This Article is From Apr 08, 2015

Iraq Battles Islamic State in Tikrit Week After City 'Retaken'

Iraq Battles Islamic State in Tikrit Week After City 'Retaken'

File Photo: Islamic State Militants (Associated Press)

Baghdad:

Iraqi security forces and allied paramilitaries battled militants from the Islamic State jihadist group in Tikrit on Tuesday, the interior ministry said, a week after the city was declared retaken.

The Iraqi forces launched a raid on the basis of intelligence that there were between eight and 15 IS members in a hideout in the Qadisiya area of north Tikrit, the ministry said in a statement on the day's operations.

"Our security forces were able to kill a number of them while the others blew themselves up after being surrounded," it said.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the "liberation" of Tikrit on March 31, but Interior Minister Mohammed al-Ghaban said the following day that "pockets" of IS fighters remained.

The ministry statement showed that operations to fully clear the city are still ongoing.

Bombs also pose a major threat in Tikrit, with Ghaban saying last week that over 1,000 had already been discovered.

IS led an offensive that overran large areas north and west of Baghdad last June, but Iraqi security forces and allied paramilitaries backed by a US-led coalition and Iran have regained significant ground.

The victory in Tikrit is the biggest by Iraqi forces since the conflict began, but it has been marred by allegations of looting and burning by pro-government paramilitaries.