The Islamic State group took the city of Ramadi because an Iraqi commander unnecessarily ordered his forces to withdraw, a senior officer in the US-led anti-jihadist coalition said on Wednesday.
"Ramadi was lost because the Iraqi commander in Ramadi elected to withdraw. In other words, if he had elected to stay, he would still be there today," the British army's Brigadier Christopher Ghika told journalists in Baghdad.
"Ramadi was not a Daesh victory -- Daesh did not win Ramadi, Daesh did not fight and defeat the Iraqi army in Ramadi," Ghika said, using an Arabic acronym for the jihadist group that overran large parts of Iraq last year.
Iraqi security forces have been plagued by incompetent leaders, some of whom were political appointees, and dozens of officers have been sacked over the past year.
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"It was the Anbar Ops commander" who gave the order, Ghika said, referring to the head of the military command responsible for Anbar province, of which Ramadi is the capital.
Staff Major General Mohammed Khalaf al-Fahdawi was acting head of Anbar Operations Command when Ramadi fell, as the commander had been injured.
Fahdawi said he could not comment because he did not have permission to speak about the issue.
Ramadi fell to IS in mid-May after government forces had held out against militants there for more than a year.
It was their worst setback in months after they had retaken significant territory in two provinces north of Baghdad.
The US-led coalition is waging a campaign of air strikes targeting IS in Iraq and Syria, and also providing arms and training to Iraqi forces.