“ISIL is the product of genocide in Syria.”


What began as a peaceful protest against the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad, mutated into an armed insurrection.

Civil war

An uprising became a civil war and the Islamic State of Iraq seized the opportunity

to enter the frayed edges of another sectarian battleground.


For President Assad, the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq in Syria, was a lifeline he could

ill-afford to lose.

The rise of the Islamist factions played into his hands and gave him the opportunity to use the same kind of dangerous rhetoric that the West has used in the War on Terror. Saying we’re fighting terrorists and using it to crack down, in a very brutal way, and, you know, obviously he was killing hundreds of thousands of civilians indiscriminately.”


“ISIL came at a great time for the Syrian regime because  the supporters of the regime, Iran and Russia, were always saying these are terrorists, these are not opposition.” – MINA AL-ORAIBI

“There were figures released by Jane’s Defence Weekly which revealed that six percent of the Syrian regime’s air strikes actually aimed at ISIL targets.


 The rest of them aimed at either the opposition or communities that support the opposition.” - MARTIN CHULOV


While Syria descended into civil war, Iraq opted to give Nouri al-Maliki a second term in office.

At the beginning of 2012, with US troops having left Iraq, Maliki moved to arrest Sunni members of his own government, accusing them of terrorist activities.


Having failed to address legitimate Sunni grievances, Maliki’s purge of Sunnis from his cabinet would play its part in pushing civil unrest to the brink of civil war.


Government crackdowns on Sunni protests in Falllujah and Ramadi, led to the cities becoming

sites of resentment that became very attractive for the jihadists who were ascendant just across

the  border in Syria.


There was some ISIL infiltration at these protests, and so Maliki used that as an excuse to carry out a military operation, a raid on one of these protest sites in Hawija in April 2013. The Iraqi Special Forces basically machine gunned dozens of people. That’s really when the civil war, the insurgency was fully reignited.” – ALI KHEDERY

New warfare

The Islamic State of Iraq now waged war across two fronts, Iraq and Syria.

Its strategy in Iraq remained guerrilla insurrection and suicide bomb attacks, while in Syria,

it was to move to a whole new level of warfare.


While the Western media focused on recruits from their own nations, the Islamic State of Iraq attracted thousands of seasoned fighters from Central Asia, North Africa and across the Middle East.


Recognising no other authority above his own, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, dismissed the authority of al-Qaeda, and claimed the Syrian insurgent group Jabhat al-Nusra, as part of his own organisation.


The new entity would have a new name - the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL.


And Baghdadi’s state-building mission began in Syria.


“The city of Al-Raqqah of Syria was the first significant, recognisable name that they took… they controlled it fully and they were able to start instilling their very demonic way of rule”


In January 2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant moved back across the border to Iraq,

to take control of Fallujah.


Just six months after overwhelming Iraqi Security Forces in Fallujah, ISIL set its sights

on Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul.


Failures of governance since the 2003 US invasion, had left Mosul vulnerable

to a new invading force.


“I asked one Iraqi four-star general, he recently retired, why the army collapsed so quickly at Mosul, and he said, "Corruption, corruption, corruption.” – PATRICK COCKBURN

5 to 600 ISIL forces drove their trucks into the city of Mosul

six divisions of the Iraqi army, roughly 120,000 men, melted like the snow. ISIL were able to seize six divisions’ worth of strategic weaponry, all of it US-supplied, all of it modern. They had at least 250 Humvees, 200 troop carriers as well.  They had 30-odd N-1 Abrams tanks and enough weaponry to supply any modern army for many years.” – MARTIN CHULOV

We spent nearly $200 billion on the Iraqi army this when, when, when the real war against ISIL started after, after Mosul. There wasn’t

a single plane in the air force, they had, they had to go and, and lease some from, from Iran. There was nothing frankly between them and Baghdad. They came within about eight miles from my house and the people who stopped them, if truth be told, were the Iranian

generals and the Shia militias.” – ALI ALLAWI

A day after seizing Mosul, and now armed with US weaponry, ISIL marched on Tikrit, taking another Sunni-majority city.


The group with pretensions of being a caliphate, now had its own territory across two countries, and very soon, it would proclaim its very own caliph.

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