By Walid Shoebat
At least ten thousand Iraqi forces comprised of mainly military and Shi’ite militiamen and two thousand local Arab tribes finally launched the long-awaited offensive on Sunday against ISIS to recapture the major city of Tikrit and the Saladin Governorate which bridges the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, with rebel-held Mosul in the north.
The city has been under Islamic State control since mid-2014. Tikrit is seen as a linchpin in countering the militant land grab that swept across northern Iraq last year.
Shoebat.com obtained some action style footage from the heated battle on the ground:
With a song in the background for the coming Mahdi, this footage shows the anti-ISIS fighters converging on Tikrit to remove the ISIS flag after liberating one of their strongholds:
Piles of ISIS bodies are also shown:
In one of the videos, “Ya Ali” (O Ali) the voice sounds from the field as the rockets are launched. Ali is the icon of the Shiites whom they use as the slogan to upset Sunni ISIS who reject Ali’s succession.
The country’s Shiite Prime Minister and Commander-in-Chief Haider Al-Abadi announced the start of the operation Sunday as he traveled to nearby Samarra to oversee efforts “to liberate Tikrit” and the surrounding governorate of Saladin.
Abadi called on Sunni tribal fighters to joint them and abandon ISIS giving them what he termed “the last chance” for Sunni tribal fighters, promising them a pardon during a news conference in Samarra.
“I call upon those who have been misled or committed a mistake to lay down arms and join their people and security forces in order to liberate their cities,” Abadi said.
The offensive will be supported by air strikes from the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS, the Iraqi army said earlier.
Residents of Tikrit were reportedly told to evacuate the area ahead of the military operation.
Iraqi officials and militia commanders regard the recapture of Tikrit as an essential step toward the liberation of Mosul where Christians suffered the most.
The battle plan will be to liberate the first location will be from the Aoja area, south of Tikrit, with the support of Iraqi Special Forces. The second front will be from an area close to Tikrit University in which the Iraqi army and police will attack from. The third attack will carried from the southwest of Tikrit.
Security sources said that Iraqi forces are now in control of the northern areas of the Albu Obaid village and west of Tikrit.
The operation to retake Tikrit, the home town of Iraq’s former President Saddam Hussein, marks a major test for Iraqi forces.