Biden honors Iraqi troops after Carter comments

Biden honors Iraqi troops after Carter comments
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Vice President Biden honored Iraqi forces during a call with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Monday amid a public spat between U.S. and Iraqi leaders.


Biden reaffirmed U.S. support for the Iraqi government's fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), according to a readout of the call provided by the White House.

"The Vice President recognized the enormous sacrifice and bravery of Iraqi forces over the past eighteen months in Ramadi and elsewhere," the White House said in describing the call.

The phone call comes after Defense Secretary Ashton Carter criticized the U.S.-backed Iraqi forces following their recent rout by ISIS in the city of Ramadi, the capital of Iraq's Anbar province.

"What apparently happened was that the Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight," Carter said in an interview that aired Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union," noting Iraqi forces "were not outnumbered."

Carter's comments drew the ire of Iraqi officials, including al-Abadi, who said he was "surprised" by the remarks and pushed back by saying that Carter "was fed with the wrong information."

Iraqi defense officials have called for more U.S. hardware, and the Pentagon announced last week it would send 2,000 anti-tank weapons to Iraq in addition to coalition supplies it has helped deliver.

Carter, who was sworn in as Obama's Defense chief in February, said earlier Monday during Memorial Day remarks that he was "tremendously proud" to serve in his position.

In his address at the Arlington National Cemetery, Carter praised "a long line of patriots who fought in places like Lexington and Concord; Gettysburg and Midway; and, more recently, Fallujah and Helmand — a legacy that has made our military the finest fighting force the world has ever known."

Biden said Monday he pledged full U.S. support, as Iraqi forces mobilize for counterattack operations to retake Ramadi in the coming days.