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Iraqi city on the Tigris River northwest of Baghdad, on the main road to Mosul.

Tikrit (also Takrit) is located in north-central Iraq, some 100 miles north-northwest of Baghdad. The fortress around which the city was built was constructed by a Sassanid Persian king as a border post against the Byzantines. The first dwellers of the city belonged to the Banu Iyad tribe of Christian Arabs, and its name is believed to have honored the tribal chief's daughter. It was conquered by Muslims in the mid-600s c.e. Tikrit's population is now mainly Sunni Arab, with some Kurds. The Kurdish Muslim hero Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi (Saladin, 11371193) was born in Tikrit.

With the decline in sales of kalak s (rafts of inflated skins), for which the city was noted, many people moved to Baghdad during the nineteenth century. Under the monarchy, some entered the military academy with the help of an influential Tikriti. After the 1968 coup by the Baʿth party, Tikritis became the single most powerful group in Iraq's senior officer corps and in the civilian flank of the party. Both Ahmad Hasan al-Bakr and Saddam Hussein were from Tikrit, so they invested large sums in modernizing the city. In 2003, its population numbered about 30,000.

see also bakr, ahmad hasan al-; baʿth, al-; hussein, saddam.


Batatu, Hanna. The Old Social Classes and the Revolutionary Movements of Iraq: A Study of Iraq's Old Landed and Commercial Classes and of Its Communists, Baʿthists, and Free Officers. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978.

amatzia baram
updated by michael r. fischbach

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