As Islamic State troops move closer to Baghdad, Iraqi officials have issued a plea for American ground troops to return to the country.
A senior governor claimed that up to 10,000 Islamic State fighters were closing in on the capital, amid reports that forces had reached Abu Ghraid, a suburb of Baghdad, The Telegraph reported Saturday.
Iraqi officials are worried the Pentagon will not be keen to send U.S. soldiers back to an area once dubbed “the graveyard of the Americans” in Anbar Province. In 2004, U.S. troops fought the Battle of Fallujah in Anabar province, the bloodiest battle involving American troops since the Vietnam War.
Regardless, government officials believe that if the province were to fall to the radical Islamic Fighters, then it would be a strategic launching point for a full-force attack on Baghdad.
Nearly 1,500 U.S. troops are already stationed in Baghdad, training the Iraqi army.
“I think it’s fragile there now,” a senior U.S. defense official told the Agence France Presse of the provincial capital Ramadi. “They are being resupplied and they’re holding their own, but it’s tough and challenging.”
The Turkish/Syrian border city of Kobani has also made headlines this week as Kurdish fighters struggle to protect the city from Islamic State jihadists who wish to use the town as a launching point for a Turkish invasion.
Some speculate that the terrorist group’s attack on Kobani was part of an elaborate distraction tactic to draw attention away from the campaign in Anabar.
Observers told The Telegraph that while the capture of Kobani would slightly increase the Islamic State’s military position, the capture of Ramadi and other cities in Anabar would be detrimental for Iraq, and would make the group even harder to contain.
“It’s not a good situation,” one U.S. official admitted.