Iraqi forces in no hurry to expel ISIS from Tikrit

The New York Times reports: Here at the headquarters of Iraqi ground forces, after three days of American airstrikes that at times witnesses here described as “carpet bombing,” Iraq’s military seemed in no great hurry on Saturday to press its advantage.

It also seemed to be moving very slowly on promises to withdraw Shiite militias from the battlefield.

An Iraqi Air Force C-130 carrying 150 fresh militia volunteers, a dozen federal police officers, a few soldiers back from leave and two American journalists landed here late in the morning. Although the intensive bombardment of the night had eased, within half an hour two large explosions rattled the windows of the Salahuddin Operations Command building as bombs dropped by unseen aircraft brought satisfied smiles from the assembled military men.

Missing from this picture was any sense of urgency. The holdouts from the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, who remain in the center of Tikrit are believed to number “about 400,” as one general here said. But the extremists have so far held off an offensive by an estimated 30,000 Iraqi troops and volunteer militiamen for nearly four weeks. [Continue reading…]

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