Iraqi Forces Enter Parts of Tikrit in Major Offensive
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Iraqi troops and their allied volunteer forces entered parts of Tikrit, as they continue a major offensive to recapture the strategic city from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Iraq's defense ministry said that its forces have surrounded the city along the Tigris River, and are preparing to advance into the city.
Iraqi forces are now reportedly stationed in the main streets of the city, as they started to advance towards al-Qadisiah Street, the defense ministry statement said.
Al Jazeera quoted sources as saying that Iraqi forces are now holding parts of the city.
"But that doesn't mean they have control of the entire city," the report said, adding that ISIL fighters have reportedly blown up a bridge leading to Tikrit.
Several roads into the city are also reportedly rigged with explosives.
Earlier, an Iraqi defense ministry video showed Iraqi forces destroying 20 heavy machine guns, and 20 vehicles as it advanced into Tikrit.
At least 382 improvised explosive devices were also reportedly dismantled.
The same video claimed that Iraqi troops have killed 350 suspected ISIL fighters within four days of its ongoing operation in the area.
The battle over Tikrit is crucial for Iraqi forces in their advance towards Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, which is controlled by ISIL.
Tikrit serves as an important hub because it is on the main highway leading to Baghdad.