Iraq begins effort to recapture Tikrit
BAGHDAD — Iraqi government forces backed by helicopter gunships began an offensive on Saturday to retake the northern city of Tikrit from Sunni Islamist militants while party leaders pursued talks that could end Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's divisive rule.
Politicians in Baghdad and world powers warn that unless security forces recover cities lost to the jihadi insurgents and form a government that can bring Iraq's estranged communities together, the country could rip apart along sectarian lines and menace the wider Middle East.
On the battlefield, Iraqi troops were trying to advance on Tikrit from the direction of Samarra to the south, which has become the military's line in the sand against a militant advance southward toward Baghdad.
Iraqi special forces have snipers inside Tikrit University who were dropped by air there in a bold operation on Thursday. Helicopter gunships fired at targets in Tikrit on Saturday, and Islamic State of Iraq and Syria fighters abandoned Tikrit's governorate building, security sources said. More government troops had been air-dropped in a pocket just north of the city.
Iraqi military spokesman Qassim Atta told reporters in Baghdad that 29 “terrorists” were killed on Friday in Tikrit and militant commanders were struggling because “their morale has started to collapse.”
However, the militants were showing resilience and enjoyed the backing of some Sunni tribes, as well as former ruling Baathists from the era of late Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein — whose hometown was Tikrit — who have been alienated from Maliki's government.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Antarctica yields life in extremest of conditions, so what about on another planet?
- Germanwings flight co-pilot Lubitz worried about job security, officials say
- Copilot’s friends doubt Germanwings crash intentional
- Impasse remains in Iran nuke talks
- Suspect in Tunisian museum attack killed
- Dickens’ desk to go on permanent display museum
- Netanyahu appears to fend off challenger in parliamentary elections
- U.S. planes enter air battle over Iraqi city
- Russians blame Western sanctions for recession fed by oil price drop
- Conviction overturned in Italy murder case for Seattle woman
- Airstrikes intensify in Yemen as Egypt, Saudis consider ground forces