At least 45 people were killed in bombings in and around Baghdad Saturday as Iraqi soldiers continued to defend the capital against Islamic State, or ISIS, militants. In Syria, the Sunni terror group has encircled Kurdish fighters struggling to defend the besieged border town of Kobani.
Three car bombs killed at least 34 people in Shi'ite neighborhoods in west Baghdad Saturday evening, according to Reuters.
A suicide bomber killed 11 and wounded 27 others in Kadhimiya, and two bombs killed 23 and injured 62 others in the Shaoula neighborhood.
Another suicide bomber killed 11 and wounded 21 others in a market 17 miles north of Baghdad between the towns of Tarmiyah and Mishahda.
The Associated Press reports that ISIS militants are fighting government forces and exchanging mortar fire on the western edge of Baghdad.
Militants, who are reported to have MANPAD anti-aircraft missiles which are capable of shooting down airplanes within a range of 15,000 feet, have advanced to Abu Ghraib, about 8 miles from Baghdad's international airport.
"Daash [ISIS] is openly operating inside Abu Ghraib," an Iraqi soldier told McClatchy news service. "I was at the 10th Division base there two days ago, and the soldiers cannot leave or patrol. Daash controls the streets."
However, experts believe ISIS cannot fight both government forces and Shiite militias that are around the capital.
"It's not plausible at this point to envision ISIL taking control of Baghdad, but they can make Baghdad so miserable that it would threaten the legitimacy of the central government," Richard Brennan, an Iraq expert with RAND Corporation and former Department of Defense policymaker, was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, in Syria, a Kurdish official, Ismet Sheikh Hasan, called for international help in defending the town of Kobani, which borders Turkey, as ISIS militants are encircling Kurdish fighters there. He described the situation as "dire".
"There are air strikes, but they are not that effective. It has been 26 days we have been resisting," he was quoted as saying. "We want the international community and the United Nations to support us."
A U.N. envoy warned Friday that thousands of people could be killed if Kobani is captured by ISIS.
"If this falls, the 700, plus perhaps the 12,000 people, apart from the fighters, will be most likely massacred," U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura said.
"Do you remember Srebrenica? We do. We never forgot and probably we never forgave ourselves," he added, referring to the Bosnian town where 8,000 Muslims were killed by Serbs in 1995. "When there is an imminent threat to civilians, we cannot, we should not, be silent."
ISIS, an al-Qaeda offshoot and also known as ISIL, has taken over more than 350 villages around Kobani, and over 150,000 people from the region have fled to Turkey.
The terror group has gained control of large swathes of territories in Iraq and Syria. It wants to form an Islamic emirate in the Levant region through "jihad."
ISIS released a video last week showing the beheading of a British aid worker, Alan Henning. Last month, the Sunni terror group released footage showing the execution of another British hostage, David Haines. In two previous videos, the group showed the execution of U.S. journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff.
According to the CIA, ISIS has about 31,500 fighters across Iraq and Syria. It is believed to have hundreds of foreign fighters, including those from the United States and Europe.