After a day of back-and-forth reporting on whether the Iraqi city of Tikrit had been recaptured from Islamic State of Iraq and Syria fighters, the Pentagon confirmed late Tuesday that the city had been liberated.On 13 March, it was revealed that ISIS was still in control of around half of the city, while the ground offensive had stalled. Meanwhile, Shi'ite militia fighters and Iraqi government troops were conducting brutal torture and revenge killings of captured ISIS prisoners. Allegedly, captured militants were beaten, shot, beheaded, dismembered, and thrown from buildings by Iraqi forces, with the remains mutilated and photos posted online.
For just the last week, U.S. and coalition aircraft have been supporting Iraqi Security Forces as they fought several hundred Islamic State fighters there. The entry of the U.S. came only after a lull in progress by Iraqi forces and the Shi'a militias who were supporting them.
The U.S. entered the air battle on the condition that Shi'a militias loyal to Iran remove themselves from the battlefield.
Among the pics posted on Pro-Shi'ite and Iraqi forums and on Instagram were images of beheaded ISIS fighters, while other photos showed militants shot and dragged behind trucks, and thrown from high buildings. According to reports, the killings were revenge for similar ISIS atrocities, especially the Camp Speicher massacre of June 2014. In response to the allegations, the Iraqi army promised an investigation.
On 27 March, the Shi'ite militias, with the exception of the Badr Organization, pulled out of the battle for Tikrit.
On 28 March, the US-led coalition conducted eight airstrikes in and near Tikrit, hitting two large ISIL units, one tactical unit, a vehicle, a vehicle-borne explosive device and 12 fighting positions.] Overall, the previous three days of coalition airstrikes had been described as “carpet bombing”. Ground fighting itself was inconclusive, with back-and-forth fighting occurring where the same territory was changing hands every half an hour. The regular government troops were in no rush to capture the center of Tikrit, especially since they felt disappointed and in need of changing their plans after the paramilitary forces withdrew from the battle.
The final stage of the assault was conducted by some 4,000 ISF in conjunction with approximately 10,000 Shi'ite paramilitaries under nominal command of the ISF. At this time, it was also estimated that only 400 ISIL militants remained inside of the city.
Late on 1 April 2015, Iraqi security forces reported that they had nearly secured full control of Tikrit, with only a few ISIL militants left hiding inside of some houses, hoping to escape under the cover of night. They also stated that they expected the battle to end in the coming hours.