Iraqi forces poised for Tikrit, clashes continue in key areas
Baghdad, (IANS) Iraqi forces brace for a major offensive to retake control of Tikrit city, as the troops continued to battle insurgent groups across the country, security sources said Tuesday.
The security forces have been holding control over the perimeter and entrances of Tikrit, 170 km north of the Baghdad, after seizing the areas around the city like Uojah town, lying south of Tikrit, Xinhua reported citing the Iraqi military spokesman Qassim Atta as saying in Baghdad.
“We are coming closer to achieve our goal to enter Tikrit, and our forces are ready within very short period to enter the city, but we also are keen to avoid casualties among civilians,” Atta said.
Separately in the northern Salahudin province, ISIS militants carried out attacks to seize the strategic Baiji oil refinery near Baiji, 200 km north of Baghdad, but were repelled by the security forces, Atta said.
In western Anbar province, an army force carried out an operation in the northern part of the besieged city of Fallujah, leaving seven militants killed, a provincial police source said.Meanwhile, 13 people were killed and 20 others wounded in artillery and mortar shelling in several neighbourhoods in Ramadi since late Monday night till Tuesday morning, a local medical source said.
On June 10, militant groups, including those linked to the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS now called Islamic State or IS), took over the key cities of Mosul and Tikrit, as well as other northern and western parts of the Sunni heartland as Iraqi security forces were driven into disarray when waves of surprise attacks were mounted against them.