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Pentagon criticises ‘sectarian’ codename to Anbar operation

The US Department of Defence has criticised the codename given to a military operation to retake Anbar province from Islamic State militants, with spokesman Colonel Steven Warren describing the code name as “unhelpful”.

“The key to victory would be a unified Iraq that separates itself from sectarian divides, coalesces around this common threat,” Warren said.

The operation’s name, “Labbayka ya Hussein”(roughly translated as “We are at your service, Hussein”), refers to the grandson of Prophet Mohammed, one of the most revered imams for Shia Muslims.

Earlier this week, US Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter criticised the Iraqi forces for their defeat in Ramadi, saying they did not have the will to fight ISIS militants, which led to the seizure of the city.

Carter’s remarks were heavily criticised by Iraqi officials, including Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi.

Warren on Tuesday said the Iraqi forces outnumbered ISIS fighters but that they chose to withdraw. “In this case of Ramadi, there was a problem of both low morale amongst the troops and there was a problem with the command structure,” he told reporters.

“Several factors contributed to problems among Iraqi forces that included long periods of fighting against ISIL, terrorist tactics that discouraged Iraqi forces, and concerns of commanders in Ramadi about the flow of resources from the central government,” Warren added, using another acronym for ISIS.

On Tuesday, the Shia Popular Mobilisation militia, along with the Iraqi armed forces, announced that they were able to advance a few kilometres into the southwestern part of Ramadi.

Warren described the move as a “regrouping processes”, and said that “in this case the aim is to secure communication and important roads and junctions and certain land lines… before an all-out attack.”

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