The Feast of the Holy Archangels Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael
There have been a string of troubling reports in the last week or so coming out of Iraq about its army and their fight against the Islamic State. Now there is another report coming out of the UK that the Islamic State is again advancing around Baghdad. I am not certain that Canon Andrew White, who is cited in that report, is actually in Iraq right now. His blog reports that he went back to the United Kingdom in early September for medical treatment and was in the United States on a fundraising trip as recently as ten days ago. So there may be some hyperbole in his report of 1,000 Iraqis killed and the Islamic State being within a kilometer of Baghdad.
Still the United States has been conducting airstrikes in Iraq for more than a month now and the Islamic State does not seem to have been seriously crippled by them. None of the cities they took over in June, Mosul or Tikrit, or even Fallujah have been retaken by the Iraqi army nor does the fighting capacity of Iraq’s armed forces seem to have significantly improved at this time. There is also the rather amusing report that the first British strike mission on Iraq returned to its base on Cyprus with weapons still intact. The Defence Ministry statement seemed to vacillate on the question of whether the Tornadoes were on an ‘armed reconnaissance mission’ or simply couldn’t find anything worth shooting at. It is important to remember that the men fighting for the Islamic State either spent years fighting the US in Iraq or have been trained by those who did. While the military prowess of the United States and its allies is formidable and could wipe the floor with the Islamic State if it was deployed to its full potential (which it hasn’t been and likely won’t be anytime soon), these men have been up against it before and won’t be so easily cowed by it as they once might have been.
Still Baghdad would be a tough nut to crack for the Islamic State, and I wouldn’t expect them to launch a great onslaught against it anytime soon. It is a great metropolis and the population is mostly Shi’ite and therefore incredibly hostile to them. There likely course of action would be to strengthen their hold on areas around the city and to disrupt communications as much as they possibly can while massacring any outlying and isolated Iraqi army units they can find in order to strike terror into the population. I suspect that their goal for now is to do what they can to completely cut Baghdad off from the north while putting themselves in a position to effect some sort of a siege on the city. Whether they will be successful is an open question at this point.
And just to remind everyone the border between Syria and Iraq still is open and is being erased.
Pray the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary on Monday for the See of Constantinople, the Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesday for the See of Antioch, the Glorious Mysteries on Wednesday for the See of Jerusalem, the Luminous Mysteries on Thursday for the See of Alexandria, and the Sorrowful Mysteries on Friday for the See of Carthage; for their liberty and their salvation and the restoration of their ancient position as pillars of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church in communion with the See of Peter in Rome; for the conversion of the Jewish people and the conversion of the Muslim peoples. And join the Rosary Confraternity!