Iraqi security forces have retaken the Salaheddin provincial government complex in Tikrit from ISIL insurgents, a significant advance in the battle to recapture the city, AFP reported today. Some major Shia militia groups, like Badr Organization, took part in the fighting today alongside the Iraqi forces. But Iran’s Quds Force advisers and personnel, including General Soleimani, and some other major Shia militia groups stayed away from the offensive in protest to U.S. airstrikes over Tikrit.
Gen. Soleimani, who planned and commanded the Battle of Tikrit that began on 2 March, and was frequently photographed at the frontlines near Tikrit, with the pictures widely published in the social media, has not been seen lately. His photos attending state functions in Iran emerged last week, suggesting that the general and probably his top advisers might not have returned to Iraq since the U.S.-led coalition began its airstrikes over Tikrit.
Photo credit: Iraqi security forces and militia fighters fly the country's flag on the provincial government building in Tikrit; 31 March 2015 (Twitter)