Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is believed to be preparing a massive assault on Baghdad.
Officials said the Iraqi intelligence community, backed by help from the United States, detected ISIL preparations for an invasion of Baghdad over the next few months.
The Iraqi military is reportedly building fortifications near the capital, Baghdad, to repel an imminent ISIL attack.
The Iraqi military is reportedly building fortifications around Baghdad to repel an imminent ISIL attack.
The officials said ISIL was amassing thousands of fighters in towns around the capital while infiltrating the city itself.
“Up to 10,000 terrorists are ready to attack Baghdad,” Anbar provisional council president Sabah Karhout said.
Officials confirmed reports that ISIL reached suburbs of Baghdad, including Abu Ghraib. They said the collapse of the Iraq Army and security forces in Anbar would enable ISIL to organize a massive assault on Baghdad.
“ISIL is building a network throughout Baghdad, particularly in the Shi’ite districts,” an official said. “The idea is for a coordinated attack within and outside the city.”
ISIL was approaching Baghdad through a range of means. Officials said ISIL was using vehicles, boats and tunnels to reach the city.
On Oct. 12, the Iraq Army reported destroying two ISIL boats on the Euphrates River near Baghdad. The army said its 60th Brigade also stopped two ISIL vehicles in Mahasna west of Baghdad.
“Many ISIL elements were killed along the outskirts of Baghdad,” Iraqi spokesman Brig. Gen. Saad Maan said.
The United States, with 1,600 troops in Iraq, has acknowledged the ISIL threat. A recent attack by ISIL was said to have targeted Baghdad International Airport, foiled by two U.S. Army AH-64 Apache attack helicopters.
“Had they overrun the Iraqi unit, it was a straight shot to the airport,” Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said. “So, we’re not going to allow that to happen. We need that airport.”
Dempsey also acknowledged that the U.S. embassy in Baghdad had been under threat from ISIL. But the Joint Chiefs chairman said the threat has receded.
“It wasn’t so long ago that we were talking about the imminent fall of Irbil, the capital of the Kurdistan regional government,” Dempsey said. “It wasn’t so long ago when the U.S. embassy was actually feeling threatened in Baghdad. None of those are part of the landscape right now.”