May 28 2015
For Iraqi Shias and Iran, taking control of Tikrit has a special meaning. Tikrit was closely identified with Saddam Hussein.
Shi'ite fighters or Hashd-al Shabi look at smoke from an explosives-laden vehicle driven by an IS suicide bomber that exploded during an attack on Tikrit.
TIKRIT, the birthplace and the burial site of Saddam Hussain, has been a fulcrum in the Sunni heartland of Iraq that had fought the US forces from 2003 until their withdrawal in 2011 and since maintained a continuous challenge to the predominantly Shia regime in Baghdad, accusing it of sectarian bias, ill-treatment and vindictiveness. Tikrit also contributed some other top leaders of Iraq in the past. Colonel Ahmed Hasan Al-Bakr, the first President of Baathist Iraq hailed from Tikrit. Izzat brahim Al-Douri, (the sole surviving member of Saddam Husain's inner circle until his reported death last month in Tikrit), who carried on the Baathist legacy under the appellation of Nakshabandi Order that played a role in Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL)'s takeover of Mosul and Tikrit last June, hailed from Al Dour, an outlying town of Tikrit. Saddam Hussain's own brother-in-law Adnan Khairallah who belonged to Tikrit was Defence Minister until his death in a helicopter crash in the late 1980s. Until 2003, Iraq's intelligence chiefs were mostly from Tikrit. Tikrit also happens to be the birthplace of Salahuddin al-Ayoubi, ethnically a Kurd and known to the world as Saladdin, who led the Muslim armies in the 12th century crusades and retook Jerusalem from Christian control. Tikrit was renamed Salahuddin, symbolising the connection with Jerusalem’s conqueror.