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ISIS' Gruesome Gamble

Why the Group Wants a Confrontation with the United States

Displaced people from the Yezidi minority group in northern Iraq, August 13, 2014. Rodi Said / Courtesy Reuters

The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), which is also called the Islamic State, is on the march. Two months after first sweeping through northern and central Iraq, it has started to push onward to Erbil, the seat of the Kurdish Regional Government. Along the way, it triggered a severe humanitarian crisis among Iraq’s Yezidi and Christian minorities and caused massive panic across the Kurdish autonomous region, which forced a reluctant United States to intervene. ISIS has also used its momentum to continue its expansion in Syria and, for a few days, even managed to hold parts of the Lebanese border city of Arsal. More confident than ever, ISIS is taking on a broad array of enemies, including the Iraqi, Syrian, and Lebanese militaries; Iraqi and Lebanese Shia militias; Kurds from Iraq, Syria, and Turkey; and Islamist and secular Syrian opposition forces. Now even U.S. air power

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