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Battle for Tikrit highlights challenges of war on IS

While the Iraqi army has made some progress on the ground in its battle to liberate Tikrit from Islamic State (IS) forces, the war against IS will not be fully resolved until all concerned parties come together with a unified strategic plan.
A Shi'ite fighter rides a motorbike in the town of Hamrin in Salahuddin province March 5, 2015. As Iraqi forces close in, Tikrit's few remaining civilians are cutting up white clothes and fabric to make flags of surrender, fearing their Shi'ite liberators more than the Islamic State militants occupying the Sunni city.  REUTERS/Stringer (IRAQ - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT) - RTR4S8Q5

The military operation to liberate Tikrit, which Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi officially started March 1 during his visit to Samarra, has achieved some progress on the ground. Nevertheless, the absence of US support was clear, as the attacking forces lacked air cover. This delayed operations to gain control of the two most important targets of the operation — the towns of al-Alam (north of Tikrit) and al-Dour (southwest of Tirkit) — besides the city of Tikrit itself.

During a hearing of the US Senate Armed Services Committee on March 3, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said that Baghdad did not ask for US support for the battle of Tikrit. Yet on March 4, four days after the operation began, US Vice President Joe Biden spoke by phone with Abadi to discuss the operation.

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