Few casualties were reported today. Not only is it the weekly prayer day, but also the festival of Newroz, which marks the beginning of the year in the Persian calendar. At least 43 were killed and 15 were wounded. Also, a clearer picture of the casualties in Tikrit is beginning to form, and it is a bloody one.
According to unofficial reports, the battle for Tikrit has already cost 1,000 militiamen their lives. The number remains unconfirmed by the government, which has been very tight with any casualty figures. The large number of dead may explain why forces paused their advance last weekend. The pause was to have lasted only two days while reinforcements arrived, but it was extended and continues into this weekend. Even during the pause an anonymous source at a Samarra hospital says the 100 security members are brought in each day, either wounded or dead, from the battlefield.
Through a spokesman, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the highest-ranking Shi’ite cleric in Iraq, reminded troops that better planning by the government and greater professionalism by the troops was needed for success against the Islamic State militants.
U.S. Gen. David Petraeus who once commanded U.S. troops in Iraq just returned to the country to attend the annual Sulaimani Forum. In an interview, he warned that political instability is a greater threat to Iraq than the DAESH militants. He mentioned the Shi’ite militias in particular.
A blast at a market in Sabaa al-Bour left three dead and six wounded.
As many as nine policemen were wounded by a roadside bombing near Samarra.
In Baghdad, a dumped body was found.
Gunmen killed a farmer in Wajihiya.
Thirty-four Yazidi, including many children, fled the DAESH territory and arrived at Mount Sinjar.
Security forces in Khasfa killed 22 militants.
Sixteen militants were killed in Garma.
Coalition strikes in Abbasi and Hawija killed many militants.
Airstrikes killed many militants in Ramadi.
In Falluja, clashes and airstrikes killed many militants.
Read more by Margaret Griffis
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