In a swift response to ISIS victories in Ramadi, the Pentagon announced Thursday that the United States would deliver 2,000 AT-4 anti-tank rockets to Iraq as early as next week. That number is double that announced just 24 hours before, a sign the Pentagon is taking the ISIS threat more seriously than ever. The rocket are intended to help Baghdad combat suicide car bombings by Islamic State fighters.
Spokesman Steve Warren said the delivery was intended to help Iraq defend against approaching suicide bombers driving in vehicles packed with explosives. This tactic was heavily used by Islamic State militants last weekend to help capture Ramadi from the Iraqi forces.
“This is a good counter to that (type of bombing),” Warren said.
The capture of Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, handed the Iraqi government its most significant setback in a year and highlighted the weaknesses of both the Iraqi army and the U.S.-led air strikes against the terror group.
A senior State Department official said Wednesday that ISIS had carried out about 30 vehicle suicide bombings in order to take Ramadi.
The new anti-tank weapons will allow the Iraqi forces to destroy approaching suicide car bombers at a distance instead of having to rely on small arms fire to disable the engine or kill the driver, which can be difficult..
Warren said at a Pentagon news briefing that U.S. air cover had not been impeded by the weather during the Islamic State onslaught of Ramadi. His comments came after reports that Islamic State fighters had used a sandstorm to gain an advantage in the siege of Ramadi and that the storm had prevented U.S. warplanes from launching airstrikes.