As we created our way on the road to the front lines, in armored autos, an Iraqi army helicopter buzzed our convoy.
Violence is back on the rise in Iraq. Baghdad is a broken city, once again bracing for an all-out war. The Iraqi army has been retreating, fleeing as the Islamic State, also identified as ISIS or ISIL, rolls on, 1st in Mosul final year and then in Ramadi in May.
On a recent day, we had been on our way to meet a really distinctive type of army. We pulled up in the desert in Anbar Province, which is just about entirely dominated by ISIS.
We could see them: the religious militias fighting ISIS, with flags flying. They had been eager for battle — and they were backed by Iran. They are Shia religious militia, fueled by religious fervor.
As we approached 1 of their automobiles, we spied a picture of Iran’s Supreme leader in the windshield.
I asked: “How hard is it to fight against ISIS?”
“We will be victorious more than the cowardly traitors,” a fighter told me, “with God’s will.”
I could see their enthusiasm and their dedication to the fight. They wanted no more U.S. soldiers but they did want a lot more U.S. gear, ammunition and help.
They mentioned the U.S. was not their friend.
“If Obama sends far more American soldiers here, you will fight the Americans as well?” I asked.
They all yelled. One man yelled the loudest: “I will fight ISIS and the Americans!”
As the sun set, we ready to meet the official Iraqi army — the soldiers the U.S. is training and funding — but as we neared the front lines, radio targeted traffic warned of enemy fire.
“Sniper off to the left!” a security guy yelled.
We hustled inside and up stairs, ducking low. ISIS fighters had been just across the fields.
A soldier mentioned they had been attacked in this position by ISIS fighters “every day.”
When we sat down with the Iraqi soldiers, they sounded almost dejected.
“You want to fight ISIS but if you hear an American plane, you will hide?” we asked.
“The pilot will hit me, not ISIS,” he said.
Then they mounted up in their Humvees. Created in the USA.