AL-ALAM, Iraq (Reuters) – Iraqi troops and militias drove Islamic State insurgents out of the town of al-Alam on Tuesday, clearing a final hurdle before a planned assault on Saddam Hussein’s home city of Tikrit in their biggest offensive yet against the ultra-radical group.
The power base of executed former president Saddam’s clan, Tikrit is the focus of a counter-offensive against Islamic State by more than 20,000 troops and Shi’ite Muslim militias known as Hashid Shaabi, backed by local Sunni Muslim tribes.
AL-ALAM, Iraq (Reuters) – Iraqi troops and militias drove Islamic State militants out of the town of al-Alam on Tuesday, fighters and a local official said, clearing the way for an offensive to retake the nearby city of Tikrit from the ultra-radical group.
A Reuters photographer saw dozens of families, who had earlier fled al-Alam to escape Islamic State control, returning to the town, celebrating and slaughtering sheep for the victorious fighters.
UDHAIM DAM, Iraq (Reuters) – Wearing military fatigues and a white turban, the Shi’ite cleric gave an eve-of-battle address to Iran-backed fighters preparing to attack Islamic State militants in Tikrit, praising them for defending their faith and urging them to fight honorably.
Seated in front of him in rows, crossed-legged in the grass, were dozens of armed men from Iraq’s largest Shi’ite militia, the Badr Organisation, the main element of a force now advancing on Tikrit’s eastern flank against the Sunni Muslim Islamic State militants who now dominate most of northern Iraq.
Iraqi photographer Thaier al-Sudani answers questions on the nine year war and the pull out of U.S. troops.
Do you remember the day the U.S. launched air strikes?
I remember that day well. As the U.S. military jets bombed Baghdad, I was on the roof watching. We all thought that Iraq would be away from the war and violence after ousting Saddam and that Iraq would be among the top countries in the Middle East, due to its natural resources.