The Islamic State (ISIS) on Sunday took over the city of Ramadi in one of the last provinces held by government forces, but the Pentagon said Iraqi forces, aided by the U.S. Army, “will take it back later.” But it might need Iran’s help.
A call by the Sunni Muslim government for Shi’ite Muslims to help take back the city is feared by many Sunni Muslims as opening the door for Iran to take over Iraq.
The ISIS executed 503 civilians and soldiers, according to an Iraqi officials in the province of Anbar where Ramadi is located. Iraqi special forces fled the city after more than a dozen fighters were killed by suicide car bombers and before others might become more victims of beheading by the ISIS forces.
The fall of Ramadi followed jubilant announcements the past several weeks that the leader of the Islamic State was seriously wounded and that a deputy commander also was eliminated.
But for every ISIS terrorist who is killed, 10 more replacements come out of the woodwork for the funeral.
The fall of Ramadi is a major setback for the American-aided Iraqi government, but the Pentagon played down the loss and only admitted that it gave the ISIS a “propaganda boost” but defeat
“Ramadi has been contested since last summer and ISIL now has the advantage,” Pentagon “just means the coalition will have to support Iraqi forces to take it back later,” according to Pentagon spokeswoman Elissa Smith.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry could not call the fall of Ramadi a loss. The city “simply target of opportunity,” he commented.
Iranian-backed Shi’ite forces already have answered the call of the Sunni Muslim leader of Anbar. A Shi’ite spokesman said Monday that its fighters will charge in to Ramadi and re-take the city, which is located only 100 miles from Baghdad.
If the Shi’ites succeed, it could be a step towards an Iranian takeover of Iraq and an eventual Iranian Shi’ite Caliphate instead of an ISIS Caliphate in the Arab Middle East .
David Petraeus, who commanded US troops in Iraq during 2007-2008, told the Washington Post in an interview:
If Daesh [ISIS] is driven from Iraq and the consequence is that Iranian-backed militias emerge as the most powerful force in the country – eclipsing the Iraqi security forces, much as Hezbollah does in Lebanon – that would be a very harmful outcome for Iraqi stability and sovereignty, not to mention our own national interests in the region.
Sunni Muslim leaders, especially Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States, might go into action against the prospect of an Iranian-backed Iraq, just as they are doing Yemen where Saudi Arabia-led forces have resumed bombing of Iranian-backed Houthi forces after a five-day humanitarian cease-fire.
Below is a video of armed forces in Ramadi.