Shiite militia 'no longer leading Tikrit recapture bid'

Iraqi army 'clearing' city says Gen Austin

(ANSA) - Rome, March 26 - Iranian-backed Shiite militias in Iraq are no longer leading an operation to recapture Tikrit from Islamic State (ISIS) militants, a US general said Thursday.
    Gen Lloyd Austin, head of US Central Command, said the Shia pullback was a precondition for US-led air strikes, which began on Wednesday night.
    Iraqi forces then launched a final push to drive ISIS from the city. Iraq had asked the US-led coalition to mount air strikes on militants in Tikrit after the offensive stalled.
    Gen Austin told the US Senate Armed Services Committee about 4,000 Iraqi army and federal police personnel were now carrying out "clearing operations" in Tikrit, the birthplace of Saddam Hussein.


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