WASHINGTON — U.S. Central Command on Friday downplayed a rash of Islamic State attacks in the Middle East, again maintaining that the hardline Islamist group remains on the defensive.
Col. Pat Ryder, a CENTCOM spokesman, said a twin car-bombing that killed 15 people late Thursday in Baghdad shows the Islamic State has only a limited capability to attack the Iraqi capital. He said a bombing Friday at a Shiite mosque in Saudi Arabia may not have been carried out by the Islamic State.
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for both the Baghdad bombings and the Saudi attack, the second against a Shiite mosque in the kingdom in a week. Four people were killed in the Friday Saudi blast.
Despite the Islamic State’s claim, Ryder told reporters at the Pentagon that it was unclear who was responsible and that some militants claim affiliation with the Islamic State simply because it’s the “popular terrorist group of the month.”
On May 15, Marine Brig. Gen. Thomas Weidley, chief of staff of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, told Pentagon reporters that “we firmly believe (the Islamic State) is on the defensive throughout Iraq and Syria.” As he spoke, the Islamic State was launching a major attack on the Iraqi city of Ramadi, which was well within two days after the Iraqi army fled the city.
That triggered an outcry from critics in Congress and elsewhere that the U.S. military was sugar-coating the situation in Iraq….
No kidding, really?