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Iraq army leaders to face trial for surrender to 'Islamic State' in Ramadi

The Iraqi prime minister has approved the court martial of several top commanders for withdrawing from the city of Ramadi last year. This move allowed for the swift takeover of the city by "Islamic State."

Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi approved on Sunday the investigative council's recommendation to court-martial military commanders who abandoned the positions attacking "Islamic State" (IS) militants in Ramadi.

In a statement from his office, Abadi said the government would refer "a number of the leaders to the military judiciary for leaving their positions without orders and contrary to instructions (and) despite the issuance of a number of orders not to withdraw."

Ramadi, the capital of Iraq's western Anbar province, fell to the extremists in mid-May of 2014, dampening Baghdad's hopes of quickly routing the militants from its north and west. In June the country's second city of Mosul also fell to the militia, leading to the further collapse of the government army.

According to a senior British military officer, Brigadier Christopher Ghika, Ramadi was lost solely because "the Iraqi commander…elected to withdraw."

With the national military greatly weakened, Baghdad has had to rely on the help of Shiite militias funded and assisted by former foe Iran to defend the capital and try to regain the large swaths of land lost to "IS." Ahead of the fall of Ramadi, Abadi had wanted to keep militias on the sidelines in Anbar so as not to deepen sectarian tensions with the country's Sunni population, which often complains of being marginalized.

In recent months, Iraqi security forces and Shiite militias have managed to recapture much of the ground seized by IS, though the majority of Anbar province remains under its control.

es/bk (AFP, Reuters)

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