Various Iraqi forces are pressuring ISIS on three different fronts, all of which are of strategic importance to the organization. ISIS will therefore likely attempt to escalate its attacks elsewhere to divert the resources of these forces.
The main area of Alam sub-district, NE of Tikrit, was declared retaken from ISIS by the ISF, Iraqi Shi’a militias, and local Iraqi Sunni fighters on March 9. Since then, there have been no reports of clashes in the area to suggest a continued presence of ISIS or a concrete effort by ISIS to retake Alam.
“The concern [over Shi’a militias] is what happens after the battle. Will there be sectarian violence?… Or will there be a relatively inclusive kind of governance and even-handed governance? If it’s the latter, that will bode well for the future. If it’s the former, these will be big problems.”
The operation to retake Tikrit city appears to have begun.
Very recent reports indicate that Alam, an area of Iraqi Sunni majority that showed early signs of resistance to ISIS, has been re-taken by the combined forces allied with the Iraqi government.
On October 6, the Institute for the Study of War released a new report on Sunni insurgent groups other than ISIS in Iraq. Although the global community is now focused on the ISIS threat and is building an anti-ISIS coalition, this report shows that these other violent Sunni groups "remain a threat to the government of Iraq even if ISIS is removed."
The battle for Tikrit city is likely nearing. Combined forces from the ISF, Iraqi Shi'a militias, and Iraqi Sunni tribal fighters from Salah ad-Din Province have been making gains on the eastern front where the majority of military operations have taken place so far.
Since the start of the operation to capture Tikrit and its environs, the ISF, Iraqi Shi'a militias, and Iraqi Sunni tribal fighters from Salah ad-Din have been advancing from two main axes: south, from Samarra, and east, from the direction of Diyala and Kirkuk.