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Iraq Tikrit operation against IS
02 Mar 2015 13:01
Iraq's armed forces, backed by Shia militia, attacked Islamic State strongholds north of Baghdad today.
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It is the start of a campaign aimed at driving them out of the mainly Sunni Muslim province of Salahuddin.
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The offensive is the biggest military operation in the province since the Sunni Islamist radicals seized swaths of north Iraq last June and advanced towards the capital Baghdad.
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Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared the start of the Salahuddin operations yesterday, during a visit to the government-held city of Samarra, where some of the thousands of troops and Shia militia had gathered for the offensive.
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The pace of their progress in Salahuddin could affect plans to recapture Mosul further north.
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A US official said the assault on Mosul, the largest city under Islamic State control, could start as early as April but Iraqi officials have declined to confirm that timetable.
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