State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said the fall of the Mosul and the fall of Ramadi are pretty much different because of the amount of time it took for ISIS to seize the Iraq cities.
“I think Mosul and Ramadi are a little bit different,” Harf told CNN. “And what we saw in Ramadi is that, for months and months, the Iraqi forces were contesting ISIL there. Mosul fell quite quickly, question, so that was a little bit different.”
“…But when it came to Ramadi, they contested it for many months. They fought valiantly. ISIL threw a ton of resources, a lot of firepower at the situation. And, unfortunately, we had a pretty significant setback. But they have started to counterattack around Ramadi and we are confident that eventually Ramadi will be retaken.”
Mosul fell 11 months ago, and has not been retaken.
Outgoing Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey said recently in a Frontline documentary the fall of Mosul took military planners by surprise and the Pentagon had no contingency plans in place.
“So, look, there were several things that surprised us about ISIL,” Dempsey said. “The degree to which they were able to form their own coalition, both inside of Syria — and inside of northwestern Iraq; the military capability that they exhibited — the collapse of the Iraq Security Forces. Yeah, in those initial days, there were a few surprises.”
Three days before the fall of Ramadi, though, Dempsey seemed unconcerned.
“The city itself is — it’s not symbolic in any way. It’s not been declared, you know, part of the caliphate, on the one hand, or central to the future of Iraq. But we want to get it back. I mean, the issue here is not — is not brick and mortar. It’s about defeating ISIL. So, as I said, this — I — you know, I would much rather that Ramadi not fall, but it won’t be the end of the campaign should it fall. We got to get it back. And that’s tragic for the people, as have — as we’ve seen along the way,” Dempsey told reporters at the Pentagon on May 14.
Harf also said Wednesday that she wouldn’t “make sort of sweeping generalizations about some of these forces”– the Iran-backed Shiite militias — jumping in the fight.
“I think they’re all probably a little bit different on the ground,” she said.
“But what I would say is, we have been very clear with the Iraqis that it’s important to us certainly that any of these other provincial forces that are working are under Iraqi command-and-control, that the Iraqi armed forces are the ones in control of these offensives. Obviously, that’s what we have been focusing on.”