The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) continued its relentless military campaign in the Anbar province Friday, capturing the town of Husseiba, four miles east of Ramadi.
ISIS troops declared victory in the small Iraqi town when police and tribal forces retreated after allegedly running out of ammunition, according to media reports.
“We have not received any assistance from the government,” tribal leader Sheikh Rafie al-Fahdawi told the Associated Press by phone. “Our men fought to the last bullet and several of them were killed."
ISIS took control of Ramadi, capital of western Iraq’s Anbar province, on Sunday.
Al-Fahdawi admitted on Friday that ISIS’s gains in Husseiba edged them closer to Habbaniyah, a crucial government military base situated nearby.
“The situation is very critical,” he said.
“The militants are about five kilometers from Habbaniyah base, which is now in great danger,” al-Fahdawi added.
ISIS’s wins in Iraq followed similar momentum in Syria earlier this week.
The terrorist group seized the ancient city of Palmyra, a U.N. World Heritage site, on Wednesday after days of fighting, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a group based in the U.K.
The extremist organization now controls half of Syrian territory, the Observatory said.
The AP additionally reported on Thursday that ISIS has killed at least 280 soldiers and government forces since capturing Palmyra, according to activists there.
It added that ISIS also conquered al-Tanf on Thursday, taking the last border crossing between Iraq and Syria that was controlled by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s troubled embattled government.
President Obama addressed concerns about ISIS’s forward motion in remarks about his counterterrorism strategy made after the fall of Ramadi.
“No, I don’t think we’re losing,” he said in an interview with The Atlantic. “There’s no doubt this was a tactical setback."
Critics have argued that Obama’s use of airstrikes and support for Iraqi military forces are not drastic enough measures for the threat ISIS presents.
The president dismissed such arguments during his interview on Thursday.
“I know that there are some in Republican quarters who have suggested that I’ve over-learned the mistake of Iraq, and that, in fact, just because the 2003 invasion did not go well doesn’t argue that we should not go back in,” Obama said.
“And one lesson that I think is important to draw from what happened is that if the Iraqis themselves are not willing or capable to arrive at the political accommodations necessary to govern, if they are not willing to fight for the security of their country, we cannot do that for them,” he added.
ISIS has also tasted some defeat in recent weeks.
U.S. Special Operations forces raided a location in Syria on Saturday, killing a senior ISIS leader there.
Abu Sayyaf reportedly helped run ISIS gas and oil operations before his death.
American operatives additionally captured his wife, Umm Sayyaf, and freed a young Yezidi woman who was reportedly the couple’s slave.