In recent weeks, conflicts in Gaza and Ukraine have diverted the world’s attention from events unfolding in Iraq, where the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) launched a wave of successful military offensives in early June.
ISIS continues to consolidate its hold on large swathes of the Sunni heartland. The group claimed responsibility for a July 19 suicide bombing in Baghdad, while its Syrian arm captured Syria’s largest oil field from rival Islamist militants. ISIS has also issued a decree that gives Christians in northern Iraq three options: convert, pay a special tax, or be killed. On June 29, ISIS leader al-Baghdadi was named caliph of the new Islamic State, or ISIS-controlled territory, which comprises about one-third of Iraq and sprawls across the border into Syria. ISIS has also warned women in Mosul to wear full veils, loose clothing, and cover their hands and feet or face harsh consequences. Walking in public unaccompanied by a male guardian is prohibited.