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Tipsheet

ISIS Threatens Outskirts of Baghdad

ISIS encroached on the outskirts of Baghdad today when three militants, disguised as Iraqi military, attacked a government office in Amiriyat Al-Falluja. The attack involved a suicide bombing and took the lives of at least eight people, leaving 17 wounded. Two of the three militants are said to be still at large.  ISIS claimed credit for the attack, saying it had killed "dozens of apostates."

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ISIS has continued to take large swaths of Iraqi territory, despite the ongoing US-led air campaign. ISIS is now positioning itself around Baghdad, the heart of Iraq's remaining stronghold.

Located on the western fringe of Baghdad, Amiriyat al-Falluja is one of the few remaining pockets of territory under government control in Anbar province, most of which is held by ISIS.

Since overrunning the provincial capital Ramadi last month, the insurgents have sought to consolidate their gains in Anbar by attacking the last government strongholds, strung out along the Euphrates river valley.

Iraqi security forces and Shiite paramilitaries are meanwhile edging towards Ramadi.

ISIS has also released a new propaganda video, in which the group vowed to "liberate" Baghdad soon.  Baghdad is home to America's $750-million embassy, which is situated in the Green Zone and is protected by over 800 marines.

Meanwhile, President Obama recently admitted that he lacks a "complete strategy" for training Iraqi troops to confront ISIS:

"When a finalized plan is presented to me by the Pentagon, then I will share it with the American people," Obama said, adding, "We don't yet have a complete strategy."

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The president is taking heat for fumbling while Iraq is being gobbled up.

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul said in a statement: "It is no surprise this administration does not have a 'complete strategy' for training Iraqis to fight ISIS. What is surprising is that the president admitted it."

Given that Iraqi troops have been fleeing the fight with ISIS, one wonders why training more Iraqi troops will make much of a difference.  The president will be forced to make some decision about US troop levels in the coming weeks as ISIS closes in on Baghdad.  An ISIS penetration into Baghdad, even if brief, would deal a symbolic blow to American power and would grant a significant PR boost to the Islamist group.

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