Iraq has launched a military operation to take back Saddam Hussein’s hometown from ISIS. (Video via Iraqi Defense Ministry)
As part of their blitzkrieg across Iraq last summer, the militants captured Tikrit — a city about 95 miles north of Baghdad. (Video via ISIS)
They wasted little time adding to their catalog of atrocities. Right after ISIS seized the city, Human Rights Watch says between 560-770 people were executed.
As the birthplace of Iraq's former dictator, Tirkit is made up of mostly Sunni Muslims, many of whom say they’ve been marginalized by Iraq’s Shiite led-government.
It’s why so many locals joined up with ISIS or allied with them.
On Sunday, Iraq’s Shiite Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi called on Sunni fighters to disavow ISIS, promising them a pardon if they do. (Video via Times of India)
The Iraqi Army has tried repeatedly to take back Tikrit, and it has made up ground in recent months.
With the help of U.S.-led airstrikes, Iraqi forces took back the refinery town of Beiji in November, providing a base to attack Tikrit. (Video via U.S. Central Command)
This latest operation involves some 30,000 Iraqi troops, who have teamed up with local tribes and Shiite militia. (Video via Iraqi Defense Ministry)
Iraq’s Ministry of Defense told reporters the offensive was off to a promising start. Iraqi forces were able to break the militants' first defensive line in Tikrit on Monday.
If they succeed in taking back city, the coalition’s next big challenge will be recapturing the ISIS stronghold in Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul.