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Looking north along the Tigris towards Saddam's Presidential palace in April 2003
Looking north along the Tigris towards Saddam's Presidential palace in April 2003
Tikrit is located in Iraq
Tikrit's location inside Iraq
Country  Iraq
Governorate Salah ad Din
Elevation[1] 449 ft (137 m)
Population (2002)
 • Total 260,000

Tikrit (Arabic: تكريتTikrīt also transliterated as Takrit or Tekrit, Classical Syriac: ܬܓܪܝܬ Tagriṯ) is a city in Iraq, located 140 km northwest of Baghdad on the Tigris River (at 34.61°N, 43.68°E). The town, with an estimated population in 2002 of about 260,000 is the administrative center of the Salah ad Din Governorate.[2]


  • History 1
    • Ancient times 1.1
    • Christian Tikrit 1.2
    • Medieval Tikrit 1.3
    • 20th century 1.4
    • Iraq War 1.5
    • 2014 Northern Iraq Offensive 1.6
  • Geography 2
    • Climate 2.1
  • References 3
  • External links 4


Ancient times

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.[3]

Tikrit is usually identified with the Hellenistic settlement Birtha.[4]

Christian Tikrit

Although Sasanian Christianity was firmly established as predominantly dyophysite under the Church of the East, Tikrit rose as a centre for Miaphysite activities. The first Miaphysite bishop Ahudemmeh was said to have been consecrated by either the Armenian Catholicos Christopher I or by Jacob Baradaeus.[5] Under Marutha, the bishopric was elevated into a maphrianate and the city's ecclesiastical jurisdiction extended as far as central Asia.[6]

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.[7]

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.[8] 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.[8]

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.[7]

Medieval Tikrit

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.[7]

The Arab Uqaylid Dynasty took hold of Tikrit in 1036. Around 1138, Saladin was born there.[9] 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.[7]

20th century

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

The city is among westerners perhaps best known for being the birthplace, in 1937, of Saddam Hussein, who frequently liked to compare himself with Saladin. 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). Saddam Hussein was buried near Tikrit in his hometown of Owja following his hanging on December 30, 2006.

Iraq War

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."[10]

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 on the run in and around Tikrit. He was hidden by relatives and supporters for a period of about six months. During his final period in hiding, he sought refuge 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 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.[11] 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.[11]

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.

2014 Northern Iraq Offensive

On June 11, 2014, during the Northern Iraq offensive the Islamic State took control of the city aided by the Army of the Men of the Naqshbandi Order.[12] Hours later the Iraqi army made an attempt to recapture the city, which resulted in heavy fighting.[13][14][15] By July 2014, government forces had withdrawn from Tikrit.[16][17]

On 25 September 2014, Islamist militants destroyed the 700 A.D., Assyrian Green Church.[18]


It is about 160 kilometres (99 mi) north of Baghdad on the Tigris River.[19]



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
Precipitation mm (inches) 28
Source #1: (altitude: 109m)[20]
Source #2: SunMap[21]


  1. ^ Philip Gladstone (10 February 2014). "METAR Information for ORSH in Tikrit Al Sahra (Tikrit West), SD, Iraq". Retrieved 16 June 2014. 
  2. ^ "Iraqis � With American Help � Topple Statue of Saddam in Baghdad". Fox News. April 9, 2003. 
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ Smith, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography, s.v. Birtha
  5. ^ Maas, Michael (18 April 2005). The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Justinian. Cambridge University Press. pp. 260–.  
  6. ^ "88- Marutha of Takrit (d. 649)". Retrieved August 20, 2012. 
  7. ^ a b c d Gibb, H. A. R. (2000). "Takrīt". In Kramers, J. H. Encyclopaedia of Islam 10 (Second ed.). BRILL. pp. 140–141.  
  8. ^ a b Rassam, Suha (2005). Christianity in Iraq: Its Origins and Development to the Present Day. Gracewing Publishing. pp. 67–68.  
  9. ^ Malcolm Lyons and D.E.P. Jackson, "Saladin: The Politics of the Holy War", pg. 2.
  10. ^ "Major combat over".  
  11. ^ a b New Vocational School and Textile Mill Boost Economy - DefendAmerica News Article
  12. ^ "Iraq: city of Tikrit falls to ISIL fighters". Al Jazeera. 11 June 2014. 
  13. ^ "Iraqi forces take Tikrit back from ISIL militants". Retrieved 7 October 2014. 
  14. ^ "Iran Deploys Forces to Fight al Qaeda-Inspired Militants in Iraq". Retrieved 7 October 2014. 
  15. ^ "US airstrikes to support Iranian Revolutionary Guard's offensive in Iraq?". Retrieved 7 October 2014. 
  16. ^ "Iraqi forces withdrawn from militant-held Tikrit after new push". Reuters. July 16, 2014. 
  17. ^ "Rebels repel Iraqi attempt to retake Tikrit". Al Jazeera. 16 July 2014. 
  18. ^ "Islamists Destroy 7th Century Church, Mosque in Tikrit, Iraq". 25 September 2014. Retrieved 7 October 2014. 
  19. ^ Shewchuk, Blair. "SADDAM OR MR. HUSSEIN?" (Archive). CBC News. February 2003. Retrieved on June 24, 2014.
  20. ^ a b "Climate: Tikrit - Climate graph, Temperature graph, Climate table". Retrieved 2014-02-22. 
  21. ^ "Weather in Asia, Iraq, Muḩāfaz̧at Şalāḩ ad Dīn, Tikrit Weather and Climate". Retrieved 2014-02-22. 

External links

  • Iraq Image - Tikrit Satellite Observation
  • BBC NEWS: Tikrit: Iraq's last stronghold
  • Google Local Satellite Photo of Tikrit
  • Tikrit
  • Al Sahra Airfield

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