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Clashes near militant-held Tikrit as Iraq troops strike back

Published on Jun 28, 2014 11:52 PM

BAGHDAD (AFP) - Iraqi forces pressed a campaign on Saturday to retake militant-held Tikrit, clashing with Sunni fighters nearby and pounding positions inside the city with air strikes in their biggest counter-offensive so far.

A senior officer said security forces were coordinating with Washington, which has deployed military advisers to help repulse the jihadist-led militants who have overrun large parts of five provinces north and west of Baghdad.

Armed US drones were flying over the city to provide protection for the advisers and US diplomats against the militants led by the jihadist Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who is revered among Iraq's majority community, has urged political leaders to unite and form a new government to tackle the crisis.

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