Obama weighs options to retake Iraq’s Ramadi

Obama "reaffirmed strong U.S. support" for Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

Obama “reaffirmed strong U.S. support” for Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

U.S. President Barack Obama gathered national security advisors Tuesday to weigh accelerated training and weapons supplies for Iraqi tribes, hoping for a rapid counteroffensive to retake Ramadi from ISIS.

“We are looking at how best to support local ground forces in Anbar” province, National Security Council spokesman Alistair Baskey told AFP, “including accelerating the training and equipping of local tribes and supporting an Iraqi-led operation to retake Ramadi.”

Obama “reaffirmed strong U.S. support” for Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and the U.S. commitment to the government of Iraq, the White House said.

Iraqi security forces on Tuesday deployed tanks and artillery around Ramadi to confront the ISIS fighters who have captured the city in a major defeat for the Baghdad government and its Western backers.

After Ramadi fell on Sunday, Shi’ite militiamen allied to the Iraqi army had advanced to a nearby base in preparation for a counterattack on the city, which lies in the Sunni Muslim province of Anbar, just 110 km northwest of Baghdad.

As pressure mounted for action to retake the city, a local government official urged Ramadi residents to join the police and the army for what the Shi’ite militiamen said would be the “Battle of Anbar”.

The White House said a U.S.-led air campaign would back multi-sectarian Iraqi forces in their attempt to regain Ramadi, whose fall exposed the limits of U.S. airpower in its battle against the radical Sunni ISIS in both Iraq and Syria.

“The United States will be very supportive of multi-sectarian efforts who are taking command-and-control orders from the Iraqi central government,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said in Washington.

The United States is anxious that the Shi’ite militia are controlled by the Iraqi authorities rather than Iranian advisors. It is likewise worried that the fighting in Iraq will become a polarizing clash between Shi’ites and Sunnis.


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