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On the western edge of Iraq's capital, ISIS militants battle government forces and exchange mortar fire, only adding to the sense of siege in Baghdad despite airstrikes by a U.S.-led coalition.It does, however, put them in a position to wreak havoc in Iraq's biggest city, with its suicide attacks and other assaults further eroding confidence in Iraq's nascent federal government and its troops, whose soldiers already fled an initial lightning advance led by ISIS in June.The U.S.-led coalition recently launched two airstrikes northwest of Hit, U.S. Central Command said Saturday.To the south of Baghdad, security forces fight to hold onto the town of Jurf al-Sakhr, and to the north, one Sunni tribe has held onto the town of Dhuluiyah despite an ISIS onslaught. However, ISIS fighters have taken over a number of towns in Diyala province, east of Baghdad.According to one senior U.S. military official, who spoke anonymously as he's not authorized to brief the media, the Iraqi military had strength of about 205,000 soldiers in January.Beyond the U.S.-coordinated airstrikes and the massing of Iraqi troops, the country's religious and ethnic lines likely will staunch any advance by the Sunni militants of ISIS.
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