After spending 10 days in Islamic State-dominated areas, German journalist Jurgen Todenhofer says ISIS doesn’t fear Western soldiers because of their lack of experience in guerrilla warfare, but definitely fears the IDF.
By Daniel Siryoti, Eli Leon, Reuters & Israel Hayom Staff
“The only country ISIS [Islamic State] fears is Israel,” German journalist Jurgen Todenhofer said in an interview with the British Jewish News after spending 10 days in Islamic State territories in Iraq and Syria.
A member of the Iraqi security forces holds an Iraqi flag in the city of Ramadi, Dec. 27 – Photo: Reuters
The German reporter and former member of the German parliament is the only Western journalist to have been granted access to areas ruled by the extremist group. He was accompanied by his adult son. While there, Todenhofer interviewed Islamic State fighters who told him they “know the Israeli army is too strong for them.”
According to Todenhofer, Islamic State does not fear Western soldiers and seeks to lure American and British ground forces to operate in its territories so it can kidnap them.
“They think they can defeat U.S. and U.K. ground troops, who they say have no experience in city guerrilla or terrorist strategies, But they know the Israelis are very tough as far as fighting against guerrillas and terrorists,” he said.
“They are not scared of the British and the Americans, they are scared of the Israelis, and told me the Israeli army is the real danger.”
Meanwhile, the group has lost control of the town of Ramadi, the capital of Iraq’s Anbar province, west of Baghdad. Iraq’s Defense Ministry issued an official statement saying that Iraqi troops seized Ramadi after taking control of a government complex in the city center, the last stronghold in the capital held by the jihadist group. According to the statement, the entire province is now under Iraqi control.
After encircling the city for weeks, the Iraqi military launched a campaign to retake it last week, and made a final push to seize the central administration complex on Sunday.
“By controlling the complex this means that we have defeated them in Ramadi,” said Sabah al-Numani, a spokesman for the force leading the fight on the government side. “The next step is to clear pockets that could exist here or there in the city.”
State television broadcast footage of troops, Humvee vehicles and tanks advancing through Ramadi streets amid piles of rubble and collapsed houses. Some districts appeared to have been completely destroyed by the advance.
Television also showed nighttime celebrations in mainly Shiite cities south of Baghdad for the victory in Anbar, with people dancing in the streets and waving Iraqi flags from cars.
The government said the next target after Ramadi will be the northern city of Mosul, by far the largest population center controlled by Islamic State in either Iraq or Syria.
“The smooth victory in Ramadi should be happy news for the residents of Mosul,” spokesman Numani said. U.S. officials had hoped Baghdad would launch an assault on Mosul during 2015, but this was put off after the fighters swept into Ramadi in May.
Dislodging Islamic State from Mosul, which had a pre-war population close to 2 million, would effectively abolish its state structure in Iraq and deprive them of a major source of funding, which comes partly from oil and partly from fees and taxes on residents.
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