Shiite militias closely linked to Iran and Qods Force commander Qassem Suleimani have taken control of key towns surrounding the central Iraqi city.
Several photos have been released by the semi-official Iranian news agency Fars showing Qassem Soleimani on the battlefield near Tikrit. Other photos circulating on social media show the leader of the Qods Force with various Shiite militias taking part in the current offensive in central Iraq.
Massive columns of Shiite militas, including some groups that are listed by the US as Foreign Terrorist Organizations, have been leading the fight in Tikrit. Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani has been spotted at the front lines.
The League of the Righteous, a Shiite militia that is responsible for killing hundreds of US soldiers in Iraq between 2006-2011, helped Iraqi forces take control of Baiji. The US provided air support.
The League of the Righteous, which is responsible for killing hundreds of US soldiers, was part of the Iraqi force that liberated Amerli. The group is closely tied to Iran’s Qods Force and three of its leaders are Specially Designated Global terrorists.
Hezbollah, which helped establish Shia terror groups in Iraq beginning in 2005, said that Ibrahim al Hajj, a trainer, was killed while “performing his jihadi duties” in Tal Afar.
Qais al Qazali, the leader of the League of the Righteous, said a controversial film “will put all the American interests Iraq in danger.” Qazali was released from custody by the US in 2009.
Prime Minister Maliki’s crackdown on the Sunni leadership threatens to plunge Iraq into civil war.