The terrorist group Islamic State, formerly ISIS, has nearly completed a march out of the city of Mosul to the Kurdish capital Erbil, where Kurdish forces, reports say, are working with the Iraqi military to protect their capital.
A McClatchy report published this afternoon claims that Islamic State mujahideen captured four towns on the main road from Mosul to Erbil and are currently minutes away from the city limits. In response to the threat, hundreds of Kurdish Peshmerga have taken to the front lines, but they seem apprehensive of the oncoming assault without additional assistance. The Peshmerga congregating in Erbil are both active duty members and retired soldiers returning to the front lines to add support to the coalition.
“The Americans keep saying they will help us,” Rosg Nuri Shawess, a top Kurdish military commander, told McClatchy. “Well, if they plan to help they had better do it now.” The Kurdish Foreign Minister, Falah Bakir, echoed this sentiment on CNN: “I believe the United States has a moral responsibility to support us, because this is a fight against terrorism, and we have proven to be pro-democracy, pro-West and pro-secularism.”
Reports surfaced earlier Thursday that President Obama was “weighing” the potential of sending further military support to Iraq, but the reports preceded the current rush towards Erbil. The President, it was said, was contemplating air drops of humanitarian aid to a group of up to 40,000 Yazidi minority Iraqis who are stranded on Sinjar Mountain, trapped without food or water by Islamic State mujahideen.
The United Nations has scheduled a meeting on the Iraqi situation.
Meanwhile, the situation in Iraq deteriorates. A source in Iraq told Breitbart News that Iraqis who do not support the Islamic State are fleeing from their march forward, rushing out of the newly conquered Nineveh Plain as quickly as possible. “Things are very, very bad here,” the source says. “Everyone in Nineveh Plain has fled. Everyone. The whole Nineveh Plain has fled. People are sleeping on the streets in Ankawa.” Ankawa is a town near Erbil, still out of the hands of ISIS.
The Assyrian International News Agency estimates that around 200,000 Christians are currently internally displaced, sleeping in the streets of cities not yet overrun by Islamic State terrorists. Many of these fled to Erbil and had previously fled to Qaraqosh after Islamic State took over Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, and expelled its Christian population.
The images surfacing on social media from Erbil showcase the high number of refugees that depend upon the Peshmerga to keep Erbil safe after losing their towns to ISIS:
Burasi Erbil Iskan Caddesi… Gece saat 22.30 ve halk sokaklarda… pic.twitter.com/rPnYI6z5us
– Dr. Rêdur Hewlêrî (@redurhewleri) August 7, 2014
– YHWHisGOOD (@YHWHmyKING) August 7, 2014
– Ben M. Times (@tamgercek) August 7, 2014
Some Kurds in Erbil also appear to be resisting through graffiti, much like Christians in Mosul:
– sinembektas (@sinembuzzz) August 7, 2014
Breitbart News has been following the spread of ISIS throughout the northern territories of Iraq since its ascent earlier this year. More updates on the battle for Erbil as the story develops.
Additional reporting by Tera Dahl.