US airstrikes not needed in Tikrit operation: Iraqi commander

The commander of the Iraqi volunteer forces says Iraqis do not need the US airstrikes in their operation to liberate the strategic city of Tikrit from the ISIL terrorists.

On Sunday, Hadi al-Ameri lashed out at those military figures in the Iraqi army that called for the US help in the Tikrit operation.

“Some of the weaklings in the army… say we need the Americans, while we say we do not need the Americans,” Ameri told reporters in the Al-Alam area, north of Baghdad.

The Iraqi commander also hailed Tehran’s assistance to the Arab country in the fight against the ISIL Takfiri terrorist group, saying that Iran’s Major General Qasem Soleimani, a senior commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), has been of great help to the Iraqi army in its anti-terror bid.

Qasim-Sulemani

“Qasem Suleimani is here whenever we need him … He was giving very good advice. The battle ended now, and he returned to his operations headquarters,” Ameri stated, in reference to the temporary halt of the Tikrit operation.

Iran has repeatedly stressed that it will not interfere militarily in Iraq, but the Islamic Republic continues to provide support to the country in its war against ISIL in the form of defense consultancy and humanitarian aid.

US airstrikes

Earlier in the week, a top commander of the Iraqi army in Salaheddin province, which has Tikrit as its capital, called for the US airstrikes on the ISIL positions in the area, saying the US aircraft “are able to locate the targets exactly” and carry out accurate attacks.

“With the advanced technology of the aircraft and weapons they have, of course (strikes) by them are necessary,” said Army Staff Lieutenant General Abdulwahab al-Saadi.

This is while over the past months, the US and its allies have been conducting airstrikes against the ISIL positions in Iraq and Syria but have failed to dislodge the Takfiri terrorists in the violence-wracked countries.

Tikrit operation

Earlier this month, some 30,000 Iraqi troops started a large-scale operation to recapture Tikrit, which is the birthplace of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. The volunteer forces, which include both Shia and Sunni members, also joined the operation.

Reports said the Iraqi army and volunteer forces regained much of Tikrit from the Takfiri militants following heavy firefight in the strategic city.

The US-led international coalition against ISIL had no role to play in the operation to retake Tikrit. US officials say Baghdad did not ask for their participation in the operation.

On March 16, Iraq’s Interior Minister Mohammed Salem al-Ghabban said Iraqi forces temporarily put on hold the Tikrit operation to allow civilians to leave the northern city.

Tikrit has a strategic position as it sits on the road to the ISIL stronghold, Mosul.

The ISIL terrorists, many of whom were initially trained by the US Central Intelligence Agency in Jordan in 2012 to destabilize the Syrian government, now control parts of Iraq and neighboring Syria. They have been engaged in crimes against humanity in the areas under their control.

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