The Iraqi army, backed by volunteer forces, has launched a large-scale military operation to retake the strategic city of Tikrit in Salahuddin province from ISIL terrorists.
Government forces are attacking the city from different locations, backed by artillery and airstrikes by Iraqi fighter jets. Troops have not entered Tikrit yet. They’ve already managed to liberate several districts around the city. A security source says volunteer forces have killed an ISIL commander in Himren region, south of the city. Tikrit lies on the road connecting Baghdad and Mosul. Its liberation will help Iraqi forces have a major supply link for any future operation to recapture Mosul. Meanwhile, Iraqi forces have liberated two more areas in the western Anbar province from ISIL.
Iraqi army continues its operation against ISIL in Salahuddin province.
Iraqi volunteers join army in massive operation to push out ISIL.
More than 27000 army soldiers and volunteers are involved in the battle for the city of Tikrit and its surrounding areas. They’re tightening their grip on the Takfiri militants from five directions. So far, several districts in the west and north of Tikrit as well as the police academy in the south have been liberated. The joint forces used heavy artillery, mortars and short-range missiles during intensified clashes Sunday night over the town of Dour which is still under the control of the ISIL terrorists. Iraqi Prime Minister and Commander in Chief, Haydar al-Abadi, is now in the front line city of Samarra to personally direct the operation
Iraqi forces are battling the ISIL Takfiri militants in a neighborhood of the northern city of Tikrit as they press ahead with their large-scale offensive to regain control of the strategic city.
The Iraqi troops, backed by Shia and Sunni volunteers, recaptured parts of the Qadisiyah neighborhood while battling ISIL terrorists, an Iraqi security source said on Monday.
Several volunteer forces as well as dozens of militants were killed or wounded in the clashes.
Some 30,000 Iraqi troops and volunteers, backed by aircraft and artillery, launched the operation in and around Tikrit in Salahuddin province on Sunday to liberate the city.
They have already recaptured a number of districts around Tikrit.
“The army, federal police, Popular Mobilization (volunteer) units, and the sons of Salahuddin’s tribes are performing the duties of liberation in the largest operation against Daesh (ISIL) since June,” said a senior army officer on the ground.
“We are certain of victory… but the operation is not easy,” he added.
located some 130 kilometers (80 miles) north of the capital, Baghdad, Tikrit was overrun by the ISIL terrorists in summer 2014 along with Iraq’s second-largest city of Mosul and other areas in the Arab country’s Sunni heartland. Tikrit has a strategic position as it sits on the road to Mosul.
The ISIL terrorists control parts of Iraq and neighboring Syria. They have been engaged in crimes against humanity in the areas under their control.
Earlier on Monday, the terror group released a video showing the purported execution of four Sunni tribesmen in the Tikrit region for allegedly collaborating with the Iraqi government.
No coalition air raids for Iraqi assault on Tikrit: US
Unclear if Iranian planes also involved in assault on Islamic State forces in Iraqi city
The United States and its allies have received no request from Iraq to carry out air strikes in support of Baghdad government troops fighting to recapture Tikrit, the Pentagon said Monday.
The Iraqi operation to take back Tikrit from Islamic State jihadists is the largest-scale offensive yet launched by Baghdad and Shiite militia backed by neighboring Iran were playing a key role.
But the US-led coalition, which has conducted thousands of air strikes against the IS group to back up Iraqi and Kurdish forces on the ground, is not providing air power for the latest Iraqi offensive, officials said.
“We’re not providing air strikes in support of the operation around Tikrit,” Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steven Warren told reporters.
It was unclear if Tehran’s role may have been a factor in the US-led coalition’s absence.
The assault on IS in Tikrit included Iraqi aircraft but it was unclear if Iranian planes were also involved.
Both Iraqi and Iranian media reported that Qassem Soleimani — commander of the Al-Quds Force cover operations unit of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards — was in the area to help oversee operations.
Warren declined to say whether US surveillance aircraft were providing intelligence for the Tikrit operation.
But a Pentagon official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP that American planes were assisting with intelligence and reconnaissance.
Warren stressed that Iraq was a sovereign country and it was up to the government in Baghdad to decide when it required military assistance from coalition warplanes.
“We were aware of the operation before it started but I’m not going to get into the details of what degree of cooperation we conducted before this,” he said.
“We’re tracking it closely.”
Asked about Iran’s activities, he said: “We’re aware that there is great Iranian interest in Iraq’s fight against ISIL,” using another acronym by which the group is known.
But he said he would not discuss the details of Iran’s involvement in the conflict.
30,000 Iraqi troops pound jihadist positions
Some 30,000 Iraqi troops and militia backed by aircraft pounded jihadist positions in and around Tikrit on Monday in the biggest offensive yet to retake one of the Islamic State group’s main strongholds.
“Security forces are advancing on three main fronts towards Tikrit, Ad-Dawr (to the south) and Al-Alam (to the north),” an army lieutenant colonel on the ground told AFP by telephone.
Iraqi forces are also “moving along side roads to prevent Daesh’s escape,” he said, using an Arab acronym for IS, which has controlled the hometown of executed dictator Saddam Hussein for nearly nine months.
The operation, which is one of the most ambitious undertaken by Baghdad to roll back the gains made by IS last June, began in early morning after being announced by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi the previous evening.
Abadi urged the security forces on Sunday to spare civilians during the operation.
Speaking from Samarra, the other main city in Salaheddin province, he appeared to be addressing fears of reprisals against the Tikrit area’s Sunni population.
“The priority we gave to the armed forces and all the forces taking part alongside them is to preserve the security of citizens,” he told reporters.
On social media, he called “for utmost care in protecting civilian lives and property.”
Iraqi forces tried and failed several times to wrest back Tikrit, a Sunni Arab city on the Tigris river around 160 kilometers north of Baghdad.
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