Shiite militias, Iraqi troops enter central Tikrit

Asaib-al-Haq-flag-TikritAsaib al Haq, an Iranian-backed militia that has several leaders listed as Specially Designated Global Terrorists, flies its distinctive flag over Tikrit.

Iraqi troops and Iranian-backed Shiite militias entered central Tikrit alongside Iraqi troops today after days of US airstrikes weakened Islamic State forces holed up in the city. The militias entered Tikrit despite US military officials’ claims the the groups had disengaged from the fight.

The militias and Iraqi troops took control of the governor’s compound and the hospital in the city center, Reuters reported.

“Our security forces have reached the center of Tikrit and they have liberated the southern and western sides and they are moving towards the control of the whole city,” Prime Minister Haidar al Abadi said, according to a statement that was obtained by the news agency.

Both Asaib al Haq (the League of the Righteous) and Hezbollah Brigades, two Shiite militias that have killed hundreds of US soldiers in Iraq, entered Tikrit despite news reports that claimed the groups would abstain from fighting and withdraw from the city while the US launched airstrikes. Hezbollah Brigades, which is listed by the US as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, released video of its fighters firing US-made M198 towed artillery pieces in support of the Tikrit operation.

Harakat Nujaba, a group which is led by a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, claimed that it liberated Qasidiyah district in Tikrit.

The Islamic State is said to still hold three neighborhoods in Tikrit. Hundreds of fighters or more are said to have dug in inside the city, and have used underground tunnels to move.

Despite the overt involvement of the Shiite militias, the US continued airstrikes in the capital of Salahaddin province. Today, US Central Command noted that aircraft “struck multiple ISIL [Islamic State ] buildings.”

Senior US military commanders have insisted that support for the Tikrit operations would only be forthcoming if Shiite militias were withdrawn from the battlefield. Yet the Pentagon’s spokesman admitted that the militias, which operate under the aegis of the Popular Mobilization Committee, were involved in the fight. The Popular Mobilization Committee is also led by a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. The US government described him as an “adviser” to the commander of Qods Force, Iran’s external operations branch.

The US military has not explained why it continues to support Shiite militias, some whose leaders continue to threaten Americans, in their quest to take control of Tikrit.

For more information on the Shiite militias operating in Tikrit, see LWJ reports:

US continues airstrikes in Tikrit despite involvement of Iranian-backed Shiite militias
US begins airstrikes against Islamic State in Tikrit, supports Shiite militias

Photos and videos of Shiite militias operating in Tikrit

Hezbollah Brigades fires US-made M198 Howitzers:

 

KH M198-2

Video from Tikrit, which includes Asaib al Haq’s flag flying over the city:

Iraqi military and Shiite militia units in central Tikrit:

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of The Long War Journal. Caleb Weiss is an intern at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a contributor to The Long War Journal.

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13 Comments

  • Birbal Dhar says:

    Rather have shiite militias controlling the city than ISIS. Yes both are bad as each other, but at least shiite militias don’t behead western journalists or murder ethnic minorities like ISIS does !!

  • Max says:

    There are reports that the US is dropping weapons to ISIS. It is alleged by senior Iraqi government and military that the US is supplying both sides in the conflict, because they want the fighting to continue and don’t really want to defeat ISIS.

    Is this true?

    • Civdiv says:

      Horse manure. The rest of this quote says the U.S. and Isreal formed ISIS. ISIS is a former AQ wing, and while we were in Iraq both Iran and Syria supported them. The Syrians thought they had the dog on a leash, but now it has turned and bitten them. Iran harbored about a dozen high level AQ dudes after they ran out of Afghanistan when we invaded, how’s that working out for you now. Even ISIS has reminded Iran that Iran supported ISI, the name of ISIS before ISIS broke away from AQ.

      This bs about us arming ISIS is ludicrous. Some of the arms that we supplied to more moderate groups insurgent groups in Syria did fall into ISIS and Al Nusra hands when they fought with the groups we were supporting. But no, we are not arming ISIS.

    • mike merlo says:

      whether or not its “true” or false is immaterial. By default all the participants in the Syria/Iraq Theater have US weapons & will continue to have access to them. There are also many Nations who are recipients of US weapons that are undoubtedly finding ways to get US weapons to all the participants & make a profit in the process.

  • blert says:

    Rapid advances into urban terrain are only possible with highly performing soldiers. ( US Marines US Army )

    All third world armies can only advance Berlin/ Stalingrad-style: with immense artillery destruction and directly fired big cannons. (tanks, towed artillery aimed over open sights)

    Digging in — for the defender — is only a stop-gap tactic. The attacker will eventually trap and bury all such defenders. (cf Warsaw, 1943, 1944 — it was done twice)

    This style of attack is the ONLY style that Baghdad has in its tool kit.

    The existence of the Iraqi Army ( that America trained and financed ) is problematic. Maliki destroyed it by evicting all of the crutial officers.

    This type of internally instrumented self-destruction was notably seen in the Red Army, 1938-1942. The Red Army couldn’t even get into gear until Stalin stopped shooting his officers.

    The fanatical anti-American Shi’ite militias are all that’s left for Baghdad.

    The ONLY reason that the Iraqi Army (classic) is being trotted out is for American self-propaganda. The administration can’t bear to admit that as a practical matter, it’s GONE.

    The Shi’ite-Sunni international civil war is destined to be fought (almost) entirely with volunteer fanatics… which is exactly how Tehran fought the Iran-Iraq conflict.

    Looking forward we should see Tikrit permanently transformed into a Shi’ite bastion… very much like East Prussia becoming a bastion for the Soviet Union after 1945.

    It’s got a central position, astride the Tigris, almost the equal of Baghdad.

    It will take quite some time, but one should expect that the Shi’ite hordes will press straight up the Tigris, flattening all Sunni lands, utterly, until Mosul is taken.

    I would bet that Tehran will not move up the Euphrates until the Tigris is entirely in hand… in which case the ‘up the river’ campaign will be entirely repeated. (One is reminded of Grant moving down the Mississippi river, 1863.)

    The Shia will drive the Sunni off of all viable farming lands — to the extent it’s within their power. The result must be strategic starvation.

    In the meantime: Iraq has at least as much crude oil underneath as all of Saudi Arabia. For some reason this stat keeps getting overlooked.

    Consequently, one must expect Tehran to use Scott’s Anaconda plan against Arabia. (1861-1865) What destroyed the South would work at super speed against the Arabs in their desert lands.

    Proxy war can take Tehran all the way to the victory circle. The (Sunni/ Wahabist) Arabs are that vulnerable.

    • mike merlo says:

      sounds good but I don’t ‘see’ that happening. One need only to ‘survey’ Syria to appreciate just how effective the Iranians have been. I also suspect it won’t be long before the Sunni Governments are much more overt & robust in their support of ISIS/ISIL & the rest of the savages swarming about the region. Besides Iran & their Iraqi surrogates still have anywhere from 30% to 40% of Tikrit still in control of ISIS/ISIL.

  • Dennis Weadock says:

    How does my president sleep at night after seeing Shiite militias using our towed howitzers ,driving around in American vehicles he left behind in such a hurry to leave. Not unlike the very Iraqis who fled in the face of a force one tenth its size, so fast they couldn’t get their uniforms off,which ultimately led to their untimely demise in horrible ways. Now, the only way they win is if we intervene in so many piecemeal ways. Does he really sleep well knowing this is a direct result of american inaction? His inaction? Need we even debate Yemen? The Syrian red line? His support for the Muslim brotherhood? His meddling in the Israeli elections? His lack of backbone, dealing with Putin? Sleep tight Mr. President, now I’m sure what you meant when you said you’d “change the world”.

  • Todd Zirkle says:

    Now we need more US air strikes in Tikrit ! we could call them “friendly fire” just not too friendly.

  • Thomas McCabe says:

    Any information on the number of casualties the Shia militias have taken?

  • abd rahmaan says:

    so the u.s. has joined with those who have killed americans for the sake of fighting even less desirable “terrorists”? lol lol what a country of hypocrites.

  • Max says:

    Your lack of response is telling. Thanks

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