In an odd turnabout that few might have predicted a year or more ago, the United States now finds itself allied with Iran in the battle to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) — also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
ISIS/ISIL, which has received a great deal attention after its capture of much of northern Iraq and its posting of Internet videos of its beheadings, is the successor to the group commonly known as al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). On May 14, 2014, the U.S. State Department announced its decision to use “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (ISIL) as the group’s primary name, most likely to avoid reminding the world that that U.S. aid to the anti-Assad rebel coalition in Syria benefited ISIS.
The Washington Post, citing U.S., Iraqi, and Iranian sources, noted in a December 27 report that Iran has greatly increased its military involvement in Iraq over the past year by providing much-needed aid to the Baghdad government in its fight against Islamic State militants. ISIS conquered much of northern Iraq, including the major city of Mosul, last June, extending its scope of its operations from its activities against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair commented at the time, “There is also no doubt that a major proximate cause of the takeover of Mosul by ISIL is the situation in Syria.”
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