After publicly grousing about the Iraqi government’s choosing of Iranian artillery support in its offensive against the ISIS-held city of Tikrit, the Pentagon is now loudly crowing at their own military involvement in the stalled offensive.
After the initial offensive stalled on the city’s outskirts, Iraq sought US air support for the fight, and the Pentagon granted it, and pushed tens of thousands of Shi’ite militias out of the way to do so. They’re touting this as Iraq choose them over Iran.
There’s more than a little hard feelings in this campaign, for after committing to launch airstrikes against Tikrit, the Pentagon is now presenting their involvement in the Iran-Iraq operation as a “humiliating defeat” for Iran.
Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren also mocked the Iraqi and Iranian officials for previously predicting a quick victory in Tikrit, declaring “obviously they were incorrect,” and insisting that if Iraq wanted reliable military support, they could only count on the US.
The message is clear, but the crowing could easily backfire if the Tikrit offensive remains stalled. Iraq couldn’t take Tikrit before, and now they’ve lost the bulk of their militia forces, which have been doing the heavy lifting in this fight. They may have airstrikes, but that’s far from a guaranteed victory.