Hadi al-Amiri, the leader of Badr Organization and a key Iran operative in Iraq, today harshly criticized what he called “weaklings” at senior ranks of the Iraqi military for their call for U.S.-led coalition airstrikes against ISIL positions in Tikrit.
“Some of the weaklings in the army say we need Americans, while we say we do not need the Americans,” Amiri told reporters at Camp Ashraf, north of Baghdad. (AFP, 22 March)
Iraqi Lt. Gen. Abdulwahab al-Saadi, a senior field commander at Tikrit, had told AFP that he had requested U.S.-led coalition airstrikes against ISIL as they were needed to win the battle in a more efficient and less costly manner. The Pentagon said it has received no requests by the Iraqi government to launch airstrikes at Tikrit, AFP reported.
Although the Battle of Tikrit began under the command of Quds Force Gen. Qasem Soleimeni on 2 March, but the Iranian general has returned to Iran since the fighting came to a halt last week and it was increasingly unclear who, if any one, now has overall command of the operation, AFP reported. It was not clear when Soleimani would return to Iraq.
While Iran-led coalition forces were able to take control of towns near Tikrit, but fighting to clear ISIL insurgents from the city itself has proved to be more difficult. The Iraqi military has said the offensive is halted until the arrival of new reinforcements. There are reportedly more than 20,000 militia fighters and nearly 5,000 Iraqi troops now surrounding Tikrit, which is being defended by few hundred ISIL insurgents. When the offensive operation begins, the coalition, with its huge advantage in troop strength, should face no serious problem clearing ISIL fighters from Tikrit.
“We will not enter Tikrit until after the completion of the necessary preparations,” said Amiri. (AFP, 22 March)
Amiri did not say what types of preparations the militia and the army were working on, or why those preparations were not made before the start of the offensive.
File photo: Badr organization leader Hadi al-Amiri (left) with Quds Force Commander General Qasem Soleimani, November 2014 (mashreqnews.ir/ISNA)