IS group 'sends 7,000 fighters to Iraq'

IS group 'sends 7,000 fighters to Iraq'
Iraqi government says Islamic State group has moved men from Syria to reinforce Tikrit and other areas, which Iraqi forces have been trying to retake for a week.
2 min read
08 March, 2015
It is believed that the IS fighters are destined for several Iraqi frontlines

The Islamic State group has moved 7,000 fighters from Syria to Iraq as Iraqi forces battle to retake Tikrit from the group, according to Iraqi government sources.

The Iraqi defence ministry on Saturday said the men were moved via Nineveh and Anbar deserts adjacent to Deir ez-Zour and al-Bukamal in Syria, on the orders of the IS group's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

According to an intelligence report fot the ministry, the fighters have been sent to various areas including Tikrit, which has been the scene of fierce fighting for seven days.

An Iraqi brigadier general, who wished to remain anonymous, told al-Araby al-Jadeed that an intelligence report given to Iraqi officials suggested there were now more regular IS troops in Iraq than Syria.

"The report indicates direct orders had come from Baghdadi to bring in more than 7,000 IS fighters from Raqaa, Deir ez-Zour, and al-Bukamal to Iraq, to assist the fighters fighting in Tikrit, Fallujah, al-Ramadi, al-Karma, and al-Baghdadi in the Anbar province, in addition to the areas west of Baghdad such as Abu Ghraib, Aqraqouf, and Radwaniyah.

"This is in addition to the battles in Makhmour and Sinjar with Kurdish Peshmerga and Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PSS) forces," he added.

Ismail al-Qaisi, a political analyst, said the influx of IS fighters into Iraq means the Syrian battlefront has become secondary for the group.

Qaisi also said he believed anti-IS Syrian factions could fill the vacuum left by the redeployment, and that it would be difficult for IS to retake any territory lost.

This is an edited translation of the original Arabic.