The small town of Dhuluiyah is home to approximately 17,000 people and has long been on the frontlines against Jihadist groups in Iraq. The town of Dhuluiyah is located approximately 50 miles south of the provincial capital of Tikrit and 55 miles north of Baghdad. It is strategically located on roads linking the eastern province of Diyala to the province of Salahuddin in the north. It is for this reason that the town has been under considerable pressure over the years, from successive Jihadi groups.
In 2014, ISIS captured large parts of the town, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake, as well as laying siege on the rest of Dhuluiyah. The group bombed government buildings, including a court and local council headquarters, and exploded a bridge leading toward the neighbouring town of Balad in an bid to prevent the arrival of Iraqi forces as reinforcements.
The group remained in partial control of the town for a few months until A counter-offensive was launched by a coalition of Iraqi forces, including local Sunni tribesmen from the dominant Jubur tribe in the region, to recapture the town. The offensive to liberate Dhuluiya was launched on 28 December 2014 as part of the campaign to liberate the whole of Salahuddin Province. The final offensive was accomplished on 30 December 2014.
Since the liberation of Dhuluiyah, locals have been working tirelessly to revive and rebuild their town. For example, at the end of last year, locals had gathered to reopen the Cordoba Primary School, which had been closed for years. Other grassroots-led initiatives have taken place across the Salahuddin province and other areas liberated by Iraqi forces from ISIS militants.
Many people from Dhuluiyah were forced to flee their homes following ISIS’ offensive. Many of them have since returned to their homes, although there are thousands still waiting to return as the security situation has not been fully stabilised and infrastructure has not yet been fully rehabilitated. The residents of Dhuluiyah are still waiting for the government to take the necessary steps to improve services and rebuild the town.