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March 3, 2015

Iraqi troops fight to retake key city of Tikrit from ISIL

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Note: Please use the segment of the video from :00 to :23, which addresses Tikrit.

Iraqi forces have launched an offensive against the violent militant group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) to retake Tikrit, an Iraqi city of strategic military importance.

Tikrit is best-known as the hometown of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. It is in an important location near both Baghdad and Mosul, the largest city that ISIL currently controls. A group of 20,000 troops, including Shiite, Sunni and Iranian fighters, is currently fighting to retake the city.

ISIL made advances throughout the region in the summer, capturing territory in Iraq and Syria; it captured Tikrit in June. The U.S. has led a coalition of partners in the region to fight ISIL and began a campaign of airstrikes against the group in August.

The coalition has made “limited and halting progress” in stopping ISIL’s advance, Colonel Derek Harvey, former special adviser to the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, told the PBS NewsHour. However, the U.S. is not involved in the current effort to retake Tikrit, according to the Associated Press.

The offensive marks a test for Iraqi forces as they prepare to retake the city of Mosul from ISIL control. That city is located on the largest dam in Iraq, the Mosul Dam, a critical source of water and power.

Iraqi forces need to control Tikrit before moving on to Mosul, military analysts say, to ensure the flow of military supplies and reinforcements.


Warm up questions
  1. Where is Iraq?
  2. What countries make up the Middle East?
  3. What do you know about ISIL?
Critical thinking questions
  1. Why are Tikrit and Mosul both important? How will the battles in Tikrit affect Mosul?
  2. Why do you think the U.S. is not involved in the current offensive?
  3. If the U.S. and its allies have the most advanced military technologies in the world, so why is it so hard to contain and eliminate ISIL?
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