Iraqi officials said special forces secured full control of a former U.S. military base on the outskirts of Tikrit on Sunday, three days after insurgents began pushing into the base with suicide bombers in a bid to thwart a government campaign to retake the area.

Camp Speicher, the headquarters for U.S. forces in northern Iraq during the 2003 invasion and subsequent war, has become a focal point in the fight between Iraqi forces and Islamist militants in the country’s north. The battle for the former American base holds significance both because of its strategic location and in the propaganda war between the two sides.

Militants from the extremist group that calls itself Islamic State seized Camp Speicher—now an Iraqi air force and military base—shortly after taking control of Tikrit on June 11. Fighting flared on and off around it until government forces pushed militants out earlier this month in a major ground and air campaign. Failing to keep full control of the camp, some 37 miles northwest of Tikrit, would deprive Iraqi forces and allied militias of a strategic staging ground, local officials and military analysts say. […]