ISIS targeted the Samarra Askari Shrine in an effort to divert ISF resources from Tikrit or Baghdad. The mobilization of the Sadrist Brigades to Samarra and the increase in murders in Baghdad are indications of escalated Shi’a militia activity. Tribes in Haditha may be negotiating the peaceful occupation of the city by ISIS and other armed groups. Upon establishing control of Haditha, ISIS will likely attempt to seize control of Ramadi and declare total control over Anbar province. ISIS is testing the volunteer force defending the city.
ISIS may be launching a renewed military offensive to take control of all urban centers in Anbar Province, beginning with Haditha and moving toward Ramadi. The Haditha Dam is a critical element of Iraq’s infrastructure, which ISIS and other anti-government groups may use to obstruct ISF mobility in Anbar, much like the Fallujah Dam in April 2014.
The Iraqi government is preparing defenses for the Battle of Baghdad as Ramadan approaches. The government’s plan will also likely include the deployment of Iraqi Shi’a militias. ISIS’s gains in Ramadi indicate the increasing threat to the city. ISIS aims to take Ramadi as part of its interim, operational objectives.