News / Middle East

    Iraq Launches Military Offensive in Tikrit

    Members of Iraqi security forces take their positions during a patrol looking for militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) west of Kerbala, June 29, 2014.
    Members of Iraqi security forces take their positions during a patrol looking for militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) west of Kerbala, June 29, 2014.
    VOA News

    The Iraqi army has launched what it calls a major offensive to retake the northern city of Tikrit from Sunni ISIL extremists.

    Military officials say the main ground operation started Saturday with heavy fighting in the city between Sunni militants and Iraqi special forces attempting to regain control of a university campus. Iraqi helicopter gunships fired on the area to repel the militants as Iraqi tanks rumbled from the south to attack.

    Casualties are unclear at this time.

    Meanwhile, Iraq says it has received several secondhand Russian fighter jets to use in the fight against the militants.

    The operation comes shortly after U.S. officials said its military is flying armed drones in Iraqi airspace to protect U.S. military advisers sent to help counter insurgents.

    U.S. President Barack Obama sent 300 military personnel to Iraq earlier this month to strengthen government security forces and help establish joint operation centers to combat ISIL.

    Human Rights Watch said Friday analysis of photographs and satellite imagery "strongly indicates" that ISIL extremists conducted mass executions in Tikrit after seizing control of the city.

    The rights group says the extremists killed between 160 and 190 men in at least two locations between June 11 and 14.

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was in the Middle East to encourage regional leaders to tackle the Islamist militant threat posed by the conflicts in Syria and Iraq.  The White House has announced it wants to send $500 million to train Syrian rebels fighting ISIL and the Syrian president's forces.

    Kerry met Thursday in Paris with the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, in an effort to rally regional unity against ISIL.

    On Friday he held talks with Saudi King Abdullah.   Reuters reports that Abdullah pledged to use Saudi influence to encourage Iraqi Sunni Muslims to join any new inclusive government that might replace the administration of current Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who has been criticized for stoking sectarian tensions in Iraq.

    The prime minister has rejected forming any new emergency government saying that would go against the country’s constitution and the results of the April 30 parliamentary election. 

    Some material in this report was provided by Reuters.

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    Comments
         
    by: meanbill from: USA
    June 29, 2014 11:41 AM
    THE WISE MAN said it; -- "In the midst of ever changing military battles, unplanned adjustments must be made, including adjusting strategy, changing your troop positions, troop rotations, and replacing some officers.... and those who make the proper instant battle adjustments, will win the battles"... "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu

    MY OPINION? -- Soon, like a Mongol horde, the Maliki Iraqi troops will overwhelm the Sunni Muslim (ISIL) "Emir of the Believers" al-Baghdadi army, (and do like the Mongols did), they'll leave the bones of Sunni Muslim (ISIL) "Emir of the Believers" al-Baghdadi army, bleaching in the sands of Iraq forever.... (but Maliki must beware of the advice given by the US and NATO countries, who arm his enemies)....

    by: RanaSahib from: Ontario
    June 28, 2014 10:08 PM
    Not going to happen. Gotterdammerung for the nation state concept as applied to Iraq. ISIS can't be stopped.

    by: Fatma from: Iraq
    June 28, 2014 9:41 PM
    I think that what Iraq mostly needed is peace. We don't need new militia build as army and collecting people in a call of religion against anothers in the same country. .
    This is not government..
    Iraq needs strong civilian professional government believe in all iraqis equal.
    And when this happens everything else will be so easy to solve and we'll get back every area automatically

    by: meanbill from: USA
    June 28, 2014 7:57 PM
    MY OPINION? -- I guarantee that the Maliki counterattack against the Sunni Muslim (ISIL) "Emir of the Believers" al-Baghdadi, will be successful, as long as they don't continue to give any quarter, (or take the advice of the US and NATO countries), who'll want the Shia Muslim attacking forces to give quarter, (a ceasefire), to the soon to be defeated Sunni Muslim (ISIL) army....

    PICTURE THIS? -- The Sunni Muslim (ISIL) "Emir of the Believers" al-Baghdadi army, (hasn't enough fighters to hold or guard surrendering Iraqi troops, or other submitting Infidels), and all of them, and the Shia Muslims, are given the extreme punishment from the al-Baghdadi appointed Judges (Qadis), who are ordered to execute all the Shia Muslims, who al-Baghdadi calls "The Filthy Ones" .... that he believes, should be wipe off the earth.....

    The (Qadis) Judges, are legal under Sunni Muslim law, and their qualifications are, they must be free, sane, adult, trustworthy, and a Muslim, and the decisions of the (Qadi) Judge is final, and irrevocable.... Non-Muslims and non-believers, call the executions terrorist acts, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, but in reality, they are legal under Sunni Muslim Islamic law.....

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