Using secret tunnels built by Saddam Hussein and rough terrain to outfox Iraqi troops, Islamic State insurgents are getting dangerously close to Baghdad with the support of heavily-armed Sunni tribesmen, Iraqi security and intelligence officials said.
The al Qaeda offshoot, which poses the biggest security threat to Iraq since the fall of Saddam in 2003, has made new bold advances in the north, reaching a major dam and seizing a fifth oilfield and three more towns after routing security forces from the Kurdish autonomous region.
But some Iraqi intelligence and security officials are far more alarmed by the Islamic State’s less heralded campaign in rural areas just south of the capital, rugged Euphrates valley terrain once known to U.S. forces as the “triangle of death”.
While the Islamic State’s march on Baghdad from the north has been halted near the town of Samarra 100 km (60 miles) from the city limits, the fighters have more quietly building up their forces on the capital’s southern outskirts.
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