Enemy fire, booby-traps delay advance in Tikrit

2015-03-29 21:17
Iraqi pro-government fighters celebrate as they advance into Tikrit, 160km north of Baghdad, during a military operation to regain the city from jihadists from ISIS. (Ahmad Al-Rubaye, AFP)

Iraqi pro-government fighters celebrate as they advance into Tikrit, 160km north of Baghdad, during a military operation to regain the city from jihadists from ISIS. (Ahmad Al-Rubaye, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Baghdad - Iraqi security forces battled Islamic State militants in central Tikrit on Sunday as the United States and its allies provided aerial support and local officials warned that the battle to retake the Sunni Muslim city would not be quick.

"A rapid advance in a city where the ground is littered with bombs and booby-traps is too tough to achieve," said Mayor Osama al-Tikriti.

Islamic State fighters, whose goal is to create a Muslim caliphate across the Middle East, stormed into Tikrit last June during a lightning advance in which they seized swathes of Sunni Iraqi territory before finally being halted outside Baghdad.

Complicating matters around Tikrit was a decision by most Iranian-backed Shi'ite armed groups to boycott the current offensive in protest against the US-led air strikes that began on Thursday at the request of the Baghdad government.

The Shi'ite militias, aligned with Tehran, have repeatedly said they do not need US support to drive the Islamic State militants from Tikrit, home city of late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

The security forces and Shi'ite militias, who provided the largest number of fighters, began their offensive on 2 March, but halted operations after two weeks due to heavy casualties and tensions within the government and with US officials over Iran's prominent role.

The battle remains slow-going. At least 17 security personnel have been killed in fighting and another 100 wounded around Tikrit since Thursday when the US air strikes began, a security officer told Reuters.

On Sunday, an attempt to infiltrate Tikrit from the southern district of Shisheen was thwarted by militants. They used anti-tank missiles to destroy a bulldozer being used by the military to clear a path around booby-trapped roads, an official said.

Fighting to the south of Tikrit underscored the high stakes of the war against Islamic State as even areas under government and militia control near Baghdad remain vulnerable to lightning-fast attacks by the Sunni jihadist fighters.

Islamic State ambushed an Iraqi army and Shi'ite paramilitary base near Dujail on Sunday, killing six paramilitary volunteers and wounding 14 others, a security official said.

The clashes in the countryside around Dujail, just 54km from Baghdad, lasted until sunset and involved two suicide bombers and machine gunners in pickup trucks.

In Baghdad, at least seven people were killed in three bombings on Sunday, while a soldier also died in a bomb blast targeting a convoy in Tarmiyah just north of the capital.

Read more on:    isis  |  iraq

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


WATCH: Man films himself going down water slide upside down as things go very wrong…

What is at first an exciting tummy-turning adventure stunt, quickly turns into a scarily bad idea caught on camera. Take a look:


You won't want to miss...

WATCH: Conor McGregor: Notorious the trailer
Best date night restaurants in South Africa
WATCH: Ryan Reynolds offers fans a free tattoo in new Deadpool 2 teaser
Should you date your co-worker?
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.