Iranian forces spearhead Iraqi military drive to recover Tikrit

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi Monday declared the start of the Salahuddin operation to capture the Sunni town of Tikrit from the Islamic State Sunday, during a visit to the government-held city of Samarra to the south where some thousands of troops and Shi'ite militia are assembled for the offensive.

The pace of their progress in Salahuddin is the key to US plans for a spring offensive to recapture Mosul from ISIS hands further north. DEBKAfile has reported that the US plan is likely to be delayed because the US training of Iraqi troops for the Mosul operation is slow and three Arab coalition members or extremely reluctant to take part.

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