The Iraqi government claims victory over Islamic State insurgents in Tikrit, after a month-long battle for the city. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: EDIT CONTAINS MATERIAL THAT WAS ORIGINALLY 4:3 PART AUDIO QUALITY AS INCOMING ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) The Iraqi government claimed victory over Islamic State insurgents in Tikrit on Wednesday (April 2) after a month-long battle for the city supported by Shi'ite militiamen and U.S.-led air strikes, saying that only small pockets of resistance remained. State television showed Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, accompanied by leaders of the army and police, the provincial governor and Shi'ite paramilitary leaders, parading through Tikrit and raising an Iraqi flag. Authorities said security forces were fighting to clear the city's last Islamic State holdout, the northern neighbourhood of Qadissiyah. When the battle to recapture Tikrit began on March 2, the defence and interior ministers were largely bypassed by the Shi'ite militias, referred to as Popular Mobilization Committees, according to accounts by two senior officials and a Western diplomat, all speaking on condition of anonymity. The U.S. government, which leads a coalition supporting the fight against Islamic State with air strikes, was also upset, both by the sight of an Iranian-backed force leading the fight for Tikrit and by the government's failure to consult it on the plan, the officials said. With tensions rising along with Shi'ite casualties, the Tikrit offensive was halted after two weeks. It only resumed last week after Abadi called in U.S.-led air strikes over the objections of the militias, which had wanted to claim the victory for themselves and their Iranian backers, much to the displeasure of Washington, Iran's long-time adversary. Whereas previous defeats of Islamic State around central Iraq have mostly been credited to the Popular Mobilisation committees, government officials sought to paint the entry into Tikrit as a national triumph. Abadi vowed that Islamic State would be driven from the Iraqi territory it still holds, which still includes most of Iraq's Sunni lands, including Anbar province in the west and most of Nineveh to the north.