Iraq Sunni politician brands Ramadi pullout 'shameful'

Iraq Sunni politician brands Ramadi pullout 'shameful'
Iraqi security forces defend their headquarters against attacks by Islamic State extremists in the eastern part of Ramadi in Anbar province, May 14, 2015.

SHUNEH, Jordan - One of Iraq's leading Sunni Arab politicians, Deputy Prime Minister Saleh Mutlaq, branded as "shameful" Friday the army's chaotic pullout from Anbar provincial capital Ramadi.

Mutlaq, who is himself from the overwhelmingly Sunni province, said the Shiite-led government would discipline officers who had given up the fight as Islamic State jihadists overran the city last Sunday.

"It's unthinkable that forces with more than 10 years of training should pull out in this shameful way," Mutlaq said on the sidelines of a conference in neighbouring Jordan.

"The government will call to account those commanders who abandoned the battle at this difficult time."

Mutlaq called for a change of policy by Washington, saying that US-led air strikes and plans to recruit militiamen from local Sunni tribes were not enough.

"Coalition air strikes are not enough to eliminate IS," he said.

Recruiting Sunni tribes is "important but not enough," he said, adding that in any case it was "too late". Ramadi fell to IS after a nearly 18-month siege by the Sunni extremists.

In the face of a three-day blitz by the jihadists, using massive car bombs driven by kamikazes, troops abandoned their bases in a chaotic retreat that saw some extracted by helicopter and others summarily executed by the victors.

The Pentagon said Iraqi forces retreated partly because they incorrectly believed a sandstorm was preventing US-led aircraft from coming to their aid.

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