BAGHDAD, June 11– One of the “conditions” to defeat militants in Iraq is to arm Sunni tribes in the western province of Anbar, Iraqi Finance Minister Hoshyar Zebari told Al Arabiya News Channel in an exclusive interview aired Thursday.
Zebari, who was the former foreign minister, described the fall of Anbar to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (IS) group as a “setback.
“The fall of Anbar was a setback we are trying to remedy,” he said. “The government, al-Hashid [Popular Mobilization units] and the international coalition are exerting great efforts to recapture Ramadi.”
Ramadi, which is the capital of Anbar, fell to IS on May 17 after the army deserted the city.
Meanwhile, Zebari said Iraqi forces alongside with the Shiite volunteers, known as Popular Mobilization units, were “advancing in multiple axis” to regain Ramadi.
He also said the “international coalition has increased the pace of armament and air strikes, and we have clear commitment from them to increase the arming and training of Sunni tribes in Anbar and this is one of the conditions to defeat ISIS.”
Sunnis in Iraq have long criticized the government, especially that of former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, of stripping them of arms, in a move they say makes them vulnerable to militants.
Zebari’s comments came after the White House on Wednesday said the United States will send up to 450 more troops to Iraq to boost the training of local forces.