(Reuters) – Iraq’s Shi’ite paramilitaries said on Tuesday they had taken charge of the campaign to drive Islamic State from the western province of Anbar, giving the operation an openly sectarian codename that could infuriate its Sunni Muslim population.
The United States described the codename as “unhelpful” while France, which will host a meeting of nations fighting Islamic State next week, accused the Shi’ite-led government of failing to represent fully the interests of all Iraqis.
The Iraqi government is scrambling to reverse the fall of Ramadi, its biggest military setback in nearly a year. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has vowed to recapture the city, the Anbar provincial capital, within days.
Shi’ite militiamen, supported by a smaller group of government troops, advanced on Tuesday to within a few kilometers of a university on Ramadi’s southwestern edge, police sources and Sunni tribal fighters allied to the government said.