US to plan sending 1,000 anti-tank weapons to Iraq by June

US plans to deliver anti-tank missile system to Iraq in order to encounter with ISIS car bombs which is frequently used by militants on government targets

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The US State Department announced on Thursday it will send 1000 anti-tank weapons to Iraq to facilitate combatting with ISIS which uses car bomb attacks to advance towards government-held areas as the militants very recently appealed such methods to seize Ramadi.

A senior US State Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the US was planning to send anti-tank missile system in order to struggle with ISIS which used 30 vehicle suicide bombs against government targets in Ramadi and took the control of the city at the end.   

He told reporters that the US and Iraqi military officials had planned the deliveries of 1,000 of the shoulder-fired AT4 anti-tank weapons when the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi visited Washington in April.

"We made the decision immediately while he was here to get 1,000 AT4 anti-tank systems to Iraqi security forces and those are going to be arriving fairly soon," the US official said.

The ISIS militants at the weekend captured Ramadi, the main centre of Anbar province, which is strategically located near by the capital Baghdad and enables the militant groups to take the control of a huge area between Iraq’s northern Mosul province and northeast Syria.

Government forces backed by Shiite militant groups are currently building a military base near Ramadi to retake the control in the Anbar province with a counter attack that aimed to repel the militants back to the north.

The US official also paid attention to the issue and stated that Iraqi forces were still in control around the city and did not withdraw as they did in Mosul, Iraq's second city where the ISIS had started its advancement in both Iraq and Syria last year.

The US has reluctantly approved the deployment of Hashd al Shaabi fighters to take back Ramadi from the ISIS, despite warnings from lawmakers of an increase sectarian violence due to the involvement of the Iran-backed Shiite  militants.

US officials said Washington was deeply divided about the involvement of Shiite militias with links to Iran that has been expanding its influence throughout the Middle East especially after the US withdrawal from Iraq as of the end of 2011.  

Iran’s alleged roles in the conflicts of Iraq, Syria and Yemen clinched its influence as Washington was trying to impose a nuclear deal over Tehran in order to dissuade Iran from its long-disputed nuclear programme.

Iran and the Western powers including the US, the UK, France and Germany together with the Russia-China bloc, dubbed P5+ 1, had reached a preliminary nuclear framework agreement with Tehran last month before a final deal due on June 31.

Sunni politicians have accused the government of Prime Minister Abadi of failing to properly train and arm Sunni tribal forces to counter ISIS due to fears that the arms might be used later against Baghdad.

Although the idea of using Shiite militias in combatting against the ISIS in a densely Sunni majority Anbar has raised fears of renewed sectarian violence, both local authorities in Anbar and the Iraqi central government seemed to have had no better option to deploy those fighters in the province.

ISIS killed up to 500 people, both Iraqi civilians and soldiers, and forced 8,000 to flee from their homes after they captured Ramadi, a provincial official told reporters.

The UN has said as many as 114,000 residents fled Ramadi and surrounding villages at the height of the violence created by the ISIS militancy.


TRTWorld and agencies