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Islamic State militants may seize Baghdad -- Russian expert

The possibility of seizing Baghdad by gunmen of the Islamic State (IS) cannot be ruled out, a member of the Russian president's council for interaction with religious associations said on Monday.

Aleksandr Ignatenko, President of the Institute of Religion and Politics, told Itar-Tass that the IS group also poses a threat to other countries of the region - Iran, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia.

"The Islamic State intends to expand in various directions. The fact that Saudi Arabia is currently reinforcing is border with Iraq, shows that the Saudis take the threat emanating from the Islamic State very seriously. In addition, Saudi Arabia has recently provided one billion U.S. dollars for the strengthening of the Lebanese army, so that it could resist the Islamic State, which is expanding towards the Mediterranean coast," he said.

Ignatenko has named two reasons for the IS militants' successes, which largely contributed to their quick establishment of control over a considerable part of Iraq. "The first is that the nucleus of this group is comprised not of Arabs, but of mujahidins from 80 countries, including France, the UK, Germany, let alone such countries as Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Libya, who arrived in Iraq and Syria. There are very many such mujahidins - thousands and maybe tens of thousands," he said. "The most important thing is that they have no ties whatsoever with the countries where they fight. Unlike, for example, Kurds, who are tied to the zone of their settlement and fight well in the territory of Kurdistan, but cannot fight in the Shiite region in the south of Iraq. The Shiites, for their part, can more or less successfully resist the Islamic State in the south of Iraq or in Karbala or Najaf, but are totally unfit for action in the north of Iraq."

"The second reason for the Islamic State success is that IS gunmen are monstrously cruel. IS gunmen have been practicing cutting off the heads of captured enemy fighters, recently using not knives, but chainsaws. The Islamists use these atrocities for their propaganda, posting the head-cutting photos and videos online and thus causing panic among the Iraqi regular army soldiers and Kurds from the Peshmerga militia," the expert said. "For example, they have seized Mosul without a single shot. The Iraqi military, stationed there, simply ran away, because they had been gripped by panic in advance.

[Source: Itar Tass, Moscow, 11Aug14]

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