Skirmishes broke out Tuesday between Iraqi security forces and militants on the outskirts of Tikrit, a local official and a resident said, a day after the Iraqi and Kurdish troops backed by U.S. airstrikes dislodged Islamic militants from a strategic dam in the country’s north. The Iraqi military launched an operation in late June to try to wrest back control of Tikrit, but that quickly stalled after making little headway. Sporadic clashes have been reported around the city and surrounding areas since then, but efforts by Iraqi government forces and allied Sunni tribal militiamen have failed to push out the militants.
Tikrit is currently in the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria after defeating the Iraqi army and government allied forces in a 4 day battle for the city from June 26-30 of this year. Since the U.S. launched airstrikes on ISIS targets, it has given help to both Iraqi and Kurdish forces to regain land that ISIS took over within Iraq. Efforts by the Iraqi government were made back in late June to regain the city, but political issues and clashes in areas under government control took effect which had halted the operation from being successful.
The tomb of dictator Saddam Hussein was damaged in fighting between security forces and the radical group earlier in the month, but the tomb was moved in secret to avoid any further damage in the conflict. Tikrit is also in the control of Baathist’s who are led by those who had ties to Saddam Hussein. Although it is the hometown of Saddam, he is actually from the village of Al-Awja where he was buried as well. The battle for the city will likely drag on for weeks unless the U.S. has ideas about launching airstrikes to help assist government and Kurdish forces regain the town. But no plan has been reported over what the U.S. may do regarding recent clashes in Tikrit.
Airstrikes by the U.S. continues on ISIS terrorists and this time it is near the Mosul Dam. The battle for the dam began when ISIS took it over earlier this month. The dam is critical because it largely controls the flow of water to Baghdad and other parts of Iraq which can devastate thousands by flooding it or stopping the flow of water. The Kurdish forces, known as peshmerga, launched the operation early Sunday to retake the Mosul Dam, said Gen. Tawfik Desty, a Kurdish commander, after a day of U.S. and Iraqi airstrikes pushed back Islamic State fighters. A spokesman for the peshmerga said the clashes were moving eastward. “The west is in control of peshmerga. But there are some battles taking place in the (east) right now,” said Halgurd Hekmat, peshmerga spokesman. Another commander confirmed the information, saying that by Sunday evening, peshmerga forces had crossed the Tigris to the broad plains held by the Islamic State. Airstrikes continue even through today.
The U.S. hit 90 targets to help Kurdish forces capture the Mosul Dam. President Obama calls this a “major step forward” as a barrage of US airstrikes helped Kurdish and Iraqi forces score the biggest victory of its counteroffensive against the Islamic State militants. The Kurds are now training Yazidis, who are being targeted by ISIS in massive numbers, to help join the fight against the terrorists. The battle is continuing, but it seems that this will definitely push back ISIS as this is just one part of the beginning of the end for ISIS.