Back in September we had a telephone conversation with two men in Tikrit related to observance of Eid al-Adha. This holiday involves obtaining a meat animal, sacrifice/butchering, and distribution of meat to family and to the poor. During the American occupation these actions involved personal risk, often as not. With ISIS in the game, what was going to happen?
Contrary to what I'm reading in today's media, word then was that ISIS had been defeated in July. That the main body of an Attack Group with several hundred fighters had been destroyed. The most that ISIS had accomplished for the long term was infiltrating some surviving fraction of that Attack Group into the Sunni neighborhoods on the west and southwest edges of the city.
Al Asad/Speicher air base never fell. Tikrit University was retaken. And held. The big Saddam Hussein palace never fell. The main military hospital for veterans never fell. The central post office never fell. The northern half of Tikrit -- which lies off to the east of Route # 1 coming down from Mosul -- never fell.
Consider this image from yesterday:
That's a Denel G5 155mm howitzer. Standard issue Iranian IRGC artillery. 35 year old design. Likely 25 year old manufacture. Couple this honey up with a 20 year old anti-mortar RADAR system and you've got utter destruction for any fool trying to fire off mortar rounds.
The tag on this image says it's Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq (AAH) firing the gun. Accompanying descriptions say it's located at Qadisiya in Tikrit. Well, just to start it off those are Iranian uniforms. We've never seen AAH wearing them. Ever. And Qadisiya sounds right on the money because that soccer field is right across the road from the Al Asad/Speicher air base.
The central command-and-control for Gen. Suleimani's coalition has run its technical operation out of Al Asad/Speicher all along. Where else?
They're firing into the southwest section of Tikrit. So here's the map for what's where and who is getting hammered.
The media versions don't match the ground images.
There's video around depicting what appears to be Badr Peace Brigade firing light mortar rounds in the general direction of southwest Tikrit. They might get close enough to draw return fire. Feed the RADAR system. Etc.
Here's a media map. It's up on wiki:
And here's Iraqi Security Force blazing away with an American M198. ISIS captured 58 of them and haven't figured out how to get them to play dragon yet.
ISF are working this one from down in the river basin. That's east of the part of Tikrit that's getting hammered.
Kills everything within 50 meters, tears it up for 100 meters. So let's hope that the poorer Sunni residents of Tikrit run for their lives.
ISIS ??? OK. Maybe there's a hundred ISIS in there. A couple hundred, tops? And give the artillery a week and that whole part of town is history.
No Americans ??? You betcha.
(Suleimani needed to teach his guys what they need for Mosul. See the pics above... well, that's the lesson. Tikrit is the model. Do it with artillery. Same time as this operation there are two other fights going: up east of Baiji and north at Tal Afar. We'll see how they go by next week.)