ISIL Executes 11 Commanders for Fleeing Battlefield Amid Iraqi Army Advance
20:18 04.03.2015(updated 20:36 04.03.2015)
Islamic State (ISIL) militants executed 11 commanders, who left Tikrit, the place of battlefield with Iraqi army.
BEIRUT (Sputnik) – Islamic State (ISIL) militants executed 11 commanders who fled the Iraqi city of Tikrit after government forces launched a major offensive, Lebanon's Al Mayadeen TV channel reported Wednesday.
Over the past 24 hours, around 150 ISIL extremists, including commanders, reportedly left Tikrit, the birthplace of late dictator Saddam Hussein and a stronghold of the group. Iraqi forces managed to take eastern and southern parts of the town under control.
The assault, which started on Monday, is Iraqi troops' largest military campaign so far in 2015. The joint forces of the Iraqi army and volunteer Shia militia make up around 30,000 people. A victory in Tikrit would allow the army to move on Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, controlled by the ISIL since last summer.
During the first stage of the offensive, Iraqi forces, supported from the air by jets and helicopters, encircled oil fields east of Tikrit and blocked the road leading to Mosul.
Tikrit, located on the strategic highway linking the north and south of Iraq, was seized by the ISIL in June 2014, after the Iraqi army capitulated to the insurgents. Several attempts to recapture the city have failed.
In February, US Central Command revealed that the Iraqi and Kurdish forces would launch an assault in April or May to recapture Mosul. The United States will train and equip the joint forces, as well as assist with logistics, air support and intelligence.
The ISIL is a Sunni militant group currently in control of large parts of Syria and Iraq. The US-led international coalition, which comprises over 60 countries, is conducting airstrikes against the militants in both countries.
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