"Insurgents brought down an Iraqi army helicopter Sunday as Iraqi forces attempted to retake the northern town of Tikrit, which has been overrun by Sunni militants on June 11.
On the second day of a major pushback, Iraq’s military sent in tanks and helicopter gunships to try to dislodge militants with the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL)." VOA
"Iraqi government forces have reportedly been forced to pull back from the northern city of Tikrit after an offensive to reclaim the city from Sunni Muslim militants was blunted by fierce fighting.
The BBC, citing eyewitnesses, reported Sunday that the Iraqi army had fallen back to the town of Dijla, approximately 15 miles to the south. The witnesses said that the government forces' drive to retake Tikrit had been hampered in part my the large number of improvised explosive devices laid on the approach to the city. The witnesses said that security forces continued to shell the city, though what damage those shells may have done is unclear." Foxnews
"Iraq's army has routed Sunni militants in a major offensive on the northern city of Tikrit, state media say.
State television said the governor's HQ had been recaptured and 60 fighters from the Isis militant group killed.
A spokesman for the rebels confirmed heavy fighting but implied the attack had failed, saying they were pursuing what was left of the army offensive.
The rebels control large swathes of the north and west after lightning raids that captured the second city, Mosul.
'Flee or be killed'
On Saturday, thousands of Iraqi troops backed by tanks and air power attacked Tikrit from four directions, state TV said.
It said there had been complete success in clearing Isis from the city, with some militant commanders among the 60 killed. It said the other insurgents there had fled." BBC
"Iraqi government officials said Sunday that Russian experts had arrived in Iraq to help the army get 12 new Russian warplanes into the fight against Sunni extremists.
The move was at least an implicit rebuke to the United States, where concerns in Congress about the political viability of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s government have stalled sales of advanced jet and helicopter combat planes to Iraq.
“In the coming three or four days the aircraft will be in service to support our forces in the fight” against the insurgents of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, said Gen. Anwar Hama Ameen, the commander of the Iraqi Air Force, referring to five SU-25 aircraft that were flown into Iraq aboard Russian cargo planes Saturday night and two more expected later Sunday. General Ameen also said that Russian military experts had arrived as well to help set up the planes, but that they would stay only a short time." NY Times
Why the Shia Iraqi air force wants the SU-24 is beyond my limited comprehension. This is a high performance, variable geometry aircraft. It makes a lot more sense to me that they should want the SU- 25. The SU-25 is a CAS aircraft somewhat analogous to the US A-10. Maybe there is something wrong with the reporting. In any event, the Iraqis have no current experience in dealing with aircraft like these. The idea that they will have them flying in combat in a short time is absurd. Elsewhere, it is reported that the US is now encouraging the Syrian air force to continue attacking targets in Iraq. Interesting.
The ground action in Tikrit is intended to break the back of the insurgent coalition. Terrain objectives like the city of Tikrit have little significance. The objective has to be the enemy force. Once that is wrecked, terrain objectives like the Baiji refinery could easily be re-occupied
Not surprisingly, early reports of the progress of the fighting are confusing and contradictory. It is always thus. Things will sort themselves out in a couple of days.
The rebel command should attack the logistical tail of the Shia army between Tikrit and Baghdad. There is no reason to fight them frontally in Tikrit other than to fix them in place. This armored force has many, many vehicles and can easily be starved of fuel. pl