Iraqi forces enter 'final stage' in Tikrit
Iraqi forces are also working on dismantling some 6,000 improvised explosive devices planted around Tikrit by Daesh inside homes and surrounding areas, according to reports. (AFP/File)
Iraqi army forces, backed by volunteers, are preparing to carry out the final stage of operations aimed at liberating the city of Tikrit in northern Salahuddin Province from ISIL militants, Press TV reports.
According to Karim al-Nuri, a leader of Iraqi volunteer forces, the hometown of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein is expected to be fully liberated in four days.
Iraqi Defense Minister Khaled al-Obaidi has also said that the battle for Tikrit will change in the coming days.
The city is currently under a complete siege, which has left the ISIL militants paralyzed and trapped inside Tikrit.
“Now the Iraqi forces, volunteers, and tribes are ready to enter Tikrit. What was standing in the way of attacking the city was explosives set in the city … We will witness the liberation of Tikrit in the coming few days. Now the forces are paving the way towards the ground operations through bombing ISIL hideouts,” Journalist Moustafa Daraji said.
Iraqi forces are currently working on dismantling some 6,000 improvised explosive devices planted by militants in the city's liberated areas and houses.
Analysts say the final attack to free Tikrit should be studied carefully in order to avoid civilian deaths as it is expected that ISIL, also known by the Arabic acronym Daesh, will use residents as human shields.
Meanwhile reports say Daesh militants have withdrawn from the northern city of Mosul, but armed women, thought to be foreigners, remain active in the city.
Located some 130 kilometers (80 miles) north of the capital, Baghdad, Tikrit was overrun by the ISIL terrorists in summer 2014 along with Iraq’s second-largest city of Mosul and other areas in the Arab country’s Sunni heartland. Tikrit has a strategic position as it sits on the road to Mosul.