Iraq’s prime minister claimed the county’s security forces reached the center of Tikrit. A report by the New York Times claims the subtitle, “Tikrit has fallen to us” ran across TV screens and an Iraqi flag was shown raised on a government building on YouTube.
“Our security forces have arrived at the city center of Tikrit and have liberated the southern and western sides, and are advancing to liberate the entire city,” the prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, told his cabinet Tuesday morning.
However, according to multiple sources in Tikrit, it was not yet fallen and members of ISIS still remain in the city. Top officials in Baghdad toned down the prime minister’s declaration saying the fight was continuing, but gains had been made in the city.
In June, Gen. Qassim Atta made a similar false claim. “Reports and surveillance show that ISIS leaders have ordered a retreat,” Atta said. He added that some insurgents remained on the grounds of Saddam Hussein’s former palace to bury their dead.
Islamic State fighters were occupying the most populated parts of Tikrit.
“Only some portions of the city have been retaken,” said Ammar Hikmat, the deputy governor of Salahuddin Province. “It is not liberated yet.”
The prime minister’s claims were later elaborated on by Saad al-Hadith, one of his spokesmen.
“The security forces, federal police and army, popular mobilization forces and tribal leaders were able to liberate the eastern and western sides of the city of Tikrit,” al-Hadith said. “The international alliance air force played a major role in the operation, along with the Iraqi air force. We are expecting to liberate Tikrit entirely within the next hours.”