Iraq Begins Military Campaign to Drive ISIS Out of Anbar — Should the U.S. Be Helping?
Senior security officials said Tuesday that Iraq was launching military efforts to drive ISIS from Anbar. The response comes after ISIS gained control of Ramadi, the provincial capital of the province, earlier this month. But some Iraqi military leaders say that the U.S. could be doing more to help in thwarting ISIS.
The campaign was announced on Iraqi state TV with few details, other than it was supported by both Sunni and Shiite forces. A spokesman for the Shiite forces said that Iraqi military has surrounded Ramadi from three sides.
The campaign announcement comes just days after U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in an interview on CNN that Iraqis demonstrated "no will to fight" ISIS for Ramadi.
What apparently happened was that the Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight. They were not outnumbered. In fact, they vastly outnumbered the opposing force, and yet they failed to fight, they withdrew from the site, and that says to me, and I think to most of us, that we have an issue with the will of the Iraqis to fight ISIL and defend themselves.
On Monday, Vice President Joe Biden called Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to smooth things over. An Abadi spokesman said that Carter had "incorrect information" when he made those remarks.
Correct information or not, some Iraqi military officials feel as if the U.S. should shoulder some of the blame for ISIS' recent tactical successes.
According to The New York Times, American forces are avoiding hitting big ISIS targets for fear of killing civilians, which would give the terrorist group propaganda fodder. But the Times also reports that Iraqi officials and some American officers believe that the U.S. could be doing more to stop ISIS. Maj. Muhammed al-Dulaimi, who is an officer in Anbar province, told the Times that the U.S.'s airstrikes weren't enough.
The U.S. airstrikes in Anbar didn't enable our security forces to resist and confront the ISIS attacks. We lost large territories in Anbar because of the inefficiencies of the U.S.-led coalition airstrikes.
The Times indicated that ISIS appears to be taking advantage of the U.S.'s caution in using airstrikes. ISIS militants appear to be increasing the fighting that they do amongst citizen populations, and by proxy limiting airstrikes from the U.S.
On Sunday's Face the Nation, Sen. John McCain criticized the Obama administration for a lack of strategy, calling on the president to send more troops to combat ISIS. But sending soldiers to Iraq en masse doesn't sit well with a war-weary U.S.
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