Iran’s military commander Qassem Soleimani with Iraqi forces near Tikrit
Iraq’s security officials claim that Iraqi security forces and Shia militias moved into parts of Tikrit on Tuesday, looking to reverse the Islamic State’s capture of the city last June.
The offensive to retake Tikrit, about 160 km (100 miles) north of Baghdad on the Tigris River, began last week. The Iraqi troops and Shia militia — reportedly a force of more than 30,000 men — are joined by Iranian military commanders, including the head of the Revolutionary Guards’ elite Qods Force, General Qassem Soleimani.
Military officials in Salahuddin Province said the force was within yards of central buildings, including the provincial council and governor’s office, and had surrounded the palaces of former leader Saddam Hussein on the edge of the city.
The officials said they believed most Islamic State fighters had begun withdrawing from Tikrit because there was little resistance by the end of the day. However, the troops were moving cautiously because of fears of traps and suicide bombers.
Claimed footage of residents, some waving white cloths, greeting the forces entering Tikrit:
Earlier in the day, there was fighting in the northern neighborhood of Qadisiya, and the Islamic State bombed a bridge leading north to the village of Alam to slow the offensive.