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Iraqi troops 'close to centre' of IS held Tikrit Open in fullscreen

Al-Araby al-Jadeed/Agencies

Iraqi troops 'close to centre' of IS held Tikrit

Iraqi pro-government fighters celebrate as they advance into Tikrit March 11, 2015. [ AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty]

Date of publication: 11 March, 2015

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Iraqi forces and militia fighters have captured parts of Tikrit's Qadisiya district on Wednesday in their first advance into the city seized nine months ago by so called Islamic State group.

Iraqi armed forces have said that they entered Tikrit on Wednesday, 10 days after the beginning of an operation to retake the city from Islamic State group (IS, formerly ISIS) militants.

"We are now doing combat missions to cleanse the neighbourhood of Qadisiyah," an anonymous major general told AFP.

"We were able to control Tikrit military hospital, which is close to the centre of the city," he said.

Qadisiyah is in the northern part of Tikrit. Iraqi armed forces, as well as volunteer militias, have circled the city for days but progress has been slow, with fierce resistance from IS.

Tikrit, the hometown of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, was a major prize for the group during their expansion across Iraq and Syria last year.

The army general said that IS had placed booby-traps in Tikrit and that the Iraqi army was operating carefully.

"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," he said.

Meanwhile, in Ramadi in western Iraq, IS were on the offensive, attacking government-held areas of the city, and killing at least 10 people in a series of co-ordinated suicide car bombs.

The seven blast wounded 30 people, according to police and hospital sources.

"At around 7:00 am (0400 GMT), IS launched seven attacks with suicide bombers driving Humvees in the areas of Hawz, Malaab, Toi, Albu Faraj and Albu Eitha," police major Mustafa Samir said.

A Belgian, a Syrian and an IS member from the Caucasus were said to be among the bombers, according to pro-IS social media accounts.

Iraqi city of Tikrit have caused around 28,000 people to flee their homes, the United Nations said on Thursday.

"Military operations in and around Tikrit have precipitated displacement of an estimated 28,000 people to Samarra," a UN statement said.   

"Field reports indicate that additional displacements are underway and that yet more families remain stuck at checkpoints," it added.  - See more at: /english/news/2015/3/5/thousands-of-iraqi-civilians-flee-as-tikrit-battle-intensifies#sthash.bcBn6Rkb.dpuf
Iraqi city of Tikrit have caused around 28,000 people to flee their homes, the United Nations said on Thursday.

"Military operations in and around Tikrit have precipitated displacement of an estimated 28,000 people to Samarra," a UN statement said.   

"Field reports indicate that additional displacements are underway and that yet more families remain stuck at checkpoints," it added.  - See more at: /english/news/2015/3/5/thousands-of-iraqi-civilians-flee-as-tikrit-battle-intensifies#sthash.bcBn6Rkb.dpuf
Tikrit's civilians suffer as Islamic State group battle rages - See more at: /english/news/2015/3/9/tikrits-civilians-suffer-as-islamic-state-group-battle-rages#sthash.bmWMNBuE.dpuf

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