Iraqi forces take back Tikrit from ISIS, official says

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TIKRIT, Iraq — Iraqi forces battling to wrest Tikrit from ISIS are now in control of the city, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Tuesday on Iraqiya TV.

Al-Abadi, who is also the top military commander, said on state television that the city was liberated.

Tikrit had been under ISIS control since June.

The push into Tikrit comes days after a series of U.S.-led airstrikes targeted ISIS targets around the city.

The airstrikes made it possible for the Iraqi forces to move through the city. Troops reported finding dozens of roadside bombs and booby-trapped buildings as they combed the city.

At a Cabinet meeting before declaring Tikrit liberated, al-Abadi was already calling the operation a success.

“The success of the Tikrit experiment will be repeated in other areas because of the results it has achieved on the battlefield, on a humanitarian level, protecting civilians as much as possible, in addition to the low casualties amongst our security forces,” he said.

Iraqi forces tried multiple times to win back Tikrit since ISIS conquered the city as part of its campaign to amass an expansive Islamic caliphate, but failed before now.

The latest push began after al-Abadi ordered Iraqi forces on March 1 to retake Tikrit and Salahuddin province.

Militants have been under pressure ever since in the battleground city, which is the birthplace of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and is located about 160 kilometers (100 miles) north of Baghdad.

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