U.S.-led coalition aids Iran-led Shiite militia forces in pounding Islamic State in Tikrit

A military vehicle, belonging to the Irani-led  Shi'ite fighters known as Hashid Shaabi, burns after being hit by Islamic State militants, during clashes in northern Tikrit, March 11, 2015. CREDIT: REUTERS/STRINGER
A military vehicle, belonging to the Irani-led Shi’ite fighters known as Hashid Shaabi, burns after being hit by Islamic State militants, during clashes in northern Tikrit, March 11, 2015.
CREDIT: REUTERS/STRINGER

U.S.-led coalition warplanes launched their first airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Tikrit on Wednesday, officials said, coming off the sidelines to aid the Iran-ed Shi’ite militia fighting alongside  Iraqi forces  on the ground.

The decision to give air support to the Tikrit campaign pulls the United States into a messy battle that puts the U.S.-led coalition, however reluctantly, on the same side of a fight as Iranian-led militia in a bid to support Iraqi forces and opens a new chapter in the war.

It also appeared to represent at least a tacit acknowledgement by Baghdad that such airpower was necessary to wrest control of the hometown of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein from Islamic State fighters, after its attempts to go it alone failed.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Iraqi forces would prevail with the support of “friendly” countries and the international coalition, including arms, training and aerial support.

“We have opened the last page of the operations,” Abadi said on state television.

Reuters first reported the U.S.-led coalition’s expected entry into the Tikrit campaign, disclosed by Iraq‘s president in an interview and later confirmed by a U.S. official. It has been carrying out strikes elsewhere in Iraq since August.

A U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said American warplanes and aircraft from allied nations were striking up to a dozen targets in Tikrit, selected after coalition surveillance flights.

A second U.S. official stressed that Washington in no way would coordinate with the Iranian-led militia or seek to empower them in Iraq, even if those fighters might share the same narrow tactical objective as Iraqi forces in Tikrit.

In language that appeared to intentionally omit the Iranian-led militia, Lieutenant General James Terry, the senior U.S. commander of the U.S.-led coalition, said the strikes were aimed at enabling “Iraqi forces under Iraqi command.”

“These strikes are intended to destroy ISIL strongholds with precision, thereby saving innocent Iraqi lives while minimizing collateral damage to infrastructure,” Terry said, using an acronym for Islamic State.

As coalition aircraft entered the fray, Iraqi forces pounded Islamic State positions in Tikrit, resuming an offensive that had stalled for almost two weeks. Two military officers in the city confirmed Iraqi forces were shelling the militants.

“Military operations in Tikrit started at around 9 pm local time by pounding Islamic State positions with artillery, mortars and Katyusha rockets,” said provincial council member Hadi al-Khazraji.

More than 20,000 troops and allied Shi’ite paramilitary groups have been taking part in the offensive and have suffered heavy casualties on the edge of the city, 100 miles (160 km) north of Baghdad.

Qassem Suleimani (R) celebrating with Hadi al-Amiri, chief of Iraqi Shiite militias , during the liberation of Jawlala in Iraq from the Islamic State. “Suleimani , the head of the Qods Force, the foreign arm of Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps is the leader of the Shiite militias in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen,” a top military analyst was quoted as saying . Commenting on Iran's interference in Iraq Saudi FM prince Faisal told US Secretary of State John Kerry on March 5: "Iran is taking over Iraq"
Qassem Suleimani (R) celebrating with Hadi al-Amiri, chief of Iraqi Shiite militias , during the liberation of Jawlala in Iraq from the Islamic State. “Suleimani , the head of the Qods Force, the foreign arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps is reportedly heading up the Iranian and Iraqi  Shiite militia attack against the Islamic state in Tikrit

The Iraqi military had lobbied for U.S.-led coalition air strikes while the the Iranian -led Shi’ite paramilitary forces opposed such a move. One militia leader, Hadi al-Amiri, boasted three weeks ago that his men had been making advances for months without relying on U.S. air power.

The mainly Sunni city of Tikrit was seized by Islamic State in the first days of their lightning strike across northern Iraq last June.

If Iraq’s Shi’ite led-government retakes Tikrit, it would be the first city wrested from the Sunni insurgents and would give Baghdad momentum for a pivotal stage of the campaign: recapturing Mosul, the largest city in the north.

Still, the offensive raised thorny questions for American war planners, who have long sought to distance themselves from the acknowledged risks that heavy involvement of the Shi’ite militia on the ground could heighten sectarian tensions in the Sunni city of Tikrit.

It also raises questions about whether the U.S.-led coalition can maintain the extent of operational control of the battlefield that it needs with so many Shi’ite militia on the ground.

 

Reuters/YL

  • O

    I did previously say the usa Air Force was actually soleimani’s Air Force.
    I bet the U.S. doesn’t help the Saudis bomb the terrorists in Yemen.

    • 5thDrawer

      Just because YOU say it doesn’t make it so,
      (Oh, was that a quote from somewhere?? ;-)))))

      • doron

        you can name it anyway you wish 5th 🙂 still , Iraninans decide which building block they go for today and “ask” the US to flatten the area 😉

    • whistleblower

      Yes you’re right, America is our tool and we will use them to clean you from the surface of real Muslim lands.
      In fact you will pray for the days the Americans had their boots on your necks, now it will be our boots down your thr”o”at or deap in your Oss

  • 5thDrawer

    “,,,, coming off the sidelines …” … right … as if all of a team dives onto the football field … they usually don’t until a coach asks them to join the game. (as explained in another article here ….)

    • zabada

      aljazeera…said it is Saudi and Iran great games in Yemen…as Io said.. Zionist news will playing their games to plant full scale Sunnis and Syiah war.They are faking news to bring more chaos in Middle east.

  • MekensehParty

    “There’s no better test than trying out weapons on real enemy target on their homeland, and all with their permission”
    Karen Traviss – The Thursday War

    • O

      ya raytak khrit wou ma hkit 😉

      • whistleblower

        Khara be ni3ik ya charmouta
        You’re going to wish you never opened your mOuth. Wait till your father knows that a hurma is on the Internet in his house. He will rape you harder.

  • MekensehParty

    This report is not accurate.
    The conditions set by the coalition to start bombing Isis in Tikrit is that the Shia militias do not participate in retaking the city.
    There are reports coming out right now of the withdrawal of the Iranian militias and that only the Iraqi Army and security forces under the government control will enter the city.
    Suleimani has definitely been removed from this front, he can jump to Yemen for a quick selfie while he still can…

    • Rascal

      I have read reports that due to the high casualties of Shiite militias they have been deemed a failure and ineffective against ISIS.

      • MekensehParty

        They lost a ton of people, especially the ones without any combat experience. It took the mightiest army in the world years and hundreds of lives to clean cities like Faluja from the same type of scum, these rag tag militias without experience, communication or air support got slaughtered.

        • O

          Without communication nor air support?
          Where are all those weapons the U.S. Provided Iraq with?
          And as if Iran would send soleimani in without communication or air support. Please girlfriend.

          • 5thDrawer

            American air-strikes had to ‘remove’ most of those weapons … huge mistake to leave them there in the first place.

        • 5thDrawer
          • MekensehParty

            citing the bbc too Suleimani is on his way to Yemen
            ya latif

    • O

      Lol the Iraqi army??
      Which is headed by a sectarian Iranian puppet!
      PLEASE!

      • whistleblower

        And will always be until we clean the Muslim lands from your khawarij family

    • O

      And I’m sure you can provide links to those so called reports you are claiming.

    • O

      “The conditions set by the coalition to start bombing Isis in Tikrit is that the Shia militias do not participate in retaking the city. ”

      I’m sure you have a link for one to verify your claim.

      • whistleblower

        Link be tizic and tizo
        We will enter tikrit and burn your houses ya khawarij

    • arzatna1

      Iraqi president said that Suleimani went to Baghdad , but said also he may return to Tikrit at any time .
      It is just one hour drive . Besides there is no one to remove him, since he is the one leading the effort to regain control of Tikrit . The Iraqi security forces account only to 20 % of total force trying to take Tikrit from IS . The majority 20 ,000 are Iranian and Iraqi militias.

      • MekensehParty

        20,000 that couldn’t do anything
        They’ve been sitting for a week or two taking a suicide attack after another, returning in body bags like their cousins in dahyeh.
        Suleimani can come and go as he pleases, he can’t take Tikrit; and Mosul even less. Advancing in open ground 5 shia beat 1 isis, once they hit the city, 1 isis beats 5 shia
        Another strategic mistake is believing that burning a Sunni village after another on the way is going to scare people, little that idiot learned from the classics and once he reached Tikrit, instead of having 20K shia fighting 5K Isis, they had 100K sunnis from Tikrit fighting 20K Shia half of which held a rifle for the first time.
        To take Tikrit you need to reassure the population that you’re not going to burn their houses in reprisal against Sunnis in general. You also need proper battalions that respect the rules of engagement commanded by an official government. Most importantly you need air support because only with air power you will be able to turn the equation to the favor of the attacker.
        4K Iraqi government troops can, with air support, take Tikrit.

        • arzatna1

          The airstrikes by the US led coalition in Tikrit are proving to be a mistake . According to the latest reports some of the Shiite militias are opposed to US involvement in Tikrit and threatened to turn their guns against the Americans .
          In short the US mess in Tikrit is messing things up . I think the US should let the Shiite militias fight ISIS on their own and watch from far away , this could lead to a more peaceful middle east for everyone. As Turkish president Erdogan said today Iran has its own agenda and is trying to replace ISIS .
          I think the whole region is tired of both Iran and ISIS and we are better off without both of them

          • MekensehParty

            If they leave them squaring it off Tikrit will be rubble just like Idlib, Damascus, Aleppo… with tens of thousands of civilians dead.
            You kick out the Iranian militias who couldn’t clean Tikrit by themselves, you position the Iraqi army as the sole liberator and you win yourself the Sunni tribes who are now supporting Isis from fear of dying at the hands of the militias.
            Now you have a formula for success and the airstrikes begin.
            The Americans know how to fight such war. They won the door to door battle in the past and with their help and experience the Iraqi Army can do it too.

          • arzatna1

            My friend you cant kick out the Shiite militias . They are Iraq . Iran now owns Iraq whether we like it or not

          • MekensehParty

            The militias have been kicked out already… It happened.
            Iran owns nothing, it lost Iraq the day ISIS took over half of the country and marched on Baghdad.
            The US and KSA still hold the key to the solution, not iran.
            This solution is turning the tribes that presently support ISIS against them which iran can never do.

          • 5thDrawer

            The Tribalism is a huge factor in how to have that army stay and work together.

          • MekensehParty

            They have no other choice but to win the sympathy of these tribes and reassure them that there will be no acts of retribution.
            That’s how alqaeda in Iraq was beat and that’s how barabie’s uncle will be removed from Mosul

          • O

            “the Sunni tribes who are now supporting Isis from fear of dying at the hands of the militias.”

            I see you are back peddling.

          • whistleblower

            Of course they are afraid because unlike the faggot Americans we know what to do once we enter your houses. Hint: we’re bringing horny male dogs with us