Qassem Soleimani with his bodyguards near the frontlines of Tikrit
The Iraqi Security Forces and Iranian-backed Shiite militias have taken control of several key towns on the outskirts of Tikrit. Al Dor and Al Awja, which are south of Tikrit, and Albu Ajil, east of the city, fell to the ISF and these militias over the weekend. Al Alam, another nearby town to the northeast, was reported to have been taken yesterday. However, Reuters noted that the town is still contested as of today.
These Shiite militias, which are supported by the Iran’ Qods Force, are leading the fight in Tikrit. The militias are said to make up roughly two-thirds of the fighting force, out of the 30,000 troops in the area. The militias operate under the moniker of Hashid Shaabi, or the Popular Mobilization Committee. This so-called committee was formed by former Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki after the collapse of the Iraqi Army last summer.
Several of the more well-known Shiite militias have published photos and videos of their forces in Tikrit. Kata’ib Hezbollah (Hezbollah Brigades), Asiab al Haq (League of the Righteous), Saraya Khorasani (Khorasan Brigades), and Kata’ib Sayyed al Shuhada (Battalion of Sayyed’s Martyrs) have all published material to showcase their roles in the fighting. The Hezbollah Brigades and Saraya Khorasani have been conducting operations in Al Alam and Al Dor, while Asaib al Haq has been fighting in Albu Ajil. Kata’ib Sayyed al Shuhada has also been seen in Al Dor and Albu Ajil. (For more on the Shiite militias in Tikrit, see LWJ report, Shiite militias, Iraqi forces surround Tikrit)
The Iranian influence in this fight is noticeable by the presence of Qassem Soleimani, the head of the Qods Force. Soleimani has been spotted numerous times on the battlefield and various militias have publicized their meeting with him. Additionally, Fars News, the unofficial news agency of Iran, has confirmed Soleimani’s presence and have released images of him from Tikrit. (To see some of these pictures, see LWJ report, Iranian general at the forefront of the Tikrit offensive)
Photos and videos released by several Shiite militias can be seen below:
Saraya Khorasani fighters in Al Alam:
Hezbollah Brigades in Al Dor:
Ammar al Hakim, leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, seen with Hadi al Ameri, leader of the Badr Brigades, planning the battle in Tikrit:
Kata’ib Sayyed al Shuhada fighters reportedly in Al Dor:
Qais al Khazali, leader of Asaib al Haq, seen in Albu Ajil:
Video from Kata’ib Imam Ali, another Iranian-backed militia, showing its participation in the fighting:
Kata’ib Sayyed al Shuhada video from Tikrit:
Still from a BBC video showing an American M198 howitzer being used in Tikrit with the flag of the Hezbollah Brigades:
Qassem Soleimani with a leader from Saraya Ashura, which is linked to the aforementioned Ammar al Hakim:
Kata’ib Imam Ali fighters near Tikrit. Including the well-known fighter Abu Azra’il, or “Father of the Angel of Death” (far right):
Asaib al Haq and Kata’ib Sayyed al Shuhada holding a press conference in Albu Ajil:
Kata’ib Imam Ali fighters on one of its BMP’s near Tikrit:
Kata’ib Imam Ali with one of its howitzers near Tikrit:
Asaib al Haq with an American-made M113 armored personnel carrier near Tikrit:
Reportedly an Iranian-made drone supplied to Harakat al Nujaba, another Shiite militia fighting in Tikrit:
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