The Courier-Mail

Will our Iraqi allies do what is needed to kill off ISIS? Some say no

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WASHINGTON: It’s the latest in a long line of conspiracy debates stemming, ultimately, from a war that began with a conspiracy theory.

Since the fall of the Iraqi city of Ramadi two weeks ago, analysts and politician­s have been unravellin­g what really happened.

Some claim the Iraqi army simply folded, let ISIS into the city and displayed a complete apathy for fighting their fellow countrymen.

In the past two days, serious analysis has appeared in some of the world’s most influentia­l media – Forbes.com, Bloomberg and numerous hightraffi­c websites.

“The US watched Islamic State fighters, vehicles and heavy equipment gather on the outskirts of Ramadi before the group retook the city in mid-May. But the US did not order airstrikes against the convoys before the battle started. It left the fighting to Iraqi troops, who ultimately abandoned their positions,” wrote Eli Lake for Bloomberg View.

“US intelligen­ce and military officials told me recently, on the condition of anonymity, that the US had significan­t intelligen­ce about the pending Islamic State offensive in Ramadi.

“For the US military, it was an open secret even at the time.”

The statements are indicative of the vicious level of debate playing out against the tragic background of the war in Iraq and Syria, huge parts of which have now fallen to ISIS.

This week, US Defence Secretary Ash Carter levelled an accusation at the Iraqis, who have been trained by the US army. The US remains on the ground in Iraq but is not permitted to enter combat operations alongside the Iraqis.

In a TV interview, Mr Carter raised new questions about the Obama administra­tion’s strategy to defeat the extremist group that has seized a strategica­lly important swathe of the Middle East.

Although Iraqi soldiers “vastly outnumbere­d” their opposition in the capital of Anbar province, they quickly withdrew last Sunday, without putting up much resistance, from the city in Iraq’s Sunni heartland, Carter said on CNN’s State

The interview aired on Sunday.

“What apparently happened is the Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight,” Carter said. “They were not outnumbere­d; in fact, they vastly outnumbere­d the opposing force.

“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.”

The White House has not responded to the specific allegation­s but has said it expects the battle for both Ramadi and the rest of the ISIS-captive region to continue for some time.

Meanwhile, a renewed offensive to take back the critical city was under way last night.

It commenced on Wednesday with high hopes the city would be recaptured within 24 hours.

But reports suggest hundreds of civilians including women and children have been executed in the streets and that the mass beheadings ISIS has used to its public relations benefit are continuing.

By last night, Iraqi government forces had reportedly claimed valuable ground around one of the city’s universiti­es but there was no sign they were able to capture the rest of the city.

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