Wednesday, April 01, 2015

So What Happened to the Tikrit Defenders?

Iraq says that they have basic control of Tikrit. Where did the ISIL defenders go?

This is tentative good news:

Iraqi forces battled the last jihadists in Tikrit on Wednesday to seal a victory the government described as a milestone in efforts to rid the country of the Islamic State group.

Iraqi fighters picked their way through the rubble-strewn streets of the city, wary of any last-ditch attack from diehard IS fighters and of the thousands of bombs they left behind.

A major military push saw Iraqi police and allied forces retake the city centre on Tuesday but pockets of jihadist militants remained.

There was supposed to be several hundred jihadis waiting to fight to the death. Did they get their wish?

Did they retreat out of Tikrit as the Iraqi militias abandoned their positions?

Did the jihadis go underground (figuratively) to wage a terrorism campaign?

If the jihadis went underground, that's a potential problem if Shia militias are provoked to sectarian killings in response to jihadis launching attacks from among sympathetic Sunni Arab locals.

But I'll take this as good news, for now. If this is a practice run for Mosul, jihadis did not fight to the death for every block and exact a terrible price to finally dig them out. They died or ran.

And we demonstrated a difference in how many Iraqis need to die compared to the results of the more primitive Iranian "scream and leap" offensive tactics.

UPDATE: We sure don't need much work to convince Iraqi Sunni Arabs that Iran is no friend:

Since its recapture two days ago, the Sunni city of Tikrit has been the scene of violence and looting. In addition to the killing of the extremist combatant, Reuters correspondents also saw a convoy of Shi'ite paramilitary fighters – the government's partners in liberating the city – drag a corpse through the streets behind their car.

Local officials said the mayhem continues. Two security officers, speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Friday that dozens of homes had been torched in the city. They added that they had witnessed the looting of stores by Shi'ite militiamen.

Perhaps these are isolated cases that will stop. But the Shia-Sunni divide is dangerous enough without Iran's role in Iraq that seeks to encourage rather than dampen such sentiments.

But no, Iran is supposed to be our new bestest friend and partner-in-the-making.