Iranian General helps Iraqi forces in attempt to seal off ISIS around Tikrit

March 3, 2015 | By | Reply More

Mar 03, – Thousands of Iraqi soldiers and Shi’ite militiamen sought to seal off Islamic State fighters in Tikrit and nearby towns on Tuesday, the second day of Iraq’s biggest offensive yet against a stronghold of the Sunni militants.

hromedia Iranian General helps Iraqi forces in attempt to seal off ISIS around Tikrit arab uprising3Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani, who has helped coordinate Baghdad’s counter-attacks against Islamic State since it seized much of northern Iraq in June, was overseeing at least part of the operation, witnesses told.

His presence on the frontline highlights neighbouring Iran’s influence over the Shi’ite fighters who have been key to containing the militants in Iraq.

In contrast, the U.S.-led air coalition which has been attacking Islamic State across Iraq and Syria has not yet played a role in Tikrit, the Pentagon said on Monday, perhaps partly because of the high-level Iranian presence.

Iraqi military officials said security forces backed by the Shi’ite militia known as Hashid Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation) were advancing gradually, their progress slowed by roadside bombs and snipers.

They have yet to enter Tikrit, the hometown of executed former president Saddam Hussein, or the nearby Tigris river town of al-Dour, which officials describe as a major centre for the Islamic State fighters.

On the southern flank of the offensive, army and police officials said government forces had surrounded and sealed off al-Dour, but had not yet launched an assault on the town, a source in military operations command said.

To the north, they captured a village close to Tikrit, the army said.

Soleimani, head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Quds Force, was directing operations on the eastern flank from a village about 55 km (35 miles) from Tikrit called Albu Rayash, captured from Islamic State two days ago.

With him were two Iraqi Shi’ite paramilitary leaders: the leader of the Hashid Shaabi, Abu Mahdi al-Mohandis, and Hadi al-Amiri who leads the Badr Organisation, a powerful Shi’ite militia.

“(Soleimani) was standing on top of a hill pointing with his hands towards the areas where Islamic State are still operating,” said a witness who was accompanying security forces near Albu Rayash.

Press journalist for HRO media – Khizer Hayat reports.

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Category: Arab uprising

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