Reports of potential co-operation from the coalition in a bid to re-take Tikrit

After a sustained period of denial during which representatives within Baghdad maintained they would not require coalition aerial support in order to re-take Tikrit, sources within both Baghdad as well as the coalition community have now suggested some reassessment of that position is likely. Whether that change in government position reflects an underestimation of ISIS strength, or perhaps some over-estimation of the ability of pro-government forces to counter the current threat, will likely only be answered after the ISIS threat has been defeated. Separately coalition aerial operations were also reported in a number of other areas, including in Abbasi, Hawija, Ramadi, Fallujah and Mosul.

According to unofficial reports, the battle for Tikrit has already led to the deaths of more than 1,000 members of the pro-government force. While that figure has yet to be confirmed by an official source, if correct then it would suggest that in order to sustain operations across the remainder of northern Iraq there will likely be a requirement for the re-deployment of security force personnel from other areas of the country. There have also been a significant number of other reports of fierce clashes, including in the Garma area, as well as throughout Falluja, Dijla, al-Tamim and Sinjar. Separately ground operations were also reported in several other areas, including in Telskuf, al-Baghdadi, Thar Thar, Khafsa and al-Malha.

Explosive device attacks have once again ravaged large sections of territory throughout the country, with a large concentration of attacks in Baghdad reinforcing earlier assessments by the SRM intelligence team that despite any relative success within the wider counter terrorist offensive, the country will likely continue to face a significant asymmetric threat from explosive device attacks for some considerable time. In Samarra, a double suicide IED attack killed two members of ISF and injured a further 12, while a separate roadside IED attack wounded nine other security force members. In Ramadi, an IED attack killed two local nationals, while in Falluja, a suicide IED attack killed four members of the security forces and wounded a further seven. Northwest of the capital in Sabaa al-Bour, a blast at a popular market place left three dead and a further six wounded. Meanwhile in the capital, Baghdad, a concentrated programme of explosive device deployments including a blast in Habibiya and a separate blast in Tarabiya, killed 14 local nationals and wounded a further 43. A third detonation near the headquarters of the Interior Ministry also killed four individuals.

Meanwhile the former commander of US forces in Iraq, General David Petraeus, has also stated he believes political instability now represents a much greater current threat to the future security of Iraq than the ISIS terrorist group. As the statement then went on to specifically reference the activities of a number of Shi’ite paramilitary groups, the comments have also been interpreted by many as an indictment of Iranian influence in the current counter-ISIS offensive.

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