In Tikrit, however, an Iraqi general, who asked not to be named so as to avoid openly contradicting the prime minister, said that reports of Tikrit’s fall were at best premature. “God willing, it will fall,” he said.So at least the offensive is moving again. I can't believe that American airstrikes have crippled the Islamic State's forces in just six days, but maybe they have shifted the morale equation enough to make this advance possible. But the befuddled situation in the Iraqi government makes me nervous.
Other military officers and a civilian official reached in Tikrit said it was true that Iraqi forces had advanced into the center of the city and had entered government buildings and parts of the Republican Palace. But they said that parts of the palace remained in Islamic State hands and that fighting was continuing.
A Pentagon spokesman said in a statement that “we can confirm” the security forces’ “advancement into Tikrit to liberate the city center as well as other parts of the city.”
This is from an interesting article by Mike Giglio about how much the Islamic State relies on booby traps and IEDs rather than conventional defensive warfare:
Soldiers who push into ISIS territory looking for a fight often find themselves instead facing explosive traps and sniper fire. “There is no confrontation between fighters,” complained a fighter with the Badr Brigades, one of the largest in the coalition of Shiite militias that has taken up arms against ISIS, which preaches an extremist version of Sunni Islam. “It’s not like a normal war.”And this:
The peshmerga have defused or detonated more than 6,000 IEDs along their 650-mile front with ISIS since the war began in August, Kurdish officials said. Those were the ones they’d been able to find. Mohammad pointed to the fields that stretched to a set of hills on one side of the road and the village with the flattened home on the other. “To be honest, we believe that those open fields beneath the hills, and the hills, are filled with IEDs. All those houses are full of IEDs,” he said.So maybe what was stopping the Iraqi forces was their or their officers' fear of IEDs, and all that was necessary to get the offensive going was American bombing of a few locations known to be booby trapped and then a bit of nerve.