The local military commander, Brigadier Jabbar Karam al-Taee, is a shrewd and effective soldier, who commands the 17th division of the Iraqi army. He and his men hold the key to Baghdad. If they fail to stop IS, the city itself will be in real danger.
But they are not failing: on the contrary, they’ve staged a remarkable comeback – with the support of American warplanes.
As we drove through the village in his personal Humvee, he showed me where the IS forces had been dug in, and where the American bombs had landed. They had been extremely accurate.
Now much of the village is in ruins, destroyed by IS as it pulled out. The buildings were destroyed by booby-trap bombs, the road was cratered by IEDs (improvised explosive devices).