Waging jihad to establish Islamic caliphate, the ISIS emerges as the most fearsome and well funded terrorist organization in the world. Its ferocity and determination have made it conquer large swath of lands in Syria and Iraq. During a battle Iraqi security forces fled from engagement leaving behind large quantity of weapons given to them by the Americans. The bonanza of American weapons and their initial military victories were a big boost to the morale of the ISIS fighters.
The advance of the ISIS has displaced thousands of indigenous population. Its onslaught created a flow of refugees in Northern Iraq and the Turkish borders. The ISIS which is mostly composed of Sunnis is at odds with the local Shiites, and armed confrontations are common occurrence between them. Conquering an area, the ISIS militants give the minorities such as the Christians and the Yazidis to convert to Islam or be killed. In areas that fell under their control after a military operation, the militants imposed harsh actions to the local populace. Women and children are separated from the men. The men including older male children are then killed execution style. The method of execution includes shooting, beheading and crucifying. Captured or kidnapped women are then raped or made as sex slaves. Selected young women are gifted to ISIS commanders as “wives”. Captured children are trained to become “holy warriors” or suicide bombers.
The US and western nations airstrikes have given the Kurds, the Iraqi security forces and other local militias a breathing space to deal with the ISIS. The Peshmerga the Kurdish armed forces which took the brunt of the fighting were able to recapture lost grounds. With US air support and weapons supplied by France and other European nations' the Kurds stalled or halted the ISIS advance into their territory.
Getting back at the Americans, the ISIS beheaded two American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff in an effort to intimidate them and their allies. France which is active in the campaign against the terror group was also given a warning that its citizens will be targeted.
Despite the US air strikes, the ISIS militants have shown their superiority over local adversaries especially the Iraqi security forces. In the middle of September 2014, ISIS militants besieged an Iraqi army unit guarding a strategic supply route in Western Anbar. Suicide bombers dressed as Iraqi soldiers on bomb-laden Humvee vehicles drove through an army camp and detonated the bombs into the Iraqi soldiers’ positions. The explosions inflicted heavy casualties to the surprised Iraqi army. Amid the chaos and confusion that ensued, the militants then assaulted and overran the camp and killed as many as 250 Iraqi soldiers. Those who were not killed were captured or were able to escape. It is estimated that the Iraqi security forces lost about 500 of its troops that are listed as either killed or missing in that battle.
The brutalities of the ISIS have made some leaders and clerics of Muslim world such as Saudi Arabia to denounce the group. They stated that the group’s actions are disgrace to the Islamic faith and are not compatible with the principles of Islam. And that the ISIS does not represent the Muslims. Putting their money where their mouths are, Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Bahrain with Qatar in supporting role have joined the coalition of countries that conducted airstrikes against the ISIS in Syria.