administration officials were admitting a defeat of sorts. They conceded that it was foolish to talk openly about body counts in the first place, when dead fighters are such an irrelevant measure of the conflict. [Continue reading…]