Tikrit: how is took the city in an hour

The methods of urban warfare in the manner of the mafia

Tikrit, like Kobanê, has become a ghost town. "The city was and is completely abandoned", reports Amnesty International crisis officer Donatella Rovera, who recently visited Tikrit after it was recaptured from the control of IS militias. There is no normal life anymore, armed groups are in command, militias. And plunderers and criminal gangs.

Before the IS takeover, the town and surrounding villages paid about 200.000 inhabitants; now there are only a few thousand at most, not in the city, but mostly in the surrounding areas. The former residents, scattered to other cities in Iraq, are waiting for a signal that they can come back, that the supply of electricity, water and food will work again, and that life will be safe again, a reporter for the U.S. magazine Daily Beast reported this week.

The prospects for this are very poor, according to an Iraqi lawyer and journalist named Zaid Al-Ali. The conditions that now prevail in Tikrit are exactly like the conditions that led to the IS takeover of the city: lawlessness, corruption of the security services, the presence of armed groups, and so on. His report, based on the testimony of long-time acquaintances and friends in the city, depicts a ruined city. Unlike other reports and accounts, it shows in detail how the takeover of Tikris happened and how the IS ruled.

"During the duration of a nap"

The takeover happened in a different way than it is known from city fights in Fallujah, Grozny (Fallujah: the American Grozny) or Gaza City. The population was not asked to leave the city beforehand via leaflets or other announcements in order to avoid bombardments from the air, grenade launchers, tanks and ground troops. There was also no prolonged shelling as in eastern Ukraine (Before a bloody urban battle in eastern Ukraine?), which should prepare city fights.

IS militias on their way to Tikrit. Excerpt from a propaganda video

The takeover of control of Tirkrit on 11. June 2014 was accomplished during the duration of a nap, in about one hour. The IS needed about 30 men for this.

That it was so easy for the IS militias was due to fear – the day before they had conquered Mosul and the news spread quickly, many police and other security forces had fled Tikrit as a result – and, as in Mosul, to two years of grueling, surgically precise preparation according to mafia methods.

Mafia methods and fear

As early as 2012, key businessmen received calls demanding large protection money from IS members. The businessmen obviously knew at that time who they were dealing with and that there was hardly any protection against the organization. They probably also knew news about killed officials or leaders in the security apparatus, police and army.

In Mosul, IS militias entered the city according to a list of important members in the security apparatus, who were either kidnapped with unmistakable threats to the family and the individuals themselves, paid large sums of money, or were killed. In any case, they had to give up their posts to someone from the IS. The same was repeated in Tirkrit. With the result that the IS could pay on the fact that resistance from this side was no longer to be feared.

This is complemented by cooperation with local tribes. Those who refuse will be made an example of. Reports that 200 tribesmen were killed confirm the fear of opponents and residents. Shortly after capturing Tikrit, IS militants with the help of the Albu Ajeel tribe killed over 1.000 recruits in the nearby Speicher camp.

The fact that there was a military base there had previously contributed not insignificantly to the residents’ sense of security. The news of the "Speicher massacre" and the fact that Iraqi army commanders had fled in the face of IS militias and their strengthening led to the first major wave of refugees in Tikrit.

Rapid takeover of courts, mosques and schools

The IS quickly and systematically took over the courts and security and police services, whose members were given the choice of repenting, documented by a larger sum of money, declaring loyalty and allegiance to the IS, or being killed.

Mosques were replaced by IS imams, school and university schedules were realigned, and so were the rules of daily life. The most strategically important posts were occupied by IS members. Since the IS seems to have a lot of combatants at its disposal, but not much else "Personal" In Tikrit, they recruited helpers from the poorer classes. Residents recognized former neighbors or people from suburbs in new identity.

Now just a military base

The next rough waves of refugees began with the attacks of the helicopters of the Iraqi army, according to Zaid Al-Ali. They seriously damaged the infrastructure, eventually cutting off the electricity and water supply, respectively. even overruled. Even the supply of the most basic foodstuffs became very difficult.

It turned out that the IS had no means to do so or even interest in doing so to remedy the situation. The city, according to the report, became a pure military base for the IS. After all, there were hardly any civilians left in the city.

Then came the big offensive, the Shiite militias, parts of the Iraqi army and armed groups recruited from tribes. This was preceded by the last rough wave of escapees. Now Tikrit is still a kind of military base.

According to a recent report in the New York Times, a memorial to the memory massacre is now being erected. There are slight signs of reconciliation between Sunnis and Shiites, he says.

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