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What Is ISIS?07:22

This article is more than 6 years old.

Militants in Iraq are fighting under the banner of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. It has been described as an extremist Sunni group that wants to establish an Islamic empire across the Middle East.

For more on what this group is, Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson talks to Ahmed Ali from the Institute for the Study of War.

Interview Highlights

On what ISIS wants

"ISIS has many aspirations. One of its primary aspirations is the establishment of an Islamic state that extends between Iraq and Syria... ISIS [also] wants to ensure that it positions itself as the defender of Iraqi Sunnis, even though the Iraqi Sunnis do not wholeheartedly welcome ISIS' advances in Iraq at the moment."

On how the U.S. should intervene

"Air strikes are an important mechanism that can be used to give the Iraq security forces and air powers a priority and also the ability to have better intelligence. It does have to happen, the Iraq security forces do need it. The air strikes however have to be accompanied by U.S. special operations forces on the ground in Iraq. Those forces will ensure that the air strikes are more effective."

On why Iraq needs help

"It is not solely sectarian violence that we see in Iraq today. It is also a group that is extremist and wants to target its opponents, no matter what their background is. ISIS, In the last year, has launched a campaign called "Soldier's Harvest" ... it targeted Iraqi Sunnis who are members of the security forces, it targeted Iraqi politicians who are members of the political process. The presence of ISIS is not only a threat to the Iraqi Shia ... ISIS is a threat to all Iraqis."


This segment aired on June 19, 2014.

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