Iraqi forces beat ISIS in Tikrit, reach city center

Tribal source tells Al Arabiya bodies of ISIS militants scattered in Tikrit

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Iraqi military forces and Shitte militias entered central Tikrit, declaring it “liberated” from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) on Tuesday, following 10 days of a major offensive on the hometown of former president Saddam Hussein.

Marwan al-Jabara, a tribal spokesman in the Salaheddin province, told Al Arabiya News Channel that the forces managed to reach the center of Tikrit after heavy clashes in which “dozens of ISIS militants were killed.”

An unmanned Iraqi major general told AFP earlier: “We are now doing combat missions to cleanse the neighborhood of Qadisiyah.”

Al Arabiya reported on Tuesday that Iraqi forces took control of Tikrit military hospital, which is close the center of the city, a report confirmed by the major general who spoke to AFP.

“But we are engaging in a very delicate battle because we are not facing fighters on the ground, we are facing booby-trapped terrain and sniper fire. Our movement is slow,” the senior officer said.

The officer also said the forces that entered Qadisiyah on Wednesday morning included army and police, as well as members of the large volunteer force called Popular Mobilization units.

Iraqi forces have been closing in for days but had largely refrained from entering the city, launching only small-scale operations on the edges of Tikrit and laying siege to it.

Several other military and political sources confirmed that Iraqi forces had retaken control of a significant part of Qadisiyah, a large neighborhood stretching north of the city center.

[With AFP]