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Looking north along the Tigris towards Saddam Hussein's Presidential palace in April 2003
Looking north along the Tigris towards Saddam Hussein's Presidential palace in April 2003
Tikrit is located in Iraq
Tikrit's location inside Iraq
Coordinates: 34°36′36″N 43°40′48″E / 34.61000°N 43.68000°E / 34.61000; 43.68000
Country  Iraq
Governorate Salah ad Din
Elevation[1] 449 ft (137 m)
Population (2002)
 • Total 260,000

Tikrit (Arabic: تكريتTikrīt, Syriac: ܬܓܪܝܬ Tagriṯ) sometimes transliterated as Takrit or Tekrit, is a city in Iraq, located 140 kilometres (87 mi) northwest of Baghdad and 220 kilometres (140 mi) southeast of Mosul on the Tigris River. It is the administrative center of the Saladin Governorate. As of 2002, it had a population of 260,000.[2]

In recent years the city has been the site of conflict cumulating in the Second Battle of Tikrit from March through April 2015, resulting in the displacement of 28,000 civilians.[3] The Iraqi central government resumed control of the city from the Islamic State on March 31.[4]


Ancient times[edit]

As a fort along the Tigris (Akkadian: Idiqlat), the city is first mentioned in the Fall of Assyria Chronicle as being a refuge for the Babylonian king Nabopolassar during his attack on the city of Assur in 615 BC.[5]

Tikrit is usually identified as the Hellenistic settlement Birtha.[6]

Christian Tikrit[edit]

Until the 6th century, Christianity within the Sasanian Empire was predominantly dyophysite under the Church of the East, however, as a result of Miaphysite missionary work, Tikrit became a major Miaphysite centre under its first bishop, Ahudemmeh, in 559.[7] Under Marutha, the bishopric was elevated into a maphrianate and the city's ecclesiastical jurisdiction extended as far as central Asia.[8]

The city however remained predominantly Assyrian Christian in the early centuries of Islamic rule and gained fame as an important centre of scholarship of Syriac and Christian Arab literature. Some important names includes its bishop Cyriacus who ascended to the patriarchy of Antioch, and theologians Abu Zakariya Denha and Abu Raita and translator Yahya ibn Adi.[9]

From the ninth century Christians began to migrate northwards. Many settled in Mosul and its environs, especially Bakhdida, as well as Tur Abdin, mainly due to restrictive measures taken by some Muslim governors.[10] The Christian community received a setback when the governor ordered the destruction of the main cathedral known popularly as the "Green Church" in 1089, the maphrian had to relocate to Mosul with many Christians. Another governor permitted the reconstruction of the cathedral. However, instability returned and the maphrian moved indefinitely to Mosul in 1156.[10]

The city remained an important Assyrian Christian centre until its destruction by Timur in the late 14th century. Christian presence is last recorded in the 17th century.[9]

Medieval Tikrit[edit]

Modern-day view of the Syrian Monastery at Tikrit

The town was also home to the Arab Christian tribe of Iyad. The Arabs of the town secretly assisted the Muslims when they besieged the town. The Muslims entered Tikrit in 640, it was from then considered as part of the Jazira province, it was later regarded as belonging to Iraq by Arab geographers.[9]

The Arab Uqaylid Dynasty took hold of Tikrit in 1036. Around 1138, Saladin was born there.[11] The modern province of which Tikrit is the capital is named after him.

The city was devastated in the 14th century by Timur. During Ottoman period Tikrit existed as a small settlement that belonged to the Rakka Eyalet and whose population never exceeded 4,000-5,000.[9]

20th century[edit]

In September 1917, British forces captured the city during a major advance against the Ottoman Empire during World War I.

Jewish community in Tikrit was mostly left in 1948, when Saddam Hussein raised to power there were only two families in the city.

The city is the birthplace, in 1937, of Saddam Hussein. Many senior members of the Iraqi government during his rule were drawn from Saddam's own Tikriti tribe, the Al-Bu Nasir, as were members of his Iraqi Republican Guard, chiefly because Saddam apparently felt that he was most able to rely on relatives and allies of his family. The Tikriti domination of the Iraqi government became something of an embarrassment to Hussein and, in 1977, he abolished the use of surnames in Iraq to conceal the fact that so many of his key supporters bore the same surname, al-Tikriti (as did Saddam himself).[citation needed] Saddam Hussein was buried near Tikrit in his hometown of Owja following his hanging on December 30, 2006.

Iraq War[edit]

In the opening weeks of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, many observers speculated that Saddam would return to Tikrit as his "last stronghold". The city was subjected to intense aerial bombardment meant to throw Saddam's elite Republican Guard troops out of the city. On April 13, 2003 several thousand U.S. Marines and other coalition members aboard 300 armored vehicles converged on the town, meeting little or no resistance. With the fall of Tikrit, U.S. Army Major General Stanley McChrystal said, "I would anticipate that the major combat operations are over."[12]

However, during the subsequent occupation Tikrit became the scene of a number of insurgent attacks against the occupation forces. It is commonly regarded as being the northern angle of the "Sunni Triangle" within which the insurgency was at its most intense. In June 2003, Abid Hamid Mahmud, Saddam Hussein's Presidential Secretary and the Ace of Diamonds on the most wanted 'Deck of Cards,' was captured in a joint raid by special operations forces and the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment of 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division.

After the fall of Baghdad, Saddam Hussein was in and around Tikrit. He was hidden by relatives and supporters for about six months. During his final period in hiding, he lived in a small hole just outside the town of ad-Dawr, fifteen kilometres south of Tikrit on the eastern bank of the Tigris, a few kilometers southeast of his hometown of Al-Awja. The missions which resulted in the capture of Saddam Hussein were assigned to the 1st Brigade Combat Teams of the 4th Infantry Division, commanded by Colonel James Hickey of the 4th Infantry Division. The U.S. Army finally captured Saddam Hussein on December 13, 2003 during Operation Red Dawn.

During the 2003 invasion of Iraq, AFN Iraq ("Freedom Radio") broadcast news and entertainment within Tikrit, among other locations.

On November 22, 2005, HHC 42nd Infantry Division New York Army National Guard, handed over control of Saddam Hussein's primary palace complex in Tikrit to the governor of Salah Ah Din Province, who represented the Iraqi government. Discontinuing the existence of what once was FOB Danger. The palace complex had served as a headquarters for U.S. 4th Infantry Division, U.S. 1st Infantry Division, and 42nd Infantry Division. The palace complex now serves several purposes for the Iraqi police and army, including headquarters and jails. The U.S. military subsequently moved their operations to al Sahra Airfield, later known as COB Speicher, northwest of Tikrit.

Saddam Hussein's primary palace complex contained his own palace, one built for his mother and his sons and also included a man made lake, all enclosed with a wall and towers. Plans for the palace grounds when originally returned to the Iraqi people included turning it into an exclusive and lush resort. However, within weeks of turning over the palace, it was ravaged, and its contents, (furniture, columns, even light switches), were stolen and sold on the streets of Tikrit.

The 402nd Civil Affairs Detachment of the U.S. Army, and the government of Salah Ah Din province, began plans to improve local economic conditions. One of the many projects they are working on is building an industrial vocational school in the Tikrit area. The school will teach local people skills in different fields of technology, which will help to build and improve Iraq’s economic stability.[13] The curriculum will educate men and women in multiple occupational fields such as the production of high-tech products, plastic production technology, masonry, carpentry, petroleum equipment maintenance and repair, farm machinery and automotive repair. This self-supporting educational institution owns a textile mill where many of the graduates will work producing uniforms. The mill is scheduled to begin producing and selling products within the year, with the profits from the mill going to fund the school. The vocational school’s operation, support and funding are modeled after a system South Korea used in another part of Iraq.[13]

On April 18, 2010, Abu Ayyub al-Masri and Abu Abdullah al-Rashid al-Baghdadi were killed in a raid six miles (10 kilometers) of Tikrit in a safe house.

ISIL insurgents[edit]

Tikrit Air Academy (formerly COB Speicher), site of the Camp Speicher massacre by ISIL, was recaptured and used as an offensive launching platform for the second battle of Tikrit where Gen. Qasem Soleimani coordinated the Badr brigade & Kata’ib Imam Ali efforts.[14]

The Islamic State of Iraq launched an attack on March 29, 2011 that killed 65 people and wounded over 100.[15] Reuters news agency included the attack in its list of deadliest attacks in 2011.[16]

On June 11, 2014, during the Northern Iraq offensive, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant took control of the city. Hours later, the Iraqi Army made an attempt to recapture the city, which resulted in heavy fighting.[17][18][19] On June 12, ISIL executed at least 1,566[20] Iraqi Air Force cadets from Camp Speicher at Tikrit. At the time of the attack there were between 4,000 and 11,000 unarmed cadets in the camp.[21] The Iraqi government blamed the massacre on both ISIL and members of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party – Iraq Region.[22] By July 2014, government forces had withdrawn from Tikrit.[23][24]

On September 25, 2014, Islamist militants destroyed the Assyrian Church there that dated back to 700 AD.[25]

In March 2015, the Iraqi Army along with the Hashd Shaabi popular forces launched an operation to retake Tikrit. On March 31 the Iraqi government claimed the city had been recaptured.[4]


It is about 160 kilometres (99 mi) north of Baghdad on the Tigris River.[26]


Köppen-Geiger climate classification system classifies its climate as hot desert (BWh).[27]

Climate data for Tikrit, Iraq
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 14.3
Daily mean °C (°F) 9.1
Average low °C (°F) 4
Average precipitation mm (inches) 28
Source #1: Climate-Data.org (altitude: 109m)[27]
Source #2: SunMap[28]

Culture and community[edit]

The Tikrit Museum was damaged during 2003 Iraq War.[29][30]

The University of Tikrit was established in 1987 and is one of the largest universities in Iraq.

Tikrit Stadium is a multi-use facility used mostly for football matches and serves as the home stadium of Salah ad Din FC. It holds 10,000 people.

Military facilities[edit]

The Iraqi Air Force has had several air bases at Tikrit: the Tikrit South Air Base, the Tikrit East Air Base and Al Sahra Airfield (Tikrit Air Academy, formerly COB Speicher).


The city of Tikrit has two small airports; Tikrit East Airport and Tikrit South Airport.


  1. ^ Philip Gladstone (10 February 2014). "METAR Information for ORSH in Tikrit Al Sahra (Tikrit West), SD, Iraq". Gladstonefamily.net. Retrieved 16 June 2014. 
  2. ^ "Iraqis – with American help – topple statue of Saddam in Baghdad". Fox News. April 9, 2003. 
  3. ^ "Islamic State crisis: Thousands flee Iraqi advance on Tikrit". BBC News. Retrieved 10 April 2015. 
  4. ^ a b http://www.timesunion.com/news/world/article/Iraqi-minister-says-Tikrit-to-be-recaptured-6172150.php
  5. ^ Bradford, Alfred S. & Pamela M. With Arrow, Sword, and Spear: A History of Warfare in the Ancient World. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2001. Accessed 18 December 2010.
  6. ^ Smith, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography, s.v. Birtha
  7. ^ Maas, Michael (18 April 2005). The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Justinian. Cambridge University Press. pp. 260–. ISBN 978-1-139-82687-7. Retrieved 4 July 2013. 
  8. ^ "88- Marutha of Takrit (d. 649)". syriacstudies.com. Retrieved August 20, 2012. 
  9. ^ a b c d Gibb, H. A. R. (2000). "Takrīt". In Kramers, J. H. Encyclopaedia of Islam 10 (Second ed.). BRILL. pp. 140–141. ISBN 9789004112117. Retrieved 4 July 2013. 
  10. ^ a b Rassam, Suha (2005). Christianity in Iraq: Its Origins and Development to the Present Day. Gracewing Publishing. pp. 67–68. ISBN 978-0-85244-633-1. Retrieved 4 July 2013. 
  11. ^ Malcolm Lyons and D.E.P. Jackson, "Saladin: The Politics of the Holy War", pg. 2.
  12. ^ "Major combat over". The Age. 15 April 2003. Retrieved 15 August 2014. 
  13. ^ a b New Vocational School and Textile Mill Boost Economy - DefendAmerica News Article
  14. ^ "Iranian-backed Shiite militias lead Iraq’s fight to retake Tikrit - The Long War Journal". Retrieved 22 March 2015. 
  15. ^ "Two journalists among scores killed in insurgent operation in Tikrit". IFEX. Retrieved 25 April 2012. 
  16. ^ Cutler, David (23 February 2012). "Timeline: Deadliest attacks in Iraq in last year". Reuters. Retrieved 24 April 2012. 
  17. ^ "Iraqi forces take Tikrit back from ISIL militants". Presstv.ir. Retrieved 7 October 2014. 
  18. ^ "Iran Deploys Forces to Fight al Qaeda-Inspired Militants in Iraq". Online.wsj.com. Retrieved 7 October 2014. 
  19. ^ "US airstrikes to support Iranian Revolutionary Guard's offensive in Iraq?". Rt.com. Retrieved 7 October 2014. 
  20. ^ http://rudaw.net/arabic/middleeast/iraq/011120148
  21. ^ "Survivors from the Speicher massacre: We were 4000 unarmed soldiers fell into the hands of ISIS". Buratha News Agency (in Arabic). Retrieved 13 September 2014. 
  22. ^ "ISIS, Saddam's men or a third party who killed 1700 soldiers in camp Speicher in Iraq?". CNN Arabic (in Arabic). Retrieved 13 September 2014. 
  23. ^ "Iraqi forces withdrawn from militant-held Tikrit after new push". Reuters. July 16, 2014. 
  24. ^ "Rebels repel Iraqi attempt to retake Tikrit". Al Jazeera. 16 July 2014. 
  25. ^ "Islamists Destroy 7th Century Church, Mosque in Tikrit, Iraq". 25 September 2014. Retrieved 7 October 2014. 
  26. ^ Shewchuk, Blair. "SADDAM OR MR. HUSSEIN?" (Archive). CBC News. February 2003. Retrieved on June 24, 2014.
  27. ^ a b "Climate: Tikrit - Climate graph, Temperature graph, Climate table". Climate-Data.org. Retrieved 2014-02-22. 
  28. ^ "Weather in Asia, Iraq, Muḩāfaz̧at Şalāḩ ad Dīn, Tikrit Weather and Climate". Retrieved 2014-02-22. 
  29. ^ Iraq - The cradle of civilization at risk (Archived at WebCite)
  30. ^ Another war casualty: archeology (Archived at WebCite)

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 34°36′N 43°41′E / 34.600°N 43.683°E / 34.600; 43.683