The US is stepping into an extremely bloody, complicated civil conflict .... The US is only taking sides in a sectarian and ethnic conflict, supporting some extremist groups against other extremist groups.

Raed Jarrar, Iraq political analyst

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) today controls as much as one-third of Iraq's territory, including the second largest city, Mosul.

Although the group's power and influence expanded in Syria, Iraq is where it was born during the nearly nine-year-long US occupation of the country.

Thus far, tens of thousands of people have had to flee their homes as ISIL captures towns and villages.

ISIL-held territory is tightly controlled, off-limits to even journalists and human rights workers.

As the US steps up its air campaign against the group, Fault Lines travels some 900km across Iraq to look at the consequences of the fight against ISIL.

While Kurdish fighters and Shia militias battle ISIL, we find that they are facing their own accusations of human rights abuses, including ethnic cleansing.

The attack on ISIL has created unlikely alliances. But as each group pursues its own interests, they are threatening to unravel Iraq and divide the country more than ever.

Raed Jarrar, an Iraq political analyst, believes that "the US is stepping into an extremely bloody, complicated civil conflict. And we are funding, arming, Kurdish and Shia militias to attack Sunni areas. Iraqis will not see this as a fight against extremism, especially Iraqi Sunnis. They will see it as an attack against their neighbourhood. The US is only taking sides in a sectarian and ethnic conflict, supporting some extremist groups against other extremist groups."

 

Fault Lines can be seen on Al Jazeera English each week at the following times GMT: Tuesday: 2230; Wednesday: 0930; Thursday: 0330; Friday: 1630; Saturday: 0530.

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Source: Al Jazeera