Iraq commanders to face military justice over Ramadi withdrawal

Friday 14/08/2015
Reforms expand to take in the military and accused deserters

BAGHDAD - Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi approved an investigative commission's recommendation that commanders face military justice and probable trial for withdrawing from Ramadi without orders, his office said Sunday.

Ramadi fell to the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group in mid-May after government forces had held out against militants in the city west of the capital for more than a year, in the worst setback for Baghdad in months.

Abadi approved "decisions of the investigative commission on the withdrawal of the Anbar Operations Command and units attached to it from the city of Ramadi," his office said in a statement.

Those include "referring 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," it said.

Abadi previously said that forces in Ramadi "had to resist, and if they had resisted, we would not have lost Ramadi."

And a senior British military officer, Brigadier Christopher Ghika, said the city "was lost because the Iraqi commander in Ramadi elected to withdraw."

"In other words, if he had elected to stay, he would still be there today," Ghika said.

IS overran large areas north and west of Baghdad in a sweeping June 2014 offensive.

Baghdad's forces have since regained ground from the jihadists, but much of western Iraq, including the majority of Anbar province, of which Ramadi is the capital, remains under IS control.