BAGHDAD, June 17 (UPI) -- The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria neared Baghdad on Tuesday, as it fights to control the city of Baquba, 40 miles north of the Iraqi capital.
A Baquba police official and an official from the governor's office said that while ISIS has "made a great advance on Baquba," the city has not yet fallen into the Sunni Islamist militants' control.
The assault on Baquba began Monday with an attack launched against the Al Wahda police state on the city's western edge.
Iraqi security forces continued to clash with the insurgents into Tuesday. Baquba officials reported one ISF member, nine militants, and 44 prisoners were killed in the assault. The prisoners were killed when ISIS militants threw a hand grenade into the local prison.
ISIS has expressed its desire to seize Baghdad. In a video message posted online on June 12, ISIS spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani urged ISIS fighters to "Continue your march as the battle is not yet raging." The "battle," al-Adnani said, "will rage in Baghdad and Karbala. So be ready for it."
In response to the ISIS lightning offensive, the Pentagon has pre-positioned warships in the Persian Gulf, should they be needed.