By J. Dana Stuster
May 27, 2015
Iraqi troops, supported by Shia and Sunni militia forces, have begun taking positions north and east of Ramadi and have reinforced defenses in Habbaniyah as a new offensive begins to retake the city. The Iraqi government announced the operation yesterday in a statement, saying that “The operation to liberate Anbar has started with the cooperation of the Iraqi Army and the Popular Mobilization Forces.” The U.S. Defense Department told reporters that Iraqi forces have begun air and artillery strikes against Islamic State positions in Ramadi.
The new operation comes amid frustration with comments from Washington. “It was a tactical retreat from Ramadi…In the coming days, we will prove to him that he was wrong and we were right,” an Iraqi colonel told the New York Times, referring to comments from Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter that Iraqi soldiers lacked the “will to fight” in Ramadi. Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Suleimani, who coordinates Iran’s paramilitary work in Iraq, lashed out at the United States in a speech earlier this week, saying that it had done “nothing” to prevent the fall of Ramadi. “How can you be in that country under the pretext of protecting the Iraqis and do nothing?” he said. “This is no more than being an accomplice in a plot.”