ISIS Attacks Raise Concerns Iraqi Troops Spread Too Thin

Desperate Rush to Mosul Leaves Defensive Line Tenuous

Suicide bombings in Sadr City one day, and a bombing against a funeral in Diyala Province the next, it seems hardly a day goes by in Iraq without a major ISIS bombing attack. Such bombings are nothing new, of course, but the growing rate is raising doubts about Iraq’s security woes.

To hear the Abadi government talk, the growing ISIS strikes are a sign of “desperation” by the group, but military commanders and provincial officials warn that Iraq’s desperation to push the offensive against ISIS to the city of Mosul, the military is simply spread too thin to defend the country anymore.

Even the much-vaunted “gains” by the Iraqi military, like the capture/destruction of Ramadi, threaten to be short-lived, as the lack of effort to consolidate control over the ruins of the city are simply relegating it to no man’s land status, as the troops move on.

And while Ramadi was a big city, its proximity to Baghdad made it a relatively easy target for the Iraqi military to recover. Mosul, by contrast, is far to the northwest, and has been under ISIS control for much longer, meaning the defenses will be all the more fierce.

The Abadi government appears to be betting everything on their latest push, hoping to expel ISIS outright from Iraqi territory in one swoop. It’s a risky proposition, and is exposing central Iraq to major counterattacks.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.