An Iraqi commander unnecessarily ordered his forces to withdraw from Ramadi, allowing ISIS to capture the city, a senior officer in the US-led coalition has said.
“Ramadi was lost because the Iraqi commander in Ramadi elected to withdraw. In other words, if he had elected to stay, he would still be there today,” British Army Brigadier Christopher Ghika told journalists in Baghdad on Wednesday.
“Ramadi was not a Daesh victory – Daesh did not win Ramadi, Daesh did not fight and defeat the Iraqi army in Ramadi,” Ghika said.
The Iraqi army and security forces have been criticised for incompetence by US army generals in the past, and the US president has called the loss of Ramadi a “tactical setback.”
Senator John McCain criticised the US president’s comments over Ramadi in an interview with CNN. Obama had said that ISIS did not defeat the US-led coalition in Ramadi, but that there had only been a tactical setback.
“It was the Anbar Ops commander [who gave the order],” Ghika said, referring to the head of the military command responsible for Anbar province, of which Ramadi is the capital.
The commander turned out to be Major General Mohammed Khalaf al-Fahdawi, who was the acting head of the Anbar Operations Command when Ramadi fell to ISIS, as the commander had been injured.
Fahdawi did not comment because he did not have permission to speak about the issue.
ISIS killed up to 500 people - both Iraqi civilians and soldiers - and forced 115,000 to flee from their homes after they captured the city of Ramadi, according to the Anbar Provincial Council.
The group also captured the last border crossing between Iraq and Syria in their latest advance through “al Tanf” village on Friday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). ISIS currently has control over 50 percent of Syria’s territory.
About 3,000 Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi fighters were deployed to help recapture Ramadi, along with the Iraqi army, backed by US-led coalition air strikes.