ISIS defeats Kurds

Iraq may be turning into a bigger problem than initially anticipated:

Islamic State fighters seized control of Iraq’s biggest dam, an oilfield and two more towns on Sunday after inflicting their first major defeat on Kurdish forces since sweeping through the region in June. Local officials said militants with the extremist group Islamic State took control of the towns of Zumar and Sinjar near the city of Mosul on Sunday, waging fierce clashes with Kurdish forces. The French news agency AFP quoted a United Nations spokesman saying 200,000 people have fled Sinjar and said there are grave concerns for their safety.

The Kurds are considered reasonably respectable fighters, even if, as Tom Kratman can attest, they don’t always fight fair. But if ISIS is able to not only defeat the feeble state forces, but the Kurdish peshmerga as well, this would appear to indicate that they’ll be able to take Baghdad soon and use it as the center of their new caliphate.

And that is without taking the strategic effect of the dam into account. That being said, it was a fairly small skirmish, so may indicate nothing concerning the two parties’ relative capabilities.