Reports have surfaced that Iraqi security forces are arresting people known to be associates of ISIS militants and detaining them briefly for questioning. According to reports, a woman who was said to be related to the leader of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria was briefly detained near the city of Samarra. The leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, comes from a tribe whose origins are in Samarra. The government seems to be searching the area for any relatives of his who might have information about him.
ISIS is the most powerful militant group in Iraq, but also relies on alliances with smaller groups. The Iraqi security forces have been struggling to find a level that could be used against the militant group. Iraqi security forces has repeatedly used the tactic of detaining female relatives of insurgents to obtain information. ISIS fighters expressed their anger about the woman’s detention and announced that they would take revenge. Whether the woman detained was a relative of Mr. Baghdadi has not been verified.
One of the stated goals of the militants is damaging the Askariya Shrine in Samarra, one of the holiest sites to Shiites. The militants also recently took over several small villages southwest of Baghdad. A suicide bomber believed to be associated with the group struck in Baghdad, detonating a car that killed 24 people and wounded at least 35. The Iraqi security forces have been focused on retaking Tikrit and slowing the advance of the militants across the nation.
Another series of bloody battles was fought in a Sunni area known as Jurf al-Sakhar, less than 50 miles south of Baghdad. ISIS fighters hit the Iraqi Army with a volley of mortar shells, rocket-propelled grenades and gunfire as they advanced toward the village to retrieve the bodies of soldiers killed in an earlier fight. The commander ordered a retreat after several of his men were killed and ISIS fighters pursued them. The militants then took over a police checkpoint.