Islamic militants flee as Iraqi army units enter Tikrit

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By Mazen Abdulhameed

Azzaman, June 30, 2014

Militants from the Jihadist group known as ISIS are fleeing Tikrit, the provincial capital they overrun almost two weeks ago, according a high-ranking provincial official.

Salahudeen Kareem, who chairs the council of the Province of Salahudeen of which Tikrit is the capital, said the militants were abandoning their positions and fleeing to the desert west of the city.

He said Iraqi troops have entered the city from several fronts and were making their way towards its center and were only a short distance from the provincial headquarters.

“Military units along with the army’s ninth armored division have entered Kirkuk as part of efforts to liberate all the areas which the terrorist organization of Da’ish has occupied,” Kareem said.

Da’ish is the colloquial name of ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, which transformed itself into a Caliphate with its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi now seen as the leader of Muslims all over the world.

The militants, Kareem said, started fleeing once Iraqi troops stormed the city. However, he added, the troops were not chasing the fleeing militants as their military effort was centered on purging Tikrit.

The official said tribes in the area had mobilized their men to assist the army in its fight against ISIS.

Kareem said without the support from the Tribesmen, it would have been extremely difficult for the troops to dislodge ISIS from Tikrit.