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Shiites, ISIS terrorists meet on front lines outside Baghdad

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Shiite militia allied with Iraqi forces point toward ISIS positions about 15 miles from Baghdad's airport. (Source: CNN) Shiite militia allied with Iraqi forces point toward ISIS positions about 15 miles from Baghdad's airport. (Source: CNN)

MEHERIN, IRAQ (CNN) - There are growing concerns ISIS fighters are moving closer to the northwestern edge of the Baghdad airport.

Shi'a militia whose members used to fight the U.S. but who now are fighting ISIS move toward the front line.

They find the front line about 25 kilometers (15 miles) from Baghdad's airport.

The Shia fighters are with the Abu al-Fadl al-Abbas brigade.

Many of the ISIS militants are hiding in the open field in front of the Shiite militia allied with Iraq's army.

The terrorists can be seen in the distance in the grass.

Mortars fired by conventional Iraqi forces thud in the distance. That is where the ISIS positions are.

A village can be seen where ISIS moved into at dawn about a few hours before the Shiite militia arrived.

“At 5 a.m. on Wednesday the militia began creeping in, just to the edge of the orchards,” said battalion commander Abu Mou'amal al-Lami. “Our special forces entered first, just with knives.”

The men are experts in unconventional guerilla warfare.

Al-Lami was trained as a special forces officer under former Iraq President Saddam Hussein. He then became a member of one of the Shi'a militias that fought the Americans, though he won’t tell us which one.

In fact, many of these men are now applying skills they learned from attacking American troops.

And they are fresh off the battlefield in Syria where the brigade was formed by Abu ali al-Darraji.

He was in Syria with his family, applying for asylum in the West when the Syrian revolution took a sectarian turn.

“Our holy shrines are a red line,” he says.

Fighters from Iraq flooded in to protect the Syrian shrine of the prophet’s granddaughter - Sayyida Aaineb - sacred for the Shi'a.

The brigade grew in strength battling alongside the Syrian regime's tanks against the rebels.

“We returned to Iraq about a month and a half ago,” he says. “We knew that ISIS would be planning on coming to Iraq.”

Now wearing Iraqi military uniforms, these hardened fighters deployed to one of the fiercest front lines, and it's a battle to the death.

After overrunning an ISIS position they discover what little the ISIS fighters left behind - new mortar rounds and a scope for an anti-tank weapons system.

Pumped by their success they dance.

“Where are you ISIS today? We will damn you,” they chant.

But it is perhaps this country that is already damned.

Al-Darraji still plans on applying for asylum in the West someday.

Once the Shi'a shrines are safe he says there is nothing more to keep him here.

Copyright 2014 CNN. All rights reserved.

 

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