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ISIL tightens grip on Iraq

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Zach McAuliffe
Zach McAuliffe is a University of Dayton alumni with degrees in journalism and English. He wants to present people with all the facts they need to make informed decisions on the world around them. He also enjoys Shakespeare and long walks on the beach with his puppy Lily.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the terrorist group disavowed by al-Qaeda and is responsible for the recent state of turmoil in the Middle East, has captured the city of Tal Afar and made claims of mass execution over the weekend.

The city of Tal Afar is close to the Iraqi city of Mosul, which was captured last week along with the arms depots within the city.  According to the NBC News, the same weapons captured in Mosul, mostly rocket launchers and machineguns, were used in the seizure of Tal Afar.

Capturing the city is a strategic move by ISIL who also have captured cities in Syria.  Tal Afar is only 93 miles from the Syrian border, making it an opportune route to connect ISIL forces and supplies across the northern parts of the two countries.

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ISIL also released photos this past weekend of their members executing hundreds of captured Iraqi soldiers and civilians.  According to RT, the photos were posted to the Twitter account associated with ISIL, and a spokesman for the group claimed the pictures and killings took place just north of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.

The group has had their sights set on attacking Baghdad, which has prompted the U.S. to strengthen the security of the embassy in the city.  About 150 U.S. Marines arrived at the embassy to protect U.S. citizens and diplomats.  The embassy itself though will stay open, said the U.S. State Department, but some of the staff will be relocated temporarily.

This comes a few days after planeloads of other American diplomats were evacuated from the Iraqi airbase of Balad, another city just north of Baghdad.

British officials in Baghdad said they have no intention to evacuate their staff from what is designated the “Green Zone” in the city, but they claimed to have witnessed large groups of individuals lining up at the main airport while many others withdrew money from local banks.

The U.S. is considering talks with Iran in the coming days to cooperate in combating ISIL in Iraq.  Iran has already sent their Revolutionary Guard to combat ISIL forces, while the U.S. government is considering sending drones and other air support to aid the Iranian fighters.

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