Baghdad is surrounded by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and at least two key supply routes are under the Sunni radical organization’s control.
Shafin Dizayee, a spokesman for autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government in Irbil, told McClatchy news service that “the picture is no longer scary. It has become close to a nightmare scenario, where we see [ISIL] expanding and taking control of its borders.”
Another Kurdish official, Jabbar Yawar of the Peshmerga militia, told the news service that the towns of Iskandariya and Mahmoudiyah, just 6 miles south of Baghdad, had fallen.
The city of Samarra, north of Baghdad, also not is faring well. An official who spoke only on the condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly, told McClatchy that Iraqi security forces were having a difficult time defending the city.
“[Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri] al-Maliki is tense. He is up working until 4 a.m. every day. He angrily ordered staff at his office to stop watching TV news channels hostile to his government,” one Iraqi official told The Associated Press in a report Friday.
The Obama administration is sending 300 U.S. troops to Iraq to serve as military advisers in an attempt to help thwart a civil war.