The White House announced Friday that the U.S. military is “expediting” weapons shipments to Iraq in light of the ISIS assault on the Iraqi city of Ramadi, which occurred late last week.
Vice President Joe Biden informed Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi about the faster shipments in a telephone call on Friday.
The news comes after a flurry of new airstrikes against ISIS, also known as ISIL, as Iraqi troops desperately try to hold Ramadi, the capital of the strategically important Anbar province.
On Friday, the terror group captured the provincial government building and the city’s police headquarters as well as the Ramadi Great Mosque. The city is located in the middle of Iraq’s Sunni Muslim heartland, just 70 miles west of Baghdad.
The U.S. weapons shipments will include AT-4 shoulder-held rockets as well as ammunition and other supplies.
“The vice president assured the prime minister of continued and expedited U.S. security assistance to confront ISIL,” the White House statement said. “Both leaders agreed on the importance and urgency of mobilizing tribal fighters working in coordination with Iraqi security forces to counter ISIL and to ensure unity of effort among all of Iraq’s communities.”
The situation in Ramadi has deteriorated quickly over the last weeks, with senior U.S. officials giving Iraqi forces just a 50/50 chance of maintaining control of the city. Eight new airstrikes were launched against ISIS targets in Ramadi since 7 p.m. local time on Friday, as the coalition ramps up its efforts to maintain control of the region.
The ISIS push began Thursday with armored bulldozers and at least 10 suicide bombings to burst through gates and blast through walls, according to a security source who has since left the city. Dozens of militants spilled into the city center in what the U.S. military called a “complex attack.”