Fox News reports thousands of Iraqis are fleeing the city of Ramadi after ISIS captured the city over the weekend. The fleeing civilians are right behind fleeing government troops, who abandoned a city only 80 miles from the capital of Baghdad. A U.S. military official said the fight was “pretty much over for now.”
How’s the White House spinning it? You’ll be sorry you asked:
— Michael Wilner (@mawilner) May 18, 2015
Who’s writing the State Department’s press releases these days? Wile E. Coyote? It can’t be spokeswoman Marie Harf, because they didn’t recommend driving ISIS out of the city with a jobs program.
The BBC reports the fight actually might not be over, because Shiite militias are “assembling east of the city to prepare a counter-attack.” Some 3,000 Shia fighters are said to be flooding into Anbar province and moving heavy hardware into a military base about 12 miles from Ramadi, while ISIS forces appear to be gearing up for a pre-emptive strike on the base, perhaps with American-made armored vehicles and missile launchers seized during the “chaotic retreat” of Iraqi military forces.
“The Iraqi government called for help from the Iran-backed militias after the military was routed and fled,” adds the report. Iran’s Defense Minister, General Hossein Dehghan, has flown to Baghdad for a surprise meeting with Iraqi leaders.
Iran may yet salvage the ruins of Obama’s Iraq policy? That’s just wonderful.
You may recall President Obama’s confident assurances that a retrained, re-armed Iraq army would take the fight back to ISIS, making American ground forces unnecessary. Instead, the Iraqi units in Ramadi — among the elite units of the Iraqi military — were routed once again, disobeying direct orders from Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to hold their positions, even though they heavily outnumbered the attacking Islamic State force, and had U.S. air support.
The BBC estimates that ISIS now controls over half of the Anbar province, displacing at least 8,000 refugees.
A spokesman for the Anbar governor’s office told NBC News “there have been executions in the streets of Ramadi” and the “situation in the city is absolutely terrible.”
Fox News reports ISIS militants are “were storming the homes of policemen and pro-government tribesmen, particularly those from the large Al Bu Alwan tribe, of whom they detained about 30.” They’re also burning down homes and stores linked to pro-government militia supporters.
There are reports of about 500 casualties over the weekend, and it sounds like most of them weren’t combat troops killed in battle. A Sunni tribal leader said ISIS was murdering government officers and their families, and dumping many of the corpses in the Euphrates River.