Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainGOP senators appalled by 'ridiculous' House infighting MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace, Chris Christie battle over Fox News Trump's attacks on McConnell seen as prelude to 2024 White House bid MORE (R-Ariz.) is chastising Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey for saying the downfall of the Iraqi city of Ramadi would not be a “symbolic” victory for Islamic militants.
“The city itself is not symbolic in any way,” Dempsey said Thursday during a press conference with Defense Secretary Ashton Carter at the Pentagon. “It’s not been declared, you know, part of the caliphate on one hand or central to the future of Iraq.”
McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, blasted Dempsey’s remarks as a “gross characterization.”
“Disregarding the strategic importance of Ramadi is a denial of reality and an insult to the families of hundreds of brave young Americans who were killed and wounded during the Surge fighting to free Ramadi from the grip of Al-Qaeda,” he said in a statement on Friday, referring to the troop strategy then-President George W. Bush used in Iraq in 2007.
The U.S.-led coalition has been conducting airstrikes against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) forces near Ramadi, but the Department of Defense and others have placed more emphasis on preserving the nearby town of Beiji, an oil production center.
McCain noted media reports that "150,000 Iraqi men, women, and children, mostly Sunnis, are fleeing ISIL’s murderous advance on Ramadi.”
But “apparently, the current U.S. strategy is to defend an oil refinery in Beiji, but abandon the capital of pivotal Anbar province" to the extremist group, he said.