So says the interior minister of Iraq, Mohammed al-Ghabban. As Reuters is reporting:
… al-Ghabban told reporters in the city, "Most of Tikrit today is liberated, only small parts remain (outside our control). We will give you the good news in the next few hours after eliminating the pockets that are still in the city."
The battle lasted far longer than anticipated. General Martin Dempsey had predicted, a month or so ago, that the city’s fall was imminent. Iraqi troops and Shia militias, with the advice and assistance of Iran, ran into heavy resistance and American air power was employed. The Shias resented the assistance of Americans and staged something like a work stoppage.
Now, it seems:
Iraqi troops and Shi'ite paramilitary fighters were battling Islamic State on Wednesday in northern Tikrit, which officials described as the Sunni Muslim militant group's last stronghold in the city.With officials touting victory in a month-long battle, state television said Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi was visiting the city, which the Islamist militants captured last June as they seized most of Iraq's Sunni territories.
The claims, however, may be premature. With the New York Times reporting:
In Tikrit, however, an Iraqi general, who asked not to be named so as to avoid openly contradicting the prime minister, said that reports of Tikrit’s fall were at best premature.