The U.S. is sending Iraq shoulder-launched anti-tank missiles to help thwart suicide vehicle bomb attacks, which the Islamic State (ISIS) used last weekend in capturing the city of Ramadi, according to reports.
The new weapons, numbering 1,000, were in the pipeline before Ramadi fell and are due to arrive in Iraq by mid-June, Bloomberg reports.
But the shipments take place amid concern about how ISIS forces are able to arm themselves — with U.S.-supplied weapons abandoned by or taken from the Iraqi military.
The fall of Ramadi, a key city 70 miles from the capital of Baghdad, "repeats a pattern in which defeated Iraq security forces have … left behind U.S.-supplied military equipment," which is then seized by ISIS and has to be destroyed by U.S. airstrikes, The Associated Press reports.
The Pentagon said Iraqi troops fleeing Ramadi abandoned artillery as well as dozens of military vehicles including tanks, armored personnel carriers and Humvees, the AP reports.
"This is how we get our weapons," says the narrator of an ISIS video posted online last weekend that shows Humvees sitting idle and boxes of unused American mortar shells and bullets at a captured Iraqi police station, The New Yorker reports.
"The Iraqi officials beg the Americans for weapons, and then they leave them here for us," the narrator gloats.
ISIS carried out its assault on Ramadi using as many as 30 vehicles, including Humvees, outfitted as "unstoppable" suicide truck bombs, Bloomberg reports.
Suicide drivers in Humvees "that were essentially impervious to weapons fired by Iraq forces" came in behind openings cleared by armored bulldozers and rammed their explosive-laden vehicles into fortifications near the middle of the city, Bloomberg reports.
The onslaught has left Iraqi forces reeling. Many troops were "physically and psychologically traumatized by car bombs roughly the magnitude of those used in the Oklahoma City attack in 1995," The New York Times reports, citing an unnamed senior State Department official.
The assault killed as many as 500 Iraqi troops trying to defend the city, and its fall, which the administration admitted is a "setback," prompted fresh criticism on Capitol Hill of the Obama administration's strategy for combating ISIS, Fox News reports.
One of the weapons bound for Iraq to help stop such attacks is the M136 AT4, an 84-mm shoulder-launched anti-tank system, Bloomberg reports.
The question is whether it could join the long list of armaments falling into militants' hands. Stories about ISIS seizing U.S.-supplied weapons have become
routine since the Islamist guerrilla army launched its offensives last summer in Syria and Iraq.
"We left behind I don't know how much equipment, capabilities, armaments, tanks even, Humvees," U.S. Sen. John McCain said after Ramadi fell, Fox reports. "So we'll have to start all over, I think, on training the Iraqi military."
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