Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Iraqi Force Makes More Gains Toward Taking Tikrit From ISIS

Shiite militiamen pose with their banner, right, next to a captured — and upside-down — ISIS flag, left, in Tikrit. Militias are bolstering Iraq's military in a major operation to retake Tikrit from the self-proclaimed Islamic State group.
Mohammed al-Mozani AP
Shiite militiamen pose with their banner, right, next to a captured — and upside-down — ISIS flag, left, in Tikrit. Militias are bolstering Iraq's military in a major operation to retake Tikrit from the self-proclaimed Islamic State group.

Pro-government forces in Iraq are making progress in the push to take back the city of Tikrit from the self-proclaimed Islamic State. Iraqi officials say the focus is now on the city's center, and that advances are still slowed by bombs and booby traps.

Iraqi Defense Minister Khaled al-Obeidi visited Tikrit's Salahuddin province Thursday, saying on state TV that the next phase of the operation is "critical" to the effort to control Tikrit, a crucial step in the government's plan to eventually reclaim Mosul, farther north.

NPR's Alice Fordham reports:

"A security official told Iraqi state television that the city of Tikrit was entirely controlled by pro-government forces. The official, Khalid Khazraji, said ISIS militants had fled from the center of the city, although they had left behind many booby traps and improvised explosive devices. Most of the population has left the city. "In Washington, Joint Chief of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey testified before Congress yesterday that most of the pro-government forces in Tikrit are paramilitary, Shiite militias. Dempsey said the progress against ISIS was positive but reiterated his concern about sectarian violence arising from the taking of Sunni areas by largely Shiite forces."

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

What questions do you have about the Statewide General Election coming up on Nov. 8? Submit your questions here, and we'll try to answer them in our reporting.