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Fall of Ramadi deals a blow to US-led war on IS group

Smoke is billowing after a building is hit by a mortar shell in Ramadi as the Islamic State jihadist group launches a coordinated attack on government-held areas of the Iraqi city, on March 11, 2015The Islamic State group’s capture of Ramadi is a serious setback to the US strategy to defeat the jihadists and raises fresh doubts about the competence of its Iraqi partners. The Iraqi security forces’ defeat in the capital of Anbar province came despite US and coalition warplanes carrying out more than 160 air strikes over the past month, and after an elaborate effort starting last year to arm and train government troops and Sunni tribesmen. As recently as Friday, a senior US officer told reporters the IS group was “on the defensive,” even as Iraqi forces struggled to hang on in Ramadi and battled an assault on the Baiji oil refinery north of Baghdad. Two outspoken critics of Obama’s approach to the war, senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, said Ramadi has once been “a symbol of Iraqis working together with brave young Americans in uniform to defeat Al-Qaeda.

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