Czech TV show takes family back in time to live under Nazi control. (Czech TV)(NEW YORK) — A controversial new Czech TV series is asking a modern family to go back in time to live as they might have had to under Nazi rule, to show the brutality ordinary people had to endure during German occupation.
“Holiday in the Protectorate” asks one three-generation family to live as if it were 1939 to 1945. The family was selected from among 200 candidates after a “rigorous audition,” show officials said.
Their struggles will range from normal tasks, such as harvesting crops and milking cows, to specifically wartime demands — sewing blackout curtains, fortifying a basement air-raid shelter, and dealing with food rationing and frequent hunger. The family will also live through "simulated air-raids, intimidation by Nazi informants and interrogations by the Gestapo," shows officials said.
Eight one hour-long episodes of "Holiday in the Protectorate" will air from May 23 to June 13.
While the horrors the family will face are only re-enactments of what confronted Czech citizens during World War II, their reward will be real: 1 million Czech Krunas, worth a bit more than $40,000, if they survive the two-month ordeal.
The show, produced by Czech Television, will surround the 20th century household with a realistic setting of old-fashioned furniture and period-accurate costumes, matched to those of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia — an ethnic Czech puppet state set up by Nazi Germany after it occupied and absorbed Czechoslovakia in March of 1939. Professional actors play German soldiers and Gestapo informers. There will be no running water, no refrigerator and even the rare old currency of the Nazi mini-state will be used.
The show was shot under the supervision of a “war cabinet” composed of two historians, two psychologists and an architect who saw that everything about the show seems authentic to historical reality.
“I was inspired by the horrific wartime stories of my maternal grandparents, who lived in a small town in the highlands of Bohemia. I wanted people to see what hardships ordinary people had to go through to survive Nazi occupation,” Zora Cejnkova, the show's director, told ABC News from Prague. “It was interesting to see how people make decisions under such psychological pressure, in front of TV cameras.”
But Czech Television, the show’s producer, has drawn criticism, for trivializing the real tragedies of WWII. Critics wonder what audiences would be entertained by watching people being intimidated by Nazi soldiers and their informers.
“What are they going to do next? Big Brother Auschwitz?” wrote one critic.
“I tried to show that period with seriousness and with utter respect for its tragic character," Cejnkova told ABC News.
"Of course we cannot completely recreate the real danger, but the aim is to show life as it was, and," she said, "if people re-live those times, perhaps future conflicts can be prevented."
“The point about the World War II period is that there was always a possibility of violent death for everyone, something that is impossible to replicate artificially," said Jan Kral, a car designer. "Holiday in the Protectorate recreated some inconveniences of the Nazi occupation, but the real fear was death. The show replicates wartime living the way a Formula One computer game replicates being Michael Shumacher — you get everything except the risk."
Kristel Tan(NEW YORK) — “Twerking," "emoji" and "hashtag" are just three of the more than 6,500 new words added Thursday to the Collins Official Scrabble Wordlist — the official dictionary used by international Scrabble tournament players.
The list was "influenced by all parts of life including social media, slang, technology and food, plus English from around the world," Collins Dictionary wrote in a blog post Thursday.
The World English-Language Scrabble Players Association is going to officially adopt the new wordlist in September — after professional players get some time to study and get comfortable with words like "ridic" and "lolz," according to Collins.
And just in case you have any plans on fighting for about $8,000 (AU$10,000) at the 2015 World Scrabble Championship in Australia this November, here's a list of the 38 most surprising new words you can use to your advantage:
1. AUGH Meaning: interjection expressing frustration Point value: 11
2. BEZZY Meaning: best friend Point value: 18
3. BLECH Meaning: interjection expressing disgust Point value: 12
4. CAKEHOLE Meaning: mouth Point value: 17
5. CAZH Meaning: casual Point value: 18
6. CHECKBOX Meaning: small clickable box on a computer screen Point value: 28
7. COQUI Meaning: type of tree-dwelling frog Point value: 16
8. DENCH Meaning: excellent Point value: 11
9. DEVO Meaning: short for devolution Point value: 8
10. EEW Meaning: exclamation of disgust Point value: 6
11. EMOJI Meaning: digital icon used in electronic communication Point value: 14
12. FACETIME Meaning: talk with (someone) via the FaceTime application Point value: 15
13. GEOCACHE Meaning: search for hidden containers using GPS as a recreational activity Point value: 16
14. GRR Meaning: interjection expressing anger or annoyance Point value: 4
15. HACTIVIST Meaning: person who hacks computer systems for political reasons Point value: 22
16. HASHTAG Meaning: a word or phrase preceded by a hashmark on Twitter, used to denote the topic of a post Point value: 14
17. IXNAY Meaning: no Point value: 15
18. LOLZ Meaning: laughs at someone else’s or one’s own expense Point value: 13
19. LOTSA Meaning: lots of Point value: 5
20. NEWB Meaning: newbie Point value: 9
21. OBVS Meaning: obviously Point value: 9
22. ONESIE Meaning: one-piece garment combining a top with trousers Point value: 6
23. PACKZI Meaning: round, filled doughnut Point value: 23
24. PODIUMED Meaning: to finish in the top three places in a sporting competition Point value: 14
25. PWN Meaning: to conquer or to gain ownership Point value: 8
26. QUINZHEE Meaning: shelter made from hollowed-out snow Point value: 29
Meaning: to sweat Point value: 24
28. SEXTING Meaning: practice of sending sexually explicit text messages Point value: 15
29. SHIZZLE Meaning: a form of US rap slang Point value: 18
30. SHOOTIE Meaning: type of shoe that covers the ankle Point value: 10
31. THANX Meaning: thank you Point value: 15
32. TUNAGE Meaning: music Point value: 8
33. TWEEP Meaning: person who uses Twitter Point value: 10
34. VAPE Meaning: to inhale nicotine vapor (from an electronic cigarette) Point value: 9
35. WAHH Meaning: interjection used to express wailing Point value: 10
36. YEESH Meaning: interjection used to express frustration Point value: 11
37. WARBOT Meaning: any robot or unmanned vehicle or device designed for and used in warfare Point value: 11
Digital Vision/Thinkstock(LONDON) — The U.K. branch of People For The Ethical Treatment Of Animals (PETA) has taken aim at the oldest pub in Britain, Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, claiming the name of the establishment that has been operating since 793 -- yes, 793 -- has offensive to chickens. In an official letter, PETA UK representative Dawn Carr wrote to the owners of the historic pub, "to propose that Ye Olde Fighting Cocks pub in St. Albans adopt a new name: Ye Olde Clever Cocks."
The change, Carr expresses would, "reflect society’s rejection of needless violence and help celebrate a fascinating but often abused and misunderstood animal, the chicken."
The bar has gone by its current name since 1872. According to its owners, they're not budging. "Firstly, we would just like to go on record and say that we are big fans of the work PETA do, their campaign for banning fur was spot on and something they managed magnificently," the owners posted on the bar's site.
"However, when it comes to the naming of historic English pubs, on this occasion, we think we might have pass them up on the offer of help!"
Phototreat/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Iraqi troop pull-out of Ramadi last weekend that allowed the city to fall into ISIS hands may have been the result of a misunderstanding by the senior Iraqi commander in the city, U.S. officials said on Thursday.
U.S. officials now believe the senior Iraqi military commander ordered his troops to withdraw because he mistakenly believed that a sandstorm would prevent coalition aircraft from launching airstrikes to support his troops.
That information is one of the reasons why on Wednesday, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that Iraqi troops “drove out” of Ramadi and were not “driven out” out of the city by ISIS.
Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters on Thursday that last weekend's sandstorm had not affected the coalition’s ability to launch airstrikes in Ramadi, though “weather was a factor on the ground early on.”
It appears Iraqi forces believed that because of the deteriorating weather conditions “they would not be able to receive air power support," Warren said.
"We are now of the opinion that this was one of the factors that contributed to their decision to reposition out of Ramadi,” he said.
“This appears to have been a unilateral decision by the commander on the ground in Ramadi based on his assessment of the situation that it was time to withdraw,” said Warren.
He said it was unclear if that decision was communicated to the joint operations center in Baghdad where U.S. military teams are embedded with Iraqi commanders. Iraqi military commanders can forward requests for airstrikes to the joint operations center where the U.S. military sends the request to the coalition's air command center.
ISIS had been fighting for control of Ramadi since January 2014, seizing half of the city since then.
In recent weeks, they had seized additional territory inside the city and late last week launched a new offensive that targeted the city's government center by using more than 30 car bombs over a four day span.
A senior State Department official briefed reporters on Wednesday that 10 of those bombs leveled various city blocks in Ramadi and were as powerful as the one used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.
To counter ISIS's growing use of car bombs, the U.S. has expedited the delivery of 1,000 AT-4 anti-tank rockets that will be shipped to Iraq beginning next week, Warren said.
He described the weapon as ideal for targeting potential suicide car bombers because unlike the precise small arms fire needed to disable a rushing vehicle, the shoulder-fired weapon is easy to use and can destroy an approaching vehicle from a distance.
The Iraqi military forces that had been in Ramadi have now repositioned to Habbaniyah, where the Iraqi government has also sent 3,000 Shiite militia fighters to assist with the fight against ISIS in Anbar Province.
RPMGsas/iStock/Thinkstock(PALMYRA, Syria) -- Just five days after ISIS achieved one of its most significant victories in Iraq in the past year, militants reportedly have taken control of the ancient city of Palmyra in Syria.
The city’s ruins hold some of the world’s most prized antiquities dating back to the 1st and 2nd centuries, and ISIS’ past assaults on historic sites have caused alarm among the international community that the group might employ the same tactics once again.
“Any destruction to Palmyra is not just a world crime, it will mean an enormous loss for humanity,” said UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova in a video posted by the group Thursday. “We are speaking about the birth of human civilization.”
Palmyra is home to some of the world’s best-preserved ancient ruins, including the Temple of Bel, built in the first century. The regime’s withdrawal from the strategically important Palmyra presents another drastic loss for its forces.
Over the past 2,000 years, Palmyra has been consistently reshaped by the influences of ancient Romans, and served as a trade hub for caravans along the Silk Road from India, China and Persia. It led to an amassing of treasures from a diverse array of civilizations.
“What Palmyra tells us today is that all cultures are influencing each other, all cultures enrich each other,” Bokova said.
However, over the past two years following the start of the Syrian Civil War, Palmyra saw military facilities propped up by forces loyal to Syria’s Assad. Reports of looting and significant damage to some of the city’s ancient architecture followed.
Its new inhabitants, however, believe preserving ancient ruins constitutes a form of idolatry and have made several propaganda videos flaunting their record in some of Syria and Iraq’s most historic destinations.
One of the first notable examples of ISIS’ targeting of historical sites was the video posted online of the destruction of the Nebi Yunus, or the Tomb of the Prophet Jonah, inside Mosul, Iraq.
Just one week ago, in a U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on “Ancient Communities Under Attack,” Penn Cultural Heritage Center fellow Katharyn Hanson remarked that ISIS “removed all evidence of the shrine by clearing the rubble and grading the site flat.”
“In doing so,” Hanson said. “ISIS erased the physical presence of Nebi Yunus for the entire local religious community.”
In January 2015, reports surfaced that ISIS militants detonated bombs along the wall of the ancient Iraqi city of Nineveh located on the Tigris River. The city is known for being the oldest in the Assyrian Empire and most notable archaeological monuments in the country.
The next month, ISIS militants armed themselves with sledgehammers, pickaxes and rifles as they raided the Mosul Museum. Cameramen were at the ready as the group tore apart artifacts, including some reported replicas inside, later posting a montage of the rampage online.
Just a month later, ISIS ramped up its campaign of destruction as it reportedly bulldozed the ancient cities of Nimrud and Hatra, also a UNESCO World Heritage site.
In the House hearing, Hanson also remarked on the apparent looting by ISIS of the Dura-Europos, an archaeological site in Syria that holds not only the world’s best preserved ancient Jewish synagogue but one of the oldest known depictions of Jesus Christ.
“I think we need a total mobilization of the international community,” Bokova said on Palmyra. “We need everybody to launch the same appeal. We need very much the religious leaders to launch an appeal on the prevention of this destruction.”
Sister Diana Momeka of the Dominican Sisters of Saint Catherine of Siena has witnessed the destruction first hand, and testified to the House Foreign Affairs committee just what effect the destruction of the religious and historical sites have on the community.
“What do we lose? I would say we lost everything,” Momeka said. “It just was a sign for us, and that's your history is gone. You are nothing anymore. That's how we see ourselves now. Homeless.”
ABC News(HAVANA) -- When Elian Gonzalez was found floating on an inner tube 60 miles off the coast of Miami 15 years ago, the fisherman who helped rescue him said finding the 6-year-old boy in the water was a “one in a billion” chance.
“You know, that day my cousin told me, ‘we are not going fishing,’” Donato Dalrymple told ABC News. “The marine advisory said it would be a horrible day for small boats to be out there. We were on a 25-foot fishing vessel, not like we were out in the middle of the ocean with a big fishing boat. And there was nobody out there, completely nobody.”
Dalrymple said a school of dolphins swimming close by drew their attention to the small boy.
“I tell you, I believe it was my destiny,” he said. “My journey that day, as a missionary, a person of faith, just persisting with my cousin that we ran right into that inner tube. We went directly to it.”
Elian was dehydrated and unconscious when he was pulled from the water, and was taken to Miami. Now 21 years old, Elian said he is thankful to the fishermen who saved him.
“Those are moments that no matter how hard I try to put them aside, they will always leave a mark on me,” Elian told ABC News in an exclusive interview.
As would the next several months of his young life.
When he was just 6 years old, Elian said his mother and her boyfriend had given him sleeping pills before they got onto a small 16-foot fishing boat in the middle of the night to head for the United States. He remembers the boat capsizing during the crossing, and falling into the water, but there were inner tubes tied to the back of the boat and Elian said his mother loaded him onto one. He survived, but his mother was lost at sea. Her body has never been found.
After his rescue in 2000, Elian was placed in the care of his Miami relatives, who fought to keep him in the U.S. against the will of his father Juan Miguel back in Cuba.
“There were so many emotions and all at the same time when I was with my uncles,” Elian recalled. “Everyone staring at me, thinking about me, the media, everyone staring at me. They didn't allow me that time to cry for my mother. To sit down and realize what had happened. I was simply a kid, and to me everything was a game.”
The media circled the family’s Old Havana, Florida, home where Elian stayed, as his relatives proudly displayed him as a victory over Communism.
“In the beginning it was difficult because I tried to get the support of someone,” Elian said. “I had lost my mother, I didn’t understand what was going on.”
At the time, Elian said he turned to his cousin Marisleysis. “I saw her as a mother,” he said. “And I tried to consider her like that.”
“[My relatives] did try to give me a better life but they made a mistake, I believe,” Elian continued. “Because they were against their own nephew. And I had to be with my father.”
ABC News reached out to Marisleysis about Elian’s offer at reconciliation and she said she was not interested in speaking on camera or even in hearing any recorded message ABC News had taped from Elian.
But his uncle, Delfin, did agree to speak to ABC News. We played a message from Elian for him, in which Elian comments on his Miami family and asked for an apology before he agrees to see them again. After watching the message, Delfin said Elian had been manipulated.
“It is not the boy’s fault,” he said. “That is where you see the manipulation of that ******* system. They destroy everything. They have destroyed that boy, they have him like a robot. Doing what he doesn’t feel but everything he is saying is a lie. That is the reward we get for doing good. Taking care of him when he was defenseless and he didn’t have anyone to take care of him and his own damn father said to take care of him until he could come get him. That is the reward that a poor family gets, that gave him love. I don’t see why we should say sorry.”
But in fact, after Elian arrived in Miami, his relatives kept the boy for weeks after his father went to the U.S. to get him, which led to the raid inside their home.
The Cuban government was not at the interview with Elian and did not attempt to censor ABC News’ reports.
While the family may not be willing to move forward, the fisherman who rescued Elian all those years ago would. Dalrymple is the man holding young Elian in that iconic raid photo where he and the little boy are faced with a federal agent’s rifle.
"Juan Miguel is a good man, he loves his son,” Dalrymple said. “I couldn't imagine him, regardless of where he lives on this planet, being without his son."
"I do apologize,” he continued. “Because I would love to see [Elian] again and just hug his neck and his father because this was a beautiful thing. What happened down there. It was never meant for me to try to aid and abet and hold him against his father regardless but it seemed like that’s what it was at that time."
Christian LeBlanc(KOH PHANGAN ISLAND, Thailand) -- What happens when an elephant grabs your GoPro camera while you are busy feeding it bananas? You become the owner of what could be the world’s first elephant selfie.
The elephant “took” the selfie in Thailand while being fed bananas by Christian LeBlanc, a 22-year-old college student from Vancouver, British Columbia.
LeBlanc, a business major at the University of British Columbia, was on Koh Phangan Island when he says he and his girlfriend “came across a couple of elephants” and bought a 50 cent basket of bananas to feed them.
The rest is selfie history.
“The elephant quickly ate what little bananas I had and become touchy trying to find more food,” LeBlanc told ABC News. “Next thing I knew it grabbed my GoPro by the mount...My GoPro was set to continuous shooting so when the elephant grabbed my camera, the result was the world’s first ever ‘Elphie!'"
"I got the selfie of a lifetime, which I can't take full credit for," LeBlanc said. “Elephants are incredibly intelligent and it definitely makes you wonder if it was a conscious action.”
LeBlanc took the photo two months ago and it has since gained worldwide attention.
“I still cannot believe the photo happened or that it has gained the global media attention it has,” said LeBlanc, who is posting his travels on Instagram and YouTube.
The Canadian was in Thailand for a study abroad program. With his semester of studies complete, LeBlanc says he is now traveling throughout Asia and has already captured another “epic” selfie.
“This time with the world’s largest fish, the whale shark,” LeBlanc said, noting that he took this selfie himself, with no help from the animal.
Julien Knez/golem13.fr(PARIS) -- One Paris-based artist decided to dive into the romantic city’s history, painstakingly recreating some of the most haunting photos from World War II.
“I'm interested in Paris history and in the story of these few days in August 1944,” Julien Knez wrote to ABC News of the when the Liberation of Paris was fought, which eventually freed Paris from Nazi control.
Knez spent one month searching for old photos of famous Paris landmarks taken during the city’s uprising, then spent another month retracing those photos’ footsteps, recreating each image to capture how much the city has changed in the past 71 years.
“It was a pretty moving experience, a sort of awareness of this historic event,” he wrote on his website describing the passion project. “Imagine the courage of these men and women of all ages, everyone earned by this infinite thirst for freedom finally at hand.”
The 50 photos serve as a time capsule of Parisian history, beautifully capturing how far the city has come.
“My favorite photo is the one on Hotel de Ville with 2 comrades who are found after street fights,” Knez explained. “A beautiful picture, the faces of deliverance.”
Take a look at Knez’s tribute to his beloved city.
Policia Nacional de los Colombianos(BOGOTÁ, Colombia) -- A dog was pulled from raging flood waters by the National Police of Colombia, and it all was captured on video.
The dog fell into water filled with mud, stones and other debris, according to the National Police of Colombia. The National Police spotted the dog, which they refer to as Prince, and were able to pull it from the water after the third attempt.
Once Prince was pulled from the water, members of the National Police revived the dog, at one point giving it mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, and brought it to a safe place, events that also were captured on video.
The National Police said that if Prince’s owner can’t be found, the dog will be welcomed by the leaders of the National Police.
Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images(STAFFORDSHIRE, England) — It looks like Prince William and Duchess Kate might have a football player on their hands, not Prince George but their newborn daughter, Princess Charlotte.
Charlotte is just 19-days-old but she already has her own soccer — football in the U.K. — jersey thanks to her home country’s women’s soccer team.
The players on England’s women’s squad, the Lionesses, presented Charlotte’s dad, Prince William, with a custom team jersey Wednesday when he met the team at St. George’s Park in Staffordshire.
The jersey had Charlotte’s name on the back along with the number one.
"All the girls were asking how Princess Charlotte is and Prince George and whether they keep him up all night," said team captain Steph Houghton, according to the U.K.’s The Telegraph.
"He was saying he's obviously really enjoying being a father and Princess Charlotte is actually keeping him up and probably why his eyes are looking a little bit tired,” Houghton said.
William, 32, reportedly also revealed that although Charlotte has a jersey, it is currently Prince George who is displaying soccer skills through his quick feet.
"He was saying he never stops moving and is always on the move and keeping them busy,” Houghton said.
Tweets from Kensington Palace show that William, 32, took a team photo with the Lionesses, signed the wall at St. George’s Park and watched the players train.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA(NEW YORK) — NASA's Dawn probe has gotten its closest look yet at the alien lights reflecting from the dwarf planet Ceres.
Taken from a distance of 4,500 miles, the image shows two bright spots on the dwarf planet in new detail, appearing to reflect from inside a crater on Ceres' surface.
Discovered earlier this year as Dawn approached Ceres, the bright spots have been a mystery to scientists who have speculated they could be icy volcanoes or salt.
Christopher Russell, principal investigator for the Dawn mission, said with the closer look that "scientists can now conclude that the intense brightness of these spots is due to the reflection of sunlight by highly reflective material on the surface, possibly ice."
Nearly 600 miles in diameter, about 25 percent of Ceres' mass is believed to be ice. NASA's Dawn mission has been orbiting Ceres since March and will continue studying the dwarf planet through June 2016.
NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) — Eight men are expected to appear in Westminster Magistrates Court in London Thursday morning to face charges in the Hatton Garden jewelry heist.
The thieves stole from up to 70 safe deposit boxes from the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Limited building over Easter weekend.
Police did not disclose exactly what was stolen, but it is believed that diamonds and gold were part of the haul. Hatton Garden is a district of London famous for being the largest jewelry quarter in the U.K. specializing in the diamond trade.
A “significant” amount of the “high-value property was recovered and will be returned to their owners, British authorities said Tuesday.
A ninth man who was also arrested has been released on bail, pending further inquiries, police have said.
Photo by Al Rai Al Aam/Feature Story News/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Prior to joining the terror group al Qaeda, some potential jihadists were apparently provided a job application form that would not be entirely out of place for an entry-level position at any American company – except for questions like the one about the applicant’s willingness to blow themselves up.
The form, watermarked with an al Qaeda logo, was released Wednesday along with dozens of other never-before-seen documents the U.S. government said were recovered from Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan after he was killed in 2011.
The documents were published by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence as part of what it said is President Obama’s push for the intelligence community to be more transparent.
The al Qaeda application form as translated by the U.S. government involves a lengthy questionnaire about basic personal details, family history, marital status, and education level. It asks that applicants "answer the required information accurately and truthfully" and, "Please write clearly and legibly."
It also asks what clerics the applicant listens to or knows and what kind of traveling they’ve done. Do they prefer science or literature?
But quickly the questions veer towards those that, depending on the answer, could give al Qaeda a tactical advantage in future operations: Is the applicant expert in chemistry, communications or any other field? Do they have a family member in the government who would cooperate with al Qaeda? Have they received any military training?
Finally, it asks what the would-be jihadist would like to accomplish and, “Do you wish to execute a suicide operation?”
For the final question, the application asks would-be killers that if they were to become martyrs, who should al Qaeda contact?
The notion of an al Qaeda application is not a new one. Back in 2007 the U.S. government entered into evidence a similar application form prosecutors said had been filled out by Jose Padilla, who was later convicted as an American member of al Qaeda.
CLICK HERE to see the full list of documents released by the ODNI.
MacXever/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The State Department is sharing new details about the deadly fighting in Ramadi, Iraq, last Sunday, saying the city fell into ISIS hands after the militant group set off 30 suicide car bombs in the city center, 10 of which each were comparable in power to the Oklahoma City truck bomb of 1995.
The explosions took out “entire city blocks,” said a senior State Department official who spoke to reporters at the State Department Wednesday on condition that he not be named.
The vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, or VBIEDs, were able to gain access to the city center after an armored bulldozer plowed through T-wall barricades lining the city's critical government buildings, the official said, adding that the same bulldozer was later used as a power VBIED, itself.
Soon after the bombs went off, the Iraqis deployed a reinforcing column into the city center, but they were forced to retreat after coming under heavy enemy fire, the official said. That retreat led to a larger exodus of Iraqi security forces and the civilian populations, leaving the streets looking “barren,” according to this official.
The State Department and the Pentagon insist the fall of Ramadi does not closely resemble that of Mosul in 2014, when, after only a week of fighting, Islamic State forces were able to take over the entire city as ISF forces abandoned the posts, equipment and even their uniforms.
The State Department official argued that Ramadi has been fiercely contested for 18 months, as both sides controlled equal parts of the city. It wasn’t until the critical government center fell this weekend that ISIS was able to lay claim to the entire provincial capital.
But the official admitted that, in this case, the Iraqi forces did leave some U.S.-made weapons behind. The official suggested that if the enemy attempts to commandeer any of the bigger weapons, they would be killed in airstrikes.
“I’m told that when we see Daesh [another word for ISIS or ISIL] trying to get ahold of that equipment, we’ll take care of that problem,” the State Department official said.
The official also argued that, unlike what happened in Mosul, the Iraqi forces have not collapsed. Rather, they have “regrouped” and “consolidated” and remain mostly intact while they make plans for a counter-offensive, the official said.