(CNN) — With Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul, firmly under its control, the militant group the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is threatening the takeover of more cities, including the capital, Baghdad.
“Continue your march as the battle is not yet raging,” ISIS spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani purportedly said in an audio recording posted early Thursday on the group’s media website. “It will rage in Baghdad and Karbala. So be ready for it.” CNN cannot confirm the authenticity of the 17-minute-long audio or the time of its recording.
“Don’t give up a hand’s width of ground you’ve liberated,” the voice says, in apparent encouragement of ISIS fighters. For its part, the Iraqi government claimed a victory as well. The city of Tikrit, the hometown of former leader Saddam Hussein, was in full control of the military, state-run Iraqiya TV said. Just a day earlier, it appeared largely to have fallen to ISIS fighters.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told CNN on Thursday that the government has “taken a number of steps to push back the terrorists” but that the takeover of Mosul had been a “major security setback.”
Speaking in London, he said the Iraqi army there had “collapsed, basically,” with commanders fleeing to the north. “The government has to take a … serious look at the makeup and the doctrine of the new Iraqi armed forces. You cannot run a country with such commanders.”
Asked what assistance Iraq had requested from the United States, Zebari declined to give a clear answer. But, he said, “Nobody has called … for the introduction (of) American troops into Iraq.”
Zebari said Washington has been cooperative and has a responsibility to be proactive in Iraq’s fight against terrorism. He also said Washington has helped and can help with “a whole range of options,” including counterintelligence training and supplying equipment and munitions… see more