Sunday, March 22, 2015

Recapturing the city of Tikrit from ISIS

Recapturing the city of Tikrit from ISIS

Iraqi Special Operation Forces in Tikrit

Recapturing the city of Tikrit from ISIS

      ISIS Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or known more dreadfully as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has been spreading more fear and terror throughout the world. The group has named Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as its caliph. The group has claimed religious, political and military authority over all Muslims worldwide and that "the legality of all emirates, groups, states, and organisations, becomes null by the expansion of the khilāfah's (caliphate's) authority and arrival of its troops to their areas". The United Nations has held ISIL responsible for human rights abuses and war crimes, and Amnesty International has reported ethnic cleansing by the group on a "historic scale". The group has been designated as a terrorist organisation by the United Nations, the European Union, the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, Canada, Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Syria, Egypt, India, and Russia. The group gained notoriety after it invaded Iraq and engaged Iraqi government forces and has taken over key cities in western Iraq. On the other hand at Syria, it has staged well planned and coordinated ground attacks against government forces and has notably engaged rebel factions. In early 2014, the group initiated an offensive against ground forces in western Iraq and Syria. ISIS successfully annexed major parts of western Iraqi territories and has taken over strategic installation in Syria. The rise of ISIS has been termed as the re-emergence of Sunni insurgents and al-Qaeda militants in the long troubled Middle East. The group has overtime involved itself in Attacks on civilians, Iraqi Government and security forces, foreign diplomats and soldiers, and American convoys. The group has pledged to expel U.S. forces from Iraq, establishing an Islamic authority as a caliphate, spreading the conflict to Iraq's secular neighbours, and clashing with Israel. ISIL is known to be well-funded from sources that were believed to be once funding Al Qaida and other terrorist organizations. ISIS has used web and social media propaganda, which includes Internet videos of the beheadings of soldiers, civilians, journalists, and aid workers, as well as the deliberate destruction of cultural heritage sites to help spread its mission throughout the globe thus helping to raise funds and mostly importantly to help substantiate its recruitment drive which is essential for its notorious activities. To finance its activities, the group is also stealing ancient artefacts from Syria and Iraq.

         ISIS began the Northern Iraq offensive on 5 June 2014, ISIL and various other terror organisations captured several cities beginning with Samarra. ISIS continued its onslaught on the Iraqi forces and by 10 June captured Mosul. Faced with an unprecedented enemy and having faced several loses and causalities on the western front the Iraqi forces started their retreat. Faced with minimal opposition ISIS continued its campaign of terror on key western Iraqi cities and on 11 June captured the significant city of Tikrit. Tikrit was a strategic city both for the pro Iraqi forces and to the ISIS which mainly consisted of former Baath political party leaders. The war on Tikrit was an emotionally charged war with Tikrit being the birthplace of the former Baath party leader Saddam Husain. To check the onslaught of ISIS and to mainly demoralize its forces the Iraqi parliament under the leadership of Nouri al-Maliki launched an counter offensive on the western province with an aim to recapture to the lost cities, strategic installations and to rout out the top leadership of ISIS. To overtake the city of Tikrit the government launched a ground based and air coordinated offensive on ISIS by 26 June. On 26 June the government forces launched an airborne assault on the city of Tikrit. On 28 June the forces launched an unplanned coordinated ground offensive on the city. But by 30 June the assault had stalled abruptly with the ground forces pushed still further south of Tikrit.  Faced with a defeat on all fronts the Iraqi forces again on 15 July launched a new assault on Tikrit from Awja.The forces were ambushed by the waiting militants and launched an well laid out and coordinated attack on Iraqi forces. 

    Faced with a sickening defeat and suffering several hundred causalities Iraq looked out to its immediate neighbor Iran and requested for support to capture Tikrit. Acknowledging the request of Iraq, Iran dispatched top ranking Military officials headed by Islamic Revolution guard chief, Major General Qasem Soleimani and also sent over thousands of Hezbollah Terrorists. Working closely with his Iraqi counterpart the preparation of the assaults were laid out, planned and rehearsed before the main assault was staged against the ISIS fighters. By March 2015 the forces started mounting well coordinated attacks across various strategic points on the peripheral of Tikrit. Backed by the Coalition forces and the Iranian forces on 3 March, Iran launched an all-out offensive on the city. U.S. sources placed in Pentagon estimated that about 23,000-plus fighters were engaged in the offensive on ISIS in Tikrit alone. ISIS was greatly outnumbered with its forces being reduced to a mere number of 400 and 1,000. Continuing its offensive extensively throughout the outer peripheral of Tikrit the ground forces successfully expelled the ISIS forces and captured the entrance of Tikrit. With the morale of the Iraqi forces boosted with the initial victory forces backed with Coalition forces resorted to heavy artillery fire and this extensively co-ordinated with the advancement of the Ground forces and helped pave the way to enter the city which was once inaccessible even with a close air-ground support. With the civilians fleeing Tikrit even before the assault was mounted the Combines forces enjoyed the factor of mounting artillery fire and air support deep within the city as well. But faced with the constant threat of AAA and MANPAD threats the involvement of air support was limited deep within the city which has turned out to be a main stronghold of ISIS. With the involvement of Iranian forces the involvement of Coalition forces led by US forces was drawn to a minimal. But backed with artillery support and well placed sniper forces the ‘Combined forces ‘inflicted heavy damage on ISIS forces forcing them to retreat even further into the streets of Tikrit.

    With the threat of AAA and MANPADS reducing Iraqi forces started receiving the much needed air support. Several squadrons of assault helicopters were pushed into action which coordinated for closer ground assaults deep within the city. ISIS faced abrupt onslaughts resorted to rig the streets of Tikrit with several hundred mines at once. Reports of more than 5000 IED’s are being planted across the cities were reported by sources in Pentagon. ISIS has destroyed bridges, forcing Iraqi forces to clear out streets slowly and systematically. ISIS has destroyed the bridge over Tigris River that leads to Tikrit, this has forced the Iraqi forces to travel 40 miles north to the next bridge. With the Combined forces strategically cordoning off the city and rounding the peripheral of the city, ISIS has been effectively cut off from receiving any much needed backup. ISIS is now known to be fighting a losing battle against a formidable enemy that looks to be just growing and mounting offensives with an zeal that remains unmatched by ISIS.

      But Military Think tanks insists that only a Coalition backed air strike would rout out the remain ISIS forces which has taken refuge deep within the cities. The need for UAV has doubled over time, ‘Combined forces ‘have suffered huge rate of casualties due to the hidden mines and IED's. An all-out ground offensive is under progress and if this attack can be staged and pulled together this would be a major defeat to ISIS. Iraqi forces are moving in quickly from the northwest and southwest of Tikrit but they will inevitably face a tough fight from ISIS unwilling to lose the last city it holds in Salahadin province.

Interesting model of Rocket Launcher
Interesting model of Rocket Launcher
Iraqi SOF Watching for IED Planters
Iraqi's Modified AA into Infantry Killer
Artillery Pounding ISIS Positions Tikrit
Interesting model of Gun Placed in a HUMVEE
M1A1 Abrams in Iraqi Soil

 Article by  Karthik Kakoor

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