ISIS Militants Capture Cities on Both Sides of Iraq/Syria Border
June 22, 2014 • 11:15AM

Separate news reports indicate that, on the one side, ISIS militants have captured the Iraqi border city of Al Qaim, about 200 miles south of Tal Afar, which they captured earlier in the week. At the same time, ISIS and other jihadi groups captured three towns—Muhassan, Albulil and Albuomar, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights—on the Syrian side of the border, all up the Euphrates River from Al Qaim and moving them closer to the Syrian city of Deir al-Zor's military airport.

Retired DIA officer Col. Patrick Lang offered the following assessment of these developments on his blog, today:

"It seems that the importance of geography in war is not well understood anymore. Four days ago we forecast here that the rebel coalition would attack to clear and hold the al-Qaim Euphrates river crossing and the associated border crossing into Syria. It was clear that the rebels would need to open their line of communication into Syria. They have done that and have also taken the town of Rawah farther to the east on the Euphrates. There is another major bridge at Rawah and desert roads go straight north from that bridge to Tel 'Afar and thence to the Mosul area. Captured Iraqi Army equipment is moving steadily to the west and south to Aleppo in some cases but most certainly down the gravel roads to Rawah and then on into Anbar Province to reinforce rebel forces. There are now photographs on the internet of Heavy Equipment Transporters (HET) loaded down with captured upgraded humvees, tanks and artillery. East of Rawah there is yet another bridge across the Euphrates at Haditha. This bridge is in rebel hands. A hard surface road runs straight from the bridge to Baiji where 200 government troops are fighting to retain the Baiji oil refinery. Pay attention, folks, the people running the rebel offensive know their craft well."