WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States is taking an “extremely hard look” at its strategy in Iraq after Islamic militants captured the town of Ramadi, a top US official said Wednesday.
And he revealed that the US was sending 1,000 anti-tank missile systems to Iraq to help the Iraqi security forces defeat “devastating” suicide car bombs which helped the militants seize the town over the weekend after an 18-month battle.
“You’d have to be delusional not to take something like this and say ‘what went wrong, how do you fix it and how do we correct course to go from here?’,” the official said.
“And that’s exactly what we’re doing. Taking an extremely hard look at it.”
He vowed that the US was determined to help the Iraqi security forces, dealt a punishing blow during the battle for Ramadi, to consolidate and understand what went wrong.
“In terms of taking back Ramadi, we’re going to help the Iraqis do it as soon as possible,” the senior State Department official said, declining to give a specific timeframe.
Asking not to be identified, the official highlighted the tactic adopted by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group of using huge “vehicle born improvised explosive devices” (VBIEDs), which are plowed them into buildings and walls.
In Ramadi, a bulldozer packed with explosives was used to blow up the security perimeter around a central compound still held by government forces.
A total of 30 vehicles such as Humvees then flowed in, 10 of which were carrying enough bomb-making materials to carry out explosions the size of the blast of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.
There were “gigantic explosions that took out entire city blocks,” the official said.
“These enormous suicide VBIEDs is something that we have to help the Iraqis, and our partners in Syria, defeat.” Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi asked the US administration for weapons systems to help counter car bombings during a visit last month.
“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 senior State Department official told reporters.