Iraqi government forces and allied Shiite militias began consolidating control over most of the city of Tikrit on Wednesday, declaring they were on their way to a strategically and emotionally significant victory in their nine-day offensive against Islamic State militants there.
Given the disparity in forces--tens of thousands versus hundreds--this isn't too shocking.
What is interesting is that the jihadis didn't decide to fight. They decided that the time for Paradise was not this place or this time.
They could have stood and died in place, making the city fight bloody for both sides and civilians caught in the crossfire.
What remains to be seen is whether the jihadis fled or went underground to wage a terror campaign against the Iraqi forces.
And it remains to be seen whether the terrorists can call on local support to shield the terrorists.
But in the short run, this is good. The Iraqis took back a city and (so far) the Shia militias supported by Iran haven't massacred Sunni Arab civilians.
If we do plan a drive on Mosul in the spring, the outcome of this operation does not set back that timetable.
UPDATE: I stand corrected. The jihadis have apparently hunkered down in the city center:
The [Iraqi] military source said the insurgents still held the presidential complex and at least three other districts in the center of Tikrit, holding up further army advances with snipers and bombs.
So now we'll see if the ISIL defenders are eager for Paradise.