Overnight the news for the Iraqi government could hardly have been more grim. Militants paraded captured security vehicles through two more cities that fell to them and the major city of Baquba, controlling the approaches to Baghdad could be next.
Fighting is ongoing there this morning after security forces in Jalawla and Saadiyah again reportedly deserted their positions and Sunni Islamists struck deep into the mountains and valleys of Diyala province, on the capital’s doorstep.
The Iraqi armed forces have struck back with air strikes and artillery bombardments of the two cities, and the Americans are considering military strikes as a matter of urgency to halt the advance. This has taken the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant forces to less than 50 kilometres from the capital.
There are also reports of treason at the top of the Iraqi military and a resurgence of powerful Saddam-era figures able to mobilise Iraq’s large Sunni minority.