The Battle for Tikrit

For the past two weeks, 30,000 Iraqi soldiers and police officers, and several increasingly influential paramilitary popular mobilization units (primarily Shiite militias, many backed by Iran), have been advancing on the city of Tikrit and the surrounding ISIS-held territory north of Baghdad. The campaign to roll back gains made by ISIS militants in northern Iraq last year has already led to the recapturing of Tikrit's outskirts and many surrounding towns. Saddam Hussein once called Tikrit home, and his tomb was erected there—a structure reduced to rubble by recent battles. Photojournalists traveled to the front lines with the pro-government forces to collect these images. The Reuters photographer Thaier Al-Sudani reported that most areas that were retaken had no residents, and that "after the battle they would resemble ghost towns, nothing but burnt cars and charred bodies of Islamic State fighters." As of today, ISIS still controls parts of Tikrit, and the New York Times reports that Iraqi government forces have paused the offensive to call for reinforcements and to preserve property and civilian lives.
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