عدد المساهمات : 38369
تاريخ التسجيل : 21/09/2009
|موضوع: Britain and US join new push to take Tikrit from hands of Isil الأحد 29 مارس 2015, 23:41|| |
|Britain and US join new push to take Tikrit from hands of Isil|
Mar. 28, 2015Britain and US join new push to take Tikrit from hands of Isil Islamic State is facing renewed attempts to reclaim Tikrit
Iraqi militants fire rockets at Isil fighters in Tikrit, the home city of Saddam Hussein Photo: Khalid Mohammed/AP
- اقتباس :
Iraqi Special Forces and Iranian-backed militias made a new push to take Tikrit on Thursday, after American fighter jets and British RAF Tornados bombed the Isil jihadists fighting to hold on to the home city of Saddam Hussein.
The air campaign on Tikrit, a strategically vital city for the US-led coalition’s war against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil), has drawn the US and Britain into an uncomfortable de facto alliance with Iranian-backed Shia militias, who make up the bulk of the ground forces around the city.
Sources in Washington said the withdrawal of the Shia militias was a precondition to the start of the air campaign.
The same Shia militias have a bloody history of attacking US troops in the 2003 Iraq war, and are documented to have committed their own sectarian massacres in the country’s recent conflict.
On Thursday, Kataib Hezbollah and Asaib Ahl al-Haq militias, themselves angry at the West’s participation in “their” battle for Tikrit, suspended their involvement.
“It is not possible for Kataib Hezbollah or any of the resistance factions to be in the same trench as the Americans,” said Jaafar al-Husseini, a military spokesman for the insurgent group.
The Badr Organisation, which is the largest and most powerful of the militias, said it would continue to fight. Pro-Baghdad troops, advised and supplied by the Iranians, launched a major attack on Tikrit at the beginning of the month, but Isil fighters held their ground.
Capturing Tikrit would open up supply roads that are vital if the Iraqi government is to take back Mosul, its third city, which fell to the extremists last summer.
Pressure is mounting to begin that attack, which American officials have said must begin by May if it stands any chance of success; after that the stifling heat of the Iraqi summer would likely make fighting conditions impossible.
The first wave of air attacks on Tikrit on Wednesday night and in the early hours of yesterday targeted Saddam’s sprawling former palace complex, which has been turned into Isil’s operating base. Britain also participated in the air attacks. The Ministry of Defence said that Tornados “supported by a Voyager tanker used Paveway IV precision guided bombs to attack three Isil strongholds”.
Omar al-Tikriti, the mayor of the city, said that targets had to be carefully identified because Isil fighters were believed to be holding prisoners in some of the 65 palaces they occupy. In the absence of a strong national fighting force, with much of the army having dissolved and defected at the start of the war with Isil, the Iraqi government has relied on help from paramilitaries. But there are fears that an onslaught by Shia militias into Tikrit, a Sunni Muslim city, will stir up further sectarian violence.