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Iraqi Forces Reportedly Enter Tikrit In Push Against ISIS

Iraq's push into Tikrit follows its retaking of the nearby town of al-Alam on Tuesday. There, a woman welcomed a relative who is fighting with a militia that's backing Iraqi troops.

Iraqi troops and militia fighters are reportedly inside the city of Tikrit, the city that's been held by the self-proclaimed Islamic State, or ISIS, since last June. Officials and witnesses say the Iraqis now control part of northern Tikrit.

Tikrit is the capital of Salahuddin province, between Baghdad and ISIS-controlled Mosul. Citing state-run television, The Associated Press quotes Salahuddin police Brig. Kheyon Rasheed as saying Wednesday, "The terrorists are seizing the cars of civilians trying to leave the city and they are trying to make a getaway."

The push to retake Tikrit began nine days ago, with thousands of Iraq's military troops bolstered by Kurdish fighters and both Sunni and Shiite militia groups. Despite the apparent progress in the city's northern district of Qadisiyya, troops have been slowed by sniper fire and hidden bombs.

Reuters reports: "The army and militia fighters raised the national flag above a military hospital in the section of Qadisiyya they had retaken from the militants, security officials said."

Word of the advance comes after after the Iraqi force pushed ISIS fighters out of the town of al-Alam, on the northern outskirts of Tikrit, on Tuesday.

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

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