The decision to withdraw was actually a life-saving measure. If we had not withdrawn, there would have been a massacre.”
That is the assessment of an Iraqi serviceman who worked in the Anbar Operations Command in Ramadi, and whose contingent withdrew when Islamic State (IS) gunmen overran the city on May 17.
The serviceman, who spoke to RFE/RL’s Radio Free Iraq in Baghdad on condition of anonymity, had arrived in the Iraqi capital two days earlier from Habbaniya, the city east of Ramadi where Iraqi troops were evacuated after the pullout.
In a dramatic eyewitness account of the events immediately preceding the Iraqi Army’s withdrawal, the serviceman — who is himself from Ramadi — described how government forces had been left depleted, woefully undersupplied, and unable to counter the attacking IS militants.