Today is Day 1,181 of the Syria conflict.
The extremist group known as the Islamic State of Syria and the Levant today took the Iraqi city of Mosul, many of the surrounding areas in Ninevah province, and several areas in Kirkuk province and Salaheddin province. Iraq's prime minister has asked the parliament to declare a state of emergency.
ISIL — also spelled ISIS, depending on your translation of choice — was born out of the Iraq War, but has lately been fighting against Bashar al-Assad in Syria, where it is one of the most radical of the jihadist groups on the rebel side. (While fighting against Assad's forces, it simultaneously fights against the Al Qaeda-aligned Nusra Front, another extremist rebel group — Al Qaeda disowned ISIL in February.)
What do today's events in Iraq have to do with Syria? See below.
"It is one battlefield, western Iraq and eastern Syria," former Iraqi national security advisor Dr. Mowaffak al-Rubaie told GlobalPost in March.
And even that may be an understatement. Saturday, Der Spiegel published an interview with former UN special envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi, who warned about the risk of the Syria conflict expanding to the entire region. "[ISIL]... is active in both Syria and Iraq already, and Jordan is really struggling to continue resisting. Even Turkey! According to a senior Iraqi official, [ISIL] has carried out 100 operations in Syria and 1,000 in Iraq in just three months."
ISIL fighters are a particularly nasty and disgusting bunch. They were behind the crucifixion displays of dead bodies back in April. Last week, ISIL fighters shot and killed a 102-year-old man in his sleep, along with his son, grandson, great-granddaughter, and her mother. They also set fire to the house, burning some of those family members alive.
The conflict continues.