Iraqi troops and allied Sunni-Shia volunteer forces have launched a large-scale operation in Salahuddin province to liberate the strategic city of Tikrit.
Backed by Iranian military advisers and using aircraft and artillery, the Iraqi armed forces have already recaptured a number of districts around the city, including parts of the Qadisiyah neighborhood. But that’s not the news. The real news is that all this is happening without any support whatsoever from the United States and its coalition.
In fact, the large-scale offensive has caught the Obama Administration off guard. The Pentagon has confirmed they have no coordination with the Iraqis on the operation, and have not been requested to provide any air support!
Pentagon officials are expressing concerns about the lack of US involvement too - a reflection of how important Iran is as Iraq’s got-to ally. It’s an understandable position for the Iraqi government too, as the US and its coalition are not cooperating with Iran and Syria - two major combatant forces battling ISIL in the same war.
The Iraqis, however, have every reason to be skeptical of the US-led coalition, mainly because US air wars always victimize innocent civilians; the US is relying on Saudi Arabia and Qatar that created ISIL; and the US military has little credibility to sway public opinion in the direction of its coalition. That explains why Iraq has decided that Iranian support is better than US warplanes.
As it stands, Tikrit is one of the biggest cities held by ISIL. It sits on the road to Mosul, which is held by the extremists. Any operation to take Mosul likely would require Iraq to seize Tikrit first because of its strategic location for military enforcements.
The strategic city will soon be liberated, paving the way for the next big push: The liberation of Mosul. But this could only happen if the Iraqis believe themselves to be liberators of their country. In the interim, they can count on Iran in the fight against evil.
Without question, just like in Syria, the Islamic Republic will continue to support Iraq when humanity is called for. It is a responsibility of the faith community to fight evil because it clearly exists in Iraq and Syria. And by any standards, the actions of ISIL are evil. Even the United Nations agrees:
The latest report by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq, catalogues the human rights atrocities committed by ISIL, making it abundantly clear that this group is evil. They include:
-Attacks targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure
-Executions and targeted killings of civilians
-Abductions, rape and sexual violence against women and children
-Slavery and trafficking of women and children
-Forced recruitment of children
-Destruction or desecration of places of religious/cultural significance
-Destruction and looting of property, and denial of fundamental freedoms
The UN report goes on to identify the targeting of ethnic and religious groups as a deliberate policy aimed at destroying, suppressing and expelling these communities. The report describes the actions as war crimes, crimes against humanity, and possibly genocide.
In light of these wanton atrocities, and at a time when the world is not fully prepared to deal with the problem, Iran, under international law, has decided to come to the rescue of the peoples of Iraq and Syria, reminding the world that evil can be overcome.