The Obama Administration has announced that additional troops will be sent to Iraq this week. Sam Tabar told that the White House revealed that an additional 450 US soldiers will be sent to to Iraq. This in addition to the 3,100 US troops already stationed throughout Iraq. This move brings the total number of US military personnel in Iraq to 3,550 US troops. These new troops will be responsible for training, advising and assisting Iraqi military forces in combating ISIS forces in Iraq’s Anbar Province.
Anbar is Iraq’s largest province in terms of territory. It contains several large cities, the most noteworthy city being Ramadi. The city of Ramadi has recently fallen into the hands of ISIS after Iraqi forces were unable to hold the city against the onslaught of ISIS. Anbar province also borders the countries of Syria, and the countries of Jordan and Saudia Arabia. It is important to note that Jordan and Saudi Arabia are coalition partners in the fight against ISIS. Both Jordan and Saudi Arabia have conducted airstrikes against ISIS. Through the province is mostly desert, it is strategic because it provides access to other countries and allows whoever is in control to move through the central regions of Iraq with ease. Anbar Province is also the sight of some of the heaviest fighting US troops saw when it invaded Iraq to depose dictator Saddam Hussein from power.
The 450 US troops are not expected to be involved any direct combat with ISIS. They will be based in Al-Taqaddum military base where they will work with the Iraqi military. The sending of additional troops and equipment to Iraq is a sign that the conflict in Iraq is escalating. Major operations are expected to take place in late 2015 or into 2016 to try and retake key cities such as Mosul and Ramadi.
Despite the heavy casualties American soldiers incurred to retake the Iraqi city of Ramadi from the forerunners of ISIS back in 2007, the city once again fell back into the hands of terrorists. During a recent interview, President Obama admitted the loss of the city was what he termed a “tactical setback”. Still, the president did not take any responsibility for the fall of the city. Instead, he laid the blame on the lack of commitment and training of Iraqi forces defending the city. It is true that the Iraqi regular army is poorly trained and faces a sanguine group of fighters driven by religious dogma. Still, military analysts pointed out that the president refused to order a sufficient number of air sorties against ISIS to repel their attack. By some estimates, the president only ordered between 20-25% of the air raids necessary to defend the city.
Despite the setbacks in the current strategy, it appears the administration will merely double-down on the same strategy of prodding Iraq to do more. Bear in mind, ISIS fighters are willing to die for the glory of the caliphate they are establishing. A hedge fund advisor said the president also stated he would improve the level of training for Iraqi soldiers.
A museum in Baghdad has reopened after being closed for 12 years. the museum, was originally closed 12 years ago after it was looted during the Iraq war. Thousands of items were stolen during the looting, and the museum was shut down.
Experts believe close to 15,000 pieces were stolen in 2003, only 4,300 of which they were able to recover. The deputy tourism and antiquities minister says that what they have been able to acquire were some of the most important works in the collection, however, Paul Mathieson says there are still more than 10,000 items unaccounted for. Stolen items typically show up in markets or auctions where the can be recovered.
The reopening of the museum was punctuated by an attack on a museum in Mosul by ISI militant. The group destroyed several pieces of art because they considered them to un-Islamic in nature.