Just a little over a week into Iraq’s much-vaunted “counteroffensive” against ISIS, aimed at retaking the Anbar Province capital of Ramadi, the whole operation appears to have stalled, leaving the military with a handful of villages, and ISIS still in full control of Ramadi.
Iraqi forces lost Ramadi in a surprisingly decisive defeat, despite a major numerical superiority. Iraq has since turned to Shi’ite militias to try to turn the tide of battle, but thousands of such forces appear to have done little in changing the situation on the ground.
As usual, everyone is making it someone else’s fault. Iraq is complaining that US airstrikes against Ramadi aren’t nearly numerous enough to change the tide of battle, while Pentagon forces maintain that there are no friendly troops in Ramadi to support with strikes at any rate. Pentagon officials likewise touted their “successful” air campaign, and bragged about their dubious claims of no civilian deaths.
At any rate, officials see any major counteroffensive against Ramadi as hinging on new US training, though years of training under the US occupation did nothing to prevent ISIS from taking much of the country’s west.