Al-Qaida-inspired insurgents gaining ground in Iraq

Associated Press
This Tuesday, July 22, 2014 photo shows a motorist passing by a flag of the Islamic State group in central Rawah, 175 miles (281 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad, Iraq, nearly six weeks since a Sunni militant blitz led by the Islamic State extremist group seized large swaths of northern and western Iraq. (AP Photo)

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Using its own version of "soft" and "hard" power, the Islamic State is crushing resistance across northern Iraq so successfully that its promise to march on Baghdad may no longer be unrealistic bravado.

While conventional states try to win hearts and minds abroad before necessarily resorting to military force, the jihadist group is also achieving its aims by psychological means - backed up by a reputation for extreme violence. (Reuters)

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