The Dramatic Gains ISIS Has Made in Iraq

PHOTO: Kurdish peshmergas patrol in Mahmur area to prevent attacks
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It's been eight weeks since the militant Islamic force known as ISIS made headlines for seizing the Iraqi city of Mosul and declaring its intention to take over and create an Islamic Caliphate in the territory.

During those weeks, ISIS has seized cities across Iraq and has forced thousands to flee -- including many cities occupied by Kurds in the northern part of the country and Christian villages.

The group, whose initials stand for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, has declared that the caliphate now exists in the parts of Iraq and Syria it controls and is called the Islamic State.

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This week, ISIS forces have surrounded and isolated a group of some 40,000 Yazidis, an ethnic group of Kurds in the north that fled their villages and are stranded on a mountain top with no food or water.

According to UNICEF, ISIS is responsible for the deaths of 40 Yazidi children and the displacement of up to 25,000.

Iraq, Turkey, and the United States are working to drop emergency aid packages to the stranded Yazidis by air today, US officials tell ABC News..

PHOTO: Iraqi security forces and volunteers take part in a mission to secure an area
Reuters
PHOTO: Iraqi security forces and volunteers take part in a mission to secure an area

"We have been working urgently and directly with officials in Baghdad and Erbil to coordinate Iraqi airdrops to people in need," a US Department of Defense official said today.

PHOTO: Members of the Kurdish Peshmerga forces take a position to fight
Sivan Siddik/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
PHOTO: Members of the Kurdish Peshmerga forces take a position to fight

The Iraqi military has continued with airstrikes targeting ISIS fighters in regions of the country the militant group has seized, but has failed to fend them off. At the same time, Kurdish officials also said they would launch a counteroffensive.

There are also conflicting reports out today about whether the extremist group ISIS has taken control over Iraq's largest and most dangerous dam, which Iraqi officials had previously said was safe under the protection of Kurdish forces.

The question of control over the dam is critical because if the dam were to break, either accidentally or purposefully, it could flood Mosul.

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