Following earlier indications that such attacks were likely, the U.S. military bombarded targets in the Iraqi city of Tikrit overnight as it took a commanding role in an ongoing offensive against Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) militants that has so far been spearheaded by Iraqi forces and Shi’ite militias which receive direct backing and guidance from the Iranian military.
“These strikes are intended to destroy ISIL strongholds with precision, thereby saving innocent Iraqi lives while minimizing collateral damage to infrastructure,” said Lt. Gen. James L. Terry of U.S. Central Command as he confirmed the bombing effort late on Wednesday. “This will further enable Iraqi forces under Iraqi command to maneuver and defeat ISIL in the vicinity of Tikrit.”
The Washington Post reports:
According to Reuters:
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With ongoing and escalating fighting in Yemen in recent days, including a wave of airstrikes led by Saudi Arabia, the greater Middle East region is now awash in a complex web of violence in which proxy battles, influxes of weapons and soldiers, and cross-border sectarian divisions are feeding violence in myriad ways.
As Middle East historian Juan Cole points out, the U.S. military on Wednesday into Thursday was assisting the Saudi bombing of the Iranian-allied Houthi rebel targets in Yemen, while simultaneously collaborating (at least indirectly) with Iranian military advisors from the Iranian Republican Guard Corp in the operation against ISIS in Tikrit. “The US support for the Saudi air strikes and the new coalition makes the Yemen war now the second major air campaign supported by the US in the region,” he writes. “But the one in Iraq is in alliance with Iran. The one in Yemen is against a group supported in some measure by Iran.” According to Cole:
The takeaway, according to Cole, is that the U.S. military is “now involved in two air wars in the Middle East, not to mention more widespread drone actions” elsewhere. Amid all this violence, the prospect for peaceful resolutions anytime soon has dropped to nearly zero.
And the Washington Post adds:
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