Iraq Ramadi battle
Iraqi security forces stand with an Islamist State flag which they pulled down at the University of Anbar, in Anbar provinceReuters

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has approved courts martial against several high-ranking army commanders over their inefficient handling of military action against the Islamic State (Isis). The army chiefs will be put to trial for abandoning their positions when IS seized Ramadi, capital of Anbar province in May 2014.

The latest announcement is part of Abadi's sweeping political reforms in Iraq in the wake of increasing protests against the government over corruption allegations and mishandling of crisis situation.

The prime minister's office said in a statement that Baghdad administration would refer "a number of the leaders to the military judiciary for leaving their positions without orders and contrary to instructions (and) despite the issuance of a number of orders not to withdraw". It is still unclear whether any of the army personnel have been tried or the when the legal proceedings would be carried out.

The statement read that the Iraqi premier approved "decisions of the investigative commission on the withdrawal of the Anbar Operations Command and units attached to it from the city of Ramadi".

The Ramadi capture was key development in the offensive launched by the IS jihadists and it also facilitated the Sunni insurgents to seize several other crucial places including Mosul, the country's second-largest city, in June 2014.

The withdrawal of the Iraqi forces was a huge embarrassment for the government, which was forced to fall back on the Shiite militias to join them in their battle against the IS. According to the senior British military officer, Brigadier Christopher Ghika, cited by the AFP news agency, the downfall of Ramadi was solely because of "was lost because the Iraqi commander in Ramadi elected to withdraw".