Thousands Try To Flee Tikrit As 339 Are Killed across Iraq

As fighting intensifies in the Tikrit region, Islamic State militants may be in the process of destroying one of the world’s most important archaeological sites, Nimrud, near Mosul. Meanwhile, at least 339 people were killed, most of them militants. Another 36 were wounded.

A statement released by the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities reported the use of heavy machinery in order to damage monuments in the ancient city of Nimrud. As one of the cradles of civilization, the loss is immeasurable. The city had already been damaged and looted during the U.S. invasion. Much of it, thankfully, remains buried.

In other news, Rafid Jaboori, the spokesman for Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, revealed in an interview that Iraq asked the United States and Iran not to play out their conflict on the Iraqi battlefield. So far, that seems to be what is happening; however, the absence of U.S. support in the battle for Tikrit could be the result of those tensions. Of particular worry is Qassem Suleimani’s involvement as the lead commander of the operation. Despite the U.S. government playing down any anxiety it may have with Iran’s role, many in the U.S. are still questioning the ramifications of Iranian involvement in Iraq.

Tens of thousands of people are fleeing the greater Tikrit area ahead of military operations. Many of those refugees, however, are stranded at checkpoints that lead towards Samarra. Relief supplies are being deployed to help them. Others are being kept in the area to serve as human shields for the militants.

The refugees not only fear combat, but they are also suspicious of Shi’ite militiamen, who are accused of war crimes in other areas of Iraq. P.M. Abadi cautioned the militiamen that they must respect civil rights, and those who don’t will be punished. Meanwhile, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said that the cities should be rescued by their own people, because the presence of Shi’ite militias could re-ignite sectarian war.

Militants set fire to wells at the Ajil oil fields in order to provide smoke cover from Iraqi helicopters.

Baghdad Operations Command launched a separate operation against the ISIS/DAESH militants in the greater Baghdad area. Dozens of militants were killed or wounded in the Ma’mal and Jsir Sbiehat areas, but the main target is the clearing of Abu Ghraib.

At least 339 people were killed, most of them militants. Another 36 were wounded.

A suicide bomber in Dour killed five militiamen, including Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia leader, Madi al-Kinani.

In Baghdad, a bomb killed three people and wounded 12 more at a market in Nahrawan. Three soldiers were killed and another seven were wounded in Rashidiya by a pair of bombs. Mortars in Doura killed three and wounded six.

Three people were killed and seven more were wounded in a marketplace blast in Mahmoudiya.

A car bomb in Alam killed one soldier and wounded three more. An Iraqi airstrike killed a dozen militants. Security forces killed six more.

A Dutch servicemember accidentally shot a Peshmerga soldier during training. The soldier was transferred to a hospital.

A civilian was shot dead in Baquba.

Security forces captured Falahat, Anbar province.

At least 100 militants were killed in al-Baghdadi.

In al-Jughaifi, security forces killed 50 militants.

Forty militants were killed in Dour.

In Garma, 28 militants were killed in a clash. Another 35 were killed in an airstrike.

Airstrikes killed 25 militants near the Falluja Dam.

Security forces killed 10 militants in Albu Talha, Sheikh Mohammed, and Ta’is.

Eight militants were killed in al-Baghdadi.

In al-Muaibidi, four militants were killed when they attacked a convoy.

A militant leader was killed in Naoura.

In Ramadi, militants suffered heavy losses.

Author: Margaret Griffis

Margaret Griffis is a journalist from Miami Beach, Florida and has been covering Iraqi casualties for since 2006.