23 ISIS Fighters, 17 Iraqi Soldiers Killed South of Baghdad

Islamists Expand Closer to Shi'ite Heartland

Early morning clashes between ISIS fighters and the Iraqi military left 17 soldiers dead and three others wounded, with reports that 23 ISIS were also slain in the same battle, in Jurf al-Sakhr.

Jurf al-Sakhr itself is a relatively nondescript town along the Euphrates River, and a fight between ISIS and the Iraqi military over such a town normally wouldn’t be a huge deal, but for the location.

ISIS has seized virtually all points west of Baghdad, and many important cities north of Baghdad. Jurf al-Sakhr is south of Baghdad, and could indicate growing efforts to encircle the capital, with the town midway between Baghdad itself and the Shi’ite holy city of Karbala.

At this point neither side can really claim control of Jurf al-Sakhr, with the Iraqi military and Shi’ite militias setting up shop during the day, but usually abandoning the area by sunset, with ISIS fighters planting bombs along the road at night.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of Antiwar.com.