WASHINGTON (AFP) - United States Defence Secretary Ashton Carter said on Sunday that Iraqi forces "failed to fight" in Ramadi, which has fallen to Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants, and said the troops lacked the will to defend themselves.
"What apparently happened was the Iraqi forces showed no will to fight. They were not outnumbered, and they vastly outnumbered the opposing force, and they failed to fight and withdrew from the site," Mr Carter told CNN’s “State of the Union” programme.
Mr Carter said US forces were trying to encourage the Iraqi troops to engage more directly. He added the United States was continuing to provide air strikes and supply Iraqi forces with training and equipment.
He said the US military had not recommended any changes for now in the support Washington is giving to Iraq. “If there comes a time when we need to change the kinds of support we’re giving to the Iraqi forces, we’ll make that recommendation,” Mr Carter said, when asked about growing calls from Republican lawmakers for putting US ground combat forces into Iraq.
Ms Michele Flournoy, chief executive of the Center for a New American Security, told CNN that Washington needed to press the Iraqi government to provide more resources to the Sunni tribes in the western part of Iraq, who had a greater “political will to fight” than Iraqi forces.Ms Flournoy, a former undersecretary of defense for policy, welcomed Carter’s comments about doing more if needed. “Now is that time, in my view,” she said.