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Iraq PM OKs Court Martial for Officers Who Fled Ramadi

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FILE - Security forces defend their headquarters against attacks by Islamic State extremists during sand storm in the eastern part of Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, Iraq, May 14, 2015.

FILE - Security forces defend their headquarters against attacks by Islamic State extremists during sand storm in the eastern part of Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, Iraq, May 14, 2015.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi agreed Sunday with an investigative commission's recommendation to court martial Iraqi commanders who withdrew from Ramadi earlier this year as the city fell to Islamic State militants.

Taking the capital of Iraq's western Anbar province was a big victory for Islamic State fighters, giving them control of a major city 125 kilometers from Baghdad, and prompting renewed questions about the abilities of Iraqi security forces.

The loss is what prompted U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter to say he questioned the will of Iraqi troops who, along with militias, are battling the Islamic State group on the ground while a U.S.-led coalition targets the militants from the air.

Iraq has since launched an operation to try to retake areas of Anbar, but the militants still control major areas including Ramadi.

Also on Sunday, an Iraqi parliamentary panel found former prime minister Nuri al-Maliki and 35 security and political officials responsible for the fall of the northern city of Mosul to Islamic State last year. The case will now be be handed over to prosecutors.

Reforms

Abadi's decision to have the officers face military justice follows a batch of reforms he announced last week in an attempt to fight corruption and criticisms of ineffective government.

As park of the crackdown, on Sunday he eliminated one-third of the government's cabinet posts by cutting three deputy premier positions and four ministries, and merging four more ministries.

A member of the allied Iraqi forces, which consists of the Iraqi army and fighters from the Popular Mobilization units, guards a lookout point during clashes with Islamic State fighters on the outskirts of Fallujah, in Iraq's Anbar province, Aug. 13, 2015

A member of the allied Iraqi forces, which consists of the Iraqi army and fighters from the Popular Mobilization units, guards a lookout point during clashes with Islamic State fighters on the outskirts of Fallujah, in Iraq's Anbar province, Aug. 13, 2015

Elsewhere, Islamic State militants launched an attack against government troops Sunday outside the militant-held city of Fallujah, killing at least 17 troops, officials told The Associated Press.

Four suicide attackers drove explosives-laden military vehicles into government forces' barricades outside Fallujah, west of Baghdad, a police officer and military officer told AP on condition of anonymity.

Clashes broke out afterward. The officials said 15 other troops were wounded.

The fall of Fallujah in January 2014 started the Islamic State group's dramatic blitz across Iraq.

Some information for this report came from AP.

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