A day after the US Defense Secretary questioned the Iraqi army’s “will to fight” Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) jihadists, Vice President Joe Biden called Iraqi PM Haider Abadi to reassure him of continued American support in the fight against IS.
“The Vice President
recognized the enormous sacrifice and bravery of Iraqi forces
over the past eighteen months in Ramadi and elsewhere,” said
a transcript of the call posted on the White House
“The Vice President pledged full US support in these and
other Iraqi efforts to liberate territory from ISIL, including
the expedited provision of US training and equipment to address
the threat posed by ISIL’s use of truck bombs.”
Despite outnumbering ISIS fighters 10-to-1 the Iraqi army hastily
withdrew from the key city of Ramadi on May 17, leaving behind
tens of tracked vehicles, including battle tanks, and more than
100 wheeled vehicles, such as Humvees.
“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,” said Defense Secretary
Ash Carter on CNN on Sunday, following a week of recriminations
from other US officials.
“We can give them training, we can give them equipment – we
obviously can’t give them the will to fight,” he stated.
Abadi quickly dismissed Carter’s statement on Monday.
“Mr. Carter was very supportive of Iraq and I am sure he was
fed with the wrong information,” he told BBC.
“They have the will to fight but when they are faced with an
onslaught by Islamic State fighters from nowhere… with armored
trucks packed with explosives, the effect of them is like a small
nuclear bomb – it has a very very bad effect on our forces.”
Abadi then promised to recapture Ramadi “in days.”
As well as acknowledging the challenges posed by truck bombs,
Biden “welcomed the Council of Minister’s unanimous decision on
May 19th to mobilize additional troops, honor those who have
fallen, and prepare for counter-attack operations.”
While the jihadi fighters were reinforcing the provincial capital
in anticipation of a counter-attack by security forces, Iraqi
troops managed to regain some ground east and south of Ramadi on