By last night, they had reached the town of Balad, just 55 miles north of Baghdad, and the battle rages there, as Iraq’s leaders bid to save the capital from being overrun, as many other Iraqi cities already have.
As the battle for Baghdad loomed, the U.S. yesterday ordered aircraft carrier George H W Bush to move to the Persian Gulf for possible air strikes against the militants, while Iranian president Hassan Rouhani suggested the two traditional enemies may work together to defend Iraq, saying: ‘When the U.S. takes action against [the militants], then one can think about cooperation.’
At a checkpoint near his base at Camp Taji on the Baghdad-Samarra Highway, Lt Omar al-Saadi shouted down to me yesterday. ‘Things are very bad up there but we are ready for it. This is our country and our people. We can defeat the terrorists,’ he said.
Several armoured Jeeps and Hummers donated by the American military were being towed, disabled in fire-fights with jihadists who have seized tanks, weapons and even Hummers as their spoils of war in Mosul and Tikrit.