Iraqi soldiers brandish their weapons during a military training exercise in the mainly Shiite southern city of Basra. AFP PHOTO / HAIDAR MOHAMMED ALI
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The shortcomings of the Iraqi military, which withered under a June militant onslaught and relies on Shiite militias for support, pose a significant challenge to international efforts against jihadists.President Barack Obama has announced an expanded campaign of American airstrikes as well as training, intelligence support and equipment for Iraqi security forces to help drive back the jihadist group ISIS, which holds major areas in both Iraq and Syria. It will be up to these forces to retake and hold ground.Iraqi reliance on Shiite militia forces risks further alienating the Sunni Arab minority, the support of which will be key in regaining mainly Sunni areas that ISIS holds.Kurdish forces also moved into disputed northern territory when federal forces withdrew earlier this year.
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