Tikrit is a town in Iraq, located 140 km northwest of Baghdad on the Tigris (at 34.61°N, 43.68°E). Tikrit, with an estimated population in 2002 of about 28,900, is the capital of the province of Salah ad Din.
The town is perhaps best known for being the birthplace of Saddam Hussein. Large numbers of the Iraqi political leadership of the Saddam Hussein period were drawn from the region, as were members of his Iraqi Republican Guard.
The town is also known as the birthplace of Saladin, after which the province is named, and who among other achievements defended Egypt against Crusaders, and recaptured Jerusalem in 1187. Saddam on many occasions compared himself to Saladin.
In the opening weeks of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, many observers speculated that Saddam would return to Tikrit as his "last stronghold". Along with intense aerial bombardment, forces of several thousand US Marines with 300 lightly armored vehicles, converged on the town on April 13, 2003, meeting little or no resistance. With the fall of Tikrit, U.S. Major General Stanley McChrystal said, "I would anticipate that the major combat operations are over," postulating the end of major military action in Iraq.
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