Iraqi officials have issued a desperate plea for America to bring US ground troops back to the embattled country, as heavily armed Islamic State militants came within striking distance of Baghdad.
Amid reports that Isil forces have advanced as far as Abu Ghraib, a town that is effectively a suburb of Baghdad, a senior governor claimed up to 10,000 fighters from the movement were now poised to assault the capital.
The warning came from Sabah al-Karhout, president of the provisional council of Anbar Province, the vast desert province to the west of Baghdad that has now largely fallen under jihadist control.
The province’s two main cities, Fallujah and Ramadi, were once known as “the graveyard of the Americans”, and the idea of returning there will not be welcomed by the Pentagon.
But were the province to be controlled by Isil, it would give their forces a springboard from which to mount an all-out assault on Baghdad, where a team of around 1,500 US troops is already acting as mentors to the beleaguered Iraqi army…
(Photo: An Iraqi federal policeman stands guard as his colleague searches a car at a checkpoint in Baghdad, Iraq Credit: Karim Kadim/AP)