Iraqi advance moves slowly on ISIL-held Tikrit

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Iraqi troops say battle to retake city will not be easy, with areas “littered with bombs and booby-traps”.

Iraqi forces battling the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group have warned the operation to retake Tikrit will not be quick, with areas in and around the city “littered with bombs and booby-traps”.

Iraqi security forces said on Sunday that they were slowly rolling into the city’s western area with the help of US-led air strikes despite Shia militias boycotting the offensive.

“Our advance is slow because of the IEDs and booby-trapped roads,” Brigadier-General Thamer Mohamed told the Reuters news agency.

“There is some resistance from the enemy, but it’s mainly due to the booby-traps set up on the roads, in the houses, shops and government facilities. As you can see, our units are advancing and we have air support.”

Despite more than 20,000 fighters launching the offensive on March 2, most Iranian-backed Shia armed groups have boycotted the current advance in protest against US-led air strikes that began on Thursday at the request of the Baghdad government.

Meanwhile, several injured Shia fighters told Al Jazeera that the US was to blame for their injuries after striking their positions near Tikrit.

Since Thursday, when the US air strikes began, at least 17 Iraq security personnel have been killed and another 100 wounded around Tikrit, a security officer told Reuters.

Shia militias, aligned with Tehran, have repeatedly said they do not need US support to drive ISIL from Tikrit, the home city of Iraq’s former long-time leader Saddam Hussein.

Source: Al Jazeera And Reuters

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