The story this morning is that a convoy of Iraqi Army troops and Shiite militia on their way to take part in the counteroffensive to retake Ramadi was hit by Islamic State suicide bombers, killing 55. That is at least how the Qatar-based Al Jazeera puts it in "ISIL suicide attacks target Iraq military convoys":
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group has reportedly carried out a series of suicide attacks on military convoys northeast and southeast of the city of Fallujah, killing at least 55 people, Al Jazeera has learnt.
Three blasts on Tuesday struck army convoys travelling in Anbar province to take part in a planned offensive aimed at retaking the provincial city of Ramadi from ISIL, Al Jazeera's Imran Khan, reporting from Baghdad, said.
He said that the attacks were a "very big blow" to the military.
ISIL has routinely used car bomb attacks to a "devastating effect" against Iraqi forces, he added.
"Car bombs have proven to be a very big problem for the Iraqi security forces," he said, noting that the tactic played a major part in the capture of Ramadi.
Brigadier General Saad Maan Ibrahim, the spokesman for the Joint Military Command, gave a lower death toll. He told The Associated Press that 17 troops were killed in the attacks.
The bombings came as Iraqi forces prepare for a massive bid to retake the capital of mainly Sunni Muslim province.
Thousands of troops and allied Shia militiamen have been deployed to the area to retake territory seized by ISIL since last year.But if one consults the AP story where Brigadier General Saad Maan Inbrahim is quoted, "Multiple IS Suicide Attacks in Iraq's Anbar Kill 17 Troops," it is not even clear that the troops killed by the suicide bombers were on their way to Ramadi; rather, they were part of a back-and-forth effort to secure a vital section of canal outside Fallujah:
Islamic State extremists unleashed a wave of suicide attacks targeting the Iraqi army in western Anbar province, killing at least 17 troops in a major blow to government efforts to dislodge the militants from the sprawling Sunni heartland, an Iraqi military spokesman said Wednesday.
The attacks came just hours after the Iraqi government on Tuesday announced the start of a wide-scale operation to recapture areas under the control of the IS group in Anbar.
Brig. Gen Saad Maan Ibrahim, the spokesman for the Joint Military Command, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the attacks took place outside the Islamic State-held city of Fallujah late the previous night.
The militants struck near a water control station and a lock system on a canal between Lake Tharthar and the Euphrates River where army forces have been deployed for the Anbar offensive, he said.
Ibrahim added that the Islamic State extremists used a sandstorm that engulfed most of Iraq on Tuesday night to launch the deadly wave of bombings. He said it was not clear how many suicide attackers were involved in the bombings but they hit the military from multiple directions.
Last month, the water station near Fallujah fell into the hands of IS militants — following attacks that also included multiple suicide bombings and that killed a general commanding the 1st Division and a dozen other officers and soldiers.
Iraqi government forces recaptured the station a few days later. Fallujah lies to the east of the Anbar provincial capital of Ramadi, which was captured by the IS militants nearly two weeks ago in what was a major, humiliating defeat for Iraqi troops at the hands of the extremists.
The Iraqi operation to retake Anbar, which is said to be backed by Shiite militias and Sunni pro-government fighters, is deemed critical in regaining momentum in the fight against the Islamic State.
The IS group captured Ramadi in Iraq and the Syrian ancient town of Palmyra earlier this month, showing that it is able to advance in both countries despite months of U.S.-led airstrikes.I wonder where Al Jazeera got its 55 fatalities. No source is quoted.
What we are witnessing is a U.S. "double game" in Iraq and Syria under increasing pressure of exposure. This double game is a classic Ring of Gyges scenario where the U.S. portrays itself as pure and just and resolute in doing battle with the "evil incarnate" caliphate of Islamic State while surreptitiously doing what it can to make sure that ISIS continues to gain and hold territory at the expense of Iraq and Syria.
Why is the U.S. doing this? Because Iraq and Syria are allies of Iran, an arch foe of Uncle Sam and his corrupt despotic allies in the Gulf.
I am not a great student of the history of military campaigns, but I can't think of another example of a great power waging a public war against an enemy at the same time it seeks to bolster it.
A principal means by which the U.S. is waging its "double game" in Iraq and Syria is through information war and thought control in the media. The meme repeated in almost every story about ISIS in Iraq for the last several months is that Iraqi Shiite Popular Mobilization Forces must not take a major role in the fighting for fear that they will spread sectarian war to the Sunni-majority areas of the country. This argument is dutifully repeated time after time as if it were ancient wisdom without once mentioning the obvious: Why banish proven fighters from the battlefield for the alleged crime of sectarian hatred when practitioners of a Sunni extremist sect continue to murder and plunder and add territory to their caliphate?
This makes absolutely no sense. Nonetheless the argument is never challenged and always repeated. This is how the "big lie" works. Even a good reporter like Tim Arango, whose stories are usually reliable and illuminating, must repeat the U.S.-purveyed nonsense without question, as he does in his latest dispatch from Iraq, "Iraqi Army and Shiite Militias Begin Push to Take Ramadi From ISIS":
The United States has been training Iraqi Army recruits since December, though none of the soldiers trained so far have entered the battle. American officials have also pushed Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to increase aid to the Sunni tribes who were fighting the militants in Anbar and to avoid sending Shiite militiamen into that fight, fearing that it could intensify sectarian hostilities.The U.S. wants the Iraqi parliament to rebuild the Sons of Iraq, the Sunni Awakening movement that is accepted to have played a role in beating back Al Qaeda in Iraq, the ISIS precursor, during the U.S. occupation. But parliament has been reticent to do so because of very legitimate fears that any money or weaponry will just end up in the hands of ISIS fighters. The war is now and you stick with forces who have been currently effective on the battlefield. And this is the Popular Mobilization Forces.
The stakes are high in the battle to retake Ramadi. The U.S. is going to do what it can to make sure the Iraqi Shiite militias aren't effective. I interpret SecDef Ashton Carter's bizarre public rebuke of the Iraqi forces for losing Ramadi as laying the foundation for an eventual U.S. ultimatum to Iraqi prime minister Abadi: either you let us manage the ground troops, or we withhold our air power. This would guarantee the kind of lengthy siege and stalemate that is a hallmark of the war in Syria.
The silver lining in recent U.S. maneuvers is that its double game has been broadly exposed. Abadi can longer be a player in the U.S.-led ruse to aid ISIS without being ousted by his Dawa Party. Even liberal outlets in the U.S. are beginning to point out how the Western media supports the caliphate.