The Wall Street Journal reports: U.S. defense officials said a provincial capital in Iraq could soon fall to Islamic State, while America’s top military officer sought to minimize the strategic importance of the city.
At a Pentagon news conference, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, suggested that maintaining control of Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, isn’t central to the U.S. and Iraqi aims of defeating Islamic State forces.
“The city itself is not symbolic in any way,” Gen. Dempsey said. “It’s not been declared part of the caliphate on one hand, or central to the future of Iraq.”
Earlier this week, Pentagon officials minimized the possibility that Ramadi was going to fall. But U.S. officials have monitored large numbers of civilians fleeing from the city, a sign that residents fear an imminent takeover.
Islamic State fighters have taken over a number of villages surrounding Ramadi, destroyed bridges and other infrastructure and reversed recent gains by Iraqi Security forces, defense officials said Thursday.
The U.S. has been stepping up strikes around Ramadi, but those have been insufficient to blunt the advance of Islamic State fighters.
Officials compared the city with Kobani, a Syrian city that was on the brink of being taken over before Kurdish fighters, aided by U.S. airstrikes, retook it. [Continue reading…]
Which is to say, Ramadi is like Kobane, minus the Kurdish fighters.