The Obama White House made clear on Thursday that the United States is in no way “responsible” for defending Iraq from the Islamic State.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told Fox News: “The United States is not going to be responsible for securing the security situation inside of Iraq.”
“Our strategy is to support the Iraqi security forces in doing what we will not do for them,” he added. “The United States is prepared to train them, to equip them, and to back them on the battlefield with coalition military air power as they take the fight to ISIL in their own country.”
The administration’s policy clarification comes amid allegations from many within the intelligence community that the United States had advance knowledge of an imminent ISIS attack on Ramadi and did not act upon that intelligence.
The Islamic State now controls the majority of the city, after Iraqi troops fled the battlefield during the terror group’s assault, according to reports.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter went as far as to say this week that Iraqi troops have “no will to flight” in defense of their country. Carter recommended that the U.S. shift strategy and attempt “to involve the Sunni tribes in the fight” against ISIS. In the past year, tribal resistance against ISIS remains rare to non-existent, according to reports on the ground in Iraq.
Since the fall of Ramadi, some 85,000 people have been forced to flee the city, according to the United Nations. And since early April, 180,000 Ramadi residents have been displaced from the city, according to William Spindler, a UN spokesman.
Iran-backed Shiite militias are reportedly gearing up to retake Ramadi from ISIS. Iraq’s Defense Ministry announced earlier this week that “the operation to liberate Anbar has started with the cooperation of the Iraqi Army and the Popular Mobilization Forces.”