Children play with an Iraqi Army helmet left behind after militants from the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) took over the northern city of Mosul, Iraq, Friday, June 13, 2014.(AP Photo)
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The intent was to terrorize Sunnis in Iraq's army and police forces and deepen their already low morale.That fear is one factor behind the stunning collapse of Iraqi security forces when fighters led by ISIS overran the cities of Mosul and Tikrit this week, sweeping over a swath of Sunni-majority territory. Even after the United States spent billions of dollars training the armed forces during its 2003-11 military presence in Iraq, the 1-million-member army and police remain riven by sectarian discontents, corruption and a lack of professionalism.Desertion has been heavy the past six months among forces in the western province of Anbar, Iraq's Sunni heartland, where troops have been fighting in vain to uproot ISIS fighters who took over the city of Fallujah, said two high officials – one in the government and the other in the intelligence services.Many troops are drawn from the ranks of Shiite militiamen and from Sunni tribal militias, known as the Sahwa, set up by the Americans to fight Al-Qaeda.Sunnis are well represented in the military's officer corps.
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